Sundress Releases Blood Stripes by Aaron Dylan Graham
Sundress Publications announces the release of Blood Stripes, the debut full-length poetry collection from Aaron Graham. Blood Stripes is a haunting, unprecedented example of contemporary trench poetry.
Set in Iraq during the mid-2000’s, Blood Stripes delves into the complexity and trauma of modern conflict. Through the eyes of a marine, these poems illustrate the intimacy of violence with candid brutality. Beyond the innate bonds formed between comrades, a strange communion develops across enemy lines as those charged with destroying each other do so with a kind of tenderness. Through inflicting atrocities, the speaker forges human connection—connections that cannot be replicated outside the battle.
In these poems, violence is a new creature, one that is concurrently loathsome yet addictive and sensual. Amid the shrapnel and the sand wet with bits of lung, this violence is perhaps born of a love of the struggle. While the marine unwittingly volunteers to be a harbinger of death, it is a role of eternal confinement. These poems reveal the moral ambiguity of the causal sequence of war, as at home the marine is haunted by trauma while still craving it. The side effects of conflict cannot be outlived—despite quickclot being applied to a ruptured artery—some bleeding cannot be stopped.
“In Aaron Graham’s searing debut, poetry emerges as a full-blooded form of counterintelligence. WWI novelist Henri Barbusse called soldiers ‘forgetting machines,’ built to suppress and deny the trauma they experience in themselves and produce in others. Marine veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Graham trains every fiber of his uncompromising attention on the sacred and obscene task of remembering what, strictly speaking, cannot be known. PTSD tendrils between every line—’all my nows murder all my / vowels – // all my nows justify / the violence’—as the poet reaches through and beyond realism. Deploying his formidable intelligence as linguist, translator, and philosopher, Graham isolates ‘the moment before an explosion / breaks, the word shrapnel becomes / the beginning of the reality shrapnel.’ Under the poet’s targeted pressure, ‘the whole structure of propriety delaminates,’ including the fiction of the reader’s innocence. The poems in this collection sear me, stain me, push me to the point of slamming the book shut until I’m ready to pry the pages open again, to see in Graham’s language what I cannot see.”
Aaron Graham hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, population 1159, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign, and no stoplights. He served as the editor-in-chief for the Squaw Valley Review, is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and The Ashbury Home School, and the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop. Aaron is currently attending UCNG’s MFA program in poetry and finishing his Ph.D. at Emory University. He currently resides in Greensboro, NC with this wife, Alana, and their three daughters, Alexi, Nora, and Naomi.
Pre-order Blood Stripes here.