The Phases of Military Deployment and the Poetry Within with John Holt

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Ever since the revolution of our Republic there have always been poets within the ranks of the military and family members supporting them telling our nation’s story. Soldiers, sailors, Marines, airman, and family members have written poems that capture the various deployment phase experiences that were at the center of the American nature of war. All these poems have historical value as lasting testimony of the men and women who experienced it directly and are poems that every American needs to read in order to better understand what it means to deploy.

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the Armed Forces, American involvement in War since World War II, the four phases of deployment and the war poem for students who may not have had the opportunity for a meaningful exploration.  


October 30 - November 27, 2017

Class Objectives:

In discussing the four phases of deployment we will be reading numerous poems to better understand what it means to deploy. At the conclusion of the course, students will demonstrate the ability to:

Recognize poets who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Identify the various war poems from World War II to Present.

Understand the four phases of deployment and examine the elements of imagery in war poems and identify the phase a poem best represents.

Connect learning to lived experience and real-life current news (veteran or military related); by writing a poem.

Course Offerings:

Week One: Military Service: The What, When, and Who

You’ll be given an overview of the branches of the Armed Forces, the American Involvement in War from World War II to Present day, and poets who served during each.

Afterwards, you will be asked to go into the world and look for these poets and poems. Choose three poems that resonated with you and tell why you choose the poet and poem, tell what happened in the poem, tell when and where the poem took place, and tell how you felt after reading it.

Week Two: Phases of Military Deployment

You’ll be given an overview of the phases of military deployment. We will discuss timeframes, what service members go through and the emotions that might arise from both the service member and family member.

You’ll become acquainted with The Awareness and Reflection of War Experience (ARWE) Model that was developed to assist readers of war poems decide which phase the poem best represents.

Afterwards, you will take the entire sample of poems posted by your classmates and using the ARWE model try to match the poems to the phase they best represents. Then you will pick four poems (one from each phase) and write one paragraph telling why you placed it in that phase.

Week Three: Imagery in War Poetry (World War II to Present Day)

You’ll be given an overview of how with the advent of technological advances in air travel and means to save lives in war, the images of war found in poems can linger much longer and can be tied to emotions that carry across several generations. You will become acquainted with the five senses and will be asked to look for and in one paragraph describe them from a sampling of poems.

Week Four: Write your own poem about War

You will be asked to take a poem that you wrote your paragraphs about, the imagery found in poems we have discussed, and our other class discussions and use them as a references to write your own poem about war.



John Holt is an author and poet. He is a 23 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a former Associate Professor at Loyola Marymount University. He has served in multiple locations in the United States and overseas in the Pacific Region. He deployed to the Middle East from 2009 to 2010. After retiring from active duty, he moved to Los Angeles and began working with other veterans in creative writing fellowships with the University of Southern California Warrior Chorus and the Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Project. Holt's writing has appeared in a short film and in the following publications: Sketchbook: A Journal for Eastern & Western Short Forms, Asahi Haikust Network, Stylus Poetry Journal, Autumn Leaves Journal, 3Lights Gallery, The Mainichi Daily News, White Lotus: A Journal of Short Asian Verse & Haiga, The Heron’s Nest, PEN HIMALAYA Literary Magazine, Magnapoets, Frogpond, The Mie Times, JAL Foundation, Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Icebox and Acorn: A Journal of Contemporary Haiku. John is a graduate of both Park and Webster Universities and is expected to graduate with a MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in December 2017.