Kevin Powers' first novel, The Yellow Birds
, is a coming-of-age drama set during the Iraq War. The first-person account is narrated by John Bartle, an army private stationed in Al Tafar, Iraq, at the height of hostilities in September 2004. In basic training the 21-year-old Bartle is assigned to look after Private Daniel Murphy, then 17, promising both his sergeant and Murphy's mother that he would bring the young man home safely. We learn very early on that Bartle has failed to accomplish this goal, and feels some responsibility - and perhaps culpability - for Murphy's death. The narrative alternates between events leading up to Murphy's demise and Bartle's attempt to come to terms with it and with his military experiences in general after he is discharged back to his home in Virginia.
The Yellow Birds
isn't a feel-good read. The title comes from an army...
Beyond the Book
Kevin Powers started writing poems and stories at about the age of 13. He began writing poetry about war a year or two after his discharge from the Army as a way to process his own experiences while in Iraq, and eventually decided to take classes to develop his talents. Powers graduated in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and received his M.F.A. in Poetry from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin in 2012. His poems have appeared in the New Orleans Review
, and The New York Quarterly
Here is where appreciation starts: the Iraqi boy
in a dusty velour tracksuit almost getting shot.
When I say boy, I mean it. When I say...