Winning Hearts & Minds Anniversary

October 2nd, 2012

By Jan Barry

Winning Hearts & MindsThe Puffin Poetry Jam presents a 40th anniversary celebration of Winning Hearts & Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans on Friday, Nov. 2, 7-9 p.m. at Puffin Cultural Forum, 20 Puffin Way, Teaneck, NJ. The event is a benefit for the Warrior Writers program.  $10 suggested donation.

Readers include Winning Hearts & Minds poets Jan Barry and W.D. Ehrhart;  Gerald McCarthy, contributor to Demilitarized Zones, the 1976 sequel; Warrior Writers Nicole Goodman, Justin Jacobs, Jennifer Pacanowski and Eli Wright; and guest poets Allen Hinman, Jim Murphy, Walt Nygard, Dayl Wise and Walter Zimmerman. Performers also include musicians Tamara Hayden and Raymond Daniel Medina.

Published in 1972 by 1st Casualty Press, a literary collective formed by Vietnam veterans Jan Barry, Basil T. Paquet and Larry Rottmann, WHAM debuted with selections reprinted in the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times Midwest Magazine and other newspapers and magazines across America. Besides hand-made paperback editions hawked at peace rallies, poetry readings, progressive bookstores, on street corners and through mail orders, a widely distributed commercial edition was reprinted by McGraw-Hill.

A WHAM poem,”The Longest War” by Jan Barry, appeared in A People and A Nation: A History of the United States. A novel by WHAM contributor Gustav Hasford sparked the war film Full-Metal Jacket. Another contributor, W.D. Ehrhart, recently published his 20th book of prose and poetry. Other contributors forged distinguished careers in journalism, education, medicine, law, government service, business and other enterprises.

“Winning Hearts and Minds touched the lives of thousands of people and made them better for it. It touched my life, leaving me with a permanent fascination in the power of words. It made me want to be a poet – not just a doodler or a hobbyist, but a writer. It opened the way to the life I have lived ever since.”
— W.D. Ehrhart, author, most recently, of Dead on a High Hill: Essays on War, Literature and Living, 2002-2012 and other works.

WHAM was/is a labor of love built upon so much disillusionment and betrayal. WHAM captured the unreality of the WAR, as well as the reality of same. The words on those pages just leapt off the page and into the, ironically, Hearts and Minds of the reader. It was a very special project which for the writers and readers alike served to render a verdict of Colossal Blunder, in a Thunder and torrent of words written from the heart, soul and gut of the participants.”
— Stan Platke, WHAM contributor

(This article was also posted at EarthAirWater.)

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2 Responses to “Winning Hearts & Minds Anniversary”

  1. Tom Carter |

    Jan, I still have two copies of the original edition, one of them signed by you. I guess I had 10 or 12 copies originally; except for those two, I gave them away, mostly to other military officers.

    I’ve always been pleased by my very small contribution — the photo of the Vietnamese girl on the dedication page. I took the photo in Vietnam, I guess sometime in 65 or 66. It wasn’t attributed to me at my request, as you may remember. In the early 70s it wasn’t smart for a serving officer to have his name in an anti-war book. I suppose that wasn’t very courageous, but in the context of those crazy times, it was safer.

  2. Jan |

    Tom, That solves the mystery of where that photo came from! One of the reviews of WHAM that I delighted in at the time was in the Friday Review of Defense Literature, in which the reviewer suggested that the chain of commanders at the Pentagon might want to read these poems.

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