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The War Makes Everyone Lonely

In his first collection of poems, many of which were written during his years as a US Army Special Forces medic, Graham Barnhart explores themes of memory, trauma, and isolation. Ranging from conventional lyrics and narrative verse to prose poems and expressionist forms, the poems here display a strange, quiet power as Barnhart engages in the pursuit and recognition of wonder, even while concerned with whether it is right to do so in the fraught space of the war zone. We follow the speaker as he treads the line between duty and the horrors of war, honor and compassion for the victims of violence, and the struggle to return to the daily life of family and society after years of trauma.
            Evoking the landscapes and surroundings of war, as well as its effects on both US military service members and civilians in war-stricken countries, The War Makes Everyone Lonely is a challenging, nuanced look at the ways American violence is exported, enacted, and obscured by a writer poised to take his place in the long tradition of warrior-poets.

96 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2019

Phoenix Poets



"In his ruminative debut, The War Makes Everyone Lonely, Graham Barnhart documents in fugitive snapshots the service in Afghanistan and Iraq of a US Army medic, who returned to the States searching for words to describe realities that may have no words, yet require them. Keenly observant about the tension between complicity and bravery, war and the homefront, Barnhart finds himself 'dressed like the men who killed / their husbands, [passing out] sewing machines / to widows so they could make clothes / for their children and embroider cemetery flags.' Here is a poetry that performs 'Notice and Focus'—neither shrieking nor staying silent about the terrible rubble of the Terror Wars. And yet, it still dreams of waking up to nudges from horses, black garbage scrap in barbed wire, and a love that's 'so clear and thin / it couldn’t be seen.'"

Philip Metres, author of "The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance"

“Graham Barnhart’s remarkable debut collection is at once a soldier’s searing field report and a brilliant lyric response to 21st century war. With gravity, precision and grace, he writes ‘As an aggressor / aware of his complicity.’ As a medic working under fire and in the debris fields of the aftermath, he brings to his art uncommon gifts of attention and inclusion: not only combatants, but civilians, not only the ‘catalog of fire’ but ‘stillness / raveled rather than torn.’ In this age of drones and eternal occupation, Barnhart inscribes extremity anew, joining the company of those writing from the trenches of the Great War and beyond, an equal among them.”

Carolyn Forché, author of "What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance"

"The War Makes Everyone Lonely demonstrates compassion for the all those dispossessed by the invasions, including the soldiers whose minds are invaded by the memories of what they have participated in."

Green Left

Table of Contents


Belated Letter to My Grandmother
What Being in the Army Did
What’s It Like?
Call to Prayer
Aubade between Deployments
Pissing in Irbil
The War Makes Everyone Lonely
Goat in the Cleared Village
Notice and Focus Exercise
The Coffee Aisle
After Sterilizing the Canteens
My Pittsburgh
Telling You I Will Deploy Again
Days of 2009
Post 9/11 Gas Training (I)
How to Stay Awake on a Training Exercise
Survival and Evasion
How to Stop the Bleeding
First Life
Medics Don’t Earn Killstreaks
Pashtu Refresher
Certificates of Training
Deserving (I)
Post 9/11 Gas Training (II)
Range Detail
Tinder Pic
Cultivating Mass
Downed Pilot
On the Evening Before My Departure
Pre-Deployment Chaplain’s Brief
The Road to Pol-e-Khomri
Blocking an Imagined War Movie
Medical Refresher
Failure Drills
A Fable
Days of Spring, 2016
Capabilities Brief
Deserving (II)
How to Transition a Province
Self-Portrait with Wedding, Vineyard, and Gunshot
Everything in Sunlight I Can’t Stop Seeing


Austin Community College: Balcones Poetry Prize

University of West Georgia School of the Arts: Blackwell Prize in Writing

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