Benjamin Hertwig is a National Magazine Award-winning writer, painter, and ceramicist, born and raised under big prairie skies and currently living on unceded Coast Salish territory, Vancouver. As a child, he liked sports publicly and books privately. Since graduating from high school, he has spent time as a soldier, a student, a bike courier, a tree-planter, an inner-city housing worker, and an English instructor. His first book of poetry, Slow War, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards. Website: benjaminhertwig.com. Twitter: @benjaminhertwig.
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Reviews of Slow War:
- “Poems about returning to civilian life bear poignant witness to how war has changed him: ‘When you returned from the war, you didn’t/think of the dead much. you wanted to be/a child again'” – In the Toronto Star
- “Benjamin Hertwig’s debut collection of poetry, addresses the many ways in which war warps youth, hope, and desire” – In the Montreal Review of Books
- “I am a dreamer. Not too long ago I had a dream about a sinister squid that was roaming the ocean around Vancouver. The squid made me very uncomfortable until a voice whispered into my ear: ‘Dumbledore always trusted the squid.’ I felt much better'” – In CBC’s Magic 8 Q&A
- “I miss the person I was before I went to Afghanistan, who did not struggle with depression, who did not have anxiety. Who was unaware of some of those feelings. But I guess it’s also allowed me to engage with the world in a different way and a way that I’m maybe more proud of” – On CBC Radio
A century after the First World War, Hertwig presents both the personal cost of war and the potential for healing in unlikely places. This collection provides no easy answers – Hertwig looks at the war in Afghanistan with the unflinching gaze of a soldier and the sustained attention of a poet. In his accounting of warfare and its difficult aftermath on the home-front, the personal becomes political.