War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

50,000 hits done and dusted

thank you readers. thank you for the hundreds of emails, comments on the site, phone calls, little gifts sent to me, little contacts with me, friendship that you’ve extended (some life long I suspect… I won’t name names here), support through tough times (you know who you are), encouragement, celebration, advice both practical (military and otherwise Tony!), remedial English Lit education (thanks Prof. Tim Kendall, Doug Hill, Tom Bryan, Peter Abbs) and philosophical (thanks Scott Waters, Dick Averns, my fellow war artists… you guys get me) etc. that you’ve made since I began this project. through this site I’ve met amazing people and continue to do so. I want to thank all the CF pers. who opened doors for me as well.

the purpose of this site was to have a “calling card” to present to the men and women of the CF when I met them. I knew that if they could see a little bit of my ideas, my open “note book”, then they would understand what I was trying to do, that I was not a reporter out looking for a quick story or a quotable line. I began this so that instead of the CF pers. saying “WTF?” when they were introduced to me and told to “show her around”, that they could just go to the nearest blue rocket, pull out their iPhone or Blackberry and google me. and they did! I remember a young clerk, with whom I shared a space in a BAT at Suffield, pulling out her phone and pulling up warpoet.ca right in front of me. that was interesting.

a long time ago I explained that this site is beta (unedited, unpunctuated, lots of crap poetry lines etc.). as near-real time as possible. initially it was a sketchbook of observations, a diary of sorts, while I waited to go overseas. what I didn’t realize that the wait, going overseas, and now the wait for them to come home would be in itself the work (and yes a book will be coming). what I didn’t realize was that the site would become a staple in thousands of readers’ “diets”, especially the loved ones of those serving overseas.

one of my readers turns to me first thing every morning before he starts his day. in a way I’m his TF 3-09 “appie” before he turns to the hard news. early on, this reader contacted me to thank me for being his “int” into his son’s army life. his son was always startled with his dad’s insight into his life e.g . the time he returned home from Ex. and his dad would say to him, “I heard a lot of guys were down with the dreaded GI”!

and I have reported much of what I’ve seen. but I’ve also kept so much to myself. I have guarded the privacy of those who have let me into their homes, whether their home be a LAV, a pup tent, an apartment, a BAT, an OP, a CP… I will tell their story only if they give me permission or if it’s in the public. e.g.,I did not write about the suicide until it was public knowledge. I have not posted some really hard hard stuff.

somewhere along the way, life threw serious, life-altering challenges at me just four months before heading overseas. these challenges were so great that I believed I couldn’t go. it was through the strength and encouragement of my daughter and my mother and some of you that I was able to board that plane.
“finish what you set out to do” was the message I received.

I may be wrong, but I think I’ve had a fairly unique experience as a civilian (Brigade Officers’ Mess Dinner, HQ, OMLT, night watch with the R22Re, all the way to the front with Delta Coy., slapping spuds onto plates in flying kitchens, BBQ’ing chicken in the middle of Afghanistan surrounded by Hescoes and not much else… etc. etc.).

one of the (many) weaknesses of this site is my failure to convey the sense of humour that keeps the soldiers going. it’s rare even in dire circumstances to not hear laughter or banter. I have a young correspondent who is serving in A’stan who I believe has made it his “mission” to give me a laugh a day. it’s working.
first thing every morning when I check my email I look for his latest to me. he rarely misses a day and for that I’m hugely grateful. I’m hoping he’ll let me post some of his stuff. recently he sent me a goofy haiku. he said that when he got really bored 1/2 though his tour he started responding to his subordinate in haiku even if it was a simple request to go for dinner. this young guy is seriously funny.

so where am I now in all of this? I will continue with this site until they are home. then I will have seen 1PPCLI (TF-3-09) all the way. I will have seen a rifle company born, prepare and go to war, then come home. disband (I think, I may be wrong).

I have a publisher asking for a manuscript but I haven’t signed anything yet. I had several other publishers querying. I anticipate a book by 2011.

I am in the early stages of talking with other artists on collaborations (TBA). this is early days yet. I’ll keep you posted.

oh and I need to thank the Banff Centre, Leighton Artist Colony, the Canada Council, the BC Arts Council, the Edmonton Poetry Festival etc. for believing in this
and as always, Cpl. D. (who started this), MCpl. S.G., Lt. D., Barb., Capt.‘s S-D, W, Maj.N., Lt. E… etc. etc… if I start this I know I’ll miss folks… forgive me… I’ll make it up to you when I go to print!

best,


3 Comments (Closed)

Nancy Wilson

How well you’ve opened up an unimaginable world to your readers!
Serendipity, perhaps?
Thank you, Suzanne.

Apr 19 2010 · 13:15

Alex VanderWoude

Congratulations! I suspect that artistic types such as yourself really thrive on this kind of feedback — from those about whom you’re talking, I mean. It sure beats speaking your poetry to the mirror in the bathroom, precisely because of the risk. I hope to attend the In Arms Poetry Project in November, because it’d be cool to meet you in person and shake your hand.

Apr 19 2010 · 14:09

Bill Woolgar

After 39 years service and never having thrown a rock in anger nor having had any tossed my way, I am still in awe of the bravery of Canada’s youth and military leadership. I understand that I am from another era … the cold war, but we train for war and when it arises, we do our best. We have proven ourselves time and time again through many conflicts and our peacekeeping is second to none.
Thanks for shining a light on our Armed Forces personnel via your poetry

May 06 2010 · 16:55

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled 50,000 hits done and dusted. It was posted here on April 19, 2010.

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