Afghan war veteran to read from his poetry at Fairfield University Bookstore


Image: Colin HalloranFairfield University graduate alumnus Colin D. Halloran, a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan, will read from his award-winning book of poetry, "Shortly Thereafter," at 7 p.m., Friday, October 19, 2012, at the Fairfield University Bookstore, 1499 Post Road, Fairfield. Sponsored by the University's MFA in Creative Writing Program, this event is free and open to the public. It is timed to coincide with the University's Alumni & Family Weekend.

Halloran, a U.S. Army infantry soldier, won the 2012 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award for his highly personal, yet universal collection, in which he aimed to "put a human face on the events that happened and get to the emotional core of the war."

Halloran began writing poetry when he was very young, but became serious about it in 2008, when his grandfather became terminally ill. "I was very close with him and sat with him for 30 hours until his passing," he said. Two hours before his grandfather died, Halloran ripped the back page out of a book and started to write. Two days later, when he was writing the eulogy, he found the paper again and realized he'd written a poem.

"That's when I realized poetry was going to be my way of facing all of the experiences I had been through," he said.

A former public high school English teacher, Halloran joined the Army for many reasons, including patriotic duty and the educational benefits. In 2006, he found himself stationed in the Uruzgan province, where he served about seven months of a 13-month tour before he was sent home due to a combat injury. "Afghanistan is beautiful," he said. "Barren, but beautiful. And the people were the nicest that you've ever met."

During some downtime his unit taught some local children how to play baseball. "Those were the types of days that made it worth being over there," he said.

But there were more harrowing days, too. "Combat is 95 percent waiting for something to happen and five percent chaos, wishing that it hadn't," he said.

Halloran applied for Fairfield's MFA in Creative Writing Program after meeting its director, Michael White, Ph.D., an award-winning author himself. "Colin is a wonderful poet who plans on using his experience in war to shine a bright light on the traumatic experience of the modern solider," he said.

Halloran credits the MFA program with helping him turn his experiences into powerful poetry. "I came into this program a wounded warrior trying to find himself with nothing but a handful of poems to serve as a road map. Literally," he said. "In the end I found more than myself. I found my voice. I found understanding. I found forgiveness. And perhaps more importantly, I found a community of likeminded individuals, who, in spite of not having been in combat themselves, sought to understand and support and heal along with me through my writing and their own."

For more information, contact Elizabeth Hastings, ehastings@fairfield.edu or (203) 254-4000, ext. 2688. For more information on Fairfield's MFA in Creative Writing Program, visit www.fairfield.edu/mfa.

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 21, 2012

Vol. 45, No. 53