Battle Dress

Norton. Aug. 2019. 80p. ISBN 9781324003014. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781324003021. POETRY
Skolfield (Frost in the Low Area) writes about war, the war machine, and the consequences of conflict. Perhaps as a way to understand her experience, she uses dictionary definitions for etymologies of words such as rifle, bayonet, and concertina wire and draws heavily, ironically, on the U.S. Army’s SMART book (Soldiers’ Manual Army Training book). She defines what it is to be both woman and soldier. “Because so many recruits threw like girls/ we had to be tested before moving on/ to live grenades.” Skolfield’s voice is accessible and lyrical. Her language and imagery are lovely, her narratives sometimes disturbing. As she is an army veteran, her words carry the veracity of experience; as a poet, her words are “a bludgeon of doves.”
VERDICT  An important book owing to its alternate view of war and the military.
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