Doug Anderson has seen some horrific things — anyone would if they were a Marine infantry battalion corpsman during the Vietnam War.
While several men and women have dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other various issues after returning from war, Anderson turned his thoughts and feelings into poetry.
“Many of the poems in his books are all about his experiences as a medic in the Vietnam War,” longtime friend, and chair of the Humanities Department here at Springfield College, Margaret Lloyd said. “The way he was affected by the war has really affected his entire life.”
Anderson has written three full-length poetry collections, as well as a memoir titled Keep Your Head Down: Vietnam, the Sixties, and a Journey of Self-Discovery. The book chronologically goes through his life from when he was a young boy, to his experiences in Vietnam, to his life post-war.
Anderson will be making an appearance on Springfield College’s campus tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Marsh Memorial Chapel to read some of his poetry and excerpts from his memoir.
“He’s a very, very engaging reader. His work is very powerful. It’s a powerful subject matter,” said Lloyd. “People in the audience will feel they are in the presence of a great soul and of a great writer and of a very straightforward and honest person.”
The Northampton resident has won several awards for his poetry, such as Pushcart Prize, and the 1995 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for his Vietnam War related book of poetry, The Moon Reflected Fire.
If there’s one thing to keep in mind about Anderson, it is the fact that he is very passionate about what he writes about.
A few years back, Anderson made a return trip to Vietnam with a group from the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Its Social Consequences. They met people from both sides who fought in the war. The experience helped Anderson put the Vietnam War, as well as more recent wars, in perspective for him.
“He’s very concerned about the wars that we’ve been involved in since Vietnam,” said Lloyd.
Although the Vietnam War ended over 30 years ago, Anderson’s poetry and memoir still make the issues we are facing today with war very relevant.
“The topic of war is a very timely topic, and I think it’s a topic that people really need to be alert to,” said Lloyd.
Gabby DeMarchi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org