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Poet In Motion

Nov 24, 2009

Poet In MotionVictor Inzunza, an English major, poet and a veteran of the war in Iraq, won a Pacific Fund Grant that took him to the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts/Boston this summer. Victor was accepted to attend the Joiner Center's annual writing workshop, where he had the opportunity to study with poets such as Bruce Weigl and Brian Turner, both of whom have seen combat and written about their experiences.

Victor served two tours of duty in Iraq, including the initial invasion in 2003. He began to write poetry to his wife when he was first deployed in Iraq, but it wasn't until he came to Pacific a year and a half ago that he started getting more serious about writing.

He was encouraged by many of his teachers, especially Dr. Camille Norton, who teaches a poetry workshop class, and Dr. Courtney Lehmann, who provides creative opportunities for student writers through the Humanities Center. Victor had his poem "The Part of Ourselves We're Afraid Of" published in the 2009 Calliope literary magazine. He also won the 2009 Arlen Hansen Prize in Writing awarded annually by the English Department.

Dr. Norton introduced the writings of Brian Turner and Bruce Weigl to Victor and encouraged him to apply for the workshop.

"I wouldn't have been able to attend the workshop if it weren't for Dr. Norton and the Pacific Fund grant," said Victor. "It was an amazing opportunity for me to explore the possibilities of writing."

At the Joiner Center, Victor learned new techniques and made friends with other veterans who were writing about their experiences. Through a course taught by Bruce Weigl, Victor discovered the power of drawing on imagination. According to Weigl, "Poetry tells a different kind of truth."

"I learned that you don't have to be limited to trying to convey things exactly or only as you remember them," said Victor.

Student Veteran’s Organization

Victor Inzunza started the Student Veteran’s Organization (SVO) to support fellow veterans and advocate for veteran’s issues at Pacific and the community at large. He serves as President of the club, and has received tremendous help from fellow student veterans Joseph Paredes, Vice President, and Jonathan Hess, a graduate student at Pacific who serves as Executive Officer. Bob Bechill, Associate Director of the Center for Professional and Continuing Education, along with the Veterans Support Committee led by Dean Thomas Krise, has been instrumental in developing the mission of the SVO. The group organized a candlelight vigil on Veterans Day to honor those who had lost their lives at Ford Hood the week before. A number of other activities are planned, including a veterans panel being organized in conjunction with the School of International Studies.

"After returning to civilian life, I found myself really confused about how I felt about the war, and I tried to just push the thoughts away. From attending the workshop I came to realize that a writer has a sense of duty to tell the story of war, especially the human consequences."

This fall Victor visited Dr. Norton's English 25 class (Sex, Story, Cinema) during a unit on warfare and masculinity to discuss his combat experience in relation to the literature they were reading. He also recently gave a reading of his poetry to University President Pam Eibeck, and plans to seek other opportunities to share his works.

The Joiner Center experience inspired Victor to find ways to impact other people's lives not only through his poetry, but through his actions. He recently started the Student Veteran's Organization, which advocates for veterans issues on campus and beyond (see sidebar).

Victor writes on many topics--not all warfare related. He was inspired to write the poem "Nature's Forest Masterpiece" after seeing an essay titled "The Sequoia" in the John Muir Collection on campus. The poem was published on the Sierra Club website.

Links to Victor's poems "Nature's Forest Masterpiece" and "The Part of Ourselves We're Afraid Of" are provided here.

Victor Featured in Stockton Record

Victor was featured in an article published in the Stockton Record on November 22, 2009, titled "Pacific student uses pen and paper to work through the horrors of combat." Click Here to read the full article.