Kara Krauze is a writer, a mother, and a member of our community. Recently she brought an idea to us here at the Y that we thought was pretty great. When we asked her to blog about it for us and tell the story, she very generously said yes. Please read on to learn more about our Veterans Writing workshop led by Kara and housed at the 14th Street Y!
Last September, I started teaching Voices from War here at the 14th Street Y, a writing workshop for veterans, with fellow writer and veteran, Jake Siegel, from Ditmas Park. If you had asked me the previous winter, in my youngest son’s final year of preschool at the 14th Street Y, if I thought I would be teaching a class here a year later, I probably would have looked puzzled. And I would have said no.
But the fantastic, warm community that I’ve so cherished for my children has embraced and nurtured Voices from War. What began as a need I saw for expanded opportunities for veterans to shape and tell their stories, has become a reality with support from people like our own Kiki Schaffer, Camille Diamond, and Wendy Seligson.
I don’t come from a military family—I have to reach pretty far to find a relative who is a veteran—but I have felt the isolating nature of silence, and seen how it damaged my father. He was a professor, born between the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II, and he took his own life at age fifty-nine. After my father’s suicide, in 1994, writing helped me to understand and integrate my experiences surrounding his death, his history and silences. By forming narratives, I turned memories that were jagged and fragmentary into more cohesive experiences. At the same time, writing pushed me into talking, and both of these acts helped me to find a vocabulary to speak about suicide and its related complexities. We have been slow learning similar lessons from the wars of the 20th century, including Vietnam, the shadow of which shaped the childhoods of those of us growing up in the 1970s.
It has been so gratifying, now, to listen and to seek out others’ stories. It is too easy to think that because only .5% of the population served in Iraq and Afghanistan that the past ten years of war don’t affect so many of us. But the whole country went to war, whether or not each citizen agrees with the decision, and all of us are impacted by its effects and after-effects—by the experiences of veterans, fellow citizens of a nation, of a shared humanity. Stories emerging from war, veteran stories, are part of our communal history. Their stories are necessary stories for all of us.
~ ~ ~
This event was funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
~ This class is supported and sponsored by the 14th Street Y. ~