Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1998-1999 index

Distributed March 18, 1999
Contact: Janet Kerlin

Creating a written legacy of Vietnam

Writers gather for forum, workshops on "Writing Vietnam"

Nationally recognized writers whose work has explored aspects of the American involvement in Vietnam will gather at Brown University for a six-session conference titled "Writing Vietnam," April 21-23, 1999. Their lectures, readings and discussions are open to the public without charge.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Nationally recognized writers of fiction, memoir, poetry, journalism and biography will be at Brown University April 21 to 23, 1999, reading from and discussing their works based on their experiences during the Vietnam War.

The event, "Writing Vietnam," will feature fiction writer Tim O'Brien, journalists Philip Caputo and Laura Palmer, and poets Bruce Weigl, Marilyn McMahon, and Yusef Komunyakaa, winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize.

Rhode Islander Frank Grzyb, author of Touched by the Dragon, will lead a workshop to encourage veterans who write, and Jade Ngoc Quang Huynh, author of the memoir South Wind Changing, will lead a workshop to encourage writing from the Southeast Asian community.

Photographs by Rhode Island photographer Tom Morrissey will be on display in the Salomon Center lobby throughout the conference. The images come from Morrissey's book Between the Lines: Photographs from the National Vietnam Veterans War Memorial: Washington, DC. 1983-1999.

All events are free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the University's English Department and Creative Writing Program. For additional information, contact the program's organizer, Elizabeth Taylor at (401) 863-3743.

April 21

"Vet to Vet: Starting to Tell the Story." Frank Grzyb leads an open forum to encourage veterans, including nurses, to write their stories. 3:30-5 p.m., Alumnae Hall, Meeting Street, Crystal Room.

Tim O'Brien, author of the fiction book, The Things They Carried, delivers a President's Lecture. 6:30 p.m., Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 101, on The College Green.

April 22

Readings by Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried, Philip Caputo, author of the memoir, Rumor of War, poets Yusef Komunyakaa, Bruce Weigl, and Marilyn McMahon; Jade Ngoc Quang Huynh, author of South Wind Changing, Laura Palmer, author of the biography, Shrapnel in the Heart. 1-5 p.m., Alumnae Hall, Crystal Room, Meeting Street.

Forum on "Writing Vietnam." The invited writers will discuss their experiences in Vietnam, its legacy in their lives, the ways they have written about it, and different genres. 7-9 p.m., Salomon Center for Teaching, Room 101, on The College Green. A reception follows.

April 23

"Writing the American War" with Jade Ngoc Quang Huynh, Kathy Le and Phuc Le, all Brown alums. An open dialogue for Southeast Asians to encourage them to write the stories of the war and its legacy in their lives. 10-11:30 a.m., Alumnae Hall, Crystal Room, Meeting Street. Reception at 11:30 a.m.


Philip Caputo served as a lieutenant with the 3rd Marine Regiment near Da Nang, 1965-66. He became a prize-winning journalist, covering the fall of Saigon for The Chicago Tribune. His memoirs are A Rumor of War and Means of Escape. He lives in Norwalk, Conn.

Frank Grzyb was assigned to the 1st Logistical Command and later the U.S. Army in Qui Nohn. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation. In his book, Touched By The Dragon, he tells stories of Rhode Island veterans. He lives in Portsmouth, R.I.

Jade Ngnoc Quang Huynh is the author of South Wind Changing, a memoir of his family torn apart by war in his native Vietnam, his survival of prison camp, his escape attempts, and his struggle to resettle in the United States. He lives in Bennington, Vt., and with an NEA grant is working on several books.

Yusef Komunyakaa served from 1968-1971 in the U.S. Army, editing and writing for the newspaper, The Southern Cross. His collections of poems include Dien Cai Dau and Neon Vernacular, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1994. He teaches at Princeton University.

Marilyn McMahon served as a U.S. Navy nurse from 1967-1972, including work with Marine war casualties in Philadelphia and serving from 1969-1970 at Da Nang Naval Hospital. Her poems have been published in The Vietnam War in American Stories, Songs, and Poems, and Visions of War, Dreams of Peace. She lives in Seattle.

Tim O'Brien served as an infantry sergeant in the Army's Americal Division near Quang Ngai in 1970-71. He wrote The Things They Carried, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and numerous prize-winning short stories. He lives in Cambridge, Mass.

Laura Palmer reported on the Vietnam War for ABC and NBC radio news, and Time and Rolling Stone. In her book, Shrapnel In The Heart, she tells stories of grieving people who left letters at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. She is a producer for "Nightline" and lives in New York City.

Bruce Weigl served with the 1st Air Cavalry in 1967-68. His prize-winning collections of poems include Song of Napalm. His memoir, Tales From a World of Hurt, will be published next fall. He is a professor of English at Oberlin College in Ohio.