Sean Mclain Brown enlisted in the Marine Corps at just 17 years old, and soon found himself engaged in combat during the Gulf War. Injured and sequestered in an army hospital, he struggled with his experiences in Iraq. He found solace in the work of writer and activist Maxine Hong Kingston, and wrote to thank her for her work with veterans, never expecting a response. Not only did Hong Kingston write back, but she saw promise in Brown’s letter. When he was discharged, he accepted her invitation to attend a writer’s group for Veterans in Sebastopol, finding comfort in her assertion that “Art is the transformation of feelings and experience into meaning.” The two became friends and stayed in contact while Brown pursued an M.A. in English and then an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. He writes in an attempt to process experiences, but knows that he “will never be fully whole until I revisit Iraq and make peace with the people I once falsely believed were my enemies.” Brown’s poems were included in Hong Kingston’s anthology, Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace. The two come together today at Brown’s alma mater for a public reading.
Thu., Oct. 18, 4:30 p.m., 2012