The University prides itself on its students, staff, and faculty, and boasts a variety of successful alumni with different backgrounds and successes to their credit. Brooke King, an adjunct English professor at the University, has accomplished much in her adult years, and doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Many of these accomplishments have been based in the literary profession, a world she is no stranger to. As a student, she worked as an intern for YellowJacket press, an editor for the Lion’s Pride Newspaper, and a contributor to the Sandhill Review. Recently, some of her poetry was published by Green Rabbit Press in a chapbook entitled “Love in the Shape of a War Zone.”
As the title of the work implies, the first section of the chapbook features poetry centered on King’s experiences in the military and her year-long tour in Iraq when she was nineteen. She has a wide range of experiences from her time in the military, and she jokingly remarks that she was trained in “20 different things” before deployed; the idea being that if every soldier was trained in multiple areas of expertise, there was sure to be at least one person in a company who knew how to accomplish whatever needed to be done. King was a 50 caliber gunner, convoy mechanic, and navigation and radio specialist. She also recovered vehicles from combat situations. Her experiences challenge the idea that women in the military are kept off the frontlines.
“When you’re in the middle of a warzone, combat is all around you,” said King.
One of her duties was to go out on convoys. Whenever a problem arose with one of vehicles, King would be the one dispatched over the radio to fix it. And in her experience, something as mundane as a flat tire becomes life-threatening when it happens in the middle of enemy fire.
“I would jump out of the vehicle I was in, in full gear with my weapon, and run to patch the tire while being shot at,” said King.
In order to prevent her from being gunned down, other members of the convoy would cover her front and rear, with another vehicle pulled up in front of her as she changed the tire.
As a woman on the frontlines, King challenged the stereotypes of women in the military. She made a name for herself as “one of the guys” with her no nonsense, straightforward attitude, and her willingness to ask for help when she didn’t know what she was doing, which made less work for everyone else in the long run. King also had the chance to prove her strength along with the other women in her company. At 130 pounds, she was carrying around 320 pounds in gear and equipment. The barrel of her gun weighed in at 70 pounds.
On top of her experiences in the military, the chapbook also covers her life as a student, mom, veteran, and her experiences with PTSD.
“It sucks because you want to function as a normal person, and there’s that little thing at the back of your head that says you’re not normal. … You’ve been through something that not a lot of people have.”
According to King, the chapbook serves in part as a bridge to shrink the gap between those who come closest to war through a TV, and those who have actually seen combat.
Students who are interested in hearing more about King’s experiences will have the opportunity on March 26. There will be a Green Rabbit Press reading at 7:00 pm during which she will read some of her chapbook.
However, this is not the only literary work of hers that students will have the chance to enjoy. “War Flower” is an upcoming fiction novel that follows the story of Private Sarah Miller during her deployment in Iraq, and addresses the issue of being a female soldier in combat.
“Sarah is a fictitious character that may have done some of the things I did,” said King.
King explained that while she and Sarah may be similar in some ways, they aren’t the same person.
“She’s an emotional roller coaster, and I’m not,” said King commenting on her character.
On top of her literary accomplishments, King is looking forward to a full course load next semester. She describes her teaching style as laid back and more discussion oriented rather than lecture-based. She is one of the youngest adjuncts on campus.
King is re-enlisting with the military in linguistics as an interpreter.