Jeff Glor talks to Kevin Powers about, "The Yellow Birds."
Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?
Kevin Powers: When I returned from overseas I was frequently asked what my time in Iraq was like. I realized that I didn't have a simple answer that could communicate the complexity of that experience. The book was my attempt to ask some larger questions about the war: What does it mean to try to be good and fail? How can you find meaning in an experience that seems like an incomprehensible aberration?
Just as no two people are the same, no two experiences of war are the same. I wanted to show the war from one soldier's perspective, to paint a portrait of him from the inside out.
JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?
KP: Being that this was my first novel, I'd say almost everything about the process surprised me. I've always written both poetry and prose, but having this project to return to day after day, month after month, was both daunting and exciting.
JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
KP: I'm not really sure. It took me a long time to find the courage to give writing my full effort and attention, to stop worrying about failing or succeeding and just write the way I wanted to write. But I could certainly see myself teaching high school English or History. I've had some extraordinary teachers in my life, and I think doing my best to emulate them could have been a challenging and rewarding career.
JG: What else are you reading right now?
KP: I've been spending quite a bit of time with Dean Young's poetry collection "Fall Higher."
JG: What's next for you?
KP: I'm trying to finish up a collection of poems and I've recently started some tentative work in the direction of my second novel.
For more on "The Yellow Birds" please visit the Hachette Book Group website.