Reviewed by: Christine Oka, Library Instruction Specialist, Northeastern University Libraries
The Urban Dictionary defines o-dark-thirty as “Military time designating an unspecified time after midnight but before sunrise. Normally used in reference to either the time one goes to sleep, wakes up, or has to be on-the-job. Usually quite a while before sunrise, i.e.: well before 0500 hours (5AM for you civilians).” It is also the title of this literary journal of the Veterans Writing Project, which is actually a combination of online journal, platform, and place for “writing among veterans and members of the military community.”
In the inaugural issue, the editor’s note reads, “On these pages you’ll find what we think is some terrific writing by service members, veterans, and military family members. Some of it is raw and a little shocking. Some of it might just make you laugh out loud. Read it. Savor it. Share it.” A sense of familiarity shared by members of the military community comes through in the writings here, whether about the claustrophobia felt from wearing a gas mask, the death letter (“in the event of my death. . . .”), and the fear on the battlefield. Everything about O-Dark-Thirty is authentically military—views of active duty, reservist, officer, NCO, chaplain, past (Vietnam, Korean War). The poem “Notes from the Frontline of Integration, German, 1977,” brought back to this author memories of military integration and the end of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Even the cover of the inaugural issue was the work of a veteran: it’s an oil painting, Under the Mulberry Trees, by CWO2 Michael D. Fay, USMC (Ret), courtesy of the Art Collection of The National Museum of the Marine Corps.
This is a growing enterprise. The web site consists of links, such as to The Report, where a host of online writing -- fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc. -- can be found. The webpage describes this section as “lightly edited by our editors.” Another link is to The Review, the quarterly, print literary journal containing editor-selected submissions “that best suit our theme or that really stand out as great writing. We’ll also have a profile or interview with writers and teachers of consequence.” A sample issue of The Review is available at the website. Planned for the near future are links to podcasts of readings, “interviews, discussions and more.”
This is much more than just a journal, and is recommended to anyone who wants to understand the military experience from an insider’s perspective.