Lynda Van Devanterauthor of the backlist classic Home Before Morning, which inspired the TV show "China Beach"edited this powerful collection of poems reminiscent of Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. All author proceeds from the book will go to the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project. 6 photographs.
Whether in war or peace, women's concerns are universal: Lily Lee Adams states that ``Being a vet/ Is like/ Losing a baby''; Dana Shuster ironically asks, ``What do you pack/ to take to a war?'' These are the nurses and entertainers, women America did not want to accept as veterans, many of whom kept their war memories secret until now. Few have received any recognition as writers, yet two poems included by Grace Paley seem weak by comparison with works by Sharon Grant, Marilyn McMahon, or the poets quoted above. Most poems here were written in the 1980s yet speak in the present tense--long enough after the fact, perhaps, that pain and memory can be transformed into art. Surprisingly, the weakest poems are those inspired by the Vietnam Memorial. Long overdue, yet aptly coinciding with news stories of women who served in the Persian Gulf, this is essential for all libraries. Coeditor Van DeVanter is also coauthor of Home Before Morning ( LJ 3/1/83), inspiration for the TV series China Beach .-- Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, ``Soho Weekly News,'' New York