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Muse of Fire (2007)

 -  Documentary | War  -  April 2007 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 22 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 3 critic

Through interviews and readings by US troops, their families, and distinguished contemporary American writers, LAWRENCE BRIDGES' MUSE OF FIRE is an exploration of the human, historical and ... See full summary »

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Through interviews and readings by US troops, their families, and distinguished contemporary American writers, LAWRENCE BRIDGES' MUSE OF FIRE is an exploration of the human, historical and literary value of "Operation Homecoming," a project created by the NEA to help troops and their families write about their wartime experiences. Written by Lawrence Bridges

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An exploration of creativity in the writings of troops returning from Afganistan and Iraq.

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Documentary | War

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April 2007 (USA)  »

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Muse of Fire advocates creative expression as a path to healing
5 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

On a whim, I checked out a DVD copy of Muse of Fire from my public library, not really knowing what to expect.

Muse of Fire gives us a glimpse into the world of our soldiers at war. The documentary advocates creative expression as a path to healing war's emotional wounds. Director Lawrence Bridges takes neither a pro-war nor pro-peace stand. Muse of Fire is more of a video journal of a small sample of people who participated in Operation Homecoming. The film includes interviews with soldiers, military leaders, military families and writers. Hearing their stories helped me better understand some of what our soldiers endure.

Muse of Fire is a documentary about Operation Homecoming. According to interviews with Dana Gioia and Marilyn Nelson, Operation Homecoming came about when Dana and Marilyn, who were old friends, met at a conference of state poet laureates. Dana is the past poet director of the National Endowment for the Arts and was the keynote speaker at the conference. Marilyn was the Poet Laureate for the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006, and is the daughter of a Tuskegee Airman.

According to Dana, he and Marilyn hadn't seen each other in some time. Dana had a few minutes before he was to give his keynote speech, so he invited Marilyn to sit down with him at a tavern in New Hampshire and tell him about her teaching experience at West Point. Marilyn described her semester teaching an experimental course on poetry and meditation to groups of West Point cadets. It had been a phenomenal experience for her. As their discussion continued they agreed that it would be wonderful to find some way to bring the kind of clarification and perspective that literature and the arts offers, to people who are involved in wars.

Marilyn felt many of us are so separate from the military experience. She felt it was important for the American people to understand what our soldiers go through. Marilyn suggested offering writing workshops for people affected by war. So the National Endowment for the Arts set up workshops at military installations across the country and overseas. Dana said at first they thought it would be very small, maybe five or ten workshops, but as soon as they announced the program the place went crazy, phones ringing, faxes whirring, emails and packages coming in. Soldiers called on their satellite phones from Baghdad and Kabul wanting to participate in the workshops. Folks at NEA realized they needed many more workshops than they had planned.

All and all, over 12,000 pages of writings were submitted to the NEA, and nearly one hundred memoirs, stories, poems and letters are published in "Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of US Soldiers and Their Families." Muse of Fire is a documentary based on Operation Homecoming.

The film left me feeling that people who engage in war need an outlet for processing the traumatic events they experience. Writing, journaling, songwriting and speaking can assist in the process of healing these emotional traumas. The special features include expanded interviews. I watched every one of them and especially enjoyed the perspectives of the featured writers.


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