“Killing America chills me, even after 25 years as a police officer and 15 years in counter terrorism. We don’t see all sides of the violence we fight against, and these poems take no sides. Reggie Marra exposes the pain felt by fellow humans, the challenges we face when we take sides, and the compassion we need to see each other’s pain.”
– Christopher Rogers, Father, Husband, Retired Peace Officer and Bomb Technician
“What is the underside of the American dream? Reggie Marra’s searing, soul-screaming poetry addresses the wielding of power within a democracy: what if the enemy is not from without, but within? What if America’s drive toward a unifying and international vision of democracy has become an ongoing war to glean supremacy over those without power on both U.S. and foreign soil? What if the victims of such a war were measured in data points—soldiers, civilians, students, teachers, men, women, children, the occasional politician—rather than empathy?
“Reggie’s agonizing and precise language describes the carnage resulting from America’s efforts to destabilize dictatorships in Iraq or terrorists in Afghanistan, while shining an unbearable light on the victims of a million American bullets, of children dead, communities ravaged, and families of color pillaged by a virulent strain of America’s unrelenting and targeted war on their men. And what if the collective response from a fatigued nation was merely a shrug, the deaths of human beings simply collateral damage in a quest not for the accessibility of the American dream, but rather for the ongoing accumulation power and money? Reggie’s vision is not a slight to the fighting men and women overseas, but rather a reveille to an apathetic American public who must rouse and feel and be damned if they will allow it to continue. Reggie leaves the freedom-loving reader little room for doubt: if not us, who? If not now, when?”
– Joan Hurley, 2008 Connecticut Teacher of the Year
“Coach Marra, a man who knew me as a teenager who was trying to figure out how to adjust in the world and who helped mold me into the individual that I am today, is still a part of my life. He always expected better of me, which annoyed me more times than one could imagine. Years later, he still speaks to me through his poetry. In Killing America, “The Sniper” most resonates most with me, as it captures aspects of myself as a military officer (retired) and a parent. Reggie touched my soul in my adolescence and continues to do so in my adult years.”
– Edwin G. Nall Sr., LTC(R), Father, Husband
“Reggie Marra’s poetry is both raw and sobering, highlighting how violence changes everything it ‘touches’ either by design or by default, whether we are participants or spectators. Violence can be disorganized or organized – driven by irrational emotions, sometimes mental illness, or a cultivated capability to seek or protect power. Violence exists on a spectrum: inter-personal violence on one end and collective violence (military combat) on the other. Each of us is responsible for the violence we commit anywhere on that spectrum.
“Marra’s work also illuminates how elected officials focus on gaining and retaining political power while their intended focus is to lead or represent the best interests of their constituents. If these elected officials don’t understand the nature of violence and its cultural implications, then their decisions (or indecision) will generate increased levels of unintended violence during their costly learning curve. The spectrum of violence can’t be eliminated; it can be minimized if understood. This book helps us do that.”
– Bob Killackey, Marine Infantry Officer, Combat Veteran, Husband, and now Public High School Teacher
“In Killing America, Reggie Marra gives us deep, disturbing images of War – at home and abroad. What I take with me, especially, are these lines from ‘You Stood Up’ – ‘your open heart / exposed the mask / of fear your mind / mistook for you, / so you stood up / and no one got hurt.’”
– Waverly Nall, Father
“With depth, compassion, and great expression, Reggie Marra captures our country in its dark times. His poetic words wash over your heart with meaning that is not always easy, but certainly powerful and relevant. He brings a sense of connection to our humanity through the intimate relationships he conveys about the tragic events reported all too often in the media. I highly recommend using this incredible collection of poems as your companion to navigate the rough seas our fragile democracy is sailing right now!”
– Lisa D. McCall, author of The Rhythm of the Soul: A Journey of Loss and Discovery
“Killing America is a poetic wake-up call for our politicians as well as anyone else who has become numb to the cycle of violence and apathy our culture has seemingly grown to find acceptable. Reggie Marra is a gifted wordsmith with an irreverent style in the spirit of Charles Bukowski. This collection of poems is at once insightful, heart-wrenching, and inspirational. Who knows, maybe it will move someone in a position of influence to actually make a difference. That would be the hope anyway. I highly recommend this book!”
– Michael A. Sallustio, Nutritional Consultant, Father
“The United States has a long history of violence; e.g., questionable wars, mass shootings of innocent people, high rates of hate crimes, a proliferation of high-powered guns easily accessed. It is the profound and compassionate words of a master poet such as Reggie Marra that bring the pain and suffering caused by America’s culture of violence into sharp focus. Although his words justifiably point a finger at the failure of our politicians to make a difference, they also provide a wake-up call to each of us to play a more active role in stopping this insanity. This wonderful book will not only deepen your empathy around the trail of sorrow that violence leaves but stimulate your call to action in the face of this national tragedy. Thank you Reggie Marra.
– Alexander F. Douds, Integral Master Coach™
Related Reviews: This Open Eye: Seeing What We Do (2006)
“This Open Eye is a powerful, devastating, and stunningly beautiful book. Reggie Marra has unfalteringly absorbed the images and voices of the war in Iraq, pared them down to the bone, and handed them back to us that we, too, might bear witness to our times. Not in any of these poems, or the essay, has he taken the easy way out. Like Breyten Breytenbach, Nelly Sachs, and Antonio Machado before him, Marra reclaims the essentially human from both the brutal and the brutalized.”
– Trebbe Johnson, author of The World is a Waiting Lover: Desire and the Quest for the Beloved and Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty in Earth’s Broken Places (and others)
“Reggie Marra writes with stunning, graphic precision — brutal scenes the American news skips over, scenes of endless sorrow that politicians bury under false phrases like “total victory.” I read these small but huge poems with a chill of recognition and gratitude — thank goodness for poets like Reggie Marra who look deeply and care even more deeply about telling the truth. These poems are tributes to the nearly-invisible wounded and the honest humanity so many of us yearn for now.”
– Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Voices in the Air, Transfer, Honeybee, You & Yours (and others)