Colin Halloran said he put emotion to paper when he wrote Shortly Thereafter, a book of prose about his experiences as a combat soldier in Afghanistan.
Halloran, 27, will discuss his book at 6:30 p.m. June 6 in the German Village Meeting Haus. After the conversation, he will be signing copies of his book, which will be on sale for $15 each.
Now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, Halloran said writing the book was cathartic, allowing him to communicate his feelings in a thoughtful, relatable format.
"I think poetry is such a distillation of experience, and it really gets down to the very core and essence of experience," said Halloran, whose mother, Heather Densmore, lives in German Village.
Like many teenagers, Halloran considered himself to be politically liberal, protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and needling his conservative parents in the process.
"Looking back I would say I was anti-war," said Halloran, who now lives in Boston, "but I'm not sure I knew what it meant."
When he graduated from a Connecticut high school in 2004, Halloran had aspirations to seek higher office, which led him to the military.
"At that time in my life I was very interested in politics and I wanted a career in politics and I wanted to have an experience in things that I would be making decisions on," he said.
So he enlisted in the Army, which would take him to the front lines in Afghanistan.
Rising to the rank of corporal, Halloran was a convoy Humvee leader who led a number of missions into danger.
He said he witnessed many tragedies, and later learned his vehicle was targeted by the enemy, whose bombs malfunctioned, sparing him and his fellow troopers.
The prolonged exposure to danger and violence took its physical and psychological toll, he said.
"When you're at war every day it's like that," Halloran said.
"You don't know when it's going to happen or if it's going to happen. but if it does happen you have to be prepared to do something about it."
Those combat experiences changed his outlook on how he viewed other people's perception about war, he said.
"I think what it showed me is both the general public and the people making decisions really have no idea what it's about," he said.
After more than six months in Afghanistan, a knee injury he sustained in training brought him home. Eventually he was honorably discharged.
Halloran has since graduated with a bachelor's degree from Central Connecticut State University and master's degree from Fairfield University.
He said his upcoming discussion is not meant to affirm people's individual politics or positions on war.
"I tried to be apolitical in the book, but if I had a political message in the book it would be an anti-political message," he said, noting that he has since abandoned any thought of becoming a politician.
He called war an "individual human experience."
"I don't say war is bad. I just say war is. Sadly it's a fact of life. It always has been, it always will be," he said.
"War is incredibly complex. Poetry is incredibly complex. There's a lot of beauty in war and that's something that doesn't get talked about."