A Poem A Day — November 5th

Oliver is illustrating a poem a day while at work. He illustrates the poem, then writes the poem out from memory, then corrects the poem for any lines that he has gotten wrong. Oliver also draws cats sometimes. Anyway, today’s poem is by Randall Jarrell. It is called “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” and was written in 1945. …Here is your poem for the day. Thought Catalog Logo Mark



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…Here is Jarrell’s original note to the poem — “A ball turret was a Plexiglas sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24, and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine-guns and one man, a short small man. When this gunner tracked with his machine guns a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in his little sphere, he looked like the foetus in the womb. The fighters which attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose.” You may read the original text of the poem here.
Randall Jarrell was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1914. During World War II, he joined the United States Air Force as a cadet, then was promoted to the position of celestial navigation tower operator, a job title which he considered to be “the most poetic in the Air Force.” …He was later named 11th Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a position that now bears the title Poet Laureate. Jarrell died on October 14th, 1965; he was killed when he was struck by a car, while walking along U.S. highway 15-501, near Chapel Hill, N.C. TC Mark

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