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"Phantoms" Wins the Robert Gannon Award for Poetry

Updated: Mar 18

The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation has created a series of distinguished, nationally recognized awards that honor a variety of media, art, and literature that contribute to the USMC's legacy. One of those awards is named after Marine Corps veteran and writer Robert A. Gannon. The award is “given for a volume of original verse by a Marine poet dealing with Marine Corps life.”I am incredibly honored that my latest poetry book, Phantoms, has been selected to receive this prestigious award.

Surrounded by brilliance at the PB Abbate Book Club writers retreat, summer of 2023.

I would first like to recognize my publisher, Dead Reckoning Collective, for their dedication to veteran writers. Tyler and Keith (co-founders of the publishing house) have steadfastly committed to growing veteran writers. Their assistance with this book turned something good into something great.

Next, my long-time friend and graphic designer, Andrew Doyle, deserves special recognition. We worked closely together to create a compelling cover that would complement the Dead Reckoning anthology and stand on its own. People do judge books by their cover, and the cover of Phantoms speaks volumes to the words inside. I've gotten just as many remarks about the cover as I have the interior. Great work, Andrew.

I would also like to thank my compatriots at the PB Abbate Book Club for giving me confidence in creating Phantoms. Last summer, at the book club retreat in Thompson Falls, Montana, I had the privilege of meeting many of these writers (until then, I had only known them through the Internet.) Among them was guest of honor and acclaimed author Sebastian Junger. His written endorsement for Phantoms was a major accomplishment in my writing career and certainly accelerated my writing trajectory.

Left to Right: Neville Johnson, Sebastian Junger, Benjamin Fortier, Mason Rodrigue

To everyone who has supported me on this journey, you are the reason I want to create. Your gratitude and motivation have driven me to new heights. You are the reason I want to publish, create, and get better at the craft!

I’d also like to acknowledge my friends and fellow Gannon award recipients: David Rose, Justin Eggen, and Mason Rodrigue. These modern warrior poets have paved the way for a new method of exploring the complexities of Marine Corps service during wartime. Their artistry has inspired me and countless others. I’m proud to call these men my friends.

Lastly, I would like to thank the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for its impact on the Marine Corps's culture and history. Many organizations ignore the nuances of art and its powerful impact. The Heritage Foundation clearly wants to stand apart from the crowd, and I’m beyond honored to be a small part of their legacy.

Semper Fidelis!

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