"When Jan Barry ... speaks to students in Vietnam courses, he describes his working-class youth in upstate New York when 'the last thing I would ever think of being was a poet' ... But what he, along with many others, discovered in Vietnam was that 'poetry saved my life.' He then explains how poetry, by expressing what seemed most inexpressible about the war, has led many to healing."

--H. Bruce Franklin, The Vietnam War in American Stories, Songs, and Poems

Life After War, a chapbook collection of new poems developed in a Combat Paper workshop at the Printmaking Council of New Jersey in June 2010. The covers of the 30 numbered and signed copies were silkscreened by Drew Cameron on handmade paper made from military uniforms.

"'Earth Songs' invites the reader to experience war for what it really is: an insane activity of patriotic carnage...the poet lets his journalist's eye survey all the madness he sees and then uses the professional's pen to edit out the hearsay so only the news--and truth--remains."

--Charles H. Johnson, Home News Tribune, New Brunswick, NJ

A Citizen's Guide to Grassroots Campaigns is "a blast of fresh air, a wake-up reminder that the really great things in our world are built bit by bit by everyday folks like you and me....here's a straightforward,
down-to-earth guide to how you too can make your mark."

--Michael Shafer, Director, Citizenship and Service Education Program, Rutgers University

"I have pulled from my shelf a slim volume of poems edited by Jan Barry, Larry Rottmann, and Basil T. Parquet in 1972, which was for me a touchstone in those war years, a way inside Vietnam’s reality, as it was for many: Winning Hearts and Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans."

--Eleanor Wilner, Poetry magazine, Oct. 2004

"...a new kind of American poetry..."

--John Felstiner, San Francisco Review of Books, April 1978

W.D. Ehrhart and I compiled and edited Demilitarized Zones together, a collaborative experience that withstood many abrasive moments in our lives. I managed one more anthology, Peace Is Our Profession, and felt burnt out. Bill got energized and edited or wrote, at last count, 19 books of poetry and prose, including two anthologies of poetry by Vietnam veterans that gained wide literary recognition.

Jan Barry "is perhaps the single most important figure in the emergence of Vietnam veterans' poetry, not only for his own pioneering poems but especially for his tireless efforts to encourage and promote the work of others."

--W.D. Ehrhart, Unaccustomed Mercy: Soldier-Poets of the Vietnam War

"As a former protester against the war in Vietnam, I was moved to tears by many of the stories and poems presented in this anthology [Peace Is Our Profession]. This book brought home to me that we are all people on this planet, and that cruelty to one has a ripple effect against us all. Most striking were the poems of the Vietnamese contributors. To see the US through their eyes was, to say the least, an eye-opener. What also moved me was the common thread of all concerned asking the simple question we must all be courageous enough to ask: WHY? It didn't matter whose contribution I was reading; the depth and variety of the sentiments evoked powerful emotions. I would recommend this thought-provoking anthology for anyone concerned about peace and the possibility of war."

--5-star review on Amazon.com

Poems in Veterans Day were originally presented in reading on November 11, 1982 at the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre. The cover photo is of my uncle, A.T. "Ted" Graham, a Navy dive bomber tail gunner who died in a naval battle off the Philippines on November 11, 1944.

Poems in War Baby--with a cover photo of me in a circa 1945 sailor suit like my Dad's--address a boy's life growing up in a country immersed in the Second World War soon followed by wars in Korea and Vietnam, where I arrived as a very young soldier.

"War Baby"

When I was young,
children played with guns,
played at waging war.

War was raging
in all the world around us,
with fathers fighting overseas.

And, Yo! I would be a soldier,
like Alexander, Caesar,
Napoleon, Washington.

Yo! I would be a general
grander than Grant and Lee,
and get into the history books

with pictures of my uniform,
my sword, and me--
mounted high upon a horse!

For whoever saw pictures
in history books of happy children
in a schoolyard, playing in peace?

My Works

Art Work in Progress
(My Publisher, 2015)

Art work by the author created in Combat Paper workshops and as part of the Secaucus (NJ) Vet Center Art Group

Carrying a camera when outdoors has often led to memorable nature shots. In the dread days of winter holidays, I make photo books as gifts for family and friends. It's a way of creatively dealing with memories of my wife's dying of cancer during this traditionally cheerful season. These are scenes of the Earth's astonishing beauty she would have enjoyed, which we all can enjoy, when we slow down and look around us.

Hudson River Views
(My Publisher, 2015)

The Hudson River flows majestically
between mountains and sea
carrying ships and memories
on waves of time and tides

(My Publisher, 2014)

Taughannock Falls is a special stop
for visitors and residents,
friends and relatives drawn back
for a refreshing reflection

Winter Tracks
(My Publisher, 2013

Snowy scenes that have been seen from Halloween in Jersey to mid-summer in Wyoming

Spring Again
(My Publisher, 2013)

A Spring ramble through New Jersey and the Hudson River valley region

Healing from War Through the Arts (shutterfly, 2012) is a47-page, 7-by-9 inch soft cover photo book commemorating a supportive, healing gathering of about 100 people on April 21, 2012 at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck, NJ to participate with veterans of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam in Combat Papermaking, Warrior Writers and drama workshops, readings from the new anthology After Action Review and an art exhibition. Photos by Jan Barry and Paula Rogovin.

This book can be previewed and purchased at:

A companion photo book is Costs of War 2011, a 33-page, 7x9 inch soft cover book that commemorates a standing-room-only event at Puffin Cultural Forum on March 20, 2011 that showcased an art exhibition and performances by poets, dancers, singers and musicians--including war veterans, military family members and friends--on themes of the human and economic costs of war. Photos by Paula Rogovin and Jan Barry.

This book can be previewed and purchased at:

My latest poetry collection is Life After War, published in March 2012 by Combat Paper Press.

"This is a fascinating encounter with the rich literary tradition of veterans dating back many wars. Jan's works serve as a catalyst, a sobering message and an honest perspective for us today. His poems further inspire our own writing. They shape our understanding of the experiences of war. They also share with us the lessons of reintegration, creativity, and learning how to live again. Barry's collections emphasize the importance of responding in a way that lives outside of ourselves."

--Drew Cameron Co-Founder, Combat Paper Project, from the Introduction

The limited edition book has 20 pages and features a hand sewn pamphlet binding. The handmade cover is derived from the military uniforms worn in various conflicts including Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq made by Drew Cameron and Pam DeLuco. The title on the cover is a silkscreen print by Drew Cameron.

For more information and book orders: www.combatpaper.org/lifeafterwar

Autumn Days
(MyPublisher.com, 2011)

Autumn leaves are surely amongst
Nature's greatest miracles ...
Flamboyantly coloring hills and dales,
Repainting towns & refreshing world-weary humans

Grand Lands
(MyPublisher.com, 2010)

From the Catskills to the Sierra Nevada, America's most memorable sights are landscapes.
These photos were taken on various trips from New England to California.

Wild Life
(MyPublisher.com, 2009)

Nature's other creatures
give me goose bumps
when I ramble outdoors
and catch such scenes as these

Finger Lakes & Gorges
(MyPublisher.com, 2007)

Here is where I was born and each summer return to recharge, reflect and rediscover who I am.

(MyPublisher.com, 2006)

Nature photos - from my back yard to more distant travels.

Wild Life: Seneca white deer, Romulus, NY
A herd of white deer lives inside a fenced area that was part of a military base, Seneca Army Depot, near where I grew up. The deer survived hectic periods of military training, staging, munitions storage and transportation through three wars. These deer and other wildlife give me hope that we may yet survive the human addiction to blowing things up.

Earth Songs: New & Selected Poems
(iUniverse, 2003)

This collection of poems unveils extraordinary views of the world discovered by a soldier-turned-poet amid a bitter war and brittle peace. From flowers blooming in battle zones to a dying love's parting words, these poems crackle with life amid death, a storyteller's own true song.

A Citizen's Guide to Grassroots Campaigns
(Rutgers University Press, 2000)

A wealth of practical information on the elements of an effective civic campaign -- including organizing, public speaking, lobbying, publicity, and more -- by a community service award-winning journalist.

Peace Is Our Profession: Poems and Passages of War Protest
Edited by Jan Barry
(East River Anthology, 1981)

A fiery selection of literature and artwork by American and Vietnamese war protesters, many of whom were soldiers who turned against the fighting, civilians who braved the fire on peace missions, poet-activists, activists-turned-public dramatists, conscientious objectors in and out of uniform.

Demilitarized Zones: Veterans After Vietnam
Edited by Jan Barry and W.D. Ehrhart
(East River Anthology, 1976)

Hard-bitten, bitter, brash, and black humor poetry and prose, art and photography by veterans of Vietnam and other wars.

Winning Hearts & Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans
Edited by Larry Rottmann, Jan Barry, and Basil T. Paquet
(1st Casualty Press/McGraw-Hill, 1972)

"A book of poems and art that say more than any correspondent can about Vietnam." --Herbert Mitgang, New York Times

"...the most eloquent statement of what the war is that I have seen from its participants." --Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek

Chapbooks by Jan Barry

April Off Atlantic Avenue, Word Theater Workshop, 1975
War Baby, Samisdat, 1983
Veterans Day, Samisdat, 1983
Morning in Moscow, Candle Press, 1987
Cold War Blues, Candle Press, 1988
Life After War, Combat Paper Press, 2010

Selected Essays by Jan Barry

"The End of Art: Poetry and Nuclear War,"The Nightmare Considered: Critical Studies of Nuclear War Literature (Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1991) and Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism(Gale Research, 1993)

"From War to Peace: Changing the Culture," Unwinding the Vietnam War (Real Comet Press/​Washington Project for the Arts, 1987)

"A Generation of Peace," review in Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Writers of the Vietnam War (Gale Research, 1991)

"The Pen is Mightier than the Sword: How What You Write Can Make a Difference,"The Insider's Guide to Book Editors and Publishers (Prima, 1990)

"Troubling Questions About Dioxin," The New York Times (Sept. 11, 1983)

"War and Literature," review of The Madness of it All: Essays on War, Literature and American Life, by W.D. Ehrhart, in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2003

“Why Veterans March Against the War,” op-ed essay in The New York Times (April 23, 1971)

Selected Poetry

"The Longest War"

The longest war is over
Or so they say

But I can still hear the gunfire
Every night
My bed.

The longest nightmare
Never seems to
Quite come
An end.

This was one of my first published poems, written in the winter of 1971. It appeared in Winning Hearts & Minds, The New York Times and many other places. I was especially delighted when it appeared in A People and a Nation: A History of the United States, because when I was growing up poems in history books were by long-dead poets.


Fallen butterfly
crumpled amid fallen leaves.
Such tiny exquisite beauty
to feed the winter trees.

This poem was first published in Earth Songs, the coda of a section on my wife's death. It also appeared in Emerson of Harvard: A Celebrative Bicentennial Anthology to Ralph Waldo Emerson (Quill Books, 2003). Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays and poetry were a big influence on my development as a writer and poet.

Poems in Anthologies

Carrying the Darkness: The Poetry of the Vietnam War (Texas Tech University Press, 1989)

From Both Sides Now: The Poetry of the Vietnam War and its Aftermath (Scribner, 1998)

Hearts and Minds: Bodies, Poetry, and Resistance in the Vietnam Era (Rutgers University Press, 1996)

Radical Visions: Poetry by Vietnam Veterans (University of Georgia Press, 1994)

Times of Change: Vietnam and the 60s (Perfection Learning, 2001)

Unaccustomed Mercy: Soldier-Poets of the Vietnam War (Texas Tech University Press, 1989)

Vietnam Anthology: American War Literature (Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1987)

The Vietnam War in American Stories, Songs and Poems (Bedford Books, 1996)

Welkom in Zonnig Saigon: Oorlogspoezie van Vietnam veteranen (Uitgeverij Contact Amsterdam, 1974)

Interviews on and Profiles of my Life and Work

Everything We Had: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by 33 American Soldiers Who Fought It (Random House, 1981)

Home from the War: Learning from Vietnam Veterans (Other Press, 2005)

Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement (Crown, 2001)

The Legacy: The Vietnam War in the American Imagination (Beacon Press, 1990)

The New Winter Soldiers: GI and Veteran Dissent During the Vietnam Era (Rutgers University Press, 1996)

No Victory Parades: The Return of the Vietnam Veteran (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971)

The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (New York University Press, 1999)

The War Within: America's Battle over Vietnam (University of California Press, 1994)

Winter Soldiers: An Oral History of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (Twayne, 1997).

Selected Works

A tonic spray of poetry, verses that a Vietnam war veteran lives by.
A pragmatic, common-sense handbook for civic action at the community and international levels.