Artist sows Combat Grass

By ERIC A. HOWALD Of the Keizertimes Before he headed to the war front in Iraq in 2003, Matthew Boulay’s preferred reading list was nonfiction for the most part. When he returned home and was trying to find his way back to civilian life, he continued to read, but poetry, specifically work by veterans, took on new meaning. β€œI began by reading the poems of soldiers from 100 years ago who were expressing emotions and thoughts that were all in my head. It was a different war and different circumstances, but I would have written exactly what they wrote,” Boulay said. β€œIt struck me that there was a universal element to being a soldier at war.” The poems inspired him to try his hand at painting and explore other mediums, and his latest exhibit is the centerpiece of a new military history display at the Keizer Heritage Center Museum. One of the poems Boulay encountered, Grass by Carl Sandburg, spoke to him unlike many others. The poem juxtaposes scenes of the war dead with the voice of the grass that will cover the their bodies and, eventually, the memory of their deeds. It inspired the exhibit at the museum. Boulay’s exhibit, Combat Grass 1916-2016, brings his experiences, the poem and death notices sent to families during World War I into a single space. It is contained in a glass...

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