Tony McNally served in the British army as a Royal Artillery Gunner. At 19 years old he was sent to fight in the Falklands War as a Rapier missile operator where he shot down two enemy jet aircraft. After serving in Northern Ireland he left the forces and was diagnosed with PTSD (Post traumatic Stress Disorder) and told to go away and write down his thoughts and feelings.
This lead to him writing his No1 best selling book Watching Men Burn. He now lives in the tranquil English Lake district with his wife Linda and their two Labrador dogs, where he continues to write, especially poetry, which he finds very therapeutic and helpful with his PTSD. His other interests are Rugby League and enjoying his family. He has now published his page turning new book of Trauma poetry and a short story about World War One titled Screaming In Silence as reviewed below, and is working on his first eagerly anticipated military thriller fiction novel about terrorism and the Special Forces.
For further links to the author’s writting see:
Author website: www.tonymcnally.co.uk/
Tony McNally is a Falklands War veteran and the best selling author of Watching Men Burn. A tireless campaigner for better understanding and treatment of servicemen and women suffering from mental health problems like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
After leaving the forces he was diagnosed with PTSD by a civilian doctor and was at first unable to talk about his War time experiences, he was told to go home and try and write down his thoughts and feelings. He soon realized that writing was therapeutic and began to write poetry and short stories, Screaming in Silence is his first book of poetry and a short story about the First World War. Written from the heart this is a powerful collection of works that can only be written by someone that has experienced the brutality of War and mans inhumanity, which is apparent with his colorful and brutal and then at times beautiful, poignant and gentle words. He covers a wide range of subject matter, Politics, murder, homelessness, divorce, Religion and obviously War, McNally hits the readers with the ferocity of an exploding grenade then the gentleness of a poppy petal blowing gracefully in the summer breeze.
By Tony McNally
(Available from Amazon in eBook & Print formats)
.As accurate an insight into the mental trauma of front-line service you can get short of actually suffering it yourself…, 12 Jun. 2016 – By Rudders
There are many books and websites that describe and address PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, from a clinical or diagnosis perspective but none that bring home the true reality and potentially devastating long-term effects more effectively than the words and thoughts here of someone with personal experience of it. Screaming In Silence is a collection of poetry high-lighting the grim reality and after-effects of being on the frontline of modern warfare. With over a hundred poems here the author covers every aspect of his personal experiences in both ‘The Troubles’ of Northern Ireland and the much shorter but equally violent and horrific conflict of the Falklands War. There is also a very personal introduction outlining the author’s childhood, early training experiences as a sixteen year old ‘boy soldier’ recruit in the British army, and his subsequent marriage break-ups and suicide attempts, all of which hints at and sets the tone for the poignant poetry to follow. In this introduction Tony McNally also emphasises, almost apologetically, that he is not a professional writer, that his reasons for writing this collection was to help him and others deal with their war-related PTSD. There are a few grammar and typo issues in the introduction but beyond that the quality of writing in the poetry is nothing short of superb.
The poems here are relatively short but every word is carefully chosen to convey the author’s feelings and thoughts, snapshots as it were of his experiences. Tony McNally doesn’t choose his words to contrive a consistent succession of rhymes simply to entertain or produce what we expect from more traditional poetry, but those which most aptly portray his feelings and what he’s trying to say. In some of his poems there is a prose style to relate a story such as in ‘Sticks and Stones’ where he tells of being a six-year-old boy with a pretend gun to a cadet with a rifle, and then from firing a Howitzer at sixteen to shooting down an enemy plane with a missile at nineteen, to finally looking back on being a little boy again. Some also reflect on his and others’ post army careers, alluding in once instance to the contrast between the pride of being a British soldier only to find oneself homeless or in a prison cell for shooting the enemy, an indirect reference to the highly publicised and controversial case of Marine ‘A’ now serving a prison sentence for a supposed war crime. In others he pays poignant and humbling tribute to the fallen of such conflicts. In parts there is understandable regret and bitterness about his experiences, condemning both governments, politicians, and religion for the needless loss of life, as well as the lack of care and treatment of those who return home from such conflicts, often ill-equipped to cope with the trauma they’ve suffered or the transition to civilian life. In contrast to the poems the author concludes his book with a moving and tragic short story about a young man serving at the front during the First World War.
If I were to compare Tony McNally to any of the more historically well-known poets it would have to be Wilfred Owen rather than the more romanticised works of Robert Brooke, perhaps not in style or technique but certainly for impact; and of the more current war poets, some of the poems compare with the more prose style of Tom Benson’s equally emotive collection Military Matters.
For those who have served, particularly in the same theatres of war as the author this collection will no doubt be a difficult read, likely bringing back painful memories of their own experiences. Despite this warning I have no hesitation in recommending it; in his writing the author has confronted and come to terms with many of the demons that form an integral part of his own PTSD, and if his words help others do the same I can only applaud the author on producing such a thoughtful, powerful, and well-written collection here.
Penny Luker is the author of ‘The Mermaid’ a book of short stories and two other children’s books, among others. She also writes for the e-zine ‘All Things Girl,’ http://www.allthingsgirl.com.
Further links to her writing can be found at:
Nature’s Gold, by Penny Luker
(Available from Amazon in both Ebook & Print format)
This is a lovely collection of short well constructed poems covering a variety of themes: betrayal, satire, humour, domestic abuse, getting old, and first love to name but a few. From the betrayal of a wife as she notices the smell of perfume on here husbands shirt to the hard-hitting satire on fox hunting, the author treats her topics with a gentle yet poignant tone.
Amid the joy and sadness of these poems, there are several varied reflections of life, such as being flattered at the hairdressers, but remembering not to give away too many secrets, and then on a more serious note the injustice of how different the lives of children can be depending where they are born, and back again to a more humorous tone, exploring the joys of being a grandparent (though I won’t spoil the ending to that one). I particularly enjoyed some of the more uplifting poems too, such as one about a young man finally getting the opportunity to flee the nest and the birth of a new baby. The author also makes good use of contrast and comparison within each poem when appropriate, especially so in Blue Planet and The Demise of the Country Fox.
Stylistically these are more of a prose style than the traditional rhyming verse, though the author does combine the two most effectively I would say. Most of the poems here tell a story, but again there are several more abstract verses that allow the reader’s thoughts to wander, reflect, and interpret according to their own memories and experience. A delightful collection I shall no doubt be rereading from time to time…
Further works by Penny Luker: click thumbnails for Amazon links..
In trying to expand my reading genres I decided to read and review a book of modern poetry quite recently. My only previous reading experience of poetry beyond those of my school days has been that of the war poets, namely Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen, and more recently, that of friend and fellow blogger Tom Benson, whose works I’ve previously reviewed on here.
Among some of the blogs I follow is that of Dean J. Baker, and having read and often enjoyed a lot of his work (though not always fully appreciated, often having to read through previous comments for some of the meaning – my understanding and appreciation of poetry still being somewhat limited), I thought I’d jump in at the deep end read/review his book, ‘Silence Louder Than A Train’, for no other reasons than the title and liking the cover (possibly something to do with working in the railway industry – I know, totally illogical, and no, the book has nothing to do with trains or the railway). Whilst still being no expert, I did nonetheless enjoy it for the greater part.
(Available in print & eBook formats from Amazon and from Dean J. Baker’s blog)
The title alone is enough to pique the reader’s interest. Who among us cannot remember a time when silence alone didn’t ring in our ears as loud as thunder?
This anthology by Dean J. Baker is as diverse in style as it is in its subject matter. One of the aspects I liked most was the complete absence of predictability; written in two parts, the author writes of love and its tribulations, of the noble and often not-so-noble aspects of the human condition, of the turmoil of the creative process, and of his views and opinions of life and the people and society about him.
In terms of style, in some of the poems there is only the slightest and almost imperceptible homage to rhyme and alliteration, and yet it’s there nonetheless. In others he simply allows the words themselves to speak their meaning, almost in seeming abandonment of traditional poetic verse and structure – and still it works.
If all the reader is looking for in a poetry anthology are the poetic ramblings of someone trying to impress with their command of language or a gently rolling stream of consciousness then this probably isn’t it; but for poignant and thought provoking insight and new ideas, one would be hard pressed to do better than Dean J. Baker’s ‘Silence Louder Than A Train.’
A bold and refreshing approach to modern poetry, one that breaks the rules when necessary and yet conforms when it suites. Highly recommended…
This is the second book of Tom Benson’s that I have a reviewed (see my review of Beyond the Law), and the second time I have been thoroughly impressed, though for very different reasons in this case. To reiterate my previous preface of Tom Benson, he is a prolific writer whose works include a number of novels, short stories, flash fiction, and several poetry anthologies. For further information on Tom Benson, please see his blog at:
Military Matters, by Tom Benson (available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle)
This is a substantial anthology of poetry by author Tom Benson. The poems themselves follow a broadly traditional style and format, covering the life and times of the British soldier during times of modern warfare and terrorism. Set amidst the backdrop of Northern Ireland, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, every poem tells a story, each one unique in its own way. The subject matter covers everything from frontline battle operations to the pride and dedication of those who serve, saddening tales of heroism, love, and its loss, and of loyalty and courage. You’ll not find the glorification of death and war as epitomised by Brooke or indeed the flowing prose of Owen in his vivid accounts of its horror. What the reader will find here are the hard, often tragic and brutal, but always true and honest observations of a man whose marched and trudged in the very same boots and in the same wars as the men and events he portrays in his poems. In comparison to these past writers, I would say Military Matters bears more relation to Owen than to Brooke, perhaps on account of, Like Owen, Tom Benson did indeed live and experience the things he writes about, whereas Brooke’s sonnets were borne more from the hopeful idealism with which Britain entered the first world war.
Tom Benson neither glorifies nor condemns, but with acute poignancy relates the thoughts, feelings, and accounts of a soldier’s life and the job he does. Whilst the author assures the reader that people and events in the poems are largely fictitious, there can be no doubt amongst the lines and verses there are real memories and experiences upon which some of them are based. I doubt if any serving or ex-serviceman or woman could help but be moved, and pause for thought whilst reading through this anthology. Military Matters also presents a unique and heart felt glimpse to the non-military reader of a different world, and one that helps protect and maintain the peaceful one in which we all hope to live and enjoy our lives.
Those readers who have read and enjoyed the works of Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke might well appreciate these up-dated, modern day accounts of war and the military and how they compare.
For further biographical information on Tom Benson and links to his previous and current writing projects see also: