Out of the Frame // Steve Bellin-Oka

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These poems were written in response to early photographs of the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863 in south central Pennsylvania. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had invaded Pennsylvania with his 75,000 strong Army of Northern Virginia a few weeks earlier, and due to poor reconnaissance, did not realize he would encounter the 90,000 strong Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George Meade, at Gettysburg. Three days of intense fighting ensued, including hand-to-hand street fighting in the streets on the first day of the battle. At the conclusion, casualties on both sides numbered more than 50,000 men, making it the bloodiest battle ever fought in North America. While it would take two more years of fighting, the Union victory at Gettysburg marked the beginning of the end of the Civil War. A few days after the battle, early photographers such as Alexander Gardner and Matthew Brady arrived in Gettysburg to document the aftermath.


Steve Bellin-Oka is the author of two previous chapbooks of poems, Dead Letter Office at North Atlantic Station (Seven Kitchens Press, 2017) and O Frankenstein (Blue Trousers Press, 2013). His forthcoming book, Instructions for Seeing a Ghost, won the 2019 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry and will be published by the University of North Texas Press in spring 2020. A 2019-2020 Tulsa Artist Fellow in poetry, Bellin-Oka’s other awards include fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Yaddo. In September and October 2019, he was awarded the second annual Poets-in-the-Parks fellowship from the National Parks Arts Foundation and was in residence at Gettysburg
National Military Park in Pennsylvania. Living in a farmhouse in the middle of battlefield, Bellin-Oka created the work in this chapbook.