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It didn't seem like a propitious path to a literary career. At seventeen, Kevin Powers joined the Army and later served a year in the embattled cities of northern Iraq. When he returned to the United States, he realized that he had a story to tell. That debut novel, The Yellow Birds, became a 2012 National Book Award finalist and was hailed as "the first literary masterpiece to be produced by the Iraq war." Letters Composed During a Lull in the Fighting is his first book of poetry, but he has been widely published in magazines. Editor's recommendation.