Planting the Oar: Veteran and civilian literature group

With 20 percent of students iden­tifying as military affiliated and the campus’ close proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, it is safe to say that connecting veterans and civilians plays a crucial role in our commu­nity. To help support this connection, UW Tacoma is becoming part of a national discussion. Planting the Oar is a literary discussion group and two credit course that focuses on creating open and honest dialogue between veteran and civilian students at UWT. Meetings take place every Wednesday 5:15–6:45 p.m. in TLB 109.

Sponsored by the National En­dowment for the Humanities, Plant­ing the Oar is part of The Telling Project, an eight week national dis­cussion program. The group’s name is based on “The Odyssey,” and refers to Odysseus’ final ritual of leaving his military service behind and plant­ing his oar.

The program provides a platform for open dialogue between members to discuss questions such as: “What does it mean to plant the oar?” “What is necessary for veterans to ‘move on’ from their service?” “How are civil­ians understood by veterans?” and “What does it mean to be a ‘veteran’ and how do they navigate that iden­tity in a civilian world?”

Through literature and spoken word, the group connects civilians and veterans and attempts to cultivate mutual understanding and a support­ive community.

In addition to discussing “The Od­yssey,” the group will also touch on classic literature such as “Othello,” Wilfred Owen’s poetry and “The Things They Carried.” The group con­nects literary themes with current phenomena and issues such as home­lessness and mental health in veterans.

For more information, email
professor Annie Nguyen at


Alex Alderman

Alex is studying sustainable urban development. She loves going to events around Tacoma and telling people about them. Her goal is to use her degree to make cities more sustainable.