From the heart: Retired sailor’s book of poetry published

From the heart: Retired sailor’s book of poetry published

by Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Okinawa

In July, we ran a couple of poems by retired Navy Hospital Corpsman Derrick Graham. Since then, Graham published his first book, “Heartfelt Moments,” which is filled with a wonderful collection of poetry.

The Huntsville, Ala., resident has been writing for more than 30 years. The youngest of 10 children, Graham began writing at the age of 12 after his father’s untimely passing.
He said he began writing “to illustrate my emotions without being judged.”
And now Graham is excited about sharing his poems with the world.

We caught up with Graham recently to discuss his book and what his future holds.

Q. Congratulations on getting your first book published. How does it feel to reach the masses?

A. It’s like a dream come true.  I’ve always wanted to have a book published because I feel that I have a message to share with the world.

Q. Your father died when you were a young boy. That’s when you began writing. Tell us about that.

A. My father’s death took so much out of me.  In my eyes, he was the greatest because of what he instilled in me at a very young age.  I am so thankful that I had spent time with him because there are others that may not have had the opportunity that I did.  His death made me view compassion differently.  During that time, it allowed me to reflect on my own life and to outwardly express my creativity through writing.

Q. You served in the military for 20 years? How did your service to our nation help shape and make you the man you are today?

A. The military was an excellent opportunity for me. It challenged me further than I have ever been challenged before. I will always miss the camaraderie I experienced in the military.  In my opinion, there is no stronger bond than teamwork.  There were obstacles in my way I thought I wouldn’t be able to overcome.  However, I have learned how to appreciate the skills and knowledge I acquired during my Navy career.

Q. And what about the men and women who are serving today?

A. The men and women that are serving today are continuously making sacrifices for our safety.  They’re placing themselves in harm’s way to help preserve our freedom. I always give thanks for the unselfishness and dedication of our service members.  I do understand what they go through.

Q. Why is poetry so important to you and why is it important in today’s society.

A. Poetry is important to me because I can express myself freely.  It permits me to think through personal struggles in life.  When I’m done writing, I often read over my poems to ensure that my thoughts reflect the creativity that lies in true emotion.  Also, I write for service members, veterans and retirees because of emotional issues that result through the stressors of military life.  I want families to understand that veterans need a team to help overcome emotional obstacles.  Re-identifying with childhood memories, structural family activities, religion/faith, Veteran Affairs assistance and avoiding isolation are crucial.

In today’s society, poetry allows the mind to think intuitively.  In my opinion, I feel it helps bring calmness and inner peace.  Thoughts and feelings are important and should not be overlooked or dismissed easily.  In a time of conflict or struggle, many gravitate to a place of solace and reassurance.

Q. What’s up next for Derrick Graham?

A. My goal is to continue writing because this is a hobby that I truly love. I am in the process of publishing a second collection of poetry in 2017.  This book is different because it’s dedicated to women.  I’m hoping to do more poetry readings as I continue to write more books.

To check out “Heartfelt Moments,” go to and type in Derrick Graham

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