Monday, January 02, 2012

Poet and Army vet Brian Turner: Dialogue needed between U.S. vets and Iraqi artists

I read Brian Turner’s first poetry book, “Here, Bullet,” when it came out in 2005 from Alice James Books. Amazing poems from a witness to the war, one who arrived at the front possessing an MFA in creative writing.

We haven’t seen a huge amount of war poetry coming out of Iraq. It’s a mere trickle when compared to the U.S. poetry shaped by Vietnam. It’s early yet – the war only ended last week, officially. You can start with Turner’s work:
Earlier this year, Brian Turner went back to Baghdad as an Army veteran who also happens to be a writer. Turner served as an infantry team leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat team in 2003 and 2004, an experience that informs his award-winning book of poetry “Here, Bullet.” Iraq also features in his latest book, “Phantom Noise.” 
He believes now that the war is officially over, there needs to be a new dialogue between the two countries, especially between U.S. vets and Iraqi artists. 
“I was able to meet some Iraqi poets and painters, and they’re sort of waiting,” Turner told Here & Now's Robin Young. “They see the guns and the tanks and helicopters come, and they’re wondering where is another part of the conversation, more of a dialogue in art, that kind of constructive conversation. So if anybody is interested in that, I would encourage them to not sit by the sidelines and not get involved. They’re waiting for us.”
Hear a WBUR radio interview and Turner reading one of his poems at

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