Shortlisted for the 2010 T.S. Eliot Prize
Brian Turner's first book of poems, Here, Bullet, was a harrowing, first-hand account of the Iraq War by a soldier-poet. In Phantom Noise he pumps up the volume as he faces and tries to deal with the traumatic aftermath of war. Flashbacks explode the daily hell of Baghdad into the streets and malls of peaceful California, at the same time sending Turner's imagination reeling back to Iraq. If he thought he had written all he could of his Iraq experiences in Here, Bullet, he was mistaken, for what he saw and felt there affected him so profoundly that more poems had to be written, years later, from a place of apparent safety.
Brian Turner writes a powerful poetry of witness, exceptional for its beauty, honesty and skill. Like Keith Douglas’s poems from the North African desert in the Second World War, Turner’s testament from the war in Iraq offers unflinchingly accurate description but no moral judgement, leaving the reader to draw any conclusions. Repetitive media reports show little of people’s daily experience of the war and occupation. In Phantom Noise, as in Here, Bullet, we see and feel the devastatingly surreal reality of everyday life and death for soldiers and civilians through the eyes of an eloquent writer who served in the US Army for seven years, with a year’s tour of duty in Iraq as an infantry team leader.
'With courage and an uncommon willingness to see the world as it actually is, Brian Turner returns in Phantom Noise with a bullet-borne language in which helicopters hover like spiders over a film of water. His poem Al-A’imma Bridge alone proves his mastery, and joins him to the tradition of Wilfred Owen and David Jones, for he is their descendant, his poetic gifts detonated into a spray of lyric force that will mark what is possible in poetry for years to come, a chiseling of agony onto paper and a poignant cri de coeur to the republic of conscience' – Carolyn Forché
'Several hundred books have now been published on the Iraq War...but none has felt necessary until now. There’s something in the lumbering of prose that cannot capture what poetry, done right, can make immanent with its insistent beat... With Brian Turner’s Here, Bullet, we have the first war poetry since Yusef Komunyakaa’s Dien Cai Dau that matters’ – Rain Taxi
Brian Turner reads his Iraq War poems
Brian Turner read six poems from his collections Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise: 'Here, Bullet', 'Hwy 1', 'Eulogy', '16 Iraqi Policemen', 'The Inventory from a Year Sleeping with Bullets' and 'At Lowe's Home Improvement Center'. Neil Astley filmed Brian Turner at Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2011.
North America: Alice James Books