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Soldier-poet Brian Turner to appear in Bates, downtown readings

Poet Brian Turner. Photograph by Kim Buchheit.

An Army veteran whose service included a year in Iraq as an infantry team leader, poet Brian Turner reads from his work at Bates in a Language Arts Live event at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Ave.

For more information, please call 207-786-6256.

The following evening, Turner reads at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, in Callahan Hall, Lewiston Public Library, 200 Lisbon St., in conjunction with Art Walk Lewiston Auburn. Both events are open to the public at no cost, and are supported in part by the Lewiston Public Library, the Harward Center for Community Partnerships and the Spanish department at Bates College, and the Maine Humanities Council.

Turner is the author of two poetry collections, Phantom Noise (Alice James Books, 2010) and Here, Bullet (Alice James Books, 2005), which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, the 2006 Pen Center USA “Best in the West” award, and the 2007 Poets Prize, among others.

Turner served seven years in the U.S. Army, including one year as an infantry team leader in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. He was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina 1999-2000 with the 10th Mountain Division.

Turner’s poetry has been published in Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review and other journals, and in the Voices in Wartime anthology published in conjunction with the feature-length documentary film of the same name.

Turner was also featured in Operation Homecoming, a documentary that explores the firsthand accounts of American servicemen and women through their own words. He earned a master’s of fine arts degree from the University of Oregon and has lived in South Korea. In 2009, Turner was selected as one of 50 United States Artists Fellows.

The poems in Here, Bullet reflect Turner’s experiences as a soldier with penetrating lyric power, compassion, sensitivity and eloquence, while deploring the violence and acknowledging the grief and terror of war.

In Phantom Noise, Turner tells us what happens to a person and a culture when a soldier brings the war home with him. Poet Louis McKee wrote, “Turner’s intention is neither to romanticize nor to protest the war but simply to bring its ironies and madness, its sad and difficult truths, into the light — a light that perhaps will exorcise the demons.”

Turner was selected as a featured poet for the L/A Arts poetry series The Poet As Art due not only to the quality of his work, but for his connection to other L/A Arts collaborative events surrounding veterans’ health and awareness. September marks a large undertaking of numerous community organizations to honor veterans in our community, with participants including Tri-County Mental Health, L/A Arts, Bates, the Lewiston Public Library, Aquila Theatre Company, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Maine Humanities Council.
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