Pasatiempo - - In Other Words - — C. S.

Think­ing in­side the box For a sol­dier re­turn­ing from Iraq or Afghanistan, one of the most har­row­ing places in Amer­ica may well be a chain hard­ware store. As poet and Iraq War Vet­eran Brian Turner writes in “At Lowe’s Home Im­prove­ment Cen­ter,” the clan­gor of the build­ing-goods store be­comes a trig­ger for re­liv­ing war trau­mas, min­gling box-store com­merce with bat­tle­field blood­shed. Stand­ing in aisle 16, the ham­mer and an­chor aisle, I bust a 50 pound box of dou­ble-headed nails open by ac­ci­dent, their oily bright shanks and di­a­mond points like fir­ing pins from M-4s and M-16s.

Turner has be­come a crack chron­i­cler of shell shock, us­ing po­etry to map ev­ery mis­fir­ing synapse and PTSD-re­lated mood swing that might cause a re­turned sol­dier to hear the crack of ar­tillery some­where be­tween the self-pro­pelled mow­ers and the ceil­ing fans in aisle 15. His two books of po­etry, 2005’s Here, Bul­let and 2010’s Phan­tom Noise, have won ac­co­lades from The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post. He is the win­ner of the 2005 Beatrice Haw­ley Award and the 2006 PEN Cen­ter USA “Best of the West” award. The poet served seven years in the U.S. Army, where he was de­ployed to Bos­nia-Herze­gov­ina and also served one year as an in­fantry team leader of 3rd Stryker Brigade Com­bat Team in Iraq.

Turner comes to Santa Fe for a stint as poet in res­i­dence at the In­sti­tute for Amer­i­can In­dian Arts. On Thurs­day, Feb. 24, he gives a read­ing at 7:30 p.m. on the sec­ond floor of the Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter at IAIA (83 Avan Nu Po Road). The read­ing is free and open to the pub­lic. For in­for­ma­tion, call 424-2365.

Brian Turner

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