Brian Turner, ‘Here, Bullet’ au­thor, to dis­cuss his po­etry, life

The Washington Post Sunday - - BOOK WORLD - BY RON CHARLES If a body is what you want then here is bone and gris­tle and flesh. Here is the clav­i­cle snapped wish, the aorta’s opened valves, the leap thought makes at the synap­tic gap. ron.charles@wash­post.com

Al­most eight years ago, when we were in the mid­dle of another pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and the Iraq war was grind­ing on, the old Book World sup­ple­ment in The Washington Post pub­lished one of its most strik­ing cov­ers. It was April 20, 2008. The page was filled with a black-and-white photo by An­drea Bruce show­ing a scene of ab­so­lute dev­as­ta­tion in Iraq. In the gray sky above was printed a poem by Army Sgt. Brian Turner called “Here, Bullet.” It opens with these lines:

The poem, writ­ten in a mat­ter of min­utes while Turner was serv­ing in Iraq as an in­fantry team leader, be­came some­thing of a sen­sa­tion among U.S. sol­diers. Af­ter he re­turned home, it be­came the ti­tle piece in his first col­lec­tion of po­etry, pub­lished in 2005.

Turner was work­ing in the long tra­di­tion of Ru­pert Brooke, Siegfried Sas­soon and other war po­ets who brought the con­ci­sion and vi­sion of verse to ex­pe­ri­ences of bat­tle. He went on to pub­lish a sec­ond col­lec­tion, “Phan­tom Noise” (2010), which was short­listed for the T.S Eliot Prize, and a memoir called “My Life as a For­eign Coun­try” (2014).

On Thurs­day at 7 p.m., Turner will be my guest in the Life of a Poet se­ries, co-spon­sored by the Li­brary of Congress, Hill Cen­ter and The Washington Post.

The se­ries, which is un­der­writ­ten by Na­tional Cap­i­tal Bank, of­fers a chance to con­sider a poet’s en­tire ca­reer dur­ing an hour-long con­ver­sa­tion. In ad­di­tion to ask­ing Turner about his war-time ex­pe­ri­ences as a soldier and a writer, I’ll ask him to read a se­lec­tion of po­ems from his col­lec­tions. The event will be fol­lowed by a re­cep­tion, where copies of Turner’s books will be of­fered for sale.

The event is free and open to the public, but please register to re­serve your seat at Hill Cen­ter at the Old Naval Hos­pi­tal, 921 Penn­syl­va­nia Ave. SE, Washington. Call 202-549-4172.

Richard Ford to re­ceive literary award

Pulitzer Prize win­ner Richard Ford will re­ceive the Fitzger­ald Award for Achieve­ment in Amer­i­can Literature at the F. Scott Fitzger­ald Literary Fes­ti­val in Rockville at 5:15 p.m. Satur­day. As part of the fes­ti­val, in its 19th year, Ford will teach a free master class at 11:15 a.m. Classes will also be of­fered through­out the day by Mary Kay Zu­ravl­eff, Mar­garet Tal­bot, Robert Olen But­ler and E. Ethel­bert Miller.

For reg­is­tra­tion and in­for­ma­tion about ad­di­tional fes­ti­val events start­ing Thurs­day, visit fs­cot­tfes­ti­val.org or call 301-309-9461.

Brian Turner has brought the con­ci­sion of verse to ex­pe­ri­ences of bat­tle. He wrote “Here, Bullet” while serv­ing in Iraq.

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