Brian Turner (American poet)

Brian Turner (born 1967)[1] is an American poet, essayist, and professor. He won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award for his debut collection, Here, Bullet (Alice James Books) the first of many awards and honors received for this collection of poems about his experience as a soldier in the Iraq War. His honors since include a Lannan Literary Fellowship and NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, and the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship. His second collection, shortlisted for the 2010 T.S. Eliot Prize[2] is Phantom Noise (Alice James Books, USA; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2010).

Brian Turner
Born1967 (age 52–53)
Visalia, California
Alma materFresno State;
University of Oregon
Notable awardsBeatrice Hawley Award
SpouseIlyse Kusnetz (m.2010; d.2016)

Personal lifeEdit

Turner was born in Visalia, California, and raised in Fresno and then Madera County through high school and attended Fresno City College before transferring to Fresno State for his BA and MA. He received his MFA from the University of Oregon. He taught English in South Korea for a year, and traveled to Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Japan.[3] Turner is a United States Army veteran, and was an infantry team leader for a year in the Iraq War beginning November 2003, with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. In 1999 and 2000 he was with the 10th Mountain Division, deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On September 25, 2010, Turner married fellow poet Ilyse Kusnetz in Orlando, Florida, and remained married until her death on September 13, 2016.


Turner has seen his poems published in The Cortland Review,[4] Poetry Daily, Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, Georgia Review, Rattle, Virginia Quarterly Review, and ZYZZYVA,[5] and in anthologies including Voices in Wartime: The Anthology (Whit Press, 2005) and Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families (Random House, 2006). His published essays include one for National Geographic[6] and a series of essays for The New York Times blog, Home Fires.[7]

Turner received major media attention for Here, Bullet, interviewed or featured in The New Yorker,[8] The New York Times,[9] on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,[10] on Morning Edition and other NPR programs, The Verb (BBC), and many other venues. He was featured in the film, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, nominated for a 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Bloodaxe Books published the U.K. edition of Here, Bullet in 2007[11] His works have been included in such anthologies as The Best American Poetry 2007[12] and A mind apart: poems of melancholy, madness, and addiction.[13] He is Director of the low-residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada College at Lake Tahoe.[14]

Texts by Turner are the basis of the large-scale musical composition Dreams of the Fallen by Jake Runestad, first performed at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans on Veterans Day, 11 November 2013.


  • Here, Bullet, Alice James Books, 2005, ISBN 978-1-882295-55-5; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2007, ISBN 978-1-85224-799-7.
  • Phantom Noise, Alice James Books, 2010, ISBN 978-1-882295-80-7; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2010, ISBN 978-1-85224-876-5.
  • My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir, 2014, ISBN 978-0393245011; W. W. Norton & Company

Honors and awardsEdit


Further readingEdit

  • Goodyear, Dana. "Ink: War Poet" (Talk of the Town). The New Yorker. November 14, 2005. pg. 39.
  • Outside the Wire: American Soldiers' Voices from Afghanistan, Christine Dumaine Leche (Editor), Brian Turner (Foreword)

External linksEdit