Brian Turner (American poet)

Brian Turner (born 1967)[2] 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[3] is Phantom Noise (Alice James Books, USA; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2010).

Brian Turner
Born1967 (age 55–56)
Visalia, California
Alma materFresno State;
University of Oregon
Notable awardsBeatrice Hawley Award
SpouseIlyse Kusnetz[1] (m.2010; died 2016)

Early life and educationEdit

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.[4]

Military serviceEdit

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.


Turner has seen his poems published in The Cortland Review,[5] Poetry Daily, Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, Georgia Review, Rattle, Virginia Quarterly Review, and ZYZZYVA,[6] 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[7] and a series of essays for The New York Times blog, Home Fires.[8]

Turner received major media attention for Here, Bullet, interviewed or featured in The New Yorker,[9] The New York Times,[10] on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,[11] 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[12] His works have been included in such anthologies as The Best American Poetry 2007[13] and A mind apart: poems of melancholy, madness, and addiction.[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; W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 978-0393245011
  • The Kiss: Intimacies from Writers, 2018, (editor); W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 978-0393635263

Honors and awardsEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Turner married fellow poet Ilyse Kusnetz (1966-2016) in 2010.[1] He created an album titled 11 11 (Me Smiling) using lines from her poetry, in some instances in her own voice, from tapes of her readings, and others, him reading from her poems.[18]


  1. ^ a b "Ilyse Kusnetz (1966–2016)". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  2. ^ "LC Catalog - Legacy Catalog Retired".
  3. ^ "Poetry Book Society > T.S. Eliot Prize 2010 Shortlist". Archived from the original on February 2, 2011.
  4. ^ Fresno Famous > Interview: A Poetic Adventure > By Jefferson Beavers > March 19, 2006 Archived October 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "The Cortland Review > Spring 2009".
  6. ^ "ZYZZYVA > Fall 2003 • #68 • Vol. XIX, No. 2". Archived from the original on July 6, 2009.
  7. ^ "National Geographic > July 2011 > Feature Article > Baghdad After the Storm by Brian Turner".
  8. ^ "Brian Turner - Opinionator - The New York Times".
  9. ^ "War Poet". The New Yorker. November 7, 2005.
  10. ^ Clover, Joshua; Brouwer, Joel (November 27, 2005). "Poetry Chronicle" – via
  11. ^ The NewsHour: Poetry Series > Poet Profile > Brian Turner > PBS
  12. ^ "Bloodaxe Books > Brian Turner > Author Page". Archived from the original on January 18, 2008.
  13. ^ Lehman, David; McHugh, Heather (September 11, 2007). The Best American Poetry 2007: Series Editor David Lehman. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416568353 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ Bauer, Mark S. (November 14, 2008). A Mind Apart: Poems of Melancholy, Madness, and Addiction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-971444-5 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "Brian Turner". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
  16. ^ "United States Artists Official Website". Archived from the original on November 10, 2010.
  17. ^ NEA 2007 Literature Fellowships in Poetry Archived February 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Metres, Philip (13 July 2018). "A Space Odyssey of Healing: Brian Turner and the Interplanetary Acoustic Team". Retrieved 12 June 2022.

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