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Here, Bullet

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  933 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Adding his voice to the current debate about the US occupation of Iraq, in poems written in the tradition of such poets as Wilfred Owen, Yusef Komunyakaa (Dien Cai Dau), Bruce Weigl (Song of Napalm) and Alice James’ own Doug Anderson (The Moon Reflected Fire), Iraqi war veteran Brian Turner writes power-fully affecting poetry of witness, exceptional for its beauty, honesty ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Alice James Books
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Community Reviews

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It seems impossible to me to come out against this book without offending everyone. But what if we separate the situation from the writing itself?

Simply put, in my humble opinion, the writing just isn't very good. Turner had a huge opportunity here, but instead he paints a picture of the Iraq war in the way one would render a pretty sunset. Not that war is glorified here, in fact, quite the opposite. Problem is, it's not done in a particularly forward thinking or interesting manner. And now I am
When I picked up this book, I was afraid that it was published more because it was an American soldier's voice from Iraq. By that, I mean, I thought that the writing may not be up to par and that it was published purely for political reasons and not because of a strong voice.

I was wrong. Brian Turner's poetry in this book is amazing. Powerful. Distraught. Disturbing. Beautiful. There is a subtlety here that I thought would be missing. Honestly, this is the best book of poetry that I have read re
Oct 31, 2007 Allison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: poetry
This was such an impressive book. Usually I think of poets and the military in separate literary groupings. For instance, if a vet or another member of military personel happened to write a book, it almost always sounds like a non-writer just getting their thoughts down on paper, usually with the help of one or more amazing editors that pull it into focus. Not so with this book. Brian Turner really does a brilliant job writing gorgeous, layered poetry that actually sounds like a poet wrote it, a ...more
There can't be anything beautiful about war, can there? Why then is Brian Turner's poetry so beautiful? How can he choose words which soothe and comfort at the same time they break our hearts?

Finding Brian Turner and Yusef Komunyakaa as a result of reading Kevin Powers' Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting: Poems and his transcendent The Yellow Birds was the most rewarding thing that happened to me this Spring. Finding them may also have the longest lasting impact of anything else that
tex norman
War poetry has the great opportunity of sinking into the muck of premeditated maudlin stuff. You know, war is hell, and if you were there you feel like you should be able to break hearts and upset stomachs, gross out the pantywaists and come off like the strong survivor that you are, but Here, Bullet does not do that. I don't read a single poem that glorifies war and tries to inspire the young to join up and get themselves killed. What I read is someone who has been changed not just by war, but ...more
Who says a soldier can't be a poet? In this one short book, Brian Turner became one of my favorite poets. His poems are visceral, emotional, sometimes violent, tangible, and above all, REAL. Personally, I think poetry is the best way to really experience a place or event through literature. That isn't true for everyone, obviously, but it is for me. Although I will never truly understand what soldiers go through, this short anthology has brought me just a little bit closer.

A few things that strik
As someone whose father went to Iraq/Kuwait several times with the 1st Cavalry, I thought I'd heard and seen it all. But Turner offers something so much more poignant and raw than even the most eloquent of imbedded reporters. He does the near-impossible by writing descriptive verse without seeming too verbose or self-indulgent. There is no mock-humility in his tone, nor is it romanticized. Turner gives a voice to those who need to be heard. Should be required reading for everyone interested in t ...more
Vivid and powerful, sometimes achingly sad. The voice in these poems is that of a young man who has been made old by what he's seen and done. This is a fitting companion volume to The Warrior by Frances Richey. Anyone who wants to understand the war in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or any other, should include this in their reading list.
One of the best modern voices I have heard in a long while. I guess some critics like to talk about the author's lack of technical skill, I say that such a thing doesn't matter when the simple voice of the poetry is so clear, the words so moving, and personally I did not find anything lacking.
Leigh Clemons
Turner's poetry drops the reader into a war zone--literally as well as figuratively, since many of his poems deal with his tours of duty. Works such as "The Hurt Locker," "Here, Bullet," and "Body Bags" make visceral and real the romanticized images of war, forcing the reader to confront larger issues such as the reasons why we send men and women to fight and die in countries where we cannot even speak the native languages. There are no easy answers to the inherent questions posed by his poetry, ...more
I haven't dedicated myself to reading much poetry of any kind in a while, except for the occasional verse in The New Yorker, which incidentally, is where I discovered Brian Turner. Out of everything I have absorbed since the Iraqi invasion in the spring of 2003 - in my squalid living room watching Saddam's statue get pulled down, on to the murder-house of Fallujah during 2004, the hanging of Saddam via You Tube, concrete slab corridors, some friends' recollections of their time spent in Iraq, he ...more
In the poem Gilgamesh, in Fossil Relief, Turner writes "History is a cloudy mirror made of dirt and bone and ruins...", and in this collection, Here, Bullet, the poet attempts to offer us a clearer view of that mirror. An important collection of poetry, written by a man who has seen war first hand, first in Bosnia, and again in Iraq. It is Iraq who holds the focus of this book, and the amazing thing about the poems in this book is that there is no political or nationalist slant, no condemnation ...more
A growing literature emerges from the Iraq War as an alternative to the "official view" as portrayed in the media. Turner's slim book of poems is a sensitively drawn collection of individual moments captured by a single soldier's thoughtful sensibility. As another reviewer here has noted, the strength of the poems is not in the articulation of a point of view but in the recording of what there is to be seen, heard, and felt. The title poem is especially striking in its capturing of fear and defi ...more
As that of a soldier in Iraq, much of Turner’s poetry carries a surrealism, perhaps best captured in his own words:

Allah must wander in the crowd
as I do, dazed by the pure concussion
of the blast, among sirens, voices
of the injured, the boots of running soldiers,
not knowing whom to touch first,
for the dead policemen cannot be found,
here a moment before, then vanished.
(from 16 Iraqi Policemen, p. 30)

Writing from the heart of war he does not often convey the frenetic urgency of conflict but rather
Here, Bullet by Brian Turner, who served in the U.S. army for seven years after receiving his MFA and was a team leader for one year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award and was printed by Alice James Books — a nonprofit cooperative poetry press. (The title poem, “Here, Bullet,” was recently profiled in the Virtual Poetry Circle.) The collection is broken down into four sections, and each section is preceded by a quote relevant to it, with some eve ...more
Brianna Soloski
Lately, I've been obsessed with reading poetry. Mostly current poets - I'm not a fan of Emily Dickinson or her peers. Brian Turner came to me via one of my former college professors. I added his books to my Amazon wish list (shocker!) and went to the library website to see if they had them. They only had one, so I requested it. It took me about a week to read it, but I loved it. Turner's writing style is poetic, which I realize sounds obvious since he writes poetry, but it's very lyrical and flo ...more
D.A. Gray
To be honest I'd expected a book that drew praise because it came from the warfront and not from the perceived old boy network of academics. This book is much better than that, many of the pages transport the reader into Balad, Mosul and many of the forward bases in Iraq. I think the best compliment you can give to poetry about a real event is that it held up a mirror to the experience and let the reader taste the events in Iraq. Here, Bullet did that and not just about facing danger, but the ca ...more
i don't feel particularly qualified to comment on poetry, altho i like the stuff and have read it off and on for 35 years. i have a peculiar fondness for war poets in particular--well, post-WWI war poets. they so often strip the jingoism and "patriotic" bullshit from the actual experience.

Turner does so as well--i defy anyone to feel that heroic backwash after reading "2000 lbs."--but he does something else quite unique: he weaves us a palimpsest of Iraq and Iraqis and of all the peoples who hav
Scott Allen
Here, Bullet, by Brian Turner is one of the best collections of poems I have ever read.

Turner served in the infantry in Iraq and was also deployed to Bosnia-Herzogovina earlier in his life. Because of his experiences, Turner's poems are raw and full of emotion. He gives us a glimpse of what the war in Iraq was like. And he does it better than any newscaster or documentary could. He gives us the uncensored images of the master poet.

The New York Times Book Review stated: "The day of the first moon
E.J. Knapp
I’m not a trees and flowers and sentimental love poem kind of lover of poetry. Oh, some of it is nice but in general my tastes run more to the South American liberation poets, the persecuted Russian and German Jews, the survivors of famine and war in whatever country they reside in or have run from. I love the passion, the rage, the defiance, the fear. I want my breath to catch, my heart to hammer, the tears to flood my eyes. I want to feel that sense of loss, that pain, that rage and defiance. ...more
After earning his MFA, Brian Turner served in Iraq with the US Army for a year. He called himself an embedded poet.

Learning about the war through poetry, it is easier to understand daily life for the soldiers, and about the place where they are living away from their families. It describes parts of a place that I haven't seen before. I don't think I ever got a real picture of what Iraq looks like, even though I've seen it on the news. These poems paint a picture that includes, smells, weather.
Brian Turner earned his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon prior to serving seven years in the U.S. Army. In 2003, he served a one-year tour of duty as an infantry team leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

With this collection, Turner joins the ranks of war poets who have shined a light on the atrocities and small mercies of war through the ages. Some of the best-known war poets were from World War I, and include Wilfred Owens (with poems such as
Dec 08, 2012 Jenny marked it as partially-read
Shelves: poetry

From "Hwy 1"
Cranes roost atop power lines in enormous
bowl-shaped nests of sticks and twigs,
and when a sergeant shoots one from the highway
it pauses, as if amazed that death has found it
here, at 7 A.M. on such a beautiful morning,
before pitching over the side and falling
in a slow unraveling of feathers and wings.

From "The Hurt Locker"
Nothing but hurt left here.
Open the hurt locker and learn
how rough men come hunti
An unsettling memoir of war and its consequences. Reminds me of Bruce Weigl's writing in terms of style.

Turner's voice is clear and accessible, which is my only real quibble with these poems--some have a bit too much narration, almost prose-like, which undermines a lot of their music. The images linger. There are many surprises in these pieces, among them the ever present threat of violence in a combat zone, and the high amount of animosity directed at U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

I was also left with
4 and 1/2 stars.

This not a book fo shocking inside scoops. It is beautiful in its complete depcition, unraveling, descriptive, narrations of what we all know going into it, is terribly complex. Brian Turner doesn't play the part of vicitm and doesn't put those around him into that category, but he is there among all of it, sort of as an unbiased journalist, though he is an American soldier.

The poetry is beautiful:

"You carry the pearls of war with you, bombs swallowed whole and saved for later..
Aaron Geiger
I believe Here, Bullet is a classic example of a standard, accessible collection of poetry caught up with current events. Don't get me wrong, there are great poetic moments that Turner captures (such as the image of spilled brains as cranes lifting off from the Euphrates), but I had trouble with Tuner's capitalization of the war. The moments seemed overly selected and heightened, even though there is an attempt at subtlety and separation. And it seems difficult to want to say, "I'm not a particu ...more
Finally finished reading the last of these poems!! These really resonate with me. I haven't been this excited about poetry for a long time. This book should be a companion to any non-fiction book about the war in Iraq. The images and anguish in these pages is as palpable as any personal narrative or Youtube video. An awesome accomplishment that not only reflects Americans at war but the civilian people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. So many favorites in this book. These are the typ ...more
Here, Bullet by Brian Turner. Having served a year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade and a year with the 10th Mountain Division in Bosnia-Herzegovina, poet-soldier Turner reminds us of the human element of war in a way that only Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried) has before. The pages of this collection are populated by animals liberated from the Baghdad Zoo doing their best to adapt to the 21st century amidst tanks, Blackhawk helicopters and war, important lessons in practical Arabic for ...more
Matt Phillips
Poems seem a bit abstract in places... but, that being said, this is poetry that depends on experience––I'm thankful this man wrote these poems after serving in Iraq. A beautiful book...
Matthew Wilson
I don't read nearly as much poetry as I probably should, but honestly most contemporary poetry feels a little self indulgent. For that reason I tend to gravitate toward subject matter rather than poet, style, what's hot, etc. For that reason I read this collection, and because I heard Brian Turner read a couple of poems on the documentary Operation Homecoming. Besides the poems featured in the film, this collection is filled with others just as striking and intense in imagery and emotion. I don’ ...more
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Poetry Readers Ch...: Here, Bullet 4 14 Mar 02, 2012 02:37AM  
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“Believe it when you see it.
Believe it when a twelve-year-old rolls a grenade into the room.”
“...because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.”
More quotes…