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Here, Bullet

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  1,228 Ratings  ·  146 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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Feb 10, 2009 Zach rated it it was ok
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
Apr 07, 2014 Trish rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Trish by: Chris
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
Feb 19, 2008 Craig rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-favorites
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 really liked it
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
Oct 22, 2015 TK421 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-drama
This collection has successfully brought me closer to my brothers who currently serve in hostile environs, while also placing a distance between them and me that can never be bridged.
Jee Koh
Jun 25, 2016 Jee Koh rated it liked it
"Here, Bullet" is about miscomprehensions as much as it is about the misadventures of war. The book foregrounds the Arabic language in the prelude poem, and in the titles of many poems thereafter. It is the book's contention that the poet has the right and the authority to deploy the language because he, and his fellow soldiers, has paid for it in blood. Turner was there fighting the war as an infantry team leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Iraq. The book does not, however, suff ...more
Texx Norman
Aug 25, 2014 Texx Norman rated it it was amazing
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
Dana Stabenow
Jan 12, 2015 Dana Stabenow rated it really liked it
A series of poems about the author's experiences as a soldier in Iraq, which together sum up the price of war and this war in particular.

'In the Leupold Scope,' where the narrator is looking through a spotting scope at a woman hanging laundry

She is dressing the dead

The narrator, by inference, just hasn't shot the people who will wear those clothes yet.

In 'AB Negative (The Surgeon's Poem)', a wounded soldier dies on her way to Germany

a way of dealing with the fact
that Thalia Fields is gone, long
May 01, 2013 Ryandake rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 11, 2012 Bethany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-class
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
Mar 24, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-iraq
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
Dec 30, 2008 Kelsey rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 19, 2007 Frank rated it really liked it
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.
May 31, 2011 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grown-upbooks, poetry
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
Susan Schefflein
Jul 15, 2017 Susan Schefflein rated it really liked it
Sad but lyric commentary on war and the death and destruction that comes with it. A sensitive soul who had seen much sadness.
Matthew J. Hefti
May 09, 2017 Matthew J. Hefti rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous work. After I finished it, I had to read it a second time in the same day. I couldn't help myself.
Scott Allen
Aug 11, 2013 Scott Allen rated it it was amazing
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
D.A. Gray
Jan 04, 2012 D.A. Gray rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 16, 2011 Joel rated it liked it
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
Aug 19, 2011 Serena rated it it was amazing
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
EJ Knapp
Dec 23, 2009 EJ Knapp rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 08, 2010 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
Brianna Soloski
Jul 29, 2011 Brianna Soloski rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
Jan 01, 2010 Valerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, male-writer
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.
Mar 01, 2015 Aglaia rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, reviewed
In Here, Bullet, Brian Turner adds his voice to a long line of war poets. His poetry exhibits an acute awareness of both the body and the mind during war time. This makes his poetry hauntingly beautiful as the words grasp at the unbearable physicality of war and a metaphysical analysis of life and loyalty.

The opening poem of the collection, "A Soldier's Arabic," encapsulates the beautiful tension of love and death, of languages meeting in translation, and of bodies aware of life and its ending.
Feb 17, 2014 Helen rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 06, 2014 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-stuff
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
Apr 29, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jul 31, 2008 Talia rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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..
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Poetry Readers Ch...: Here, Bullet 4 15 Mar 01, 2012 06:37PM  
  • Dien Cai Dau
  • Facts About the Moon
  • Atlantis
  • Native Guard: Poems
  • Jelly Roll
  • Elegy
  • What Work Is
  • Miracle Fruit
  • Red Suitcase
  • The Art of the Lathe
  • Rose
  • Late Wife
  • Please
  • The Branch Will Not Break
  • World's Tallest Disaster: Poems
  • Elegy On Toy Piano
  • Some Ether
  • Granted
Brian Turner is the director of the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College and the prize-winning author of two poetry collections about his seven years in the United States Army. He lives in Orlando, Florida.
More about Brian Turner...

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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…