I saw Brian Turner read at SUNY Fredonia during my Freshman? Yea, Freshman year and he seriously changed my views on poetry. I had just started taking a poetry writing class and was still finding my bearings but Turner made me realize that poetry can be anything. As newbie I focused on the beautiful. I wrote about the typical….let’s be honest, crap that a college Freshman/new found poet would focus on: love, pain caused from love, being home sick, love, and you guessed it, love. What I loved about Turner is that he wrote about the gritty, the gruesome, the dark and tragic, yet he has this incredible talent for making it beautiful. I had actually read the title poem from Phantom noise prior to taking this class and I think it’s a good example.
|by Brian Turner|
There is this ringing hum this bullet-borne language ringing shell-fall and static this late-night ringing of threadwork and carpet ringing hiss and steam this wing-beat of rotors and tanks broken bodies ringing in steel humming these voices of dust these years ringing rifles in Babylon rifles in Sumer ringing these children their gravestones and candy their limbs gone missing their static-borne television their ringing this eardrum this rifled symphonic this ringing of midnight in gunpowder and oil this brake pad gone useless this muzzle-flash singing this threading of bullets in muscle and bone this ringing hum this ringing hum this ringing
This poem speaks of horrible things such as missing limbs on children and the horrors of war, but Turners use of language almost makes it….beautiful which make the reader (or at least me) feel sort of bad about enjoying it. Such phrases as “bullet born language” and “late night ringing of threadwork makes something so cary kind of appealing. I’ve admired poets who are able to use repetition without being annoying or too repetitive and Turner always managed to pull it off. Going back and reading this makes me want to dig further into more of his work.