A first-person account of the Iraq War by a solider-poet, winner of the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award.
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, and skill. Based on Turner’s yearlong tour in Iraq as an infantry team leader, the poems offer gracefully rendered, unflinching description but, remarkably, leave the reader to draw conclusions or moral lessons. Here, Bullet is a must-read for anyone who cares about the war, regardless of political affiliation.
The verse in this book is not good, but it is, in a cultural moment that includes Cindy Sheehan, timely. Turner served seven years in the U.S. Army, including deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division, and a year spent as an infantry team leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division in Iraq. He, begins, after a prefatory poem ("This is a language made of blood./ It is made of sand, and time. To be spoken, it must be earned"), with poems whose titles precisely describe their contents: the nightmarish dispersal of "The Baghdad Zoo," the infamous "Hwy 1" ("the Highway of Death"), "The Al-Harishma Weapons Market," "Body Bags," "Najaf, 1820," "Dreams from the Malaria Pills," "Katyusha Rockets," "Observation Post #798," "2000 lbs." (in one bomb) along with medevacs, translators, civilians and much more. Turner earned an M.F.A. from the University of Oregon before joining the army. His work is straightforward and direct. It highlights the violence and death of the war in a manner little seen elsewhere.