Monday 10 September 2007

Where are all the war poets?

World War One had Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. World War Two had Keith Douglas, Sydney Keyes, and Alan Ross. Viet Nam inspired a veritable army of poets to write about its horrors. This week in the Guardian, James Campbell asks a very good question: where are the war poets of today? Aside from Brian Turner, author of the excellent collection Here, Bullet, there are not many to be found. Here's a brief excerpt from the article:

There is at least one book of high-quality poetry about the Iraq war. Here, Bullet is a collection of 50 poems by an American soldier, Brian Turner, published by a small firm based in Maine, Alice James Books. It is populated by the dead and the near-dead, "the ghosts of American soldiers", the bodies of Iraqi policemen, the vultures overhead to whom one day might be offered "my life / a gift of heat and steam".

Turner served for seven years in the US Army, first in Bosnia, then in Iraq as a team leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The poems in Here, Bullet, inspired by the latter experience, are steeped in pity for the occupants of Iraq, while at the same time remaining on full alert to the likely moment "when a twelve-year-old / rolls a grenade into the room". After a murderous market-place explosion, "Allah must wander in the crowd / as, I do, dazed ..."

Read the whole article in The Guardian.

Get more information about Brian Turner's Here, Bullet.

Click here to read some poems from the book. The title poem is especially wonderful.

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