Sunday, May 04, 2008

Micro Review: Here, Bullet

Brian Turner's Here, Bullet has received a lot of recognition since it won the 2005 Beatrice Haley Award (and since then a host of others) and published the same year. And rightfully so. The poetry is strong, the topic both horrifying and intensely interesting, the imagery stunning. I'm not sure that there's been a more important book of poetry this decade. I think there have been finer books, books perhaps more important for the poetry industrial complex, but few as essential to Americans because it does something none has yet done: "Turner has sent back a dispatch," says The New York Times Book Review, "from a place arguably more incomprehensible than the moon--the war in Iraq--and deserves our thanks."

I read Here, Bullet in two sittings: late into the evening last night, when I wanted to get a flavor for the book, intending to read just the first poem but subsequently held by it until halfway through half past midnight. And again this morning, when I couldn't put it down until finishing it.

I was fortunate to attend a reading by Turner here at the University of Arizona back in, I think, 2006. He blew the room away, because his reading is as intense as the poems, showering the room in a bullet spray of words, leaving us all wounded and better for it.

The words to describe this collection are visceral, poignant, imperative. Take, for example, the title poem:

Here, Bullet

If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta's opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you've started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing throguh the air, here is where I moan
the barrel's cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue's explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.

Last week I said Jake Adam York's new collection is essential, and it is. So is Here, Bullet--and more so in this time in our history.


(And for more info about Turner, read his first book interview by Kate Greenstreet and listen to Turner read some of his poetry over at From the Fishouse.)


nlasier said...

what do you think about the way turner uses unique descriptions of colors and the environment in his poems, why so abstracted?

nlasier said...

could it be that he is trying to inform the rest of america of the difference of how we see Irqa reather than what really is?