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Phantom Noise Paperback – April 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"In Phantom Noise, the speaker recognizes the degree to which language is a co-creative of reality...and as such, these poems begin to interrogate the speaker’s entanglement in acts that he had heretofore largely only recorded.”—The American Poetry Review

"[Turner's] writing is crisp, reportorial, earnest... [He] challenges us to experience war at its worst and confront its human costs without ideology or nationalism."—The Georgia Review

"In many ways, this is not a collection for the faint-hearted, dealing as it does with deaths and mutilations. However, its scope is broader than that, as it also skillfully looks at history, culture, love, and family."—The North

"[Turner's] is a poetry of horror, but also one of love and loss, infused with the restless spirits of the dead who hover over the living on both sides...His is a voice of honesty and despair, of imperfection and a self-awareness that most of us can only pretend to possess."—Connotation Press: An Online Artifact

"Turner's book of poems is something that transcends poetry..."—New Pages

"Turner's second book, Phantom Noise, continues to bear witness...looking on with equal parts courage and concern, but also as a poet whose language is always drawing comparisons, shifting the picture to encompass not just one tragedy, but a world's worth..."—Salamander

"Turner's resilient, humane poems remind us of war's impact but also provoke and question."—The Guardian

"It's hard to think of a better way around ideology than poetry like this. Turner shows us soldiers who are invincible and wounded, a nation noble and culpable, and a war by turns necessary and abominable. He brings us closer to our own phantom guilt and speaks the words that we both do and do not want to hear."—The Washington Post

"...we need [Turner's] bracing “bullet-borne language” as he tries to reconcile the chaos of Iraq with the demands of the poetic line."—The New York Times

About the Author

Brian Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon before serving with the US Army as an infantry team leader in Iraq. He has been featured on National Public Radio, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and the BBC. He has received an NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, and a fellowship from the Lannan Foundation.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Alice James Books (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882295803
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882295807
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon and lived abroad in South Korea for a year before serving for seven years in the US Army. He was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq beginning November 2003, with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Comb

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Michael Albert on April 18, 2010
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You don't need to have read Here, Bullet, Turner's book that burned up the peace poetry world a couple years ago, to read this book; but I'm grateful to have this update on the state of his craft and his mind. Brian Turner is an honest, straightforward poet, not ashamed of what he knows and trusting enough to share what he has experienced. What he does best is demonstrate how he takes his particular array of experiences--all his experiences, physical and psychological--and makes some sort of sense of them. There's no preaching, no pretense here. I'm sure I'd learn a lot from his classes in creative writing, but I'm even more certain that I've enjoyed his side of our epistolary relationship, held up through his poetry. In my unrelenting encouragement of new poets to let the 19th century poets speak for their century and accept the challenge of representing your own century, Brian Turner and a handful of others (such as Seth Abramson, Tony Hoagland, Patricia Smith, and others) are exhibit A for how to do it successfully. (And I'm grateful to find another poet who seems to be as haunted by the metaphorical weight of the Mogul destruction of the great library of Baghdad--"and the river ran black with ink"--as I am.)
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Zach Hudson on December 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Brian Turner's poetry can't help bring to mind the poets of the First World War: Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke. It's not just that Turner writes about "war, and the pity of war" like Owen, but that no other major poets have done so since the Great War. Where did the poetry of WWII and the Korean War go? I have read one poem written about the Vietnam War--an unpublished poem by my father. So Turner's poetry is at once novel and grounded in tradition--the tradition of bypassing the temptation towards the lugubrious or the nationalistic when dealing with war, and confronting the horror and pain with unflinching resolve.Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rob Jacques on October 27, 2010
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Around-the-world-solo-sailor Reese Palley wrote, "Our world is only peopled by what is inside our heads." Is it so unusual, then, for combat veterans to have their world peopled by horrors few who have not been there can understand? In his poems, Brian Turner captures the struggle of the human brain as it tries blend inhuman war experiences into every-day living. A phantom noise is the result, a background noise that is always present and is sometimes oddly dominant at the damnedest times. His beautifully crafted poem, "At Lowe's Home Improvement Center," gives us the returned combat veteran reacting to the common sights and sounds of a typical American hardware store, sights and sounds that uncontrollably trigger the common sights and sounds of war carnage.

These poems don't condemn. They don't preach. There's no paean to patriotism here, nor - God forbid - glory. There's only the clean, crisp, English line stating blunt facts with vivid imagery, with a beauty and an acceptance that allows Turner to put inside our own heads what it must be like to be ripped from civilization, sent through hell, and then returned to civilization, our world newly peopled with demons we can't cast out. Ever.

Powerful stuff, these poems. Leaders who must send us to war should read them before doing so to understand the full measure of the butcher's bill that will be paid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Megan Hewins on May 10, 2013
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Phantom Noise is an emotionally engaging and intellectually refreshing volume of modern poetry. I enjoyed this collection because the collection, as a whole, finds a balance between the poems that focus on the war and the poems that focus on the life of the culturally re-assimilated solider, while even finding room for a few poems that stray entirely from Turner's central war-based themes.

I found this volume of poetry different than a lot of modern poetry and it was appealing for that reason. My first thought was that Turner doesn't read like your typical bourgeois MFA professor-poet that dominate the world of modern poetry. But Turner does have an MFA and he is a professor. He is able to transcend conventions and designations that society heaves upon us, and it comes through in each of these poems. Neither he nor his speakers are just a war veteran or professor or poet or father or lover or survivor or witness to trauma - there is an amalgamation of all. His speaker's are fully fleshed human beings weaving intense narratives that are capable invoking emotive empathy.

Given the highly polarizing subject, Turner's poems are never polemic or didactic. His most sacred duty as a poet is as a witness and in this capacity he vigilantly serves the reader as genuinely as he has served his country. This was a fantastic volume of poetry that I will be reading and re-reading for some time to come.

Highly Recommended!
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