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Brian Turner

Brian Turner is the author of a memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country (Norton, 2014), and two collections of poetry, Here, Bullet (Alice James, 2005) and Phantom Noise (Alice James, 2010). He’s the editor of The Kiss (Norton, 2018) and coeditor of The Strangest of Theatres (McSweeney’s, 2013). Turner’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, National Geographic, Harper’s, and elsewhere. He lives in Orlando, Florida, and directs the MFA program at Sierra Nevada University.


Photo by Sonnet Mondal

In the Underwater World of 2050

December 3, 2020 | Essays

 1.In Kolkata, on Banamali Sarkar Street, I am a bewildered and ignorant tourist, just as I have been throughout my life, eavesdropping on people’s lives and conversations, jotting down notes, folding thoughts into whatever pattern I can make [...]

An Elegy for My Doppelgänger

Winter 2016 | Poetry

Turner, a celebrity chef, wrote Brian Turner’s
Favourite British Recipes: Classic Dishes
from Yorkshire Pudding to Spotted Dick. He played 
drums for the horror-punk band Schoolyard Heroes,
played hockey for New Zealand in the sixties, lifted
the impossible as the eighth-strongest man in the world.

Viking 1

Spring 2010 | Poetry

Viking Lander 1 made its final transmission to Earth November 11, 1982NASAOn approach to Mars, dunefields in the distance, the spacecraft descends within a storm of dust before landing on the Golden Plain, Chryse Planitia, which is a vast and stony d [...]

Unearthed by Wind

When the winds drive south from Anatolia, down through western Iraq and into the Kuwaiti borderlands, the dunes shift in waves, an ocean cresting in a swirling of dust the camels traverse at nightfall. And as years pass by, the wind presses on, [...]

VA Hospital Confessional

Each night is different. Each night the same. Sometimes I pull the trigger. Sometimes I don’t. When I pull the trigger, he often just stands there, gesturing, as if saying Aren’t you ashamed? When I don’t, he douses himself in gasoli [...]

Perimeter Watch

I’ve locked the doors tonight, checking the bolts twice just to make sure. Turned off all the lights. Only the fan blades rotate above, as slow as helicopters winding down in their oily gears. I can hear the water buffalo outside. They’ [...]

On the Flight to Alamosa, Colorado

At 10,000 feet, the lights of Denver fade as pilots check their gauges, the Beechcraft’s engines thrumming my ears as elevation and cabin pressure block out passengers in conversation behind me, the world outside a distorted globe with my ref [...]

The Discotheque

* Loaded down with prisoners after another night’s raid we pulled into the airbase in Mosul, the men gagged, zip-tied, blindfolded with engineer tape. Forsman ate a Snickers bar up in the hatch while everybody else slept shoulder to shou [...]

Leaves That the Wind Drives Earthward

There is a man in a barber’s chair in Mosul, a professor of civil engineering at the local university, and he commends Nancy Ajram, who sings “Akhasmak Ah,” and he says—She also knows how to play the oud, though the barber doesn’t hear [...]


The appointed time of death that Muslims believe God has determined for every individual; it cannot be delayed or hastened. There are ninety-nine special names for God, my son, and not so long ago, I held you, newly born, under the light [...]

A Conversation with Brian Turner

Brian Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon and lived in South Korea for a year before joining the United States Army. He served in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division and he was an infantry team leader in Iraq with the 3r [...]