Term of Award

Fall 2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

David Dudley

Committee Member 1

Marc Cyr

Committee Member 2

Caren Town


Brian Turner is a poet and American soldier who served in Iraq at the start of the 21st century. His poetry is about his experiences as a soldier interacting with the Iraqi people, his time in America following the war, PTSD, and the endless violence in the war zone. As a comparatively recent entry into the genre of War Poetry, his work pays homage to the writers who preceded him, like Wilfred Owen and Bruce Weigl, while also referencing Middle Eastern poets typically outside the scope of American literature. Through Turner’s recurring themes and motifs, connections are established between people on opposite sides of the war, as the same violence that separates people paradoxically unifies them. Turner’s poems are divided into categories of violent and nonviolent poems, where violence is quantified by the level of “noise” in each poem as defined by its imagery and structure. Turner’s nonviolent poems ultimately point to the presence of peace in the poetry, where this strange unity of people affected by war produces a culture of understanding through loss and suffering, yet it acknowledges that war itself, and with it war poetry, will continue.