Contemporary Poems: Iraq War Veteran Brian Turner

Grade Levels
10th - 12th, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • PDF
10 pages
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Looking for a unique lesson to engage your most apathetic students of poetry?

Brian Turner is a contemporary American poet and a veteran of the Iraq War. This engaging lesson explores the experience of watching a poet read and explain his own poetry.

Often, students see poetry as something that exists on paper—they read it silently and analyze the words on the page. But by listening to Turner read and discuss his work, they will have a different experience. Some may like the way that Turner explains the poems, while some may prefer to have their own understanding. The discussions here will engage students to think about different ways to experience poetry.

Note: “Hurt Locker” contains some profanity, “Eulogy” is about a soldier who committed suicide, and all of the poems contain violent, angry, and graphic images.

The texts of the poems are not included because of copyright reasons.

Pairings: These poems would go nicely with any longer texts or units that deal with death, trauma, war, suicide, other cultures, or the contemporary American experience; suggestions include The Things They Carried, The Red Badge of Courage, Henry V, Henry IV, The Iliad, Fallen Angels, Catch 22, Slaughterhouse Five.

The questions are ready to go with minimal prep on your part and include QR codes for each reading so that students can access the poems on their own.

Total Pages
10 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.


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