Brian Turner is a contemporary American poet and a veteran of the Iraq War. This engaging lesson explores the experience of listening to 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.