Eric Watson ’91 wasn’t envisioning himself as a U.S. Marine Corps aviator when he first came to Syracuse University. The Washington D.C., native originally intended on studying computer science, but as is the case with many college students, Watson realized…
Brian Turner, Poet and Veteran, to Read at Syracuse Symposium Nov. 20
Syracuse Symposium continues its theme of “Perspective” with a special reading by U.S. Army veteran Brian Turner, who has turned his wartime experiences into some of today’s most acclaimed poetry.
Turner will likely read from his bestselling memoir, “My Life As a Foreign Country” (W.W. Norton, 2014), and his two poetry collections, “Here, Bullet” (2005) and “Phantom Noise” (2010), both published by Alice James Books, on Thursday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Downtown Writer’s Center (DWC) of the YMCA’s Arts Branch. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. For more information, call 315-443-7192.
DWC is located at 340 Montgomery St., Syracuse.
Turner’s reading is part of Syracuse Symposium, which is organized and presented by the Syracuse University Humanities Center, and the DWC’s Visiting Author Reading Series. This year marks the fourth that both organizations have worked together to bring celebrated writers to the area.
“I am pleased with how our relationship with DWC has grown,” says Gerald R. Greenberg, senior associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and interim director of the Humanities Center. “These readings provide an important literary connection between campus and the City of Syracuse. No doubt that Brian Turner’s visit will appeal to a wide cross-section of people.”
A seven-year Army veteran, Turner was deployed with the 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum for two years in the conflict in Bosnia, before heading to Iraq for a year, where he served as an infantry team leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
In “My Life as a Foreign Country,” Turner departs from verse to deliver a personalized account of his wartime years and the adjustment afterward to civilian life—a transition with which many veterans struggle. He also reflects on the veteran experience through the eyes of his grandfather, father and uncle, drawing parallels among them and those whom have experienced war, in general.
Prior to enlisting, Turner earned an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Oregon, where he studied with T.R. Hummer, another visiting poet in this fall’s DWC series. A resident of Orlando, Fla., Turner directs the M.F.A. program at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe; and is a contributing editor to The Normal School, a literary journal published by the California State University, Fresno.
Phil Memmer is executive director of the YMCA Arts Branch and founding director of the DWC. “We’re excited to reunite with the Humanities Center for Syracuse Symposium. These collaborations are becoming something of a fall tradition around here, and Brian’s visit is being eagerly anticipated,” he says.
Memmer says DWC maintains close ties with the Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group, which meets monthly at the University and is one of several campus programs that supports veterans of all branches and eras of military service. In turn, several members of the Veterans’ Writing Group regularly attend DWC classes.
Turner’s books will be sold before and after the reading, which includes a brief Q&A session.