"In Phantom Noise, the speaker recognizes the degree to which language is a co-creative of reality...and as such, these poems begin to interrogate the speaker’s entanglement in acts that he had heretofore largely only recorded.”The American Poetry Review
"[Turner's] writing is crisp, reportorial, earnest... [He] challenges us to experience war at its worst and confront its human costs without ideology or nationalism."The Georgia Review
"In many ways, this is not a collection for the faint-hearted, dealing as it does with deaths and mutilations. However, its scope is broader than that, as it also skillfully looks at history, culture, love, and family."The North
"[Turner's] is a poetry of horror, but also one of love and loss, infused with the restless spirits of the dead who hover over the living on both sides...His is a voice of honesty and despair, of imperfection and a self-awareness that most of us can only pretend to possess."Connotation Press: An Online Artifact
"Turner's book of poems is something that transcends poetry..."New Pages
"Turner's second book, Phantom Noise, continues to bear witness...looking on with equal parts courage and concern, but also as a poet whose language is always drawing comparisons, shifting the picture to encompass not just one tragedy, but a world's worth..."Salamander
"Turner's resilient, humane poems remind us of war's impact but also provoke and question."The Guardian
"It's hard to think of a better way around ideology than poetry like this. Turner shows us soldiers who are invincible and wounded, a nation noble and culpable, and a war by turns necessary and abominable. He brings us closer to our own phantom guilt and speaks the words that we both do and do not want to hear."The Washington Post
"...we need [Turner's] bracing “bullet-borne language” as he tries to reconcile the chaos of Iraq with the demands of the poetic line."The New York Times
"Each night is different. Each night the same./ Sometimes I pull the trigger. Sometimes I don't." Turner fascinated and unsettled many with his first collection, Here, Bullet, featuring poems of wide-eyed wonder and honest introspection from the frontlines of the war in Iraq. This volume continues his mission, bringing the hard realities of war and its consequences home. "Some nights I twitch and jerk in my sleep./ My lover has learned to face away." Turner's intention is neither to romanticize nor to protest the war but simply to bring its ironies and madness, its sad and difficult truths, into the light—a light that perhaps will exorcise the demons. "I imagine/ she's far away and we don't use the word love.// While she sleeps, helicopters/ come in low over the date palms." The telling of these stories would seem to demand as much courage as having lived them. In sharp, straightforward, yet lyrical language, Turner exposes the many costs of war. Perhaps the most costly: there can be no forgetting some sights and sounds. VERDICT Highly recommended for all readers of contemporary poetry and to those interested in war literature.—Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia
Mr. Turner's poems can be too prosy, but we need his bracing "bullet-borne language" as he tries to reconcile the chaos of Iraq with the demands of the poetic line.
The New York Times
These poems work a bit like the bomb blasts that echo through them, breaking down assumptions, unearthing shards of insight that help explain why, when it comes to war, we are so much at odds with ourselves…It's hard to think of a better way around ideology than poetry like this. Turner shows us soldiers who are invincible and wounded, a nation noble and culpable, and a war by turns necessary and abominable. He brings us closer to our own phantom guilt and speaks the words that we both do and do not want to hear.
The Washington Post
Turner’s debut, Here, Bullet (2006) was likely the most discussed debut of the decade: its sharp, accessible verse reflected Turner’s U.S. Army service in wartime Iraq. It’s a hard act to follow, but Turner manages well, alternating poems about his uneasy return to civilian life in California with attempts to understand Iraq and Iraqis from the very recent past to the long sweep of Arabic poetry and history. Turner the veteran sees war everywhere—plywood “At Lowe’s Home Improvement Center” cracks like mortars; a flight in a small civilian plane reminds him of a troop transport, “my view a distorted globe,/ my reflection in it moonless, culpable.” Poems on his childhood and on American places emphasize undercurrents of violence, premonitions of military life. But Turner also displays his anguished interest in Arab experience. “Ash blackened the sky in 1258, blood/ ran in the rivers of Dajla and Farat.” At their best, his poems feel like personal essays, driven by reminiscence or reportage. Yet the epic past cannot obscure the troubled present—not in the “Mosul airbase” where Turner guarded a huddle of blindfolded prisoners, not in Iraqi cities with their distressed children, not even in the Pacific forest where the volume concludes: “there is not one thing I might say to the world,” Turner says, “which the world does not already know.” (Apr.)