90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, June 30, 2011

Soldier-Turned-Poet Returns To Baghdad

On a bridge over the Tigris a man feeds gulls at dawn as water taxis await the morning's first passengers. (Lynsey Addario/National Geographic, from the July 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands June 28.)

On a bridge over the Tigris a man feeds gulls at dawn as water taxis await the morning's first passengers. (Lynsey Addario/National Geographic, from the July 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands June 28.)

Here & Now Guest:

  • Brian Turner, poet and former soldier, author of “Here, Bullet

For Brian Turner, the war in Iraq ended seven years ago, but that experience lives on in his award-winning poetry.

Turner served with an infantry unit that protected supply convoys in Baghdad in 2003 and 2004, but he recently returned to Baghdad for a story that appears in the July issue of National Geographic.

Turner told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that the experience was nerve-wracking and did not provide much closure.

“I’m starting to believe it is not really possible to come home completely,” he said. “I’m not sure other soldiers would agree, but there is a feeling we live in two countries and I have to find some way for those two to co-exist.”

He says for much of his visit, he felt on edge.

“I think I reverted back to my days of patrolling the streets,” he said. “As you are walking forward, you turn in a slow spin so you can see what’s behind you and what’s happening around you. I realized that was a bad idea, because I looked like a soldier and I tried to force myself to stop, but it’s difficult.”

Saddam Hussein may be gone now but Turner found Iraqis who wished he was still alive because as one of them said, “at least we knew what to expect.”

Turner says that there is terrible poverty and shortages of water and electricity, he also found that Baghdad is more sectarian today.

“The city is so walled off. There are so many checkpoints and life is sort of put on hold. You can’t drive down the road without stopping and stopping and  being checked and searched. It seem like Baghdad is on pause and it’s waiting regain its life.”

Photos

Article by Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 23 10 Comments

Iconic Images From Rock And Roll Photographer Henry Diltz

Crosby Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Doors, the Eagles, all became his friends and subjects.

April 23 22 Comments

Police Shooting Of Tamir Rice Still An Open Wound In Cleveland

Five months after the 12-year-old was shot, Peter O'Dowd visits the neighborhood and speaks with Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice.

April 22 6 Comments

Saving Food Scraps From The Trash To Make Better Meals

Are you throwing away your broccoli stems and peach pits? Food writer and cookbook author Eugenia Bone says don't.

April 21 Comment

Photographing Armenian Lives Around the World

Photojournalist Scout Tufankjian started the Armenian Diaspora Project to explore what it means to be Armenian.