Against Embedded Literature: Brian Turner’s Iraq War Poetry

Giorgio Mariani


Brian Turner has quickly risen as the US poet of the Iraq War. Though many have praised his work on both aesthetic and political grounds, others have objected to his inability to move beyond an American soldier’s perspective. My essay explores the terms of this controversy, suggesting that Turner does—at least at times—try to incorporate in his poetry the viewpoint of the enemy. My argument is that Turner’s work could be described as “cosmopolitan,” at least if by that term we mean, as Bruce Robbins has suggested, not an impossibly “neutral” perspective but, more realistically, “a striving to transcend partiality that is itself partial” (1992, 181).



Brian Turner, war poetry, Iraq war, Cosmopolitanism, American literature

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