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The Unbound Book Festival comes to downtown Columbia each spring. They aim "to bring nationally and internationally recognized authors of world-class renown to Columbia, Missouri, to talk about their books, their work, and their lives."

Brian Turner on love and loss: "A poem is a type of architecture that houses the imagination."

Provided by Brian Turner

The Unbound Book Festival is happening in Columbia this weekend and KBIA has been speaking with some of this year’s featured authors.

Brian Turner is a poet, essayist and musician. Last year, he published three poetry books that explored love and loss. He will be on a panel of veteran writers at Unbound because of his previous work about his experience in the U.S. military.

Turner recently sat down with KBIA’s Kiana Fernandes.

Kiana Fernandes: How did you get involved with Unbound this year?

"If I can house them in a stanza and share them with another, then maybe someone else can fall in love with them too. And so, they might live on in the world."
Brian Turner

Brian Turner: You know, I actually don't know, I have that question too. I know that it has to do with being a veteran and a writer, and it's part of the curation of conversation there at the Unbound Festival.

So, I think they're trying to bring different veteran voices together to be a part of the larger conversation there. So, it's an honor to be a part of that.

Kiana Fernandes: Do you know anything in advance about how the moderation of the panel is going to go? Or do you just show up and start talking?

Brian Turner: No, I'm going to show up and I guess we'll all start a conversation, and I really appreciate that because sometimes it can feel kind of canned and too pre-planned.

I like seeing someone think in real time, and then I respond with them in real time. It feels much more organic and natural, and I think sometimes closer to honest, you know.

I'd rather be human and messy and fallible and for us to grapple with the difficult things of our time together.

Kiana Fernandes: You released three poetry books last year in very quick succession, and I was wondering what the process for that was like.

Brian Turner: Over the course of about five years, I had basically the core of my loved ones around me – my wife and my best friend and my father and others – all crossed over and passed away.

And so, those books are very much in conversation with them – with love and loss as a theme that runs throughout them.

You know, in terms of process, I was writing these poems and essays, but I also – like, writing wasn't enough. So, I also make music and I was making music at the same time.

I was working on this strange project of sort of a chanting, sort of meditative collage of sound that I didn't even actually realize was a collage of sound.

I was making these disparate pieces, that eventually I realized were all part of one whole thing. I needed music to help process experience in a way that language couldn't do. And vice versa, you know, so the two in tandem was very helpful.

And then to help the reader a little bit, I created a three-part video monologue that's on the back of each book. There's a QR code in the back, where I sort of cross the – break the wall and sort of talk across the stage to the reader.

I think of writing and art as a meditative practice, whether we share it with others or not. So, it's a continual part of my life. And these – the books that I put out and the music are a part of that meditative process.

A poem is a type of architecture that houses the imagination, and so, that's why I turned to it with my loved ones because they've crossed over, and have left this world, but they’re still inside of me in memory.

And if I can house them in a stanza and share them with another, then maybe someone else can fall in love with them too. And so, they might live on in the world.

See more Unbound Conversations here and see more including the complete schedule of events on the Unbound Book Festival website. 

Kiana Fernandes is a senior at the Missouri School of Journalism.
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