Larry Turner

In his book Eden and Other Addresses, writer Larry Turner brings a unique style and unconventional themes to the world of religious poetry. Eden and Other Addresses retells many well-known Bible stories from often overlooked points of view, such as "The Eighth Day of Creation", a retelling of the Gnostic version of the creation of the world, and "Bathsheba: Street Girl to Queen", which details the relationship of David and Bathsheba from Bathsheba's perspective. Turner's fascination with animals, particularly cats, is also very much evident in Eden and Other Addresses, in such poems as "Nineveh's Repentant Cat" and "Two Red Birds on a Branch in Spring". Larry Turner's unique authorial voice draws upon many inspirations from his own life.

Although it may seem unusual to many people for a research physicist and professor of physics to become interested in poetry, Turner feels that a career in the sciences lends itself well to poetry. "If you use the common idea of left brain/ right brain activity, poetry and physics are areas where you are forced to combine left brain and right brain activity. Also, I had many opportunities to travel to conferences around the world as a scientist, and many of my poems relate to the places I visited, such as Lyon, England, Japan, and especially China." Although he was always interested in reading, Turner claims that a unique series of events sparked his interest in writing. "In my 40s, I started to do something that I had wanted to do all my life, which was playing the piano. However, the longer I practiced at the piano, the farther away I was from what I felt was an acceptable level of playing." Though he did not live up to his musical expectations of himself, Turner felt the experience gave him a much greater appreciation of music, "so when the local community college offered a course in writing poetry, I took it in hopes that I would gain a greater appreciation of poetry. Not only did I gain a great appreciation of poetry in that class, I also found that I truly enjoyed writing poetry."

Writing and compiling the poems included in Eden and Other Addresses proved to be a lengthy and involved process for Turner. "A few years ago, I wrote a series of poems called 'Mary and Pandera: A Passion From God.' They were a different take on the Nativity stories that detailed the relationship of Mary with Joseph Pandera, a Roman soldier who was, according to some legendary sources, the father of Jesus of Nazareth. About 15 poems long, the series was too lengthy to be published in a magazine, but too short to comprise a book itself." So Turner gathered a number of other poems he had written since the publication of his first book, Stops on the Way to Eden and Beyond in 1992, and compiled them into Eden and Other Addresses. Explaining his writing process, Turner says that "I don't write poems with the intent to compile them into a book, I just write them as the ideas and feelings come to me. I thought the poems contained in Eden and Other Addresses had good thematic connections and would gel into an entertaining book of poetry."

Turner enjoys working with many themes as a writer. "One theme I did mostly when I started, but still continue to work with, is family. I enjoy writing about both the members of my own family, and making up imaginary dysfunctional families and how their members interact with each other. Another of my favorite themes is a retelling of Bible stories, particularly the Creation narratives from the beginning of the Book of Genesis, from a different point of view." Turner also enjoys writing from the perspective of animals. "All my life I've kept cats as pets, and I've always been intrigued with them and the way they interact with people. Cats aren't the only animals I'm interested in-I've written a few poems about dogs, and a couple of poems about trying to understand how my beta fish looks at the world."

Turner enjoys, and is influenced by, the work of many poets. "A poet who has been an influence on me since I began writing is the Irish poet Yeats. I find him very impressive because in the 19th Century, he was an excellent 19th Century poet, and in the 20th Century, he was an excellent 20th Century poet. Another favorite poet of mine is Albert Goldbarth, and I feel his work has been a significant thematic influence on mine." Turner also enjoys the work of poets that did not influence his own style and themes; "A poet I like very much, but who is not an influence, is Emily Dickinson. She is a wonderful poet, but her poetic voice and the sound of her language is so unique, she is not someone you can learn from."

Turner claims that the keys to successful writing are "the mechanics of knowing the language, willingness to perform revision, and for subject matter, having the ability to notice things that seem out of the ordinary or paradoxical." For future projects, Turner revels that is "trying to put together a chapbook of 30-40 pages for the Slipstream contest. I'm not writing in terms of any overall book-I don't have another thematically connected series of poems yet." Finally, Turner explains that his reason for writing is "because I want to share my poetry with other people, so I hope people read my book."