September 21, 2010 posted by Unity Auckland

Brian Turner

Brian Turner

Which book caused you to love reading?
No one book. I have been a compulsive reader from about the age of 10 or 11. And my tastes have been and still are pretty catholic. As I’ve got older I have tended to read far more non-fiction and poetry and much less fiction. Perhaps that is because poetry is central to my life on the one hand, and on the other, environmental issues and the moral and ethical sides related to them are what strike me as the most important challenges humans face. Frankly, I don’t think we’re up to it. As an aside, for a long time many people seemed to find it odd that someone as keen on sport and recreation as I was, and still am, was so keen on literature of all kinds. That response to me had a lot to do with the silly NZ belief that sport was the enemy of art and literature.

What are you currently reading & how did you come across the book?
Two or three at once, usually. But a big book from the US, Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore & Michael P. Nelson with a Foreword from Desmond Tutu. I’ve a poem in it. Most illustrious company I’ve ever kept: it includes Obama, Speth, Kingsolver, Le Guin, McKibben, Berry, E O Wilson, Snyder, the dalai Lama, Singer, Safina, … I met Moore when she was in NZ earlier in the year (or late last) and found we shared similar ideas, loves and convictions. She’s a wonderfully insightful and informed and lyrical writer, an environmental philosopher and essayist at Oregon State University. Also got Robert Hughes’s Nothing if Not Critical  on the go; Wislawa’s Szymborska’s Selected Poems View With a Grain of Sand  and The Best American Essays 2009.

What is the book you have re-read the most?
Couldn’t say. But Edward Abbey’s essays, because he was a fearless bastard, not neutered; Seamus Heaney’s poems, and Stevens, W S Merwin, Yeats and Ted Hughes… Gosh, I occasionally re-read some of the work of Owen Marshall and Vincent O’Sullivan…Linda Pastan, Margaret Atwood, Flannery O’Connor…Annie Proux… Just remembered, loved the novel The Bird Artist by Howard Norman and Richard Ford’s Wildlife.

Favourite book to movie adaptation?
Couldn’t say, I rarely find time to see movies, not because I’m averse to them but because time’s in short supply .

What books are next to your bed?
Tend to read the LRB and Literary Review in bed.

Favourite literary quote?

“Poetry is the stuff that poets write.”

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