At the Kerouac House Brian Turner hosted a Ekphrastic Poetry workshop. Ekphrastic poetry is poetry that is inspired by works of visual art. Brian first spoke about his humble background. He grew up in a family of middle class intellectuals. His father used to read a book to the family at the diner table, but the family never discussed what was read. Brian put himself through college as a machinist. Later like his father he felt the need to serve his country in the military. When he was deployed to Bosnia and then Iraq he wanted need to learn about the country's culture and ways. As a soldier he had to be keenly aware of the environment and the pace of life in the villages and towns. If the pace of life changed something was wrong.
As an exercise Brian asked all the poets to walk through the house and pick and object to write a poem about. From all these separate poems he later compiled the group poem "Tonic".
A lone gin bottle sitting on the headboard
labors to inspire the numbing dreams
which-out of love, like musicians
with their instruments laid down-
might serve to keep me company.
The air has turned electric-conducting
all that is about to happen. Through windows
of blue and grey-the air smells of rotten cabbage,
pond scum, rancid sweet fermenting,
stewing, the dark soul of a marriage
overcome by the hive of bees in sheet rock,
layers of winged frenzy sweetened
only by the magnolia out back.
If there's only one thing I have learned-
not from the wandering,
not from the traveling, and
not how Aristotle said it best-
it's how I move, most impressively,
alone. No one stretches me.
It is true. A bottle of gin is only lonely
when it is empty.
This collaborative poem was written by: Susan Shannon Spraker, B.J. Hart, Naomi Butterfield, Julie Dunsworth, Mary Ann deStefano, J. Northlake, Lorie Parker Matejowsky, Mary Elizabeth McIlvane, Kenny S. Murry, Gene Moore, Bernadette Adams Davis, and Brian Turner.