Jon Michael Turner is a returned Iraq War veteran, who has taken up the art of paper and book making since his return to the United States. Originally from Connecticut, he now makes his home in Burlington, VT and works out of the Green Door Studio. Jon has also traveled with the Combat Paper Project, telling … Continued
Jon Michael Turner is a returned Iraq War veteran, who has taken up the art of paper and book making since his return to the United States. Originally from Connecticut, he now makes his home in Burlington, VT and works out of the Green Door Studio. Jon has also traveled with the Combat Paper Project, telling his story while teaching other veterans the art of papermaking and telling their personal stories.
Jon Michael Turner
“We as humans so often choose to look away from what we have endured. i truly believe that if we take the time to stare down what has once tormented us and embrace it, we can move forward with a healthier and more positive lifestyle. since jumping on board with the combat paper project in august of 2007, i have learned that finding ways to numb ourselves into not recognizing trauma, we tend to drive ourselves down the wrong path making it more difficult to unearth ourselves in the downward spiral in which we have placed ourselves. the cpp has helped force my mind and body in knowing that in order to come to terms with what happened, we must find several doors that will lead us in different directions, circulating through our psyche and healing each and every torn fiber that we are made up of. we as veterans have walked a line that many will not, we have seen things that most will never see and we have played a part in the war that we have created. it is up to us to re-weave the fabric that makes us whole. with the first cut of my uniform on a warm summer night in vermont, my outlook on the current events drasticly changed, sending me down the path that i was meant to walk. since then i have been able to express my feelings, my thoughts, my experiences in ways i never would have imagined of doing. when one sets out with the intention to heal, they are taking on a task that is very difficult at hand for we must relive these events, look at them from different points of view and then mend together what was once broken, the end result being a more optomistic point of view of themselves, society and the world in which we live. it took more courage to go back to these times than it did when they actually happened. it becomes easy to shut down, it becomes easy to walk away but if we keep running from what took place then we can never truly be at peace. the combat paper project is only a single tool on the shelf. it is up to us to venture out in search of our calling and find for ourselves how we must fit into society for the greatest good, but a helping hand along the way is always a good thing. so we must pass along this knowledge to all beings even if they do not share the same belief because eventually they might just understand where we come from. and for those that do, i truly hope that in time, we can all have a happier lifestyle.”
Jon Michael Turner November 2009
From Jon Michael Turner’s book, Eat the Apple
poetry is too little of a word for such a great subject matter. for centuries, societies have expressed themselves with a written language, speaking of their thoughts, dreams and daily life events. more often than not we tend to focus more upon the bad than the good. it is a subconscious gesture that we do have control over but giving in to negativity often becomes the easy way out. but i do believe that for every bit of bad there is a greater good. from past and current writing on negative thoughts and experiences, i was able to create a body of work that others can understand. with 6 years of writing scattered throughout old military seabags, books and scrap pieces of paper as well as my apartment in vermont, i felt the need to organize and put together my first book. self-published under seven star press titled eat the apple, the book includes 29 poems relating to war. i felt that paper and bookmaking wasn’t enough and that i still had much to say and in a way that we can all relate to, through writing. since then i have felt weight lift from my shoulders and put me into a place to where i feel comfortable moving forward towards a more positive way of living and am starting to revisit these events again but from a different perspective focusing on the bits of good that had taken place during traumatic events. i do feel that this is something that we all can benefit from if and when we are ready.
Jon Michael Turner’s Poetry
The Bicyle (an excerpt)
You fell off the seat as the handlebars turned
sharp left, throwing your body onto
the hot coals of Ramadi pavement,
intertwining your legs within your bicycle.
Lifeless eyes looking to the sky,
your neck muscles twitched turning your head
directly towards us. Nothing escaped your
lips except for the blood in the left corner
of your mouth that briefly moistened them
until the sand and dust dried them out.
The blood trail went behind the stone wall
where your body was placed, weighed down
by your blue bicycle and we laughed.
I used to fall asleep to the pictures and now
I can’t even bear to get a glimpse.
A Night in the Mind of Me – Part 1
The train hits you head on when you hear of another
friend whose life was just taken.
Pulling his cold lifeless body from the cooler,
unzipping the bag and seeing his forehead,
caved in like a cereal bowl from the sniper’s bullet
that touched his brain.
His skin was pale and cold.
It becomes difficult to sleep even after being
physically drained from patrols, post,
overwatches and carrying five hundred
sandbags up eighty feet of stairs after
each post cycle.
The psychiatrists still wonder why we
drink so heavy when we get home.
We need something to take us away
from the gunfire, explosions,
sand, nightmares and screams……….
I still can’t cry.
The tears build up but no weight is shed.
Anger kicks in and something else
An empty bottle of liquor
People still look away as we submit ourselves
to drugs and alcohol to suppress these
feelings of loneliness and sadness,
leading to self mutilation and
self destruction on the gift of a human body.
The ditch that we dug starts to cave in.
A Night in the Mind of Me – Part 2
Laughter pours out from the house as if nothing
were the matter, when outside in a chair, underneath
a tree, next to the chickens, I sit,
engulfed in my own sorrows……
Resting on the ground is my glass,
half filled with water but I don’t have
enough courage to pick it up and smash it against
my skull so that everyone can watch blood
pool in the pockets where my collar
bones meet my dead weighted shoulders,…
Every time I’m up, something pulls me down,
whenever I relax, something stresses me out,
every time a smile tugs on my heart, an
iron fist crushes it, and I sit outside in a chair,
The Voices Education Project offers tools, philosophies, and learning methods that will help young people understand the roots of conflict and the trauma of war, confront the pain and fear at the heart of conflict, and help to build healthy human communities in the wake of war. We use the arts and education to transform the consciousness of young people, give teachers and students a way to explore the most important and terrifying issues of our day, and create a dialogue in which all voices can be heard, and all points of view included, without engendering fear, hatred, or anger.