The Poetry Of Steve Turner

If there was one subject I disdained at school, it was English Lit. Too girlie by half, it was. Especially for us scientists. What use was it? I never clicked that literature was a powerful way of communicating a message, despite my enjoying the (anti-)war poetry of Wilfred Owen. Eng Lit was the only O-Level for which I didn’t revise. For some reason, I failed it.

My views began to soften a few years after leaving school. An article in Buzz Magazine extolled the virtues of a Christian rock poet called Steve Turner. I sought out his first book ‘Tonight We Will Fake Love’. The edition I have sells for £45 today on the Internet. If only I had the original edition from Charisma! A few years later it was followed by ‘Nice And Nasty’ , which contains his famous poem ‘History Lesson’:

History
repeats itself.
Has to.
No-one listens.

And to drive home the point, that poem appears four times throughout the book.

Other collections followed, notably ‘King Of Twist’, and Turner also ventured into rock books (having started as a rock journalist). He wrote biographies of, or titles themed on, the Beatles, U2, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison and the rôle of religion in music. He also wrote a splendid book on a Christian vision for the arts entitled ‘Imagine‘.

But just lately I’ve come back to his books, and here’s how it happened. Recently I spoke at a midweek renewal meeting as a favour to the friend who runs it. He met me before the meeting and gave me an envelope. I protested.

“No, Mike, I’m doing this tonight because you are my friend. I don’t want a fee.”

But he insisted. “It’s not a fee, it’s a gift. Spend it on the children.”

I soon knew what I wanted to do with this gift. Since the mid-90s, Steve Turner has written collections of poetry for children. I have longed for the time when I could introduce our two to his work. Off I set on a virtual journey to [the] Amazon, and into my basket I placed ‘The Day I Fell Down The Toilet‘, ‘Dad You’re Not Funny‘, ‘I Was Only Asking‘, ‘Don’t Take Your Elephant To School‘ and ‘The Moon Has Got His Pants On‘.

They arrived this weekend. For the last two days there has been unbridled hilarity at our dining table as the children have either asked me to read another poem to them, or they have read some out loud. Sometimes the language needs a little explanation, but Steve Turner is giving my children a further introduction to the joys of language at a younger age than I ever had. What a gift.

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About Dave Faulkner

I'm a British Methodist minister, married with two children. I blog from a moderate evangelical-missional-charismatic perspective, with an interest in the 'missional' approach. My interests include Web 2.0, digital photography, contemporary music and watching football (Tottenham Hotspur) and cricket.

Posted on May 2, 2010, in Books, Culture and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I fell in love with poetry as a child, about 8 years of age (I think). And it’s a love that has been a constant for me throughout life. I must admit the ‘800 – Poetry’ section in our school library is not quite as popular as ‘500 – Animals’ but the poetry books are maintained and added to each year! I live in hope.
    btw, your sermon on Love, Jesus-style was spot-on. For some reason, I thought of the problems the Catholic church is having (a topic often on my mind) and, really, who can blame non-Christians for being fed up with the hypocrisy. I pray for this great church.
    And that was Gordon Brown’s failing – hypocrisy, people will forgive other faults much more easily, that one’s harder.

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  2. Tony Buglass

    “And that was Gordon Brown’s failing – hypocrisy, people will forgive other faults much more easily, that one’s harder.”

    Well, I’m getting a bit fed-up with the chorus of self-righteous condemnation in the media, calling him a hypocrite, etc. Yes, it was a prize clanger, yes, he should have made sure his mike was off, yes, he has probably thrown away whatever chance he had of getting back in – but I don’t think there are many people who can say “J’accuse!” without getting it back. They say manse and vicarage gardens are the best-dug in the land, because the minister will go home after a church meeting and take out his frustration with a spade instead of planting it firmly in the skulls of the offending idiots. (I used to use a combat flight-sim – very satisfying to fire a full burst and see your property secretary or treasurer go down in flames!)

    I’m no fan of New Labour – far too Tory for me – but Gordon isn’t the villain he’s been painted to be, and the likely alternatives are worse. The personal attacks on him in the media are at least as hypocritical as he is accused of being, I reckon. Ad hominem always loses.

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  3. Sorry to upset you Tony. Yes, we are all hypocritical in some ways – but if I am hypocritical in my work I will certainly get a come-uppance from the parents at my school, not to mention my principal. Same goes for a politician running for the highest office in the land. As Dave remarked in his sermon, he could have been polite to the woman (if he didn’t like what she said that much) but to say nice things to her face, then turn around and call her a “bigot” in private is disheartening to say the least. I’m sure all our politicans in Australia are guilty of it too but doesn’t make it right. No wonder politicians are the amongst the least respected of people in our country (our political cartoonists have a field day) – they need to lift their act. Maybe using a combat flight-sim is a good idea for them!

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  4. And I’ve thought of something else to say!! Do you tell your parishioners at church meetings that you’d like to plant a spade firmly in their skulls and that they are idiots? Or do you just put those sentiments on a blog?

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  5. Tony Buglass

    “Do you tell your parishioners at church meetings that you’d like to plant a spade firmly in their skulls and that they are idiots? Or do you just put those sentiments on a blog?”

    Now, you really need to read what I wrote VERY carefully. I referred to ‘the minister’ and ‘manse and vicarage gardens’ in very general 3rd-person terms. I never referred to MY garden, or MY idiots – sorry, members. And I no longer have that combat flight-sim. (The fact that I’d quite like it is beside the point…)

    As for Gordon Brown – ” he could have been polite to the woman (if he didn’t like what she said that much) but to say nice things to her face, then turn around and call her a “bigot” in private is disheartening to say the least” – well, I thought he WAS polite to her. To have called her a bigot to her face would have been very harsh. To be polite to her face, while inwardly rejecting what she was saying, is letting her down gently – the problem was that his private honesty was made public.

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    • Are you sure you’re not a spin doctor? Jesus’ command to ‘love one another as I have loved you’ is a big ask even at the best of times. We obviously disagree on this issue and we’ll leave it at that.

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  6. Can anyone please help, I’m looking for the Steve Turner poem that goes something like “she said we fitted like a hand glove, but there came a time when such accessaries weren’t needed”. Anyone have an idea, what the title is?

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  7. Hi Venessa,

    Welcome here. Those lines are from ‘Declaration of Intent’, which originally appeared in ‘Tonight We Will Fake Love’. I don’t know if it’s in any subsequent compilations, such as ‘Up To Date’ or not.

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  8. Dear Dave (David) Faulkner

    I ‘LL be very much obliged to You if assist me so that Poet Steve Turner get my modest comment on his poetry . You know we most of Soviets citizens (now former Soviets scholars had not been allowed contacts with foreigners especially with American and Europeans.Regardless that I am Prof.(Ph.Dr) in age 72 but You and Steve Turner are third or forth persons with whom I am trying to be in contact by Email.So I have no abjection if do not mind to be in friendly contact with me (Old partial y retired Indolojist)
    So act please as per Your “Hart’s Silver bells sounds”. My email is
    with best regards Dr, Nkoloz Kenchoshvili
    with best regards

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    • Dear Dr Kenchoshvili,

      Thank you for your message. I am happy to be in contact with you. However I am sorry, but I do not know Steve Turner personally, I simply admire his poetry, so I do not have any contact information for him.

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