Book reviews, Culture, Lifestyle, Okology

B. Turner: “Loyalty has been forgotten in today’s society”

Friendship is tremendously important to me.  Now, more than ever, we must surround ourselves with people we respect, love and trust. Loyalty has been forgotten in today’s society.


Brian Turner  Photo by Shane Gilchrist
Brian Turner – Photo by Shane Gilchrist

Francisco Castañon


Brian Turner is a poet, essayist, biographer and editor.  He is known as one of the most prolific writers on nature and the outdoors in New Zealand, and is also famous for his trout fishing guide published some years ago.

In fact, as well as being a lover of the environment and mountains, he is also an ex national level professional hockey player.

He has won numerous prizes for his literary works.  His first collection of poetry, Ladders of Rain, earned him the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 2003.  Just This (2009) received the New Zealand Post Book Awards prize in 2010.  His works also include Inside Outside (2011).

Brian turnerHis latest book, Elemental is a collection of poetry about Central Otago in New Zealand.  Some of the poems date back to his first volume published in 1978 under the title Ladders of Rain, winner of the 2003 Commonwealth Poetry Prize.

In Elemental, the author returns to leitmotifs of love, nostalgia and loss: whether for people, places, relationships, landscapes or ways of life.

Brian Turner spoke to The Prisma about those and other themes.

 Conservationist or activist?

Well I, said activist… because I am described as an activist by those who do not much appreciated or does who not have much to do in involve in environmental campaigns.

I am of the view that human kind is it not in a great parole. We are rule by people who are not leaders but who are followers of this academic say paradise, which is no longer were.

We need to look after the planet, and a great deal of what we are doing is hugely distractive, and I think we could be hearing for collapse and calamity unless we act differently, and also I decided that my generation was largely complicity in these, and what we would be the younger generation was poor ling and a great mess really.

I believe humankind is under great threat and that we’ve brought it upon ourselves. We are using up nature’s capital too fast, polluting and destroying that upon which our long-term survival depends, and nature’s calling in her debt.

Brian Turner Photo by NZPA.
Brian Turner Photo by NZPA.

So I am one of about 10 per cent I wouldn’t imagine of my generation who’s seriously concern and I have been involved in campaigns and I will be.

Humans can’t continue acting the way we have, and that unless we make changes immediately, the future looks bleak for a very large percentage of humankind and the natural world upon which we depend.

When did you start to develop your conservationist?

Yes, a lot. It was always there, because I read a lot about outdoors.

I’ve been active in conservation campaigns for over 40 years. Our family took part enthusiastically in all kinds of sports and in outdoor recreation generally.

I played hockey and cricket, and golf, and also became a keen road cyclist. I represented New Zealand at hockey, played cricket at provincial level, and became an ardent trout fisher.

Brian turnerFor many years, too, I went tramping in little-visited parts of the forests, valleys and mountains. I climbed a lot of mountains and my ascents included New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki, also known as Mt Cook.

Among my many books is Into the Wider World”, a collection of essays and poems focusing on my outdoor activities in and reflections on our relationship with the natural world. It was very well received.

Brian turnerShould the writer involved in social or political causes?

I believe writers have a duty to speak truth to power, to be part of the movements and major issues of their time.

I have little interest in those who don’t. They are part of the problems we face; I prefer those who take a role in searching for solutions and believe in the importance of acting to asserting the need to foster the common good.

Brian turnerBut while I am happy to be seen as ‘a political animal’, a lot of my writing, especially my poetry, is driven by matters concerning ‘love, longing and loss’; by what moves and affects us most in so far as the essence of what is best about the human spirit is concerned.

One can’t help but grieve about what’s happening to the places we love most and about the predicaments facing humankind. Optimism won’t save us, realism followed by courageous community cooperation and action may.

 Do you think the movement to the chaos is faster?

Of course, is accelerating, you could say the Armageddon is coming closer.

Too few people seem to accept or understand that growth as we’ve known it is not possible in a finite world. We must redefine what we mean by such terms as ‘growth’, ‘progress’ and ‘development’.

Brian turnerFor instance, all change is not progress, and often what is termed development is actually destructive in ways that remove the likelihood of long-term sustainability.

I have always supported human rights campaigns but I believe our duties extend to far more than just rights for human beings. I believe that we nature has rights too and we need to uphold them. Our own future, socially and economically, depends on our doing that.

 Brian turnerIs it difficult to become published for the new generations?

It is getting harder and harder for upcoming generations, reading staff online

New writers to get publish. Who could imagine that we will have kindles, books online, or have the information in the palm of our hands?

Can you keep the current socioeconomic system?

When it comes to economics, I think to myself, until human kind understand that environmental protection is a benefit rather than a cost society.

brian_turnerUntil the majority of the people don’t take an action we wont change anything, not solve our problems, we have to rid out the people that run the political system at the moment… until this not change we are not going to change the things.

We continue to elect the wrong people, people whose ideas and beliefs don’t hold up anymore. People in whom – for the most part – I have little faith and trust in.

Nor do an growing number of people. It’s complex, there’s so much apathy on the one hand, arrogant complacency on the other; delusion, dissonance and bemusement go hand in hand and lead to desolation.

That’s worldwide – in the British Isles, in Europe, in the USA, in … everywhere as I see it. All told a bloody great mess…

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