Frederick Turner (poet)

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Frederick Turner (born 1943 Northamptonshire, England) is an American poet and academic. He is the author of two full-length epic science fiction poems, The New World and Genesis; several books of poetry; and a number of other works. He has been called "a major poet of our time".[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Northamptonshire, England, Turner is the son of British cultural anthropologists Victor Witter Turner and Edith Turner. He had four siblings. Due to their parents' professional travels, Turner and his siblings were raised in Africa, the United States, and England.[2]

He was educated at the University of Oxford (1962–67), where he obtained the degrees of B.A., M.A., and B.Litt. in English Language and Literature. After moving to the United States and working there, he was naturalized in 1977 as a U.S. citizen. His brothers include scientist Robert Turner and anthropologist Rory Turner, who teaches at Goucher College in Maryland.

Marriage and family[edit]

He has been married since 1966 to Mei Lin Turner and has two sons.


Turner is Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas.[3] Previous academic positions included the University of California, Santa Barbara (assistant professor 1967-72), Kenyon College (associate professor 1972-85), and the University of Exeter in England (visiting professor 1984-85). From 1978-82 he was editor of The Kenyon Review.


As a poet Turner uses the longer genres, the narrative, science fiction, and strict metrical forms. He is a winner of the Milan Fust Prize (shared with Zsuzsanna Ozsváth) and the Levinson Poetry Prize, awarded by Poetry Magazine (1983).[4] He has been described as "a universal scholar - a rare find in a world of over-specialization - whose work transects and borrows from several rather disparate fields."[5]

Reviews and commentary[edit]

  • "In Hadean Eclogues, Frederick Turner..., an interdisciplinary scholar and devotee of the classics, searches for a modern Arcadia, the sacred and taboo gateway between heaven and Earth that inspired the poets of old. He finds it in a startling place - the emerging suburbs in the cities of his adopted home, Texas." --Minneapolis Star-Tribune[6]
  • Genesis, an Epic Poem, by Frederick Turner... (It) doesn’t seem like an epic poem about the terraforming of Mars, using characters modeled partly on Greek mythology, would be a recipe for success. But Turner is an exceptionally skillful poet, who when he wrote this book had already completed a fascinating Mars novel, A Double Shadow (1978), and another fine book-length narrative poem, The New World (1985). Here, the Olympian grandeur of the characters and plot match well with the Martian landscape, which under its rapid terraforming is still recognizably a place established in the popular imagination by the Viking landers. The result is a triumph that deserves to be better known." --IEEE Spectrum[7]


  1. ^ Golden, Gayle (September 2, 1990). "Universal Poet: Frederick Turner is shaking the literary world with his ideas about mankind's rightful place in the cosmos". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  2. ^ O'Sullivan, Gerry; Pletsch, Carl (November 1, 1993). "Save Export Email Print Cite Inventing arcadia: an interview with Frederick Turner". The Humanist. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Frederick Turner, Founders Professor". University of Texas at Dallas. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Prizes : Poetry Magazine". The Poetry Foundation. 2011-06-09. Archived from the original on 2012-06-14. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  5. ^ Template:Name = "Gerry"
  6. ^ Miller, Pamela (January 9, 2000). "Three poets explore disillusionment and its aftermath". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Archived from the original on April 6, 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  7. ^ Robinson, Kim Stanley (June 1990). "My 10 Favorite Mars Novels". IEEE Spectrum. Archived from the original on December 22, 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2012.

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