Heaven's Burning Porch: Poems (The TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series) (Paperback)

Heaven's Burning Porch: Poems (The TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series) By James Dunlap Cover Image

Heaven's Burning Porch: Poems (The TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series) (Paperback)


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The TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series: Arkansas
In Heaven’s Burning Porch, James Dunlap reckons with the legacy left to him: one of pain, gratitude, violence, and salvation. In turns dark, humorous, lyric and narrative, Heaven’s Burning Porch explores what it means to grow up in rural Arkansas under the weight of his rough inheritance.

from “A Good Year for Pecans”
—Central Arkansas, April
The plum trees are wearing their crowns of thorn again
and the clouds that hang like shreds of dried tobacco
are sliding away like clots of oil in an empty lake—
the persimmon tree, dying in a nest of its own fruit,
now ripped in half, now yanked out of socket,
its roots like thorns pulled from a muddy paw, no sound
but the green whisper of pine needles raining down
from the single tree left standing, and I haven’t seen
enough of this night to know what it means
JAMES DUNLAP is an Arkansas poet and butcher. He studied creative writing at the University of Arkansas and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. His poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Nashville Review, Copper Nickel, The Journal, and storySouth. He is the author of the chapbook Hunter and He Dog Up a Holler.
Product Details ISBN: 9781680032758
ISBN-10: 1680032755
Publisher: Texas Review Press
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Pages: 60
Language: English
Series: The TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series
“If the human relationship to nature is casually brutal and blind to harmony, we should expect little from the relationships humans have with each other. These are the stakes of this haunting and powerful book of poetry, where fear and threat mingle with beauty and love. Add to this mixture the binding agent of religion, and the ingredients for a southern Gothic are in place. But that leaves the possibility of redemption, which if not fully delivered, at least fills the mind of the young protagonist with knowledge and naming, and the prospect of coming through. This book impresses with its careful detail and its unavoidable walk between shame and hope, anguish and affection. The poet offers a hair-curling read, but a sure hand behind the art, and the art, as one would hope, transforms the whole.”
—Maurice Manning

“In Heaven’s Burning Porch, James Dunlap writes of a hardscrabble childhood deep in a fever dream of Arkansas where stars burn like ‘nibs of bone. . . in a black rag’ and ponds fester ‘like a cup of water in a charred turtle shell.’ The landscape is alive in this book, and often seething, not just a backdrop but a character itself. It is a place laden with inexorable violence, often unleashed by fathers onto sons who ‘never talk about the roughhewn hours /spent in the grip of rougher men.’ Dunlap’s poems have been hammered out at that old crossroads of the brutal and the beautiful. They light up the darkness like a tree ‘broke out in a rash of flames.’ Read this stunning debut. It will wound you in the best of ways.
—Brian Barker, author of Vanishing Acts

Heaven’s Burning Porch is a cathedral to a place and the grief and wonder it carries. Arkansas in the hands of James Dunlap is both wild and brutal, wrought to life in its backcountry, pecan trees, hunting trips, nights at Lake Overcup, clouds over Wolverton Mountain, its catfish and dogs and rabbits and of course its people: the boy with butter-colored hair, Rufus and Ella, Beatrice and Cloy, a daddy who will give you something to cry about, and a grandpaw
‘living the life of tick.’ What you hold in your hands is a hymn to what’s hard to survive: the violent masculinity that haunts the landscape and psyche like a ‘dark herd gathering in my chest.’ As Dunlap writes, ‘Every sunk porch like a cracked fist, / it all has to mean something to live on land that has broken better men.’ And it does. There is love and sweetness, too, alive in the woods, in the lure, in the wanting.”
—Ruth Awad, author of Set to Music a Wildfire