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Brazos, by Justin Carter

**PRE-ORDER** Forthcoming Publication Date: August 6, 2024

*Pre-orders receive a bonus poem postcard*

A stark and lonely voice rings clear in Justin Carter's debut collection. Brazos teems with ghosts, bloodlines, and gas flares, tracing a "river cloaked in mud" that trudges toward the Texas Gulf Coast. In these poems, a complex Millennial coming-of-age story emerges amidst the grief for a place that seems to disappear while standing still—always haunted by the ways "we've all been pulled under" the currents of violence, identity, and change.

Justin Carter's poems have appeared in The Adroit Journal, Bat City Review, DIAGRAM, and other spaces. Originally from the Texas Gulf Coast, Justin currently lives in Iowa and works as a sports writer and editor. Brazos is his debut collection.

Praise for Brazos:

“Justin Carter’s Brazos offers a vital portrayal of coming of age in small-town Texas, one that is both elegiac and incisive as it recalls a place where too many people, like the pecan tree planted in the family’s yard, ‘barely grow.’ These haunting lyrics explore the disaffection of the townsfolk, particularly the white boys and men whose rage so often brims into violence. When one neighbor kills another, Carter’s speaker recognizes him as a man ‘who, like so many of the men / who commit violence here, // was a local: born & raised here, / a man who looked like me.’ The speaker of these poems, someone who has left and changed, looks back with bewilderment and alienation, but also tenderness, especially for his friends and family left behind, as he mourns a place and a time when he could still ‘pretend to belong somewhere.’”

—Corey Marks, author of The Radio Tree and Renunciation

“In Justin Carter’s powerful first book, home is a bittersweet space. He makes visible the consolations of the working-class and he slows down time with arresting details, brilliant phrasing—a lyricism that refuses to avert its gaze. Sports-watching, familial narratives, and the trapdoors of teenage-hood are rendered in unflinching and tender language. But ‘there is a strangeness / in the air,’ an unsettling narrow-mindedness the speaker refuses to pledge allegiance to. Carter’s ability to love and to call out is transformative. Here, poetry is a path forward.”

—Eduardo C. Corral, author of Guillotine and Slow Lightning

“Brazos emerges from Brazos as both place and spirit, mostly spirit. The physical place, like the human body, has been compromised by greed, time, stupidity, and is now an amphitheater of ghosts. How the poetry, a relentless dirge, can be so gorgeous, is testimony to the truth it is hellbent on excavating: fracking, crystal meth, Home Depot, American culture—our deadly muses—abet us as we seek ‘to control our own destruction.’ Carter, like Odysseus’s sirens, beckons our ‘old boat.’ Our ears are opened, almost eager, for the moment he will grab us, tear us apart. But never fear: our fear will be ‘replaced eventually / by the fog of waking.’ Brazos is a suicide note. Irresistible, communal, decided.”

 —Larissa Szporluk, author of Virginals

“Justin Carter’s Brazos brings us to the small towns of Texas, the state routes and parking lots, a Texas of memory and nostalgia, violence and beauty, ‘soft skin & nights driving down dirt roads.’ Here, the Brazos River fills with dead fish, silt and forgetfulness and the men work pipelines and petrochemical plants. Here memories of a rough childhood mix with the adult knowledge that the past is irretrievable, that ‘we used to burn trash together / & now we burn nothing … / It rains for months. / The rain is the ghost of us.’ These poems are rich and complex, nuanced and intelligent, calling up lost time so vividly. Justin Carter is a terrific poet. I will return to Brazos with pleasure.” 

—Kevin Prufer, author of The Fears


    • Publication date: August 6, 2024
    • Trim size: 6 x 9 in
    • ISBN: 978-1-960215-22-2

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