Killing the Murnion Dogs

Killing the Murnion Dogs, Joe Wilkins’ first full-length collection, is a series of elegies. Herein we grieve years and fathers, highways and memories, rivers, shotgun shacks, and myths. These poems sing us down the two-lane highways and backroads of the vast American interior, from the hard-luck plains of eastern Montana to the cypress swamps of the Mississippi Delta, yet Killing the Murnion Dogs refuses the easy answers of nostalgia or cynicism. Rather, these poems insist that we “remember the good pain,” that despite it all “this dust here is home.” And so we search—always, insistently—for a place to abide inside the loss. “It is time to grieve,” Wilkins tells us, “to believe in the world again.”


***Finalist for the 2012 High Plains Book Award***

***Finalist for the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize***

Joe Wilkins has a big, true, highway-running American voice. He remains one of my favorite young poets working today. When you see a new book of his, you should celebrate. Like this one.  Just buy it, put down the window, and let the music blow back your hair. It’s nothing but alive. -Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway and The Fever of Being

In Killing the Murnion Dogs, the old lonelinesses, bodied forth by whisky in jam jars and rotting porches, highways, wolves, the dream of escape, are reinhabited and updated by Joe Wilkins’ own urgent interrogations – most notably: where is home, and why is memory so heartbreakingly incomplete? Tending the spirits of Richard Hugo and James Wright, master chroniclers of sad towns and desperate cities, these patient, vulnerable, angry and unapologetically Romantic poems are helplessly tender toward ruin, and full of stubborn belief in the beauty that can be coaxed from desolation. -Lia Purpura, author of On Looking and King Baby

Not many poets address the American “interior” with the skill and insight Joe Wilkins displays in Killing the Murnion Dogs. I mean interior in both senses: Wilkins does a wonderful job evoking hardscrabble landscapes of Montana buttes and Mississippi cotton fields, sunflowers and coyotes, okra casseroles and rust-gutted Chevies. But his deeper subject is the lives of the farmers and ranchers who inhabit that land, lives he illuminates with gritty authority and boundless compassion. This is a first book wise beyond its years. -Campbell McGrath, author of Spring Comes to Chicago and The Florida Poems

These poems examine what and how we perceive and remember, the source, substance, and journey of our time on this earth. My favorite poem in the collection may be “Outside a Liquor Store in South Memphis” which is lush, vivid, itchy and full of white space. I’m grateful for the pulse and heat of all of these poems, and to Joe Wilkins for providing the language, nerve, heart and invitation to go with him, from the opening rain spell to the last lines of the final poem, “Prayer”: ‘Oh   this dust/ here is the good north pasture   and this dust here is home. -Rebecca Wee, author of Uncertain Grace

Buy Killing the Murnion Dogs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s