Winner of the 2016 Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush Memorial Award for a first book of poetry
Named one of the best poetry books of Winter 2016 by Foreword Reviews
Winner of the 2015 Orison Poetry Prize
Finalist for the 2015 National Poetry Series
Catfish heads hang on clotheslines waiting for the ensuing apocalypse. Blue heelers call out from drainage ditches searching for friendly hands to lick. Hell-fire preachers lament the drowning of a young Pentecostal boy caught in the river's floodgate. Brownlee's poems meditate on the inescapability of place. These poems earnestly make a case for the rural condition's place in contemporary American poetry. Brownlee might be considered a natural mystic refusing to settle for the simplistic ideological framework offered by his religious heritage but rather finding in the particulars of place the vehicles of transcendence. Drawn into the local by these poems the reader finds much that proves universal.
J. Scott Brownlee born and raised in Llano Texas is a former Writers in the Public Schools Fellow at NYU where he earned his M.F.A. His poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review Narrative Magazine Hayden's Ferry Review West Branch RATTLE Beloit Poetry Journal Nashville Review Ninth Letter BOXCAR Poetry Review The Greensboro Review Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and elsewhere. Brownlee writes about the people and landscape of rural Texas and is a founding member of The Localists a literary collective that emphasizes place-based writing of personal witness cultural memory and the aesthetically marginalized working class. He is the author of two prize-winning chapbooks: Highway or Belief recipient of the 2013 Button Poetry Prize and Ascension recipient of the 2014 Robert Phillips Poetry Prize.
"This is a big hearted uncomplaining book sometimes biblical in its utterances it brings to mind the definition of poetry &lsquobreaking the frozen sea ' and Brownlee dives in too and writes of the undercurrent. [&hellip] Can a poet be revelatory without being overwhelmed by suffering? Brownlee can - and he's good at it." &ndash Grace Cavalieri The Washington Independent Review of Books
"J. Scott Brownlee may live in Philadelphia but he's never far from Llano. You can sense that &ndash see it touch it smell it &ndash in Requiem for Used Ignition Cap . . . . Every poem in the book is deeply rooted in Hill Country soil . . . . [&hellip] And nothing of that place that is conjured &ndash not the antlered buck or the wounded Iraq war vet not the salt lick or the horseflies or the catfish heads on a clothesline &ndash has an air of distance about it of being drawn from memories of long ago. The descriptions vibrate with the immediacy of things freshly seen and felt held just under the skin and still rushing hot through the blood." &ndash Robert Faires The Austin Chronicle
"Devotion whether in poetry or prayer requires one to pay attention. From the very first poem of this collection to the last J. Scott Brownlee does exactly that. Whether it is the landscapes of Texas soldiers home from Iraq or the awkward ways in which we relate to each other these poems pay close attention to details and transform them into something organic whole and incredibly moving." &ndash C. Dale Young judge of the 2015 Orison Poetry Prize
"J. Scott Brownlee's Requiem for Used Ignition Cap pulses with imagery that grounds and levitates mind and body [. . .]. This collection honed and shaped is woven from ordinary lives and dreams and each trope honors the earth we walk upon. There's a feeling in this collection-voices and rituals that spark the landscape. Brownlee juxtaposes mind and spirit and there's nowhere these poems don't dare to go." &ndash Yusef Komunyakaa
"The violence of men the delicacy of their broken bodies the religiosity of the town that raised them: all of these influence Requiem for Used Ignition Cap which documents an America we rarely see. In J. Scott Brownlee's Llano high school football heroes become PTS-affected war vets. The rural dead sing from the hollow flutes their bones leave in the dust. These are poems whose language begins with the body and the land. For Brownlee the two are inseparable." &ndash Dorianne Laux
"In his debut collection J. Scott Brownlee writes a stunning ode to his rural Texas hometown and its fathers brothers and ghosts. Llano is a place where meth addicts score wildflowers burn hunters drink in their blinds slain deer talk soldiers return from duty with loaded guns and the Wal-Mart sign glows brighter than Friday night's lights. In forms that barely contain their explosive contents Brownlee's poems relate and interrogate what's expected of young White men growing up in the rural South. In doing so they resist the erasure and nostalgia of some Southern literature and instead lay bare the benefits and violent trappings of small-town Christianity and masculinity. These poems are at once song accusation self-implication and prayer-full of the music of a place from which Brownlee is forever removed but from which he will always hail." &ndash Susan B.A. Somers-Willett