Winner of the 2012 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize
“Mark Jay Brewin Jr.’s debut collection is a burnished interrogation into the complexities of who we are—a collection that attempts to map the vexed intersection of the American myth of self-invention and the competing conviction that we are also somehow indelibly stamped by the family and the landscape from which we have risen. In the tradition of Phil Levine, Brewin is a poet who does not shy away from the difficult and the real, from the troubling issues of economics, class, and gender. Yet his achievement is housed neither in indignation nor certainty. We know he knows he doesn’t have the answers. If his images shine out like a glinting edge of scrap metal, we are all the more moved by the earnest dedication with which he picks through the messy, unanswerable questions lurking below.”—Kathleen Graber, author of The Eternal City
South Jersey farmland, flooded and made an island. Through landscapes and captivating visuals we begin Mark Jay Brewin’s debut collection of poems. Scrap Iron quickly and fluidly moves from this isolated plot of land—the poet’s childhood home—to the memories associated with that place, its people, and his youth. Throughout the volume, Brewin’s attention to sound and cadence offers the reader a burning exploration of beautiful imagery, while also providing a sharp contrast to the sometimes harsh and dark subject matter. He asks how one grows while remaining rooted. Confronting the age-old question of whether one can ever really go home again, Brewin’s soft, prayerful, and thoughtful approach provides the reader with an answer: Whether it is possible or not, the wish to return will always remain.
The intricacies and complexities of human relationships—especially between family members—are at the forefront of Scrap Iron. Brewin acknowledges the tender violence that often exists within familial relationships and highlights the fragility of not only these connections, but of the land, of memory, and of the future. While some poems may focus on tenuous ties, the tone of Brewin’s work as a whole is one of hopefulness. His poetry reminds us that to move is not to abandon, to question is not to criticize, and to love is to at once remember and forget.
Review of Scrap Iron by Dean Julius at storySouth.com
(Print Issue Anthology, 2013)
224 pages @ 6″ x 7.5”
Fiction: Matthew Baker, Andrew Hudgins, Lee Martin, Michael Martone, Caitlin McGuire, Teresa Milbrodt, Jenni Moody, David Ryan, Porter Shreve, Claire Vaye Watkins
Art & Comics: Kelly Clancy, Summer Pierre, Kevin Cyr
Poetry: Mark Jay Brewin Jr., Kit Frick, Sarah Heffner, Douglas Light, Micah Ling, Jennifer Moore, Graham Murtaugh, Kristen Orser, Suzanne Richardson, John Allen Taylor, Charles Harper Webb, Nicholas YB Wong
Interviews: Chuck Klosterman, Charles Simic
Nonfiction: Kim Addonizio, Matt Bell, Pam Houston, Josh Neufeld, Chris Offutt, Katharine Rauk
Expert Miscellany: Liz N. Clift, Scott William Woods
Available for purchase at Booth: An Online Journal’s Shop.
Small Batch: An Anthology of Bourbon Poetry
Available for purchase at Two of Cups Press’s website.