Brandon Courtney served four years in the United States Navy’s Maritime Interdiction Operations. He is the author of The Grief Muscles (Sheep Meadow Press) and Improvised Devices (Thrush Press). Poems from his debut collection have been praised as “sharp, dense, lyrical, and devastating” and “at once complex, subtle and harrowing.” A 2013 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, he holds degrees from Hollins and Drake University, and is currently a graduate student at the University of Chicago.
It’s easy to start a fire, but almost impossible to control the flames. With the patient restraint of his language and the chiseled intuition of his eye, Brandon Courtney burns away what is not empathy. He offers us his war witness through a survivor’s haunted gaze: raw and intervisible.
Simultaneously harrowing and beautiful, these poems bear witness to pain. Courtney gives us a treatise on grief of all stripes—from PTSD to marital and familial tragedies. But, to paraphrase the speaker in “Invasion,” the grief isn’t his alone. From poem to poem, we endure as the speaker endures, grasping at what might redeem or burn away to ash. This book tells a truth that we don’t often hear. Rooms for Rent in the Burning City resonates long after the book is closed.