We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine
New from Unknown Press, this full-length collection of poetry explores the childhood memories and nostalgic daydreams of a grade-school bookworm now grown up to face cancer, debt, solitude, and the fear that all the joys and hopes of a bygone youth are slipping out of reach. Available on Halloween, 2017. Details on where to find copies are coming soon.
"An unflinching collection that spins a web of reminiscence sweet with heartache and dusted with longing for a youth now passed." – Ally Malinenko, author of The Wanting Bone and This Is Sarah
Note from the author: I wrote most of these poems when I was going through chemotherapy and in the year or two after, once I had time for reflection. Chemo wasn’t the end of it, and neither were these poems. They kept coming, like the cancer kept coming, like the treatments (thank the gods) kept coming, and it all started to go hand in hand—the pain and the healing, and worry and the nostalgia for a time when all of this was something that would never happen to a kid who just wanted to ride his bike, read a book, and go trick-or-treating once a week for his whole life.
I'd like to thank Bud Smith and Devin Kelly at Unknown Press for their editorial guidance and creative insight, and Alicia Frehulfer for allowing me to use this gorgeous painting for the cover.
More advanced praise for We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine:
"A poignantly beautiful and bittersweet cycle of poems—vivid reflections of a grown man coming to terms with the hopes, dreams and experiences of childhood, his present circumstances and possible future outcomes. The poems are evocative meditations on the transitory and ephemeral nature of life and our inevitable mortality. Though often tinged with sadness, they serve as incantations that are, at their core, hopeful, celebratory and life affirming." – Michael Gillan Maxwell, author of The Part Time Shaman Handbook: An Introduction For Beginners
"James H Duncan's We Are All Terminal But this Exit Is Mine may sound like a dour collection of verse of a young man on his way to a desperate end, but in fact, nothing is further from the truth. Duncan takes his experiences from brutal reminders of mortality and hems them up with his succinct, deceptively-simple (quite complex) view of life that leaves the reader glad they breathe vibrant air, feel radiant sun, and never take life for granted." – Clifford Brooks, Pulitzer nominee and author of The Draw of Broken Eyes and Whirling Metaphysics
"An unflinching collection that spins a web of reminiscence sweet with heartache and dusted with longing for a youth now passed. With a narrative as eternal as spring, populated by gravel lots and corn fields, Duncan crafts a time and place we all remember, one of boyhood and recklessness, of late night stars and clenched fists, where death and love look so much alike—a bittersweet sunset calling to end a summer we swore had just begun." – Ally Malinenko, author of The Wanting Bone and This Is Sarah
"In his new collection, Duncan comes full circle as a poet. Whether he's being the heathen of light, the heathen of sin, the heathen of love, or the heathen of life's simple miracles—Duncan lays a firm foundation to dribble his heart-and-bones poetry on the guts of your soul. This is a compelling collection of poems that'll be a welcome addition to any bookshelf." – Frank Reardon, author of Blood Music, Nirvana Haymaker, and The Broken Halo Blues