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Killing the Murnion Dogs

Killing the Murnion Dogs



Killing the Murnion Dogs, Joe Wilkins’s 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.”



Publication Date



Black Lawrence Press


New York


Creative Writing | Poetry


Description, cover image, and reviews courtesy of Black Lawrence Press.

Subject Areas

American poetry -- 21st century

Author/Editor Bio

Joe Wilkins is Associate Professor of English at Linfield College. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Gonzaga University.


"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

"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

"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

Killing the Murnion Dogs