The Fire Road, Nicholas Yingling


Available for pre-order. Official release: April 15th.

Applicable bookseller/retail discount on bulk orders of 10+ copies automatically applied at checkout.


California: where Paradise exists and burns. Set against the backdrop of ever-increasing wildfires, Nicholas Yingling’s The Fire Road explores what it means to live in a hazardous state/a state of hazard, where the fragility of the earth meets the fragility of the body: “Today I read that it’s an act of faith / to plant trees in California, that this oak / whose shade eases the fire road / has a slimmer chance of surviving / the coming decade than me.” Against the demands of our neoliberal, extractivist hungers, Yingling insists on carving out a space for mutualism and obligation, forgiveness and recovery. The future is dire. The winds will whip embers our way. “And here I am,” Yingling writes, “pushing acorns into the dirt.” The Fire Road is a devotion: to the shape of the poem, the shape of the body, the shape of our survival. —CLAIRE WAHMANHOLM

The Fire Road reckons with human responsibility for “a winter made to last,” demanding that we “imagine the horizon as hunger”— but in addition to its moral and political imperatives, contains a poetry bighearted enough “to love what leaves / a shadow / even the wind // could sweep away.” Yingling’s is poetry of “seaside apocalypse” and “ordinary thirst,” of deep imagery— an accused man feeding the crows outside a courthouse, Shiva dancing butoh —married to deep emotion: “There was forgiveness // and it was ours to give.” This debut collection ends with an imperative— “Sit with me.” The reader will be delighted, and compelled, to sit with this collection again and again. — AMIT MAJMUDAR

Between the great conflagrations chewing up California, and the inner inferno of a beloved’s anorexia, there cuts The Fire Road. A real book. A total composition. Equally vast and intimate, these poems hum with skill, discipline, deep heart, searing visions, and an almost spiritual ambition. Their target? A kind of equanimity in the face of so much vanishing. Few debuts are so confident, so unflinching, and so assured in their restraint. Fewer still can aim this high and pull it off. Yingling is a true talent. — WILLIAM BREWER

The Anorexic Dreams of Fire

                                  Why bring back from the burning fields
                                  a bowl full of fire and pretend that it’s magic?
                                  — Dorianne Laux

To turn away from the field
which feeds no one
twice, to feel
this too is desire

and desire must be cut
tongue by tongue
from the flame, to fill a bowl
brimming and tense

to the lip and not drink
a light that empties,
that saves
the body from being

body all the way through,
to love what leaves
a shadow
even the wind

could sweep away.


Nicholas Yingling is a writer, educator, and caregiver. His poems have appeared widely, including in Poetry Daily, The Adroit Journal, Nimrod, Pleiades, and Colorado Review. He holds degrees from UC Berkeley and UC Davis and currently lives in Los Angeles.