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Distributed for Autumn House Press

The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer

In The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer, Eric Tran contends with the aftermath of a close friend’s suicide while he simultaneously explores the complexities of being a gay man of color. Grief opens into unraveling circles of inquiry as Tran reflects on the loss of his friend and of their shared identity as gay Asian American men. Through mourning and acute observations, these poems consider how those who experience marginalization, the poet included, may live and fall victim to tragedy. Tran explores how his life, even while in the company of desire and the pursuit of freedom, is never far from danger. Like grief that makes the whole world seem strange, Tran’s poetry merges into fantasy lands and rides the lines between imagined worlds and the reality of inescapable loss. At the intersection of queerness, loss, and desire, Tran uses current events, such as the Pulse nightclub tragedy, pop culture references, and comic book allusions to create a unique and textured poetry debut. He employs an unexpected pairing of prayer and fantasy allowing readers to imagine a world of queer joy and explore how grief can feel otherworldly. This collection shows a poet learning how to be afraid, to feel lost, to grieve, and to build a life amid precarious circumstances. The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer was the winner of the Autumn House Rising Writers Prize in 2019.

72 pages | 6 x 9

Autumn House Rising Writer Prize

Literature and Literary Criticism:


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"Tran addresses the loss of a friend through meditations on art, pop culture, and identity in his vibrant debut. . . . Readers will find that these complex and contradicting qualities are enacted in the collection itself."

Publishers Weekly

"In the poem, 'Pulse,' Eric Tran describes the 'Rapture and rupture, / every sizzled bead / of black sweat / spit swollen out / our skin.' Every poem in this collection is a relentless examination of 'rapture and rupture,' an intricate and tender inquisition into the boundless motion of desire and grief, the wanting and breaking. In poem after poem, The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer offers us a politics of nuance, the inextricable realities of identity and body as they collide with an often beautiful and terrible world. The poems let every light into them, as Tran compels us to 'want it in public / loud and bold so walls / remember our scent.'" 

Stacey Waite, author of Butch Geography

"These poems, with their restless forms and lexicons, needle themselves through the psyche; they suture and sear, harboring speakers of myriad aftermaths. True to a physician’s gaze, Tran's gaze, in its unflinching obsession with the renewal and failure of bodies—both tender and visceral—expose and heal at once. They hold large themes like grief, friendship, love, and inheritance against the luminous light of the mundane, declaring, with bold tenderness, that to keep the world we love well is to dismantle its hierarchies through language, and to live at the seat of feeling by embodying the possibilities of wonder. Bravo, Eric."

Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

"Tran is a poet with uncommon superpowers. 'I don’t mean / escape, but more like / stars flamboyant in the black / mouth of night' he writes. And when his poems turn to realm of comic books, it’s never about 'escape.' Instead, it’s a powerful effort to manage and navigate intense, personal grief. The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer is a tremendous debut—one that reaches through despair to offer us something sacred. "

Matthew Olzmann, author of Contradictions in the Design

Table of Contents

Starting with a Line by Joyce Byers
Lectio Divina: Emma Frost
Days After Orlando I Read the X-Men
A Favor
Portrait in Pleather Tee
Explaining Again Why I Can’t Give Blood
My Mother Asks How I Was Gay before Sleeping with a Man
I Tell My Mother about My Depression
Ode to My Morning Meds
Your Doppelgänger
Lectio Divina: Hektor the Assassin
Regrets, in the Style of Clue
Portraits of the Days’ Griefs
Absorbing Man Becomes a Pile of Coke
Declaration with Immigrants’ Child Eating Habits
Treatise on Whether to Write the Mango
I Wrote a Poem with Faggot
I Learned D&D When 45 was Elected
Starting with a Line from a Minor Character in Fury Road
Lectio Divina: Vision
Amadeus Cho, Totally Awesome Hulk
How to Pray
Hermione Granger and the Reciprocal Erasure
Lectio Divina: Big Barda and Mister Miracle
IIIEclipse, One Month Before
If You Had Asked What a Poem Meant
Lectio Divina: Black Bolt #6
Portrait as Captain America Holding a
Helicopter with a Bicep Curl
When All That’s Left is Metaphor
Aubade After Chemo
Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.): Mixed Material: Felix Gonzelez-
Torrez: 1991
Self Portrait as the Fire
Alternatives to Saying It
Dear ______,
Portrait as Orpheus, 10 Years Old
He Who Helps Drag Queens Descend the Stairs

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