The poems in this chapbook coalesce around a theme of history, especially that of the rural Southwest. I am humbled by all of the advanced praise this little book has received....
"This remarkable chapbook of only twenty-five poems is so variegated in both subject matter and highly demanding poetic forms that it carries the resonance of a full collection of poetry. Hawkins’s imagery scintillates with freshness and originality: 'sugary stars,' 'the dawn, pill-bottle orange,' 'moonsick ghostcrabs,' and 'the dry corn’s shriveled sigh.' Whether writing about Pecos Bill, a Jerry Bywaters masterpiece, graffiti, hurricanes, mustangs, Ghost Dancers, Blind Willie Johnson, or poignant reminiscences of childhood on a family ranch/farm, Hawkins demonstrates, time and time again, his mastery of skilled poetic craft."
— Larry D. Thomas, Member of the Texas Institute of Letters & 2008 Texas Poet Laureate
"J. Todd Hawkins’s collection is a small treasury of unique insights, poignant love poems, and a couple of inventive combinations of prose and haiku-like epigrams. There are some very heartfelt personal poems here juxtaposing the sublimity of the human experience with the sometimes harsh reality of Texas land and seascapes. The poems are not only moving, they hold delightful surprises of language and metaphor. Hawkins is a poet who also has an admirable affinity for finding the small, little-known stories of our history, several of the nineteenth-century Southwest, to save in poems. Here is the way history should be written about, should be saved."
— Dave Parsons, 2011 Texas Poet Laureate & author of Reaching For Longer Water
"From brother and sister runaways stealing a car to pole-dancing cabaret girls burned out at the end of a shift, from a one-legged tight-rope walker, doomed and falling, to rootless oil field girls, hitchhiking roadside—from the heartbreaking to the bizarre to the merely nameless—J. Todd Hawkins vividly imagines lives that drop out of memory, unremarked by historians. The images in Ten Counties Away will stun you and stay, like the evocative stillness of this passage from 'Ghost Dancers': 'The prairie softly / fades in snow / lost in whiteness— / the bison also / lost, skulls clipped / clean by crows.' Drifters, con men, teenage pranksters, the bygone mustangs of Mustang Island—you’ll find them all here. And when you get to the last page, you’ll find yourself wishing for more."
— David Meischen, co-editor of Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry & co-founder of Dos Gatos Press
Stay tuned for information about my upcoming book launches. I look forward to celebrating the release at these launches with friends, family, and Texas poetry lovers.