“Against the demands of our neoliberal, extractivist hungers, Yingling insists on carving out a space for mutualism and obligation, forgiveness and recovery. [...] THE FIRE ROAD is a devotion: to the shape of the poem, the shape of the body, the shape of our survival.” —Claire Wahmanholm
A fire road is an unpaved road, usually outside a city, that helps create a containment line to stop wildfires. It's a road designed for control, not destination. In Los Angeles, wealthy denizens of the hills use them to exercise. A 'fire' road, of course, also suggests something elemental, hellish, a spiritual path designed to consume you. Steeped in LA wellness culture, the speakers of THE FIRE ROAD conflate asceticism and anorexia. They mythologize mental illness. Allusions to Genesis and the sutras stand in tension with body horror. Shifting between confessional and mystical, the poems ask: is there a middle way? Is there an escape from the body? From a culture consuming itself to death?
“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
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.