BRANDON COURTNEY was born and raised in Iowa, served four years (1998-2003) in the United States Navy, and is a graduate of the MFA program at Hollins University. He is currently working toward an advanced degree at the University of Chicago. His work has received five Pushcart Prize nominations, as well as an Academy of American Poets Prize. He lives near Philadelphia, makes his living as a private tutor. The Grief Muscles is his first book.

“There is a beautiful disparity in Brandon Courtney’s poems. The hard is represented by the blade of a field knife, bullets, sickles, the scorched earth of Baghdad, and the hardscrabble farming of Iowa. Soft is the mouth’s soft palate, flower petals, fruit, the flesh of the beloved, wet soil, and the body. The Fallujah/Ramadi poems are harrowing, feverish, stunning, piercing as Sky Spear and Jericho missiles. The poems offer a counterweight to the amputations of blast injuries in war. His language is his grief. His is a distinguished first book.”—Bruce Smith