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ISBN: 978-1-7336619-1-1

Binding: Trade paper

Publication date: March 9, 2023


Winner of the WTAW Alcove Chapbook Prize, 2023

In the bygone era of a decaying frontier, deer hunters Lemuel and Lars hitch up as backwoods companions. Each troubled by missing mothers and flinty fathers, they thwart attempts at intimacy, funneling these impulses into fantasies of violence and revenge. Occasioned by brief moments of sublimity, the two edge closer to a blizzard of repressed desire. Only the deer themselves might cede medicine for earthbound wounds. Borrowing sensibility from docupoetics, where lyricism works to comment on an archive, and drawing upon Theodore Roosevelt’s “Daniel Boone’s Move to Kentucky,” Promiscuous Ruin is the first-ever winner of the WTAW Alcove Chapbook Series Prize.



Each sentence in the vibrant, rugged world of Julian Mithra’s Promiscuous Ruin, calls to be sung aloud. Deeply researched and brilliantly constrained by a poetic cut-up of Theodore Roosevelt’s “Daniel Boone’s Move to Kentucky,” humor and revelation are bound in the voices of unfiltered characters who are guided by both pragmatism and wonder. Revealed are the intricate anatomies of a first rifle, of bird sounds, of childhood, of hunting, of survival, of desire. Mithra’s poetic sensibility nourishes an anachronistic dialect of a bygone era to make a wholly original, profound hybrid language.  Reading Promiscuous Ruin is like free-falling into a world that feels simultaneously familiar and strange, old and utterly new.

 — Nancy Au, author of Spider Love Song and Other Stories


A goldmine of breathtaking prose, Promiscuous Ruin time-travels us to a bygone landscape brimming with visceral experience, where the masculine and the mythical grip each other tight. A raw, rich, and expansive feat; a book to overwhelm the senses. Mithra is an acrobat with words, and a voice to treasure.

— Henry Hoke, author of Open Throat


With a voice that haunts, informs, and lingers, Lars, a narrator in Julian Mithra’s Promiscuous Ruin, leads the reader through a journey in which he and Lemuel seek a more authentic existence. Such a search, an escape, really, from the life they were born into, includes all anyone could hope for—adventure, sensuality, love, mysticism—and all anyone might hope to avoid—hunger, hardship, brutality, loss—all set against the backdrop of the late 1880’s. This gorgeously written work, nonlinear in its telling, is both heart-wrenching and humorous, reminding us that there are many ways to stake out a life.

— Judith Lagana, author of Make Space


About the author

Julian Mithra hovers between genders and genres, bordermongering and -mongreling. An experimental archive, Unearthingly (Kernpunkt, 2022) excavates forgotten spaces and inhabits caverns. Kaleidoscope (Ethel Press, 2021) flexes transembodiment against alphabetic constraints in a handsewn chapbook. If the Color Is Fugitive (Nomadic Press, 2018) historically intervenes in frontiers. For an MA in Folklore, they dressed up like a 19th century anthropologist and ventriloquized through a copper pipe. They peregrinate around the Bay Area, sniffing rocks and touching paper.


Promiscuous Ruin by Julian Mithra

SKU: PRJM020623
  • Winner of the first annual WTAW Alcove Chapbook Series Prize

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