Front Porch is the online literary journal of Texas State University’s MFA program. Founded in 2006 by MFA students, Front Porch publishes exceptional poetry, fiction, nonfiction, reviews, and interviews. We’re also pleased to feature a one-of-a-kind video and audio archive, which showcases celebrated authors reading and discussing their work.
At Front Porch, you will find some of the best and most renowned talents in contemporary writing published alongside promising new voices. Our editors seek out both innovative and traditional literature. In short, we’re looking for insightful and relevant writing that excels, no matter its form. Visit our submissions page, join our mailing list, or do both. We would love to hear from you.
“…there used to be front porches. And people sat there sometimes at night, talking when they wanted to talk, rocking, and not talking when they didn’t want to talk. Sometimes they just sat there and thought about things, turned things over. …the real reason, hidden underneath, might be they didn’t want people sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking; that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think. So they ran off with the porches.”
—From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
2011-2012 Front Porch Staff Reminisces
Chris Margrave – Managing Editor (’11-’12)
Somewhere I have a picture of me about five years old watching my mother secure a three-foot tall Washington Redskin mascot by a noose from the eaves of our family’s front porch in Dallas, TX. It was autumn in the early 1980’s and our beloved Cowboys were playing the Redskins in an upcoming NFL matchup. We were showing the neighborhood our allegiance. The enemy was not welcome on our front porch. The enemy would be hanged.
My mother is wearing a smirk for my father, who is holding the camera, and I’m standing below the mascot with my small pale arms clasped behind my back, my face lit with admiration for my mother’s light-hearted hate of the stuffed helmeted Redskin. Off-camera my sister is swinging in the tire swing, oblivious, indifferent, as unburdened as my father from a love of sports. Please note: there was nothing intentionally racist afoot. Our disdain was for a sports team--a team whose mascot was unfortunately named.
Ours was not a big porch back then. One rocking chair at most could fit there. A small potted plant. Some space for dirty shoes. Our family of four used to crowd the porch to watch thunderstorms roll in and turn the air that eerie pre-tornado green. My father would let me hold the battery-operated weather radio. We’d extend our hands out to catch hailstones.
I’ve always lived in houses whose porches felt to me somehow deficient. I’ve longed for the Victorian wrap-around with ornate railing or the deep-set Southern belle that could hold a slew of rockers and a porch swing besides. A porch from the movies. A porch Flannery or Faulkner might have retreated to with a fat book. A porch with a view.
But I’ve given up hope of obtaining the perfect porch. A porch is a vessel, and it’s up to me to decide what memories to make there. Maybe—as a fan of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks--I’ll enlist my daughters to help me drape a Spurs’ mascot from our porch. We already watch thunderstorms there. And my daughters are terrified and delighted by hailstones.
Julia Eddington – Fiction Editor (’11-’12)
The year I was nine, my family sold the log house my father had built and started work on a new house even farther outside of the small Vermont town we lived in—out where the roads were dirt and no neighboring houses were in sight.
My mother talked about the wrap-around porch our new southern-style farmhouse would have from the day my parents decided to move. But, by the time they got to the porch, they were over budget and months behind schedule. My mother refused to cut the porch. I remember my parents looking at the blue prints for places to trim so that they could afford the porch. They x-ed out the breakfast nook and decided that the back deck off the kitchen would have to wait (nearly two decades later, the French doors still open to an eight-foot drop). My parents waited on kitchen appliances (I was the dishwasher for the first year), paint for the walls, and sheetrock for the basement—all so the front porch could be finished.
Now, front porches will always mean sitting in rocking chairs while listening to peepers, admiring hydrangeas, and watching fireflies in the yard. Whenever I see one, I think of my mother saying that one perfect phrase that always ended with contentment: “Let’s go sit on the porch.”
James Knippen – Poetry Editor (’11-’12)
My grandparents' porch in the Chicago suburbs is the hub of family gatherings during the spring and summer months. Whether it's Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family all make their way up the same rickety wooden steps to the large screened-in porch that overlooks both the front and back yards. Because it is elevated and very old, the porch often joins our conversations, creaking and moaning, telling our stories from above to whatever animals are hidden below (raccoons and rabbits, perhaps the occasional opossum or woodchuck). It has been a couple years since I've been there, and as I write this, the aromas are what I most remember: ground sirloin and Wisconsin brats sizzling on the grill, fried potatoes and onions seeping out from the kitchen the porch is attached to, and of course the blown-up fireworks and punks burning in the backyard. Smoke bombs spat a barrage of color into the sky, yellows and greens, purples and blues. Though the colors were different, they all smelled the same, and mingled with the scent of coming storms.
Jaime Netzer - Nonfiction Editor ('11-'12)
I went to college in the same town I grew up, a small but spirited little city. When I started school, I moved from the west side of town to the east. The west side looks like surburbia; it's on the east side that you can find front porches. I lived in fifty-, sixty-, even seventy-year-old houses. I swept original wide-paneled hardwood floors, I repainted walls for the upteenth time, and I settled into life on porches. The best part was hanging Christmas lights—front porches make this easy; the decorating is done for you. Each year, I put on gloves, hammered in nails, and strung up lights around the porch. Of course, there was the problem of electricity. One year, I had to string three extension cords together. The cord started in my kitchen, snaked down the stairs to the unfinished basement, went through the broken glass of a small hole in a storm window, out the side of the house and through the yard to the front porch. I wondered about leading a potential trouble-maker to a perfect point of entry in an otherwise locked-up house, but the porch needed lights. And the little city let them glow unharmed.
Danielle Ducrest – Webmaster (’11-’12)
The house where I grew up in Broussard, LA, from the time I was five until I was twenty, had a front porch. The porch had a floor of concrete, two concrete steps and its own shingled, wooden roof. My family didn’t use the door on the porch much, preferring the door in the carport instead. When we were kids, my brother and I would sometimes play on the porch, but when I got older, I would walk by it without really acknowledging it was there; it had become a part of the scenery.
For many years, we kept an old wood and iron school desk on that porch. It was originally in my room, but at some point in my late childhood it wound up outside, where it deteriorated slowly due to exposure to rain, wind and the humidity. The desk seems to me now to be a reminder of all the long afternoons I’d spent outside when I was kid, playing with friends or with the family pets. The porch and the desk were part of my childhood; though they remained a constant presence in my life and continued to exert their influence on me until I was an adult, they better belonged in my past than in my present.
E. D. Watson – Interviews Editor (’11-’12)
In New Orleans, a balcony, front porch, or stoop is more than an extension of a house, it is the unofficial helm of a home. It is where news arrives, relationships are deepened or dissolved, life is pondered, peas are shelled. Whether a porch is regal or rickety makes little difference; a couple of stairs, a pocket of shade, and a place to sit are the only essentials. My New Orleans balcony was nearly a century old. Some of the boards had gone spongy, and it sagged from the threshold of my second-story apartment. The paint had blistered and sloughed decades before I moved in. A faint breeze set the whole thing trembling. It was, in my opinion, the finest place on earth.
From my balcony, I watched my neighbors meander through the side street, I listened to their televisions and radios and late-night arguments. On Saturday nights, I hosted al fresco dinner parties around a borrowed card table. On Sunday mornings, I sat in my bathrobe and listened to the clamor of carillon bells as sunrise rinsed the city in pink light. I drank beer. I painted. I smoked cigarettes. When I couldn’t sleep, I sat on my balcony and blew bubbles until my neighbors’ roof wobbled and glistened like a strand of beached jellyfish. I embraced the local aesthetic and hung Christmas lights and Mardi Gras beads from the railings. I was twenty-seven and truly on my own for the first time. I spent hours each day on my balcony, savoring the piquancy of a city and a life I had chosen for myself.
Luisa Muradyan – Book Reviews Editor (’11-’12)
My grandfather sat on our porch everyday. Some days he would bring a book, usually Pushkin, and a glass of hot tea regardless of temperature or season. Other days he would bring a pair of pants to sew or one of my dresses. He rarely wore shirts during the summer, his gray chest hair an integral part of the garden design.
He constantly sunbathed taking his pants off freely without shame, our house facing a busy street. He sat outside for hours, without a phone or radio, his thoughts to the rose bushes or weed ridden grass. I asked him one day how a man can sit so long in one place. And then he told me about the war, and how he walked to Budapest on foot, and how he wondered if he would ever stop walking. It was hot that day, and I sat down next to him, a glass of tea in my hand.
Nicole Moore – Public Relations Manager (’11-’12)
I didn’t have a house with a true, southern porch until this summer, when I finally entered into the traditional American capitalist system of mortgages and assumed a 30 year lien to buy a house near the downtown area of San Antonio.
In the house I lived in growing up, there was a concrete slab only high enough to stub a toe on as you walked toward the front door, and there was a concrete slab in the back, beneath the tin patio cover. But these were not real porches. These were mere planes upon which to place plastic chairs and the BBQ pit.
Now, I have a small porch with three steps going up to a thick, grey concrete slab, replete with a porch swing, white wooden columns, and ornate iron railings. And recently (probably as a way to further immerse myself in the romanticism of a southern porch), I started making peach-flavored ice tea to sip, while sitting on the wooden swing on the grey porch, and taking in the changing colors of the sky and clouds, and watching the petals of the crepe myrtle trees fall like snow in this hot-as-heck Texas heat.
My porch memories are just beginning. So perhaps I’ll have some hardy memories to share in a few more years. But for now, I’ll just enjoy the steady creak of the swing going forth, going back.
Isaac Torres – A.V Manager (’11-’12)
1995. Portland, Oregon. After kissing my girlfriend's best friend, and subsequently being kicked out of said girlfriend's mom's house, I lived in my 1961 VW Microbus for one week. At the end of that week, I came to be overwhelmed with great regret and sorrow. In a desperate move, I wiped the tears from my face and called my own mother. She was consoling enough to pacify my pain, at least for the time being. I can recall moaning the word "Lo." I expressed to my mom that I wanted to go to college. I wanted to go to college in the South. I don't know where this thought came from. I was a high-school dropout, a criminal. But, in my mind I saw myself on a large porch under the setting Southern sun, and at peace. I am here now, looking for that porch.