“…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
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.
2009-2011 Front Porch Staff Reminisces
“Sitting on porch swings that hung from porches at my various dwellings in lush-green and humid Baton Rouge, the place I most naturally call home, I have witnessed a panic-stricken girl break into her boyfriend’s apartment to find that he had overdosed; I have been told “I love you” for the first time by the man I later married; in the early morning, I have eavesdropped on arguing neighbors: ‘Christy. Please don’t leave. Christy! If you leave, the cats are going to eat our breakfast’; oblivious to levees breaking in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina made landfall, I have listened to the radio and barbecued hotdogs while believing Louisiana had been spared from disaster; I have had marathon-length Saturday phone conversations with my long-distance siblings; I have happily let myself get dripping-sweat-hot and eaten by mosquitoes while I drank bottled beer, and occasionally, a mint julep or a whiskey on the rocks; I have whispered secrets to long-time girlfriends, and against the backdrop of chirping crickets, I have listened to their secrets. I think a porch is a place where the most meaningful moments in life occur, though they are often disguised as minutiae.”
— Herpreet Singh, Managing Editor
“The front porch I miss the most was my grandparents’. Every other weekend, it seemed, and every Christmas, my family and I would visit my grandparents on my dad’s side of the family. We’d pay the toll, cross the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge, and drive the streets of Nuevo Laredo, Tamualipas. My brother and sister and I would always dread the two hour wait to cross back to the U.S., me especially since I would always sit in the middle—the lack of say as the youngest. We’d drive down a road to what felt like a loop around Nuevo, but we’d actually be cutting the city in half. We’d pull up to where my grandparents lived and parked a block or two over close to a small shop that sold beers and cokes, me accompanying my uncles to grab a crate of Sol or Joyas. The less-than-a-block walk would always be accompanied by traffic zooming by us as we would make our way down the broken sidewalk, a smell of sewage and tar in the air. Behind a white metal fence, the paint chipped on the bars, my grandparent’s house would await us with a little roof to a small porch with white tile and a heavy metal gate door. And after I’d knock, whoever would be closest to the door would open it, a younger cousin greeting us from behind a dark metal screen or an uncle with a drink in hand opening the gate giving me a one-armed hug, a heavy hand-slap on my back. The front porch was seldom used, but it was always the first and last image I would see when it came to seeing my family, my grandparents, and my holidays.”
— Andy Benavides, Fiction Editor
“My grandparents lived down the street from us in an old, converted cure cottage. The Adirondack cure cottages had these wide, wrap-around porches made to hold sick people in daybeds during the winter, to help them recover from tuberculosis. They were tempting porches as a child. My grandparents’ porch was beautiful and only, literally, two steps off the ground. There was a cement step, then you stepped onto the porch. My mother and grandmother said they watched me on those two steps when I had just learned to walk. I’d take one step up, fall over, get pissed off, then try to do it again. They said I did this for hours until, finally, I made it up the two steps alone. Then I stopped trying. But hearing the story I feel that everything in my life has been somehow colored by that simple event—a little boy too stubborn to stay down, climbing onto the sick-porch with bloodied knees, his reasons all his own.”
— Colin Pope, Poetry Editor
“Although I risk injuring the pride of my current front porch by admitting this—not to mention the feelings of the many other porches and stoops of my porch-sordid past—my favorite front porch belongs to relatives in Mississippi. Like all the best front porches, it has a swing, rocking chairs, a blue ceiling, and plenty of shrubs surrounding it. There, in the summer of 2001, I spent many evenings with my cousin and a group of her friends: reveling, carousing, and in our duller moments playing a seemingly endless game of Trivial Pursuit. We were twenty years old, abundantly broke, and vigorously bored. Our evenings on that porch certainly stemmed from limited alternatives more than anything else—but we still look back fondly on our Seldom-Do-Well summer.”
— Emily Howorth, Nonfiction Editor
“I remember my grandparents waving bye from their front porch. They always came outside to wave bye as we drove away. Actually it wasn’t their front porch, it was their back porch, next to the carport, next to the tool shed, next to a big field, with cows in it. Once I saw a Chow attack a cow in that field. I told my grandfather, who was sitting on the porch, “The Chow bit the cow.” He thought I was singing to him.”
— Josh Collins, Book Editor
“My back porch in Portland (nicknamed The Lap by one visitor) became the primary social point for a good cross-section of Reed College. It also looked onto the backyard of the neighboring house. Our neighbors seemed to be a large number of children, anywhere from four years old to twenty, with no adult supervision. It turned out the parents were truckers and would take off for weeks at a time, entrusting the elder kids to look after the younger ones. During our three years on this porch, we stopped the four year old from drinking weed poisoner; counseled one of the more inquisitive teens on community college; helped every single one of them throw up; stopped the four year old from smoking weed; gave them, by request, as many condoms as we could get our hands on; stopped the four year old from drinking beer; and, on one shameful night, I recommended the works of James Baldwin based on their affinity for Stephen King on the grounds that racism was also scary. When I left The Lap, the four year old was seven, and didn’t seem to have aged a bit.”
— Evan McMurry, Interviews Editor
“When we parked the second singlewide on the family’s property, my father built a plywood passageway to connect the trailers and added a wood porch he never found time to waterproof. We were the folks who could always be counted on to harbor stray cats. We’d top off their dishes with fresh kibble, and the yowls would fly as they scarfed down food. Soon the fire ants would catch wind and march their Whiskas bits over the porch’s wood slats, toting supplies for their mission to build the New Jerusalem. Opposums and armadillos fattened up their babies on our Friskies and Meow Mix. A broom to their rodent faces yielded only needle-toothed hisses as they scurried beneath the porch. Dogs who broke their chains tore through our yard, dodged my brother’s well-aimed firecrackers, and toppled lawn chairs, all in an effort to fetch a savory snack. My father was a man who didn’t believe in free lunches. More than once, he stood at the edge of the porch and spattered buckshot along the backside of these offending animals.
“We hauled off the trailers years later, the wobbly porch no longer leading anywhere. With a hammer in hand, we took turns pulling the rusted nails from this makeshift raft. We were Bible Belt heathens betrothed to the Holy Land, traversing the treacherous twists and turns allotted to the righteous, our rotting porch the ark held aloft by little more than a stubborn will to persist.”
— Gwynne Middleton, Copy Editor
“An oak porch guarded my father’s childhood home, a tiny farmhouse in the hills of Kentucky. As I’ve heard the story, he often hid under that porch to escape the heat and the watch of adults who would talk there well into the night. At age six his den was boarded up, having been caught beneath his parents’ boot heels with a neighbor girl, and so earning him the nickname Kitten Lips, which has followed him ever since.
“Having grown up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, my front porches were never more than bland concrete slabs. With nowhere near the homestead to duck our sunny days, us children flocked into the far off woods to wander, to play, to discover.”
— Daniel Keltner, Webmaster
“I went to college in the same town I grew up in. I moved from the west side of town to the east. The west side is surburbia; it’s on the east side that you’ll find the 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 Midwest winter mainstay an invariably simple task. 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 if leading a potential trouble-maker to a perfect point of entry in an otherwise locked-up house was a good idea, but the porch needed lights. Luckily, the little city let them glow unharmed.”
— Jaime Netzer, Public Relations Manager