Steven Dunn


Shortlisted for Granta magazine’s “Best of Young American Novelists,” Steven Dunn is the author of two books, both from Tarpaulin Sky Press: water & power (2018) and Potted Meat, which was co-winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize and finalist for a Colorado Book Award. Steven was born and raised in West Virginia, and after 10 years in the Navy he earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from University of Denver. He is currently an MFA candidate at Goddard College.


Potted Meat

* Finalist, Colorado Book Award
* Co-winner, Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize
* Small Press Distribution Bestseller

Novel. 5.25″x8″, 134 pp., paperback. August 2016.

$14 includes shipping in the US

Potted Meat, a novel set in a decaying town in southern West Virginia, follows a young boy into adolescence as he struggles with abusive parents, poverty, alcohol addiction, and racial tensions. Using fragments as a narrative mode to highlight the terror of ellipses, Potted Meat explores the fear, power, and vulnerability of storytelling, and in doing so, investigates the peculiar tensions of the body: How we seek to escape or remain embodied during repeated trauma.

“101 pages of miniature texts that keep tapping the nails in, over and over, while speaking as clearly and directly as you could ask…. Zero indulgence, all formative. Bone Thugs, underage drinking, alienation, death, love, Bob Ross, dreams of blood: This thin thing is flooded with power” (Blake Butler, VICE); “Steven Dunn’s Potted Meat is full of wonder and silence and beauty and strangeness and ugliness and sadness and truth and hope. I am so happy it is in the world. This book needs to be read” (Laird Hunt); “A remarkable piece of work. Rarely does one encounter a book so evocative of place and so bracing in its ability to transform the quotidian into revelation. It is a beautiful whole in its sharp fragments, and its author’s focus and attention enlarged my world moment by moment, scene by scene” (Kevin Powers); “Potted Meat is an extraordinary book. Here is an emerging voice that calls us to attention. I have no doubt that Steven Dunn’s writing is here, like a visceral intervention across the surface of language, simultaneously cutting to its depths, to change the world. My first attempt at offering words in this context was to write: thank you. And that is how I feel about Steven Dunn’s writing; I feel grateful: to be alive during the time in which he writes books” (Selah Saterstrom).

water & power
Steven Dunn

Novel | 5.25″x8″ | 180 pp. | Paperback | October 2018
Cover art by Jay Halsey.

$14 includes shipping in the US

Navy veteran Steven Dunn’s second novel, water & power, plunges into military culture and engages with perceptions of heroism and terrorism. In this shifting landscape, deployments are feared, absurd bureaucracy is normalized, and service members are consecrated. water & power is a collage of voices, documents, and critical explorations that disrupt the usual frequency channels of military narratives.


Dunn’s remarkable talent for storytelling collapses the boundaries between poetry and prose, memoir and fiction. Dunn reveals, exacerbates, and speculates on the gargantuan mythology of a legendary branch of the American armed forces: The Navy. How is a superpower created and maintained? Who maintains it? What stories are told, buried or collected along the way — stories of survival, violence, duty and ethics? Among the interviews, photographs, and journal entries Dunn shows us an intimate portrait of power: like water, you are never quite sure who is claiming control beneath the surface. (Nikki Wallschlaeger) Dunn unrelentingly captures the difficult, funny, abject, exhilarating, heartbreaking and maddening aspects of Navy life, both on and off duty. Read this book and understand the veterans in your life better, understand the aggressive disconnection the armed forces demands, and retain a much clearer picture of the people who wear the uniform in America’s name — as who we are, complex and bold and conflicted and powerful and terrified and tough and human. (Khadijah Queen)


October 2018 at TS Press: Steven Dunn, “water & power”

Praise for Steven Dunn: “Texts that keep tapping the nails in, over and over, while speaking as clearly and directly as you could ask.” (BLAKE BUTLER, VICE MAGAZINE) “Complex and bold and conflicted and powerful and terrified and tough and human.” (KHADIJAH QUEEN) “Collapses the boundaries between poetry and prose, memoir and fiction.” (NIKKI WALLSCHLAEGER)

TS author Steven Dunn interviewed at Tethered by Letters

“I’d been reading Tarpaulin Sky books for about four years before I submitted to them. I knew they made beautiful books, and was publishing writing that I felt were taking risks and fucking shit up. So when they decided to publish Potted Meat, I knew I was in good hands, and in good company with all of the other badass writers they have published, are publishing, and will publish.”

Steven Dunn, excerpts from Potted Meat, in Columbia Journal

Columbia Journal features fiction by Steven Dunn: excerpts from his debut novel, Potted Meat, forthcoming from Tarpaulin Sky Press in 2016. “Chrissy Ann don’t stink. She smells like work. Like how I smell like coal smoke. She lives at the end of the holla on top of a mountain and has lots of hogs and chickens. She feeds them every morning. When I was at her house her little brother stuck a stick up the hog’s butt. Chrissy Ann slapped the shit out of him. Then she hugged the hog. Then she said we should take a walk in the woods to get out the heat and away from her stupid brother….”

2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize Winners & Finalists

We said that we’d pick two, but went ahead and picked four instead. Also: calling up first-time authors at home? There is just no better part of this job. Meet the winners and read excerpts: Steven Dunn’s novel Potted Meat, Dana Green’s fiction collection Sometimes the Air in the Room Goes Missing, Amy King’s poetry collection The Missing Museum, and Kim Parko’s novel The Grotesque Child.