Today's poem is "He Tells You About the Dress You Wore"
from Bad River Roads

Sarabande Books

Debra Nystrom grew up in South Dakota, where she returns each year to family land along the Missouri River and on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. She has published two previous collections of poetry, Torn Sky (Sarabande Books, 2003) and A Quarter Turn (Sheep Meadow Press, 1991). Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Slate, Yale Review, American Poetry Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and TriQuarterly, and has received two grants from The Virginia Commission for the Arts; The Library of Virginia Poetry Award; and The James Dickey Prize for Poetry. She lives in Charlottesville with her husband and daughter, and teaches creative writing at the University of Virginia.

Other poems by Debra Nystrom in Verse Daily:
May 18, 2009:   "Cousins" "Afternoons, Grandma sent us inside..."

Books by Debra Nystrom:

Other poems on the web by Debra Nystrom:
Nine poems
"Cliff Swallows-Missouri Breaks"
"Kids Running Downhill"
"West River, Driving Home"
Eight poems

About Bad River Roads:

"I so admire and am so moved by Debra Nystrom's poetry that every new poem is a gift, and every book makes it necessary to stop whatever I'm doing, sit still, read, and be astonished by the world. Reading Bad River Road, I was living vicariously, trapped with trapped people in places they shouldn't be. I finished many poems certain that what I'd just read was so strangely recognizable that the people and scenes were something I could go to my window and see. I love the exactness of the poems, and the indelible images, and also the way written and spoken words intrude. This is my favorite book by Debra Nystrom so far. It's beautiful."
—Ann Beattie

"Bad River Road is a fearless and elegiac book, deriving from those struggles which many of us know all too well––the final illness of the poet’s mother, the physical and mental decline of her father, and the emotional sufferings of her imprisoned brother. At a time when “autobiographical poetry” has too often (and maddeningly) become a pejorative term, Nystrom reminds us of the method’s continued urgency. The windblown landscapes of rural South Dakota provide an appropriately abject and stark setting for Nystrom’s reckonings and in many passages the vividly rendered combination of sharply drawn character and deftly rendered descriptions of place recall Cather, or even Chekhov. Bad River Road arises from necessity."
—David Wojahn

"In Bad River Road, Debra Nystrom’s finest most expansive collection yet, the poet makes her way back through the “mud-smell dark” of the past, into a rich and intimate landscape defined by “cutbanks,” “washouts,” and “cheat-grass,” where “everything touched/ everything all the time,” to tell a harrowing and quintessentially American story, a generational saga, though on a small scale, about the implacability of familial love and the lonely spaces of the Great Plains in which it tried to take root. Nystrom weaves the threads of this story in a deft, compelling, and at times heartbreaking manner."
—Michael Collier

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