Trailer Park Psalms: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series) (Paperback)

Trailer Park Psalms: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series) By Ryler Dustin Cover Image
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Winner of the 2023 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize 

Trailer Park Psalms traces the speaker’s journey beyond his boyhood trailer park, through an American landscape marked by violence—from a gas line explosion in his hometown to his father’s war memories to the scars of colonialism inscribed in place, language, and ecology. Along the way, he searches for sources of awe that might inspire us, even in a compromised world: the everyday miracle of eyesight, the courage of the Voyager spacecrafts, and the “clumsy kindness” of family members trying to mend the damages of the past. In the end, what he finds isn’t faith but the hope that “if there’s a heaven, we will bend / to examine our old selves / and wonder how something so delicate / was ever allowed.” 

About the Author

Ryler Dustin has represented Seattle on the final stage of the Individual World Poetry Slam, and his poems appear in outlets like Verse DailyGulf Coast, and The Best of Iron Horse. He is the author of Heavy Lead Birdsong from Write Bloody Publishing. A graduate of the MFA program at the University of Houston and the PhD program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, he has lived in Michigan, Spain, the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, and an off-grid cabin in Oregon. He recently moved back to his hometown of Bellingham, Washington.

Praise For…

"There’s a rural charm and sense of danger lurking in Trailer Park Psalms, but it is exactly the perpetual threat of poverty and violence that make the pieces sing."
—Adriana E. Ramírez, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Ryler Dustin’s poems achieve a clear and accessible quality, not through the simplicity of idea or emotion (for his poems are rich with surprising language and complex sentiment) but through his remarkable facility with syntax. Indeed, his elegant sentences convey feeling with vulnerability and sensitivity, while achieving what can only be called pure music. The ingenious metaphors in Trailer Park Psalms manage to contain the contradictory and conflicting emotions that come with loss, nostalgia, humor, and the effort to cope with the wounds of a complicated personal history.” —Kwame Dawes, author of UnHistory with John Kinsella 


“Word by word, Ryler Dustin creates a world, complete with its ditches and flames and warnings, as well as the lovers and friends and family who walk briefly through it. These are poems of love and ferocious need, and what is loved is all-encompassing, from a stolen cigarette to a wayward star. This is a voice from an American wilderness, one that has echoes of Whitman, in its largeness and its heart.” —Nick Flynn, author of I Will Destroy You  

“Although the poems in Trailer Park Psalms range widely (from a hardscrabble trailer park in the Pacific Northwest to London to the very edge of our galaxy), they are united by Ryler Dustin’s fine intelligence and his mastery of image and tone. These poems meditate on the persistence of memory, the difficulties of love, and the curiosities of ecology with real clarity, always offering us voyages toward knowledge, awe, and an invigorated sense of self.”  —Kevin Prufer, author of The Art of Fiction: Poems 

“The poems in Ryler Dustin’s Trailer Park Psalms radiate with ache, pull us toward the awe of memory and love and the holy ringing only a body can make. If Dustin is right, and ‘love . . . means to make a space for this wrecked world inside us,’ then this collection is a profound act of love, offering the wrecked world inside us a tender home, an exquisite language with which to make itself known.” —Stacey Waite, author of Butch Geography 

“What I have loved about Ryler Dustin’s poems since I first heard him read them in Bellingham, Washington back in 2007, is the way they are offered with a gentle quiet that gives way to the quiet in me. The poems in this collection are no different; how his reflections on memory and place within the Pacific Northwest call to how we fit in the worlds that surround us, similar as how a walk in the forest allows us to join the conversation of silence that passes between the trees.” —Anis Mogjani, Poet Laureate of Oregon and two-time Individual National Poetry Slam Champion 

Product Details
ISBN: 9780822967125
ISBN-10: 082296712X
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication Date: September 12th, 2023
Pages: 72
Language: English
Series: Pitt Poetry Series