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.”
TRAILER PARK PSALMS
University of Pittsburgh Press | 2023
Selected by Jeffrey McDaniel for the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize
“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
“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
“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
"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. With real clarity, these poems meditate on the persistence of memory, the difficulties of love, and the curiosities of ecology, always offering us voyages toward knowledge, awe, and an invigorated sense of self."
—Kevin Prufer, author of The Art of Fiction: Poems
Green Linden Press (Chapbook) | 2022
Finalist for the 2023 Eric Hoffer Award in Independent Publishing
"The exquisitely haunting poems in Something Bright are steeped in memory and longing and reverence for the world, imperfect as it may be. Like his grandmother sifting ashes from the stove in her trailer, Ryler Dustin finds something precious even in 'the rampant damages of love' and celebrates how 'the forbidden holds inside of it the holy.'
—Grace Bauer, author of Unholy Heart: New and Selected Poems
"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. Something Bright is no different, how his reflections on memory and place within the Pacific Northwest call to how the we fit in the worlds that surround us, similar to how a walk in the forest allows us to join the conversation of silence that passes between the trees."
—Anis Mojgani, Poet Laureate of Oregon
Featuring gorgeous cover art by Washington artist Nikki McClure, this 41-page, perfect-bound chapbook explores boyhood wonder, far-ranging travels, and the beauty and ruin of the Pacific Northwest.
Heavy Lead Birdsong is a collection of love poems, including pieces that propelled Ryler Dustin to the final stage of the Individual World Poetry Slam. An old man plants orchards in his own chest, angels write messages encoded in boxcar graffiti, and a dangerous car ride through the dead of winter takes us to the Ice Age. Inspired by science and religion, grounded in subtle humor, these poems transcend modern political sorrows to celebrate the kind of human spirit that can save us.
HEAVY LEAD BIRDSONG
From Write Bloody Publishing | 2010
"Ryler Dustin is hands down the most exciting young poet I have encountered in ten years of coast-to-coast travels through the poetry underground. He knows exactly when to be oracular and when to be funny, and exactly how funny to be (often, very). Even the most wonderful young poets are often betrayed by the limits of their experience. Ryler, somehow, has avoided this pitfall. Read this book; you'll find him telling you truths—like all great poets—that he has no right to know."
—Jack McCarthy, official Poetry Slam Legend and author of Drunks and Other Poems of Recovery
"Ryler Dustin's sensitivity and piercing images send shivers through me."
—Koon Woon, American Book Award winner and author of Water Chasing Water
"Ryler sees nearly 360 degrees."
—Buddy Wakefield, two-time Individual World Poetry Slam
Champion and author of A Choir of Honest Killers
"You were better than a video game, and that's saying something especially considering I love to play video games so much. You are the greatest poet in the United States of America."
—Trent Miller, Ms. Nichol's Seventh Grade Class