Debra Nystrom

Debra Nystrom


430 Bryan Hall

Office Hours: By appointment, contact
Class Schedule: Wednesdays 2:00-4:30

Creative Writing


MFA, Goddard/Warren Wilson, 1980
B.A., University of South Dakota (summa cum laude), 1976


Bad River Road, Sarabande Books, 2009
Torn Sky, Sarabande Books, 2003
A Quarter Turn, Sheep Meadow Press, 1991

Recent Publications: Poetry and Nonfiction

  • Narrative: “Early Cartography” (nonfiction), 2021 - Early Cartography by Debra Nystrom (
  • Georgia Review: "My Mother's Gowns" (nonfiction), 2021 - My Mother’s Gowns – The Georgia Review
  • Five Points, “Twilight Zone” (nonfiction), 2021
  • NorthWest Review: “Earliest Photograph” (poem), 2020 
  • Agni Review: “Dream of the Subjunctive” (nonfiction), 2020 - Dream of the Subjunctive (
  • Blackbird: “Haven’t I Been Sweet to You” (nonfiction), 2019
  • Plume: “Observatory at the Prison” (poem), 2019 - Observatory at the Prison - Plume (
  • Narrative: “On the Line” (nonfiction), 2018 - On the Line by Debra Nystrom (
  • Kenyon Review: “You Didn’t Hear It From Me” (nonfiction), 2018
  • Conjunctions: “After Three Years, He Said, These Little Trees Will Bear Fruit” (nonfiction), 2018
  • Previous Publications in Agni Review, American Poetry Review, Blackbird, Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Ecotone, Five Points, Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The New Yorker, North American Review, Northwest Review, Orion, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, Shenandoah, Slate, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, TriQuarterly, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Yale Review and elsewhere.

Reviews and Essays (selected)


  • More in Time, University of Nebraska Press, 2021
  • More Truly and More Strange: 100 Contemporary American Self-Portrait Poems, Persea Press, 2020
  • American Birds: A Literary Companion, Library of America, 2020
  • Plume Poetry 7, Plume, 2019
  • The Golden Shovel: Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, University of Arkansas Press, 2017
  • The Mind of Monticello, University of Virginia Press, 2016
  • Good Poems, American Places, Viking, 2012
  • The Kingdom of Grass, Center for Western Studies Press, 2011
  • Bright Wings, Columbia University Press, 2009
  • Best American Poetry of 2007, Scribner, 2008
  • When She Named Fire: Contemporary Poetry by Women, Autumn House Press, 2008
  • Red, White and Blues: On the Promise of America, University of Iowa Press, 2004
  • Strongly Spent: Fifty Years of Shenandoah, Shenandoah,2004
  • Common Wealth, University of Virginia Press, 2003
  • Birthday Poems, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002
  • Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America, University of Iowa Press, 2002
  • Acquainted With the Night, Columbia University Press, 1999
  • More Light, National Writers' Voice Project, Harcourt Brace, 1994


  • Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Fellowship, 2021
  • University of Virginia Arts Research Grants, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2006
  • Best American Essays 2019, “Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2018” selection
  • Keynote Speaker, William and Mary Literary Festival, College of William and Mary, 2019 
  • Narrative “Story of the Week” selection, 2018
  • UVA Arts Faculty Fellowship, 2017-2018
  • Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Research Fellowship, 2013
  • The Poetry Foundation’s American Life in Poetry Feature, 2016, 2012, 2005
  • Virginia Prize for Poetry, 2010
  • Academy of American Poets Poetry Month Feature, 2009
  • Writers' Almanac Feature, 2012, 2009 and 2004
  • Best American Poetry selection, 2008
  • Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell Memorial Panel, 2008    
  • James Dickey Prize in Poetry, Five Points Magazine, 2007
  • Virginia Prize for Poetry, 2004
  • Shepard Visiting Writer, University of Wyoming Conference on Social Justice, 2004
  • Heart/Borders Poetry Prize, 2002
  • Lantern Society Award for Women's Education, University of Virginia, 2002
  • Boatwright Prize for Poetry, Shenandoah, 2000
  • Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Fellowship in Poetry, 1997
  • Boatwright Prize for Poetry, Shenandoah, 1994
  • Balch Prize for Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, 1991
  • Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Fellowship in Poetry, 1987
  • Yaddo Fellowship,1984
  • Hoyns post-graduate fellowship, University of Virginia, 1982


Aspen Writers Conference, Aspen, CO; Blacksmith House, Cambridge, MA; Bowery Series, New York, NY; Chapters Bookstore, Washington, DC; College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA; Council Fires Cultural Center, Sioux Falls, SD; Dactyl Foundation for the Arts and Humanities, New York, NY; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; Elon University, Elon, NC; Hollins College, Roanoke, VA; James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA; KGB Poetry Series, New York, NY; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA; New Jersey Public Radio; Penn State Erie, Erie, PA; Quail Ridge Series, Raleigh, NC; Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY; Sweetbriar College, Amherst, VA; University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY; Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; Virginia Festival of the Book, Charlottesville, VA; Virginia Public Radio; Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC; Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC; Wyoming Public Radio