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Debra Nystrom’s poetry, in repeated cases in the reading assigned, features a strong narrative element that intertwines itself with an image. “The Door” is an especially interesting example of this because the poem introduces two temporally separate, though situationally related, narratives that culminate with a single recognizable image.

In describing two very personal┬áscenes in a style more typical of prose, Nystrom is able to not only directly develop her subject matter, but also to establish a sort of historical context surrounding the subject matter. The characters portrayed in the poems are named, and/or their familial relationships to one another are articulated. This allows for the poem to operate as more of a narrative than is generally typical of poetry. Instead of writing the poem as addressed to the family or a particular family member, the poem is strictly about specific people. This choice of approaching human subjects as a “they” rather than a “you” is notable. This sense of greater context also helps to augment the narrative lines of the poem, supporting both the first person point of view and the highly personalized details. Each of these elements clarify that the poem is addressing a specific set of experiences addressed in a highly personal and experientially-based way.

In beginning the poem with anecdotes which provide both narrative and background context, Nystrom implements the strategy of taking personal experience and emotion and then making the personal more universal. In likening herself to Roy Rogers, a popularly recognized hero, she acknowledges the amount of calm she strives for in crisis. We have also seen this associational stylistic approach from Mary Ruefle, though Nystrom’s way of achieving the same feeling of greater connection is much more linear.

One Response to “Debra Nystrom, “The Door””

  1. Excellent, Kate. This is precisely the sort of analysis that helps readers more easily navigate the poem and understand the elements of craft the writer has used to shape it.

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