Best Bones

Best Bones Sarah Rose NordgrenWinner of the 2013 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from University of Pittsburgh Press, selected by series editor Ed Ochester

Price $15.95 | Trim 6″ x 9″ | ISBN: 978-0822963172

Purchase online: IndieBound | Powell’s | Amazon.


“[Nordgren] writes unflinchingly about self-inflicted violence and women.”–PBS Newshour

“Look out for Sarah Rose Nordgren’s new book Best Bones, ya’ll. She’s the real thing!” – Sharon Van Etten, musician

“Best Bones is a haunting book that draws on a variety of source material to create a parallel world where even science becomes fairy tale. I feel both at home in and unsettled by these poems, and grateful for the chance to move for a while through their world.”–Memorious [read full text here]

Best Bones is an absolute must-read. The poems within this collection are thought-provoking, riveting, and haunting—this is not a book that one can read through once and set aside; rather, many poems demand to be read and pondered again and again. These are poems that linger.”–Mid-American Review

“Nordgren’s understanding of the self compels me most: her speakers are complicated, fragmented, refracted by our contemporary condition; her engagement with the domestic sphere and memory, her meticulous dissection of traditional gender-roles, her interrogation of desire’s intricacies & intimacies—win me over completely.” —Quarterly West [read full review here]

“Best Bones is an impressive debut by a strong poet, moving lyrically and expertly from voice to voice, through decades, across continents, but always pinning down the exact language necessary to illuminate each circumstance.”–The Iowa Review [read full review here]

“For all their compression, these poems are like the Witch’s world: deep, dark, and wild.”–Coal Hill Review [read full review here]

“Sarah Rose Nordgren’s Best Bones pulls from both legend and a vivid projections of reality to create a variety of magical realism…resulting in a gorgeous tonal color that packs enough power to sustain a sinuous, engaging narrative.”–The Adroit Journal [read full review here]

“These poems, crisp and lovely in their language, are unwaveringly devoted to charting the strangeness of the female experience.” —Devil’s Lake [read full review here]

“Much like fables, these poems often enact startling transformations, as in the many poems whose graves become gardens. But where fables moralize, these poems’ transformations work to control and maintain the transitional space, whether that space is dirt, a home, or a self.” — storySouth [read full review here]

“[Best Bones‘] subtleties are worth exploring.” — Harvard Review [read full review here]

“Sarah Rose Nordgren’s poems are part science fiction, part surrealism, part ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and wholly original, playful and personal.”—Ed Ochester, series editor

“Sarah Rose Nordgren’s Best Bones is a book rich in architecture and the bones of architecture. She shows us ‘what a long hinge the body makes’—and reminds us that there are indeed ‘stories we live in against nature’ and ‘rooms…built from twine.’ The voices and narratives within her poems do more than haunt; they resound, reverberate within and without the lyric enclosures she has made for them. Best Bones is beautiful—a stunning, welcome debut.”—Claudia Emerson, author of Late Wife, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“With her love for fable and folklore, her courting of the uncanny, and her intensive use of dramatic monologue, Sarah Rose Nordgren arrives among us with a minutes-to-midnight voice: stagy, controlling, and quietly alarmed, but always intimate—an indiscreet whisper telling us of events and feelings that we must give ourselves up to totally. Its shadow life glows as keenly as the light, and its light seems almost helpless. A terrific debut, by a poet to watch.”—David Rivard, author of Otherwise Elsewhere

“Startling and alive, Sarah Rose Nordgren’s Best Bones introduces a poet of intense lyricism and narrative compression. These deeply felt poems have an ineffable strangeness yet sense of rightness. Some terrify like childhood stories. Some amaze like myths. All are beautifully imagined, hauntingly observant, and contain a dynamic tension between the cool surface of craft and the human heat of the heart. Ready yourself, American poetry, for this phenomenal new voice.”—Stuart Dischell, author of Backwards Days