Books by Bruce Dethlefsen

Small Talk
Little Eagle Press, 2014

Order from Bruce Dethlefsen
422 Lawrence St. Westfield, WI 53964
or PayPal to
$15/copy + $3 shipping & handling

Small Talk cover

Unexpected Shiny Things
Cowfeather Press, 2011

Order from Bruce Dethlefsen
422 Lawrence St. Westfield, WI 53964
or PayPal to
$16/copy + $3 shipping & handling

“Bruce Dethlefsen’s newest collection
takes its reader on an unforgettable
poetic journey, progressing from the
nostalgic to the philosophical to the
side-splittingly funny, with bonus
side-trips into emotional territory
both erotic and deeply tender.”

—Marilyn L. Taylor
Wisconsin Poet Laureate, 2009–2010

Audio recordings of sample poems:
ArtistsMilk from Sleepy CowsShiny Things

Unexpected Shiny Things cover

Fireweed Press, 2009

Order from Bruce Dethlefsen
422 Lawrence St. Westfield, WI 53964
or PayPal to
$15/copy + $3 shipping & handling

“In Breather, his third collection of poems, Bruce Dethlefsen dances a poet warrior’s dance upon the earth. Sometimes it’s the jazz dance of a cool cat eating jitterbugs under a streetlight on a hot summer night. Sometimes it’s the skipping of uncertain feet on an unfamiliar sailing ship, if life had only been different. Sometimes it’s a dance close to the precipice, a boogie around the edge of uncomfortable visions—the abuse victim rewarded with ice cream, the miscarried child, the miscarriage of justice, the failed marriage—but never do this poet’s feet trample a subject. Dethlefsen is simply too deft to stumble so; he dances with meanings, winking with word plays, inviting the reader to join in, have some fun, confess some pain, and recognize the beautiful futility of human life on a planet whose face was old before we arrived, and who hardly notices our presence.”

—Lester Smith, President, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets
reviewed in Verse Wisconsin Online

Breather cover

Something Near the Dance Floor
Marsh River Editions, 2003
Out of print

“Bruce Dethlefsen can make a stunning poem of just about anything he aims his pen at. These are beautiful, uncluttered poems, deeply saturated with innocence and worldliness. These are satisfying poems filled with an easy, languid grace. You'll find quiet and complex love poems here, skillfully imbued with emotion and sensibility, well-juiced with wit and humor. Bruce is an excellent writer and knows how to shift the power to the subjects of his poems. He has set a high standard of craftsmanship with this collection. Make sure you have a chair at his table near the dance floor.”

—Ellen Kort, Wisconsin State Poet Laureate 2004–2006
and author of twelve books

“I have had such a crush on Bruce Dethlefsen's work since well before A Decent Reed. He is a wizard at word play, all ‘rhythm and listen,’ all ‘teewang,’ yet not without the depth of a good Greek myth—a rare mix of beauty and tragedy, rats and roses. Now I'm ecstatic that Bruce is evolving our tryst with this new book, Something Near the Dance Floor. He whispers in our ear with sensual love poems like "Fingernail Moon" and "Evening Wear," serenades us with the likes of "Shebang" and "I'll Take the Moon." So many of these poems so closely resemble lyrics, so want an ensemble of instruments, so want to be taken out dancing—
these poems will take you out dancing! Come join us . . . Near the Dance Floor (but remember, all the slow songs are saved for me!).”

—Cathryn Cofell

Something Near the Dance Floor cover

A Decent Reed
Tamafyhr Mountain Press, 1998
Out of print

“From the nuances of men-think women-feel to comparing his Catholic teacher to the Wicked Witch of the East (remember what happens to her—thump!) to rewording the Constitution to read like a composting guide, Dethlefsen is a stitch. His inner pieces, like "Crows Mate for Death" and "Rotmantel," give us images that make us twinge with paranoia and angst. His light, uplifting verses, like "Sewing Clouds" and "On the Sill," bring us to an epiphany. In these later poems, Dethlefsen shows his finest art. It is one thing to get the reader to laugh, it is another write in a way that makes the reader want to learn to write like that. His poems are a great read and they teach us how to write.”

—Matt Welter
reviewed in Cambridge Book Review

A Decent Reed cover