Jules Nyquist lived and wrote these poems out of loss, sweet memory, noticing the details and observing the arc of her own life: from relatives who have all but disappeared into a past of secrets and misinformation to what remains after both her parents are gone. There are moments of great poignancy, like when neither her feet nor those of her dead brother touch the floor. And family photos that provide connective tissue to the poetry of a family just like yours and yet entirely unique. A book to cherish, read and reread.
--Margaret Randall, author of She Becomes Time and The Morning After: Poetry & Prose in a Post-Truth World.
Part memoir, part paean to family, ancestry, and place, Nyquist takes us from home to home, from Sweden to Minnesota to New Mexico, and through time, from before her birth to her parents’ death. She asks, how do we ever know the full story of those we love? How are we shaped by geography and family history? With tenderness and grace, she bears witness to her parents’ growing frailty, their passing and the emotional aftermath. Like going through a wormhole, Nyquist’s poems collapse past and present: a telephone call to her deceased grandmother; meeting her parents by chance on the freeway: “I chose them as a portal to this place.” Nyquist describes a spiritual and physical closeness to the dead, better than any heaven. She is our medium, calling forth their voices: “flying back and forth, I’m suspended/Mom visits me in the clouds.” Her poems are the umbilical cord between the living and the dead. Red sheets, turquoise, red lipstick, frozen strawberries and those unforgettable roses in the snow, the inextinguishable fire.
--Kendra Tanacea, author of A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees
Homesick, then is a poetic tribute to the power of place, ancestry, secrets and the ferocious love of family that mark a life lived fully. Jules Nyquist provides a generous feast of language and photography that bears witness to her grandmother’s murder ‘invisible (until she found me)’, the daily details of her parent’s long love and aging/deaths (ICU warmed blankets, scooters) and her own soul’s journey across the country and through love and rupture, anchored in the color red, pots of cut flowers, piano scores. This is a narrative both specific and universal: the story of a girl who wants to break with convention, a woman who loves nature in a technological age, of dream tortoises who expose lost graves and of underwater conversations with the dead. Memories and secrets are born new, held in the bright light of this book, this offering.
--Tina Carlson, author of Ground, Wind, This Body
In Homesick, Then, questions such as “Where do you go when you close your eyes?” and “Why do I see it now…” actively engage the reader in this book of poems which is not only concerned with familial absence and presence but the impacts of what is known, what is thought to be known, and the unknowable. From the 1960s to the present, Nyquist explores these and more questions with the courage to look inward while ever looking outward, with sentiment but not sentimentality.
Claudia M. Stanek, winner of the 2013 Bright Hill Press Chapbook Prize for her manuscript Language You Refuse to Learn.