The Marie Alexander Series is dedicated to promoting the appreciation and enjoyment of prose poetry.

[Read More]


The Blue Dress

The Blue Dress

The Blue Dress

by Alison Townsend

In this quiet, clear-eyed collection, Townsend meditates on loss—childhood bereavement, depression, divorce—to arrive at the realization that it is through loss that we come to possess some of life's most profound gifts.

About the Author

Alison Townsend is the author of two books of poetry, Persephone in America, which won the Crab Orchard Open Poetry Competition (Southern Illinois University Press, 2009), and The Blue Dress (White Pine Press, 2003; second edition, 2008), which received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. She also has two limited edition chapbooks, And Still the Music (Flume Press prize winner, 2007), and What the Body Knows (Parallel Press, 2002). Her poetry and creative nonfiction appear widely, in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, Margie, Rattle, Arts & Letters, Fourth Genre and Southern Review.

She has won many awards, including a Pushcart Prize, publication in Best American Poetry, airing on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac and literary fellowships from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Virginia Center for the Arts, among others. She teaches English, creative writing and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. A walker, hiker, and gardener, she lives with her husband on four acres of prairie and oak savanna in the farm country outside Madison. She is currently working on two projects, This is the Scent of Always, a memoir in the form of interrelated personal essays, and Mapping Home Ground, a collection of lyric essays meditating on place and the role that the natural world plays in our lives, our memories, and our imaginations.



This is an utterly beautiful book. I don’t know how to say it better than that. Townsend takes the memories of her life—losses, victories, the treasures and the thrown away—and renders them into unforgettable and lasting art.
— Vince Gotera, North American Review
The Blue Dress, is a quietly ambitious collection of verse and prose that, through a series of declarative gestures, sculpts the distant and not so distant past into a delicate though decidedly unsentimental shape. One of Townsend’s strengths as a storyteller is her ability to dramatize the depths of honest feeling while entirely avoiding sentimental or melodramatic methods of manipulation. The poems in The Blue Dress demonstrate her unwavering dedication to the vast field of ordinary moments that constitute the emotional landscape of our lives.
— Tony Leuzzi, Double Room
The Blue Dress is filled with a capacious, multi-faceted, and above all, physical knowledge. That the life of the body is both our vulnerability and our salvation is a wisdom running throughout these poems’ hard-won, bravery rendered record of losses and loves.
— Jane Hirshfield
The project of Alison Townsend’s poetry is to chart a course through the deepest of losses—to attempt some safe passage through a lifetime’s erasures. Intimate, warm, and observant, this book involves us in the inscription of a life.
— Mark Doty
Alison Townsend’s articulation of sorrows has always cast an aura, of beauty, and deepest, truest instruction. I’ve always, instinctively, moved toward it, have always missed it when it was absent. Delicate pieces of memory, mood, and self—self examining itself—of hope and despair, of crystalline light shining through ‘grief solid as a rock,’ the seemingly unsayable grief of a mother’s death… in The Blue Dress, Alison Townsend says it.
— Sharon Doubiago

Release DateApril 2003




Dimensions6 x 0.5 x 9 inches

A Handbook for Writers

A Handbook for Writers

Moments Without Names

Moments Without Names