their story

by: stuart dybek

"they were nearing the end of their story"

"each page was torn and fed to flames, until word by word the book burned down to an unmade bed of ash"

Their Story focuses on the theme of life, the choices we make, and how one day our story will end. Dybek uses a burning book as a metaphor for life. The entire book represents life, and as we live it the book burns. When the whole book has burned, our life has ended.

"snow stewing, same old wind on the Gramophone, same old wounds"

This line of Their Story indicates another theme of the poem; life choices. As the seasons change, our routine stays the same, and our lack of flavor will cause our story to burn away quicker. Conversely, the more fun we have with our lives the slower our book will burn.

"a jacket hangs from a question mark"

Ending the poem is this line. This means that our life is our choice, and that our future is ultimately up to us.

stuart dybek's story

  • Born in Chicago, Illinois on April 10, 1942
  • Studied at University of Iowa and obtained his MA in literature from Loyola University of Chicago
  • Taught for more than 30 years at Western Michigan University
  • Is currently the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University
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"Stuart Dybek." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Oct. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <>.

"Poetry Out Loud : Their Story." Poetry Out Loud : Their Story. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <>.