By Debra Nystrom |  Debra Nystrom’s genius in the poems of TORN SKY is to give us a version of the American West that includes the mythic and the epic, but doesn’t exclude the historical and the personal. Her beautiful rendering of particular lives and voices gives us her deeply inward “feel” for landscape, the hardships of farming and ranching, and the bloodiness and violence of America’s westward expansion at the expense of Native American peoples. Ultimately, though, these poems go beyond their occasions, and are as much about the complex dynamics of memory and loss, and what Yeats called the phantasmagoria of history, as they are about the poet’s loving attachment to home ground. Intimate, searching, deeply skeptical, these poems are as beautifully written as they are morally challenging and unexpected

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Debra Nystrom
Professor, Department of English
Creative Writing Program