"The High Plains, the beginning of the desert West, often act as a crucible for those who inhabit them. Like Jacob's angel, the region requires that you wrestle with it before it bestows a blessing." In a voice as authentic as the land she describes, poet Kathleen Norris transports us to the heart of the country, America's empty quarter, a "spiritual" geography often devoid of human presence but rich in other life. A sublime physical landscape, for Norris it is also a metaphor for the indomitable human spirit. Nearly twenty years ago, Kathleen Norris returned to the house built by her grandparents in an isolated town on the border between North and South Dakota. The elemental landscape forced her to confront and reexamine her heritage, religion, language, and the land itself. Living in a community "so small that the poets and ministers have to hang out together," Norris reveals to us the contradictions of small town life on the Great Plains, where gracious hospitality blends with provincial wariness, local history is valued but writers are suspect, and truth and myth collide. With rare poetic voice and unsentimental vision, Kathleen Norris weaves together the lives of farmers, townsfolk, Native Americans, and a community of Benedictine monks whose home is on the Plains. This expansive portrait of the Dakotas introduces to the American literary scene the forceful, mature voice of an important American writer. An award-winning poet and the author of two books of poetry, Falling Off 1971 and The Middle of the World 1981, Kathleen Norris lives in Lemmon, South Dakota, where she has lived with her husband, the poet David Dwyer, for almost twenty years.