The scene in a grocery store parking lot in Tucson the day Jared Lougnher shot nineteen people. Six people were killed, including a nine-year-old girl. (Photo Courtesy Chris Morrison/Christian Science Monitor)


Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Tucson shooting that killed six and injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords and twelve others.

In place of the usual Sunday Poem, I’m delighted to share with you a new work by Deanne Stillman called “Reflections in a D’Back’s Eye,” which is a literary meditation on the events in Tucson. Also exceptionally, the piece is preceded by an interview with the author that provides additional context.

Stillman is a highly acclaimed creative nonfiction writer who has written extensively about the American West, particularly its relationship to violence and the American dream. This unique prose poem is an experimental piece that weaves together disparate voices–some real, others imagined. Stillman and I had an opportunity to correspond about her new piece via email.


Deanne Stillman (Photo by Mark Lamonica)


What inspired you to write about the shootings in Tucson?

A few things I guess… A lot of my work has to do with war and peace in our wide open spaces, and as I began to think about what happened, some things began to emerge. Of course, I started thinking about exactly who was this young man who mounted the attack? Some information suggests that one of the many things that agitated him was the question of 9/11 — was it an inside job? It seems he kept trying to get answers and may have been rebuffed by various authority figures.

Then it turned out that the little girl he killed, Christina-Taylor Green, was born on 9/11. She appears in a book about babies born that day. I was struck by the convergence of these things — that 9/11 was running through this incident. Bin-Laden said somewhere that after 9/11 the states would not be united. I doubt that he was talking about psychological states but he had to have known that he was stirring the American hive and some people would be tormented in inexplicable ways by what happened. But of course, this was just part of the murk in Jared Lougnher’s mind.

Christina Taylor-Green

Another thing that resonated for me was that a little girl was killed. The murder of a child is as bad as it gets. I was struck by the fact that Christina-Taylor Green came from a baseball family and played on her Little League team — one of two girls. I love baseball and know how hard that was, having played ball with neighborhood boys myself — or tried to. Her mother had warned her that playing with the boys would be rough, but she wasn’t deterred. In fact she was a good second baseman and hitter, once refusing to walk when she had been hit by a ball and go