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University of Iowa Press

Website: http://uiowapress.org/

Established in 1969, the University of Iowa Press is a well-regarded academic publisher serving scholars, students, and readers throughout the world with works of poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. As the only university press in the state, Iowa is also dedicated to preserving the literature, history, culture, wildlife, and natural areas of the Midwest. For scholars and students, we publish reference and course books in the areas of archaeology, American studies, American history, literary studies, theatre studies, and the craft of writing.The UI Press is a place where first-class writing matters, whether the subject is Whitman or Shakespeare, prairie or poetry, memoirs or medical literature. We are committed to the vital role played by small presses as publishers of scholarly and creative works that may not attract commercial attention.


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University of Iowa Press

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Cloud of Ink Cover

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Cloud of Ink

On the surface, L. S. Klatt’s poems are airy and humorous—with their tales of chickens wandering the highways of Ohio and Winnebago trailers rolling up to heaven and whales bumping like watermelons in a bathtub—but just under the surface they turn disconcertingly serious as they celebrate the fluent word.
 Under the heat of inquiry, under the pressure of metaphor, the poems in Cloud of Ink liquefy, bend, and serpentine as they seek sometimes a new and sometimes an ancient destination. They present the reader with existential questions as they side-wind into the barbaric; the pear is figured as a “wild boar” and the octopus is “gutted,” yet primal energies cut a pathway to the mystical and the transcendent. The poetic cosmos Klatt creates is loquacious and beautiful, strange and affirmative, but never transparent. Amid “a maelstrom of inklings,” the writer—and the audience—must puzzle out the meaning of the syllabary.

Cobble Circles and Standing Stones Cover

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Cobble Circles and Standing Stones

Archaeology at the Rivas Site, Costa Rica

In this first-person tale of archaeological adventure in the tropical forest, Jeffrey Quilter tells the story of his excavation of Rivas, a great ceremonial center at the foot of the Talamanca Mountain range, which flourished between A.D. 900 and 1300, and its fabled gold-filled cemetery, the Panteón de La Reina. Beginning with the 1992 field season and ending with the last excavations in 1998, Quilter discusses Rivas’ builders and users, theories on chiefdom societies, and the daily interactions and surprises of modern archaeological fieldwork.

Writing in the first person with a balance between informal language and academic theory, Quilter concludes that Rivas was a ceremonial center for mortuary rituals to bury chiefly elite on the Panteón. Through use of his narrative technique, he provides the reader with accounts of discoveries as they occurred in fieldwork and the development of interpretations to explain the ancient refuse and cobble architecture his team uncovered. As his story progresses amid the enchantment of the Costa Rican landscape, research plans are adjusted and sometimes completely overturned as new discoveries, often serendipitous ones, are made. Such changing circumstances lead to new insights into the rise and fall of the people who built the cobble circles and raised the standing stones at Rivas, a thousand years ago.

The only book in English that focuses on a single archaeological site in Costa Rica, which continues to develop as a destination for archaeological tourism, Cobble Stones and Standing Circles will appeal to laypeople and professionals alike.

Coloring Locals Cover

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Coloring Locals

Racial Formation in Katie Chopin's "Youth's Companion" Stories

Bonnie James Shaker

Coloring Locals examines how the late nineteenth-century politics of gender, class, race, and ethnicity influenced Kate Chopin's writing for the major family periodical of her time.

Chopin's canonical status as a feminist rebel and reformer conflicts with the fact that one of her most supportive publishers throughout her life was the Youth's Companion, a juvenile periodical whose thoroughly orthodox “family values” contributed to its success as the longest-running and, at one time, most widely circulating periodical in nineteenth-century America. Not surprisingly, Chopin’s Youth’s Companion stories differ from her canonical texts in that they embrace and advance ideals of orthodox white femininity and masculinity. Rather than viewing these two representations as being at odds with each other, Bonnie Shaker asserts that Chopin's endorsement of conventional gender norms is done in the service of a second political agenda beyond her feminism, one that can help the reader appreciate nuances of identity construction previously misunderstood or overlooked in the body of her work.

Shaker articulates this second agenda as “the discursive act of coloring locals,” the narrative construction of racial difference for Louisiana peoples of African American, Native American, and French American ancestry. For Chopin, “coloring locals” meant transforming non-Louisianans’ general understanding of the Creole and Cajun as mixed-race people into “purely” white folks, this designation of whiteness being one that conferred not only social preferment but also political protections and enfranchisement in one of the most racially violent decades of U.S. history. Thus, when Chopin is concerned with coloring her beloved Louisiana Creoles and Cajuns “white,” she strategically deploys conventional femininity for the benefits it affords as a sign of middle-class respectability and belonging.

Making significant contributions both to the scholarship on Kate Chopin and on race and gender construction, this sophisticated study will be of great interest to scholars and students of nineteenth-century ethnic and cultural studies as well as Chopin scholars.

Coming Close Cover

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Coming Close

Forty Essays on Philip Levine

Mari L'Esperance and Tomas Morin

This collection of essays pays tribute to Philip Levine as teacher and mentor. Throughout his fifty-year teaching career, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Levine taught scores of younger poets, many of whom went on to become famous in their own right. These forty essays honor and celebrate one of our most vivid and gifted poets.
           
Whether in Fresno, New York, Boston, Detroit, or any of the other cities where Levine taught, his students benefited from his sharp, humorous honesty in the classroom. In these personal essays, poets spanning a number of generations reveal how their lives and work were forever altered by studying with Levine. The heartfelt tributes illuminate how one dedicated teacher’s intangible gifts can make a vast difference in the life of a developing poet, as well as providing insight into the changing tenor of the poetry workshop in the American university setting.
Here, poets as diverse as Nick Flynn and David St. John, Sharon Olds and Larry Levis, Ada Limon and Mark Levine, Malena Morling and Lawson Fusao Inada are united in their deep regard for Philip Levine. The voices echo and reverberate as each strikes its own honoring tone. 

Contributors: Aaron Belz, Ciaran Berry, Paula Bohince, Shane Book, B. H. Boston, Xochiquetzal Candelaria, Colin Cheney, Michael Clifton, Michael Collier, Nicole Cooley, Kate Daniels, Blas Manuel De Luna, Kathy Fagan, Andrew Feld, Nick Flynn, Edward Hirsch, Sandra Hoben, Ishion Hutchinson, Lawson Fusao Inada, Dorianne Laux, Joseph O. Legaspi, Mark Levine, Larry Levis, Ada Limón, Elline Lipkin, Jane Mead, Dante Micheaux, Malena Mörling, John Murillo, Daniel Nester, Sharon Olds, January Gill O’Neil, Greg Pape, Kathleen Peirce, Sam Pereira, Jeffrey Skinner, Tom Sleigh, David St. John, Brian Turner, Robert Wrigley 

A Community of Writers Cover

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A Community of Writers

Paul Engle and the Iowa Writers' Workshop

Dana, Robert

With these words, written long before his Iowa Writers' Workshop became world famous, much imitated, and academically rich, Paul Engle captured the spirit behind his beloved workshop. Now, in this collection of essays by and about those writers who shared the energetic early years, Robert Dana presents a dynamic, informative tribute to Engle and his world.

The book's three sections mingle myth and history with style and grace and no small amount of humor. The beginning essays are given over to memories of Paul Engle in his heyday. The second group focuses particularly on those teachers—Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Kurt Vonnegut, for example—who made the workshop hum on a day-to-day basis. Finally, the third section is devoted to storytelling: tall tales, vignettes, surprises, sober and not-so-sober moments. Engle's own essay, "The Writer and the Place," describes his "simple, and yet how reckless" conviction that "the creative imagination in all of the arts is as important, as congenial, and as necessary, as the historical study of all the arts."

Today, of course, there are hundreds of writers' workshops, many of them founded and directed by graduates of the original Iowa workshop. But when Paul Engle arrived in Iowa there were exactly two. His indomitable nature and great persuasive powers, combined with his distinguished reputation as a poet, loomed large behind the enhancement of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. This volume of fine and witty essays reveals the enthusiasm and drive and sheer pleasure that went into Iowa's renowned workshop.

The Company of Heaven Cover

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The Company of Heaven

Stories from Haiti

Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell’s award-winning stories transport you to Haiti—to a lush, lyrical, flamboyant, and spirit-filled Haiti where palm trees shine wet with moonlight and the sky paints a yellow screen over your head and the ocean sparkles with thousands of golden eyes—and keep you there forever. Her singular characters mysteriously address the deeper meanings of human existence. They also dream of escape, whether from themselves, from family, from Vodou, from financial and cultural difficulties and the politicians that create them, or from the country itself, but Haiti will forever remain part of their souls and part of the thoughts of her readers.

 Some characters do achieve escape through the mind or through sea voyage—escape found by surrendering to spectacular fantasies and madness and love, bargaining with God, joining the boat people. Marie-Ange Saint-Jacques’s mother sacrifices everything to ensure her daughter’s survival on a perilous boat trip, Angelina waits to fly away to Nou Yòk, Vivi creates her own circus with dozens of rescued dogs, Gustave dies a martyr to his faith. Throughout, the “I” who moves in and out of these dream-filled stories embraces the heavenly mysteries found in “the room where all things lost are stored with grace.”

We begin our journey to Haiti with images of a little girl in a pink bedroom reading by candlelight a book about the life of Saint Bernadette, surrounded by the bewitching scents, sounds, and textures of a Caribbean night. Each story stands by itself, but some characters can be followed from one story to another through the transformations they undergo as a result of their life experiences. In this way, the collection can be read as one story, the story of a family trapped in a personal and cultural drama and the story of the people with whom the family interacts, themselves burdened by the need to survive within Haiti’s rigorously class-determined society and blessed by their relationship to the company of heaven in which they live and for which they are destined.

 

Complex Sleep Cover

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Complex Sleep

Complex Sleep, Tony Tost’s ambitious second book of poems, leaps upward with an astounding multiplicity of voices, utterances, and bursts. Each leap marks a sure and precise entry into a world of images, ideas, and sensations that is brand new—the true accomplishment of any poetic work.
The octet of poems that compose Complex Sleep comprises a complex organism, audacious in scope, swiping at meaning via language as fragmented music. Tost takes on the problem of physical shape, reorchestrates phrases according to the alphabet, and writes himself into the hypnagogic state between waking and dreaming. Informed by their own procedural constraints, these poems invent forms that tap the unconscious poetic, the very complexity embodied in sleep. All the while, Tost reforms utterance beyond the mere epistemology of much contemporary poetry.
Devising an innovative formalism rather than concerning itself with discovering the what, Complex Sleep is about discovering how to say what needs to be said. Skip the opera, this book performs.

Confessions of a Left-Handed Man Cover

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Confessions of a Left-Handed Man

An Artist's Memoir

Selgin, Peter

Confessions of a Left-Handed Man is a bold, unblushing journey down roads less traveled. Whether recounting his work driving a furniture delivery truck, his years as a caricaturist, his obsession with the Titanic that compelled him to complete seventy-five paintings of the ship (in sinking and nonsinking poses), or his daily life as a writer, from start to finish readers are treated to a vividly detailed, sometimes hilarious, often moving, but always memorable life.

Conserving Walt Whitman's Fame Cover

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Conserving Walt Whitman's Fame

Selections from Horace Traubel's Conservator, 1890-1919

Schmidgall, Gary

It is now difficult to imagine that, in the years before Whitman's death in 1892, there was real doubt in the minds of Whitman and his literary circle whether Leaves of Grass would achieve lasting fame. Much of the critical commentary in the first decade after his burial in Camden was as negative as that in Boston's Christian Register, which spoke of Whitman as someone who “succeeded in writing a mass of trash without form, rhythm, or vitality.”That the balance finally tipped toward admiration, culminating in Whitman's acceptance into the literary canon, was due substantially to the unflagging labor of Horace Traubel, famous for his nine volumes of Whitman conversations but less well known for his provocative monthly journal of socialist politics and avant-garde culture, the Conservator.Conserving Walt Whitman's Fame offers a generous selection from the enormous trove of Whitman-related materials that Traubel included in the 352 issues of the Conservator. Among the revelatory, perceptive, and often entertaining items presented here are the most illuminating of the Conservator's more than 150 topical essays on Whitman and memoirs by many of his friends and literary cohorts that shed new light on the poet, his work, and his critical reception. Also important is the richer understanding these pages afford of Horace Traubel's own sophisticated, deeply humane, and feisty views of America.

Control Bird Alt Delete Cover

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Control Bird Alt Delete

Alexandria Peary

“‘Go play!’ advises Peary in her third collection, and we do, with ‘a tassel of rain,’ with ‘dove-colored sounds’ and ‘starter castles.’ The topos is New England archaeology; it’s Colorforms and Legos; Charley Harper landscapes become interiors; we are delighted to already find ourselves where we couldn’t possibly get to.”—Caroline Knox, author, Flemish: Poems
 
In Control Bird Alt Delete, the reader is invited to explore strange landscapes: some based on the ruins of New England and others following the architectural prints of the unconscious. The reader walks through woods filled with cellar holes, rock walls, and lilac bushes, and is made to think of people gone missing. Robert Frost meets Times Square. Nature intrudes in unexpected ways on domestic settings—and vice versa—domestic and industrial settings appear in bits inside the pastoral. Birds, one-dimensional but strangely wise, flit back and forth and rebelliously tape up their songs. The senses are thoroughly blended, leading to strange combinations and sensory experiences, to states of mindfulness and blizzard distraction.

All the while, the unconscious threatens to intrude, with its underlined places, its trap doors inside ordinary conversations, the mazes it hangs up like “welcome home” banners next to people’s mouths while they speak. The reader follows the first-person I through mazes, office spaces, and coils of highway traffic, hoping for some redemption, some sort of answer to all the deletion.

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