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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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A Damned Iowa  Greyhound Cover

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A Damned Iowa Greyhound

The Civil War Letters of William Henry Harrison Clayton

William Henry Harrison Clayton was one of nearly 75,000 soldiers from Iowa to join the Union ranks during the Civil War. Possessing a high school education and superior penmanship, Clayton served as a company clerk in the 19th Infantry, witnessing battles in the Trans-Mississippi theater. His diary and his correspondence with his family in Van Buren County form a unique narrative of the day-to-day soldier life as well as an eyewitness account of critical battles and a prisoner-of-war camp.

Clayton participated in the siege of Vicksburg and took part in operations against Mobile, but his writings are unique for the descriptions he gives of lesser-known but pivotal battles of the Civil War in the West. Fighting in the Battle of Prairie Grove, the 19th Infantry sustained the highest casualties of any federal regiment on the field. Clayton survived that battle with only minor injuries, but he was later captured at the Battle of Stirling's Plantation and served a period of ten months in captivity at Camp Ford, Texas.

Clayton's writing reveals the complicated sympathies and prejudices prevalent among Union soldiers and civilians of that period in the country's history. He observes with great sadness the brutal effects of war on the South, sympathizing with the plight of refugees and lamenting the destruction of property. He excoriates draft evaders and Copperheads back home, conveying the intra-sectional acrimony wrought by civil war. Finally, his racist views toward blacks demonstrate a common but ironic attitude among Union soldiers whose efforts helped lead to the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Dancing in the Movies Cover

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Dancing in the Movies

Robert Boswell

Encompassing a vast gamut of personalities, situations, and emotions, these stories penetrate our motives for doing what is right. Often there is no right or wrong, and the characters' motives for the choices they make are as diverse as the childhood memories they cherish and abhor. In the end, this book probes individual impulse and responsibility, creating stories so unerringly authentic that they become—irrepressibly—part of everyone who reads them.

"The Darkness of Love" narrates three days in the life of a black policeman, distressed by his inner fears of racism and irresistibly attracted by his wife's sister. In "Dancing in the Movies" a college student returns to his hometown, where he finds his girlfriend—a heroin addict—and tries to convince her to overcome her habit. There are stories of men at war, of lovers trying to begin a relationship, of others trying to sustain their love. Each story revolves around characters with a choice to make, and Robert Boswell renders these characters in all of their fine, vulnerable, and relentless attributes.

With this prize-winning collection, Boswell proves himself a mature craftsperson, weaving stories both poignant and profound. Each story is a vision of life, alternately dark and joyous, gritty and hopeful.

Deed Cover

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Deed

A deed is a governmental conveyance, a power asserted by the written, for, as William Carlos Williams wrote to Robert Creeley: “the government can never be more than the government of the words.” The question of ownership, of the words with which we define ourselves and each other, and of whose and what claims are legitimate is much at issue in Rod Smith’s Deed, a lyric, ambitious, rebellious work thoroughly grounded in the New American tradition of poets such as John Ashbery, Allen Ginsberg, and Charles Olson.

At the entrance to this collection stands an abode in the form of a long poem, “The Good House,” a comfortable, at times soothingly humorous place that is also a site of conflict. In “The Spider Poems,” the mythic spider, the maker of the alphabet, is a ?gure of fun and revelation. The third section of the book presents a series of shorter poems chosen for their stylistic variety. Deed ends with a nod to two masters, as Smith turns Jack Spicer’s “Homage to Creeley” into a double homage with “Homage to Homage to Creeley.” The gesture of choosing what one brings into one’s house, what one decides to love, closes the book.

Deed is about making as bequeathing, as celebration, and as impatience for the true democracy that is always yet to arrive. There is still joy inside and out, and by giving us Deed Rod Smith has captured that joy. In so doing he tells us where we as a people, a politik, and a poetic are going.

Deep Travel Cover

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Deep Travel

In Thoreau's Wake on the Concord and Merrimack

In the hot summer of 2004, David Leff floated away from the routine of daily life just as Henry David Thoreau and his brother had done in their own small boat in 1839. Fortified with Thoreau’s observations as revealed in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Leff brought his own concept of mindful deep travel to these same New England waterways. His first-person narrative uses his ecological way of looking, of going deep rather than far, to show that our outward journeys are inseparable from our inward ones.

How we see depends on where we are in our lives and with whom we travel. Leff chose his companions wisely. In consecutive journeys his neighbor and friend Alan, a veteran city planner; his son Josh, an energetic eleven-year-old; and his sweetheart Pamela, a compassionate professional caregiver, added their perspectives to Leff’s own experiences as a government official in natural resources policy. Not so much sight seeing as sight seeking, together they explored a geography of the imagination as well as the rich natural and human histories of the rivers and their communities.

The heightened awareness of deep travel demands that we immerse ourselves fully in places and realize that they exist in time as well as space. Its mindfulness enriches the experience and makes the voyager worthy of the journey. Leff’s intriguing, contemplative deep travel along these historic rivers presents a methodology for exploration that will enrich any trip.

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Demands of the Dead

Executions, Storytelling, and Activism in the United States

Katy Ryan

The first work to combine literary criticism with other forms of death penalty–abolitionist writing, Demands of the Dead demonstrates the active importance of literature and literary criticism to the struggle for greater justice in the United States. Gathering personal essays, scholarly articles, and creative writings on the death penalty in American culture, this striking collection brings human voices and literary perspectives to a subject that is often overburdened by statistics and angry polemics. Contributors include death-row prisoners, playwrights, poets, activists, and literary scholars.

Highlighting collaborations between writers inside and outside prison, all within the context of the history of state killing laws and foundational concepts that perpetuate a culture of violent death, Demands of the Dead opens with a pamphlet dictated by Willie Francis, a teenager who survived a first execution attempt in Louisiana’s electric chair before he was subsequently killed by the state in 1947.

Writers are a conspicuous part of U.S. death-penalty history, composing a vibrant literary record of resistance to state killing. This multigenre collection both recalls and contributes to this tradition through discussions of such writers as Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Gertrude Atherton, Ernest Gaines, Sonia Sanchez, Kia Corthron, and Sherman Alexie. A major contribution to literary studies and American prison studies, Demands of the Dead asserts the relevance of storytelling to ethical questions and matters of public policy.

 
Contributors
Sherman Alexie
John Cyril Barton
Steve Champion
Kia Corthron
Thomas Dutoit
Willie Francis
H. Bruce Franklin
Tom Kerr
David Kieran
Jennifer Leigh Lieberman
Jill McDonough
Anthony Ross
Katy Ryan
Elizabeth Ann Stein
Rick Stetter
Matthew Stratton
Jason Stupp
Delbert Tibbs

 

Democratic Vistas Cover

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Democratic Vistas

The Original Edition in Facsimile

Written in the aftermath of the American Civil War during the ferment of national Reconstruction, Walt Whitman’s Democratic Vistas remains one of the most penetrating analyses of democracy ever written. Diagnosing democracy’s failures as well as laying out its vast possibilities, Whitman offers an unflinching assessment of the ongoing social experiment known as the United States. Now available for the first time in a facsimile of the original 1870–1871 edition, with an introduction and annotations by noted Whitman scholar Ed Folsom that illuminate the essay’s historical and cultural contexts, this searing analysis of American culture offers readers today the opportunity to argue with Whitman over the nature of democracy and the future of the nation.

 Living in Washington, D.C., where Congress granted male African Americans the right to vote nearly five years before the fifteenth amendment extended that right across the nation, and working for the office charged with enforcing the new civil rights amendments to the Constitution, Whitman was at the volatile center of his nation’s massive attempt to reconstruct and redefine itself after the tumultuous years of civil war. In the enduring cultural document that Democratic Vistas has become, the great poet of democracy analyzes the role that literature plays in the development of a culture, the inevitable tensions between the “democratic individual” and the “democratic nationality,” and the corrosive effects of materialism on the democratic spirit. 

 His own conflicting racial biases notwithstanding, Whitman in Democratic Vistas offers his most eloquent and extended articulation of the beckoning American democratic future. At a time when the nation has elected a president whom Whitman could never have imagined, his controversial and provocative book is a timely reminder of those occasions when we experience the expansion of America’s democratic dream.

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Desert Gothic

This powerful debut collection, set in the light-filled deserts of Nevada and Arizona, introduces a darkly inventive new voice. Like an early Richard Ford, Don Waters writes with skill, empathy, and an edgy wit of worlds not often celebrated in contemporary literature. In Desert Gothic, Waters unleashes a wild and gritty cast and points them down paths of reckoning, where the characters earn the grace of their hard-won wisdom.
     Set in bars, mortuaries, nursing homes, truck stops, and the “poverty motels that encircled downtown’s casino corridor,” Waters’s ten stories are full of misfit transients like Julian, a crematorium worker who decorates abandoned urns to create a “lush underground island,” and the instant Mormon missionary Eli, a hapless divorcé who “always likes people better when they’re a little broken.” Limo drivers, ultra-marathoners, vagabonds, and a distraught novelist-to-be populate the pages of these gritty stories.

The Desert Year Cover

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The Desert Year

Joseph Wood Krutch

Now back in print, Joseph Wood Krutch’s Burroughs Award–winning The Desert Year is as beautiful as it is philosophically profound. Although Krutch—often called the Cactus Walden—came to the desert relatively late in his life, his curiosity and delight in his surroundings abound throughout The Desert Year, whether he is marveling at the majesty of the endless dry sea, at flowers carpeting the desert floor, or at the unexpected appearance of an army of frogs after a heavy rain.

Krutch’s trenchant observations about life prospering in the hostile environment of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert turn to weighty questions about humanity and the precariousness of our existence, putting lie to Western denials of mind in the “lower” forms of life: “Let us not say that this animal or even this plant has ‘become adapted’ to desert conditions. Let us say rather that they have all shown courage and ingenuity in making the best of the world as they found it. And let us remember that if to use such terms in connection with them is a fallacy then it can only be somewhat less a fallacy to use the same terms in connection with ourselves.”

This edition contains 33 exacting drawings by noted illustrator Rudolf Freund. Closely tied to Krutch’s uncluttered text, the drawings tell a story of ineffable beauty.

 

Detailing Trauma Cover

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Detailing Trauma

A Poetic Anatomy

Arianne Zwartjes

In a series of linked lyric essays, Detailing Trauma explores in vivid, sometimes graphic detail the many types of wounds from which the human body and spirit may suffer—and heal. Mapping the diseases and injuries that can afflict the body, the author asks how we can continue to live and love in the face of the great potential for suffering and loss.
 
She names each section of the book for body parts or processes, then juxtaposes the functions and failures of human anatomy with experiences in her own life and those of people she knows and loves, meticulously stitching together life’s fractures and ruptures with skillful narrative. Each essay offers glimpses of hope and reasons for living with the likelihood of chaos and pain, reasons for choosing to love despite the risks.
 

Zwartjes’s beautifully crafted poetic prose humanizes the technical descriptions of medical conditions and illuminates the scientific understanding of emotional states. Far more than a popularization of science, Detailing Trauma explores the wondrous anatomy and physiology of the human body, a geography of our human frailties—and also our wealth, as humans, of love and hope and the capacity for meditative thought. 

A Dictionary of Iowa Place-Names Cover

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A Dictionary of Iowa Place-Names

Lourdes and Churchtown, Woden and Clio, Emerson and Sigourney, Tripoli and Waterloo, Prairie City and Prairieburg, Tama and Swedesburg, What Cheer and Coin. Iowa’s place-names reflect the religions, myths, cultures, families, heroes, whimsies, and misspellings of the Hawkeye State’s inhabitants. Tom Savage spent four years corresponding with librarians, city and county officials, and local historians, reading newspaper archives, and exploring local websites in an effort to find out why these communities received their particular names, when they were established, and when they were incorporated.
    Savage includes information on the place-names of all 1,188 incorporated and unincorporated communities in Iowa that meet at least two of the following qualifications: twenty-five or more residents; a retail business; an annual celebration or festival; a school; church, or cemetery; a building on the National Register of Historic Places; a zip-coded post office; or an association with a public recreation site. If a town’s name has changed over the years, he provides information about each name; if a name’s provenance is unclear, he provides possible explanations. He also includes information about the state’s name and about each of its ninety-nine counties as well as a list of ghost towns. The entries range from the counties of Adair to Wright and from the towns of Abingdon to Zwingle; from Iowa’s oldest town, Dubuque, starting as a mining camp in the 1780s and incorporated in 1841, to its newest, Maharishi Vedic City, incorporated in 2001.
    The imaginations and experiences of its citizens played a role in the naming of Iowa’s communities, as did the hopes of the huge influx of immigrants who settled the state in the 1800s. Tom Savage’s dictionary of place-names provides an appealing genealogical and historical background to today’s map of Iowa.

“It is one of the beauties of Iowa that travel across the state brings a person into contact with so many wonderful names, some of which a traveler may understand immediately, but others may require a bit of investigation. Like the poet Stephen Vincent Benét, we have fallen in love with American names. They are part of our soul, be they family names, town names, or artifact names. We identify with them and are identified with them, and we cannot live without them. This book will help us learn more about them and integrate them into our beings.”—from the foreword by Loren N. Horton

“Primghar, O’Brien County. Primghar was established by W. C. Green and James Roberts on November 8, 1872. The name of the town comes from the initials of the eight men who were instrumental in developing it. A short poem memorializes the men and their names:
Pumphrey, the treasurer, drives the first nail;
Roberts, the donor, is quick on his trail;
Inman dips slyly his first letter in;
McCormack adds M, which makes the full Prim;
Green, thinking of groceries, gives them the G;
Hayes drops them an H, without asking a fee;
Albright, the joker, with his jokes all at par;
Rerick brings up the rear and crowns all ‘Primghar.’
Primghar was incorporated on February 15, 1888.”

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