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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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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.

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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.

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Shane Book

At once original, strange, funny, and unnerving, Shane Book’s Congotronic takes the reader into unstable territory, where multiple layers of voice, diction, and music collide. Some of these poems have the sparse directness of a kind of bleak prayer; others mingle the earthbound rhythms of hip-hop with the will-to-transcendence of high Romanticism.

Harnessing techniques of the cinematic and audio arts, Book’s poems splice, sample, collage, and jump-cut language from an array of sources, including slave narratives, Western philosophy, hip hop lyrics, and the diaries of plantation owners. In fusing disparate texts, each poem in this collection attempts to create a community in language. Thus, at its core, the project is utopic—or more precisely, to borrow from Duke Ellington—the project is “blutopic.”

The book’s anchoring series contains an apocryphal narrative grounded in the journey of the Middle Passage and an older mythic history from the West African epic of Sundiata. Here elements of Afrofuturism coagulate with an R&B grin as social forces challenge a sense of personhood, prompting free-jazz inflected conversations between the pieces of a shattered, polyvocal self.

Here is a world poet of the Sonic Global South sheathed in a Northern Hemispheric glow suit, high “on Coltrane, on Zeus” but also on the old and new schools of Descartes, M.I.A., Cecil Taylor, Gilbert Ryle, Freud, and Jay Z, among others—or as one poem puts it, the “aural truths.” 

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.

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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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Cosmopolitical Claims

Turkish-German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk

When both France and Holland rejected the proposed constitution for the European Union in 2005, the votes reflected popular anxieties about the entry of Turkey into the European Union as much as they did ambivalence over ceding national sovereignty. Indeed, the votes in France and Holland echoed long standing tensions between Europe and Turkey. If there was any question that tensions were high, the explosive reaction of Europe’s Muslim population to a series of cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper put them to rest. Cosmopolitical Claims is a profoundly original study of the works of Sten Nadonly, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimoglu, and 2006 Nobel prize in literature recipient Orhan Pamuk. Rather than using the proverbial hyphen in “Turkish-German” to indicate a culture caught between two nations, Venkat Mani is interested in how Turkish-German literature engages in a scrutiny of German and Turkish national identity.
    Moving deftly from the theoretical literature to the texts themselves, Mani’s groundbreaking study explores these conflicts and dialogues and the resulting cultural hybridization as they are expressed in four novels that document the complexity of Turkish-German cultural interactions in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His innovative readings will engage students of contemporary German literature as well as illuminate the discussion of minority literature in a multicultural setting.
    As Salman Rushdie said in the 2002 Tanner Lecture at Yale, “The frontier is an elusive line, visible and invisible, physical and metaphorical, amoral and moral. . . . To cross a frontier is to be transformed.” It is in this vein that Mani’s dynamic and subtle work posits a still evolving discourse between Turkish and German writers.

The Creative Writer's Survival Guide Cover

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The Creative Writer's Survival Guide

Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist

Beginning with “The Writer’s Wonderland—Or: A Warning” and ending withYou’ve Published a Book—Now What?” The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide is a must-read for creative-writing students and teachers, conference participants, and aspiring writers of every stamp. Directed primarily at fiction writers but suitable for writers of all genres, John McNally’s guide is a comprehensive, take-no-prisoners blunt, highly idiosyncratic, and delightfully subjective take on the writing life.

McNally has earned the right to dispense advice on this subject. He has published three novels, two collections of short fiction, and hundreds of individual stories and essays. He has edited six anthologies and worked with editors at university presses, commercial houses, and small presses. He has earned three degrees, including an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and taught writing to thousands of students at nine different universities. But he has received far more rejections than acceptances, has endured years of underpaid adjunct work, and is presently hard at work on a novel for which he has no guarantee of publication. In other words, he’s been at the writing game long enough to rack up plenty of the highs and lows that translate into an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to become a writer or anyone who is already a writer but doesn’t know how to take the next step toward the writing life.

In the sections The Decision to Become a Writer, Education and the Writer, Getting Published, Publicity, Employment for Writers, and The Writer’s Life, McNally wrestles with writing degrees and graduate programs, the nuts and bolts of agents and query letters and critics, book signings and other ways to promote your book, alcohol and other home remedies, and jobs for writers from adjunct to tenure-track. Chapters such as “What Have You Ever Done That’s Worth Writing About?” “Can Writing Be Taught?” “Rejection: Putting It in Perspective,” “Writing as a Competitive Sport,” “Seven Types of MLA Interview Committees,” “Money and the Writer,” and the all-important “Talking about Writing vs. Writing” cover a vast range of writerly topics from learning your craft to making a living at it. McNally acts as the writer’s friendly drill sergeant, relentlessly honest but bracingly cheerful as he issues his curmudgeonly marching orders. Alternately cranky and philosophical, full of to-the-point anecdotes and honest advice instead of wonkish facts and figures, The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide is a snarky, truthful, and immensely helpful map to being a writer in today’s complex world.


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