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Release: May 28, 1999

American Academy of Arts and Sciences taps UI poet Jorie Graham for membership

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jorie Graham, head of the poetry program in the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Graham was recently inducted into the prestigious organization with 17 other artists in literature and the fine arts, including humorist Garrison Keillor, film director Robert Altman, ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, director Mike Nichols and actress Meryl Streep.

Graham won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for "The Dream of the Unified Field," the Academy of American Poets Prize and numerous other awards, and she has also been the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, popularly know as the "genius grant."

Her books include "The Errancy," "Materialism," "Region of Unlikeness," "The End of Beauty" and "Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts." Graham's poetry has been widely anthologized. Her poems have appeared in publications that include The New Yorker, the Paris Review, Grand Street, the New York Review of Books, the Harvard Review, Ploughshares and Antaeus.

The New York Times Book Review asserts that Graham "develops a genius for apprehending and scrutinizing human perceptions, reflections and desires. . . . Graham's poetry is among the most sensuously embodied and imaginative writing we have." She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an honorary society that recognizes achievement in the natural sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, and conducts a varied program of projects and studies responsive to the needs and problems of society.

The academy was founded during the American Revolution by John Adams and other individuals who contributed prominently to the philosophical foundations of the new nation and to the establishment of its government and institutions.

The academy's 3,300 elected members represent distinction and achievement in the entire range of the intellectual disciplines and professions. Among its members are 168 Nobel Prize laureates and nearly 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Graham is the second member of the current Writers' Workshop faculty to be honored by academy membership, joining fellow Pulitzer and MacArthur winner James Alan McPherson.