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Release: Oct. 11, 1999

‘Boomer Girls,’ coming-of-age poems, is a national success for UI Press

IOWA CITY–"Boomer Girls," is a just-published collection of witty, serious and emotional poems that recall the common images and events of women of the Baby Boom era -- Elvis and hula hoops to Janis Joplin and the "Summer of Love."

The University of Iowa Press, publisher of this already popular poetry anthology that began appearing in bookstores Oct. 1, is planning a second printing of the collection and a 10-city book tour to places such as Iowa City, Minneapolis, and Chicago.

"Boomer Girls: Poems by Women from the Baby Boom Generation" is an anthology of poems written by 80 poets, including Rita Dove, Heidi Erdrich, Julia Alvarez, and others who have captured the essence of a Boomer childhood and resulting life experiences.

In one poem, Dove writes about the water-heavy nights spent behind her grandmother's porch and her adolescent female friend who describes the attractiveness of boys. Geraldine Connolly writes about attending a Catholic school and sneaking away from evening rosaries to experience the secular world the nuns disdainfully hissed about. In still another, poet Elizabeth Alexander recalls pulling off of a Massachusetts road to watch men walk on the moon, keenly aware that the cords to which the men were tethered was a much stranger thing than her and her black family, unnoticed foreign onlookers by the road shack people.

There are more than 125 poems in the anthology edited by Pamela Gemin and Paula Sergi, who say that after a call for submissions made in 1996, they began sorting through more than 300 poems, some of which came in a steady stream, some spilling out of their envelopes like urgent messages. Maureen Seaton, author of "Furious Cooking," in praise of the book, says that it is a "must-read."

"Here they come, the biggest loudest voices in the millennial USA…Boomer girls rock and rule in this eclectic collection of the female vernacular. No tiny feet here (lots of stamping through) — listen up!"

Sarah Walz, marketing manager, UI Press, says "Boomer Girls" is one of those books that one knows is great, and one that people would love.

"There are at a number of new books this season from other publishers with the word 'girl' in it. Most of those are targeted to women under 30 and are part of the new 'Chick-lit' trend in publishing -- books for the Ally McBeal crowd. This book is for the generation before -- this is for women who came of age during the revolution that was the 60s," Walz says.

Other book tour cities planned are Marina del Rey, Calif.; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Paul, Minn.; Burlington and Montpelier, Vt.; and Brookfield and Fon du Lac, Wis. Walz says a date in Iowa City is still pending.

In the two weeks "Boomer Girls" has been available, it has ranked as high as 96 out of the more than one million books sold by online bookseller National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Susan Stamberg featured the anthology last Monday (Oct. 4) on NPR's "All Things Considered" radio program.

Pamela Gemin teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Her first book of poems, "Vendettas, Charms, and Prayers," was a Minnesota Voices Project winner. Paula Sergi teaches creative writing at the Arts Center of Fond du Lac. She is the author of two poetry collections, "Brother and Phantom Limb."

"Boomer Girls: Poems by Women from the Baby Boom Generation" (252 pages; $15.95 paper; 0-877745-687-9; $44.95 hardcover 0-87745-698-4) is available in bookstores or directly from the UI Press by calling 1-800-621-2736 or 319-335-2012.

Visit the Boomer Girl Electronic Press Kit on the UI Press Web site. The e-kit includes a list of 16 ways to spot a Boomer Girl; a complete book tour schedule; sample poems; and other information.

The site can be accessed at