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Release: April 27, 2001

Former IWP Director Clark Blaise will read from his acclaimed 'Time Lord' May 11

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- UI emeritus faculty member Clark Blaise, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and former director of the UI International Writing Program, will read from "Time Lord: Sir Sanford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time" at 8 p.m. Friday, May 11 at the Prairie Lights Bookstore in downtown Iowa City. The reading -- which is part of the "Live from Prairie Lights" series hosted by Julie Englander on the UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM -- is free and open to the public.

Blaise’s book is in part an account of the creation of standard time, spearheaded by the 19th-century Canadian engineer Sanford Fleming, and in part an exploration of the consequences of its creation. Blaise spent two years doing research at the Canadian National Archives in Ottawa. The book relies heavily on that research and on Blaise’s own "thinking about time in all of its manifestations (political, cultural, scientific, personal)."

"As digital read-outs blink the time of day at us from watches, cell phones, computer screens, pocket electronic calendars, billboard, and countless places more, the passage of time seems ever harder to escape," says Adam Hochschild, author of "King Leopold’s Ghost." "Where did all this begin? Clark Blaise’s lively history traces the modern system of time zones back to its 19th-century origins. It’s a fascinating story, with imperial rivalry and an eccentric visionary at its heart, and the wonder is that it’s not better known."

A starred review of "Time Lord" in Publishers Weekly declared that Blaise: "presents an important history of ideas and examines how this invisible yet remarkable technological achievement of the Victorian era, a period marked by a dogged confidence in its own capacity for progress, changed the world. Blaise writes with perfect pitch and graceful narrative; his most beautiful chapter explores the ways that writers like Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf manipulated time in their work even as they were constrained by it.

"Every popular science book that comes down the pike these days is compared by its publisher to Dava Sobel’s ‘Longitude.’ But this beautiful little book may really follow in Sobel’s footsteps."

Blaise was director of the IWP from 1990-98. During his tenure he worked to strengthen the program’s private-sector financial support. He also succeeded in establishing important links with cultural agencies and commissions abroad, including Argentina’s Antorchas Foundation and organizations in New Zealand, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Blaise retired from the UI in 1998 and was succeeded in 2000 by Christopher Merrill, the current IWP director.

Blaise is the author of numerous books, including the short-story collections "A North American Education," "Tribal Justice," "Resident Alien" and "Man and His World," the novel "If I Were Me," and "I Had a Father," a post-modern autobiography written primarily during his around-the-world travels as director of the IWP.

Blaise has received the Books in Canada Award, the President’s Medal for Best Story in Canada and the 1994 "Book of the Year" award from the Canadian Booksellers’ Association for "I Had a Father." He is married to the novelist Bharati Mukerjee, whom he met in Iowa City when they were both students in the Writers’ Workshop, and they have written several works together, notably the joint memoir "Days and Nights in Calcutta."

For more information on this reading, call the Prairie Lights bookstore at 337-2681. For UI arts information, visit this address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.