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Release: Oct. 18, 2001


UI ALUM ALEXANDER CHEE READS FROM NEW NOVEL OCT. 30 -- Korean-American writer Alex Chee, who received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will read from his new novel, "Edinburgh," winner of the Michener/Copernicus Society Prize, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free reading will be broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910.

Edmund White wrote, "Alexander Chee gets my vote for the best new novelist I've read in some time. 'Edinburgh' is moody, dramatic -- and pure." The book was selected by Publisher's Weekly as a "notable debut fiction" of fall 2001.

Chee says of the book's seven-year period of development, "It was collecting in pieces around me for years, in this way, and then when I was moving to New York in 1994 from Iowa, I looked through all of these fragments and put them in a folder, and asked them to decide what they were. I opened the folder some time later, and sensed a phantom shape to the novel.

"I write a bit like a gardener, planting, things and then separating them when they are too thick, moving things around. Sometimes things grow very quickly, sometimes they die overnight, for no apparent reason."

Chee calls his time at the UI, "Beautiful. Fun. Strange. I liked the cheap beer, the amazing work of the other students, being able to drop in on Marilynne Robinson and living alone. I liked the way it felt like I was having an attenuated conversation of two years length with about 75 people, punctuated by trips to small bars, diners and some pretty cold weather. I read the work of people in the other workshops, and I still have a giant file of their photocopied manuscripts."

Chee's poems, reviews, personal essays and stories have appeared in Martha Stewart Living, Salon, the San Francisco Review of Books, Poz, Hope, Interview, the James White Review, Big, Barrow Street and Out, and in the anthologies "Loss Within Loss," "Literature of Tomorrow," "His 3" and "Boys Like Us."

Chee teaches at the New School University in New York City and has also taught at the Gotham Writers' Workshop. Visit his homepage at <>.

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POET RANKINE READS NOV. 2 AT UI -- The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop will present a free reading by Jamaican/American poet Claudia Rankine at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, in Room 101 of the UI Becker Communication Studies Building.

Rankine's latest book, "Plot," was published earlier this year. She is also the author of the collections "The End of the Alphabet" and "Nothing in Nature is Private," which won the Cleveland State Poetry Prize.

"Plot" has been described as "a postmodern dialogue about pregnancy and childbirth.. The couple's electrifying journey is charted through dreams, conversations, and reflections. A text like no other, it crosses genres, existing at times in poetry, at times in dialogue and prose.. This stunning, avant-garde performance enacts what it means to be human, and to invest in humanity."

Rankine was born in Jamaica and educated at Williams College and Columbia University. She teaches poetry at Barnard College. where she is the director of Women Poets at Barnard, and lives in New York City.

Her work has appeared in the Boston Review, jubilat, the Kenyon Review and numerous other journals.

Former UI faculty member and U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass has described Rankine as an "adventurous young poet, willing to be difficult . . . you have the sense that you are overhearing language that the self speaks to the self."