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Release: March 1, 2002

Poets Roberts and Leader share March 12 reading

Poets Beth Roberts, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Mary Leader, winner of the 2000 Iowa Poetry Prize, will share a free reading at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, in Prairie Lights bookstore, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The reading will be broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, originating on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910. The program can be accessed on the internet at < >.

As the winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, Leader's "The Penultimate Suitor" was published by the UI Press. Roberts’ collection, "Brief Moral History in Blue: Poems," was published last year.

Poet Mark Levine wrote of "Brief Moral History in Blue," "Roberts’ faith in the renovating powers of lyric tradition is as anxious as it is necessary." Lia Purpura wrote that Roberts' poems are: "en route and restless, glimpsing, as they do, 'what it is the century requires.' Such glimpses take hard work with a steadying lens and the willingness to stop abruptly, to implicate oneself in the brief, severe clarity that a lens frames. . . . Roberts fights to keep the fine synaptical snap of perception alive amidst the world's relentless desire for 'a long attenuating history.' Of course, to count the cost of true sight and the worth of our hours requires a stubborn belief in language, that 'spectrum of decision' she calls it. It is her original and serious play with this spectrum's wide swerves, its echoes and vortices, seductions and groundings, that compels readers to believe as well."

Roberts received a bachelor's degree in English from Western Michigan University before attending the UI Writers' Workshop. Her poems have been published in periodicals including the Black Warrior Review, the Gettysburg Review, the Indiana Review, the Iowa Review, and the New England Review.

Leader, formerly an Oklahoma assistant attorney general, teaches at the University of Memphis and in the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. Her first book, "Red Signature," was selected for the National Poetry Series.

A New York Times Review of Books critique of "The Penultimate Suitor" observed, "Leader is a searching writer who has her craft down cold. Her poems . . . struggle to make sense of the difficulties in living the artist's life -- as well as making sense of sexual desire."

Edward Hirsch wrote, "Mary Leader brings a lovely music, a nearly limitless sense of invention, a ruthless taste for games, and a fantastic imagination to her signature second book -- a work of high craftsmanship, of equally high desires and longings, of twin avidities, art and love."

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