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Release: March 21, 2002

Harvey and Richards return to Iowa City for April 3 reading

Two poets who graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop -- Matthea Harvey and Peter Richards -- will return to Iowa City to read from their work at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. The free reading during National Poetry Month will be broadcast on the Live from Prairie Lights series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the Internet at

Richards, who teaches at Tufts University, is the author of "Oubliette," published last year. His poems have also appeared in Fence, the Denver Quarterly, Ploughshares, the Yale Review and other journals. His honors include an Iowa Arts Fellowship, The John Logan Award, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Grant in Poetry.

A Publishers Weekly review put his poetry in the context of a previous generation: "Richards's slippery, fractional meditations recall by turns Charles Simic, Mark Levine and Mark Strand; he explores the domestic and the exceptional, the narcissistic and the ecological."

Influential Croatian poet Tomaz Salamun wrote, "It is inscrutable how Peter Richards produces this religious magma and bathes himself and us in it." And Steve Healey wrote in City Pages, "compelling human sound pervades ‘Oubliette’ in pages of brief, shimmering lyrics. At times they read like tiny philosophies whose syllogistic tidiness is jarred by frighteningly emotional undercurrents."

Harvey has called her work “big poems filled with tiny things” and Ruth E. C. Prince, writing in the Radcliffe Quarterly, described Harvey’s poems as “dioramas filled with intricately fashioned and exotic subjects.”

About her debut collection, "Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form," critic Matthew Thorburn wrote, "Sitting here trying to sum up in a few pages the experience of reading a book that repeatedly raised my eyebrows and left me grinning, that had me racing ahead to see what's next and, just as often, doubling back to reread what I'd just read, I'm filled with the pleasurable frustration of trying to describe several kinds of joy I can't quite pin names to. I’m still too close to this book to step back for the big picture summation.”

"The best I can manage now-- the most I want to manage, really, by way of appraisal--is a handful of snapshots, some close-ups of a few of the particular moves and moments that come together to make Matthea Harvey's Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form' such a strong, assured debut collection."

 Writers' Workshop faculty member Dean Young commented, "Matthea Harvey's poems are marvelous contraptions. They explore and present artifices in the best sense, as disclosures of fabrication into plays of significance, demonstrating along the way innovative and resourceful poetic syntaxes. Fun, sharp, rangy, sometimes barbed and always ravishingly complex, again and again this book astonishes me the way I am astonished by jeweled clockworks, siege machinery, the musculature of the shark and hummingbird."

Harvey is managing editor for American Letters & Commentary and a poetry editor for Boston Review.

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