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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 24, 2003

Poet James Galvin Reads From New Book Week Of May 5-8

Poet James Galvin, a faculty member of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will be featured on another busy week of "Live from Prairie Lights" broadcasts, hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910:

-- UI Writers' Workshop graduate Dwight Allen at 8 p.m. Monday, May 5.
-- Galvin, reading from his new book, "X: Poems," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 6.
-- UI anthropologist Michael Chibnik at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 7.
-- Journalist/historian Melissa Fay Green at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 8.

All the readings will be free events in the Prairie Lights bookstore, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, except for Galvin's reading, which will take place in Lecture Room 2 of the UI's Van Allen Hall. Listen to the readings on the Internet at

Allen, author of "The Green Suit," will read from his second novel, "Judge," about a family's perseverance after the death of its powerful patriarch.

Betsy Amster wrote, "Allen's characters are likeably flawed and drawn with a delicate, subtle hand. Add to this his assured prose and the book is a quietly moving accomplishment."

After receiving his Master of Fine Arts from the UI, Allen worked for The New Yorker for 10 years and is now based in Madison, Wis.

James Galvin, a 2002 Lannan Foundation Fellowship winner, returns to poetry after two highly acclaimed prose works, "The Meadow" -- a biography of a treasured place in the Wyoming mountains and the people who have passed through it -- and the novel "Fencing the Sky." Galvin has written several volumes of poetry that were collected in "Resurrection Update."

In "X" Galvin addresses the dissolution of marriage, the empty nest and the loss of intimately held dreams. The publisher's description explains, "'X' is the kiss and betrayal, the embrace, the crucifixion, the mathematical unknown. In his sixth book of poems, James Galvin writes from a deep, philosophical engagement with the landscape and faces a 'vertigo of solitude' with his marriage dissolved, his only daughter grown and gone, and the log house he built by hand abandoned. 'What did I love that made me believe it would last?' he asks.

Michael Chibnik, a member of the faculty of the UI anthropology department, will read from his new book, "Crafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings."

Chibnik has specialized in economic anthropology, focusing on household economics, agricultural decision-making, craft production and work organization in Belize, Peru, Mexico and various parts of the United States.

He has written that his new book explores the "flourishing trade in painted wood carvings from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. These brightly painted, whimsical pieces are novel creations without longstanding cultural significance. Many rural households have prospered by selling carvings to wholesalers and store owners from the United States. Men and women who once eked out a living through farming and wage labor are now able to build concrete houses and purchase automobiles, satellite dishes and CD players."

Arthur Murphy, coauthor of "Social Inequality in Oaxaca: A History of Resistance and Change," wrote of Chibnik's new book, "It is hard for me to praise this book sufficiently. . . It is a major contribution to the field of Oaxacan/Mexican studies, as well as economic anthropology and the study of tourism and crafts."

Melissa Fay Greene's latest book, "Last Man Out," is an exhaustively researched account on the Springhill mining disaster in Nova Scotia. After the 1958 "bump" in deep pits of the Springhill mine -- memorialized in a widely recorded song by Peggy Seeger -- a handful of miners were rescued after being trapped for eight days, including five days without water.

Critic Shawn Carkonen explains, "Placing the event into a larger context, Greene describes how it became the first nationally televised disaster, as journalists from all over Canada and the U.S. converged on the small town and camped at the entrance of the mine. After their rescue, the men were the center of media attention, and some of them became instant celebrities (one was chosen as Canada's 'Citizen of the Year'; another became a spokesman for 7-Up soda).

"She also details the bizarre episode in which an assistant to the governor of Georgia tried to spin the disaster into a marketing gimmick to promote tourism. To the segregationist governor's chagrin, one of the rescued miners turned out to be black, presenting him with a potential public relations nightmare. . . Greene's extensive research brings this remarkable story to life, making 'Last Man Out' an absorbing re-creation of a forgotten episode."

Erik Larsen, author of "Isaac's Storm" called the book, "a fine, harrowing, brutally detailed work that will make you savor daylight in a way you never have -- unless of course you're already a coal miner."

Greene's previous books, "Praying for Sheetrock" and "The Temple Bombing," were National Book Award finalists. "Praying for Sheetrock" also won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was named to New York University's list of top works of journalism in the 20th century.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,