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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 21, 2003

Peter Matthiessen Reads At UI Nov. 2, After Nov. 1 Films

Best-selling novelist and travel/adventure writer Peter Matthiessen, a guest of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP) and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, will present a free reading at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library. Before the reading, he will be available to the public in a question-and-answer session at 3:30 p.m. in the Shambaugh House, at the corner of Clinton and Fairchild streets.

Matthiessen, who is on campus as an Ida Beam visiting lecturer, is visiting the UI in conjunction with the "Land, Landscape & Reflections on Home" film program, which takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, in Room 101 of the Becker Communication Studies Building. The free program is presented by the UI Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature.

A New York Times Book Review feature described Peter Matthiessen as "our greatest modern nature writer in the lyrical tradition." A Booklist review of his new book, "End of the Earth: Expeditions to South Georgia and Antarctica," called him the "grand master of the purposeful and philosophical nature-oriented travelogue."

Matthiessen's expeditions have taken him to remote regions of five continents, including the Amazon jungles, the Canadian Northwest Territories, the Sudan, New Guinea and Nepal. He participated as a diver in the search for the great white shark that culminated in his book "Blue Meridian" and in the film "Blue Water, White Death." His book "The Snow Leopard" won the National Book Award.

He was also one of the founders of the Paris Review, and his fiction includes "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," which was nominated for the National Book Award and was adapted for the screen, and "Far Tortuga."

Among his many works of non-fiction: "Tigers in the Snow," "The Birds of Heaven: Travel with Cranes," "Bone by Bone," "African Silences," "The Tree Where Man Was Born," "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse," "Indian Country," "The Cloud Forest" and "Under the Mountain Wall."

"Land, Landscape & Reflections on Home: Ten Short Films About Place from the University of Iowa, 1972 to the Present" is an 80-minute program of short films that consider the concept of "place" -- as tangible geography in the wry "The Measurements of Oxford," as the romance of corn or cattle in the award-winning "Husks" and "Cold Cows," or as absence felt and memory transformed as in "What's Left is Wind," "The Unbelievable Act of Totally Disappearing" and "Taiwan Video Club."

These films, made between 1972 and 2003, reflect a three-decade-long engagement among cinema students and faculty with what film scholar Scott MacDonald has called "the Garden in the Machine" -- the representation of nature and place in independent and avant-garde motion picture production.

"Land, Landscape & Reflections on Home" brings together work created by former undergraduates Lana Lin and Barry Kimm; former and current graduate students J.J. Murphy, David Ellsworth and Shannon Silva; and cinema faculty members Franklin Miller and Leighton Pierce. A collaborative piece between the late Stan Brakhage and Mary Beth Reed, visiting artist in experimental film in October 2003, is also included.

A highlight of the evening is a presentation of "Inspiration," a rarely screened film by poet Tess Gallagher, made in 1974 while she was a student in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Ida Beam, a native of Vinton, willed her farm to the UI Foundation in 1977. Her only university connection was a relative who graduated from the College of Medicine. With proceeds from the sale of the farm, the UI established a fund to bring a variety of top scholars to the university for free lectures and discussions.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,