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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 11, 2003

Capote Award Ceremony Includes Seamus Heaney Reading, Sept. 25 At UI

Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney will accept the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin and read from his work during a free event at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, in the Richey Ballroom of the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus.

The selection of Heaney's "Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001" for the Capote Award was announced last spring, attracting press coverage worldwide. The $50,000 Capote Award, the largest annual cash prize for literary criticism in the English language, is administered for the Truman Capote Estate by the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

At the Sept. 25 event, Heaney will deliver remarks about literary criticism as part of his acceptance of the Capote Award, before reading from his work. Frank Conroy will be the master of ceremonies, UI President David Skorton will offer welcoming remarks, and the reading will be introduced by poet James Galvin, a faculty member of the workshop.

"Finders Keepers" was selected for the Capote Award by an international panel of prominent critics and writers. Books of general literary criticism in English, published during the last four years, are eligible for nomination.

Robert Lowell dubbed Heaney "the most important Irish poet since Yeats." Heaney received the Nobel Prize in 1995, and in 1997 he was appointed Ralph Waldo Emerson Poet in Residence at Harvard University. He is an Honorary Fellow at England's Oxford University, where he was a professor of poetry through 1994.

Heaney's poetry collections include "Death of a Naturalist," "Door into the Dark," "Wintering Out," "North," "Selected Poems 1965-1975," "Sweeney Astray. A version from the Irish by Seamus Heaney," "Station Island," "The Haw Lantern," "New Selected Poems 1966-1987," "Seeing Things," "Opened Ground" and "Electric Light."

His volumes of prose and critical essays include "Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978," "The Government of the Tongue: The Place of Writing" and "The Redress of Poetry: Oxford Lectures."

Heaney's translation of "Beowulf" won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, and he was co-translator of "Laments: Poems of Jan Kochanowski" and co-author of "Homage to Robert Frost."

The Truman Capote Estate announced the establishment of the Truman Capote Literary Trust in 1994, during a breakfast at Tiffany's restaurant in New York City, on the 40th anniversary of the publication of Capote's novella "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Past winners of the Capote Award have been British scholar P.N. Fairbank, Helen Vendler of Harvard University, John Felstiner of Stanford University, John Kerrigan of Cambridge University, pianist/scholar Charles Rosen of the University of Chicago, Elaine Scarry and Philip Fisher of Harvard University, Malcolm Bowie of Oxford University and Declan Kiberd of University College, Dublin.

In addition to the administration of the literary criticism award, the Writers' Workshop involvement with the trust includes the awarding of Truman Capote Fellowships to UI students in creative writing.

The establishment of the Truman Capote Literary Trust was stipulated in the author's will, and the Annual Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin reflects Capote's frequently expressed concern for the health of literary criticism in the English language. The awards are designed to reward and encourage excellence in the field.

Newton Arvin, in whose memory the award was established, was one of the critics Capote admired. However, Arvin's academic career at Smith College was destroyed in the late 1940s when his homosexuality was exposed.

The first of the university-based creative writing programs that have collectively transformed the terrain of American literary life, the UI Writers' Workshop has nurtured poets and fiction writers for more than 60 years. UI writing alumni have won more than a dozen Pulitzer Prizes, have been honored with virtually every other major American literary award, and count among their number many of America's most popular and critically acclaimed writers. Workshop alumnus and faculty member Marvin Bell is currently Iowa's first Poet Laureate, and former faculty member Louise Gluck was recently appointed U.S. Poet Laureate.

Last spring the Iowa Writers' Workshop became the first university-based organization to be honored with the National Humanities Medal, awarded by the U.S government to the nation's leaders in the humanities.

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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,