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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 20, 2004

UI Faculty Member Hillman At Prairie Lights During Week Of March 1-5

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member Brenda Hillman will be featured on the "Live from Prairie Lights" readings series hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, during the week of March 1-5.

The March 1-5 broadcasts from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City will be:
-- Matthew Pearl reading from his historical mystery, "The Dante Club" at 8 p.m. Monday, March 1;
-- Hillman, joined by co-editor Patricia Dienstfrey in a reading from their new anthology, "The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 2;
-- UI graduate student Shell Feijo reading her essay from Michelle Tea's "Without a Net," a collection of personal essays by working-class women, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 3; and
-- Jasper Fforde reading from his whimsical series of literary fantasies, "The Well of Lost Plots," at 8 p.m. Friday, March 5.

Listen to the readings on the internet at

In Dante scholar Matthew Pearl's best-selling debut novel, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes and James Russell Lowell team up with 19th-century publisher J.T. Fields to catch a serial killer in post-Civil War Boston. A Publisher's Weekly preview described the result as "an ambitious and often entertaining thriller."

Bookpage magazine called "The Dante Club," "just what an historical thriller should be."

In "The Grand Permission," Hillman and Dienstfrey collected the work of 32 poets.

Lynn Keller, an English faculty member at the University of Wisconsin, wrote, "Only in recent decades have numerous women been able to combine being a mother and a poet. These bold and revelatory meditations testify to the significance of that development for the continual reinvention of poetry."

"This invaluable anthology charts major cultural and ethical shifts concerning the once (mutually) exclusive figures of mother and poet," wrote Ann Vickery, author of "Leaving Lines of Gender." "The formally diverse pressures accompanying these simultaneously intimate and public roles are deftly compelling."

Dienstfrey's most recent book of prose-poetry, "The Woman Without Experiences," was the winner of the America Award for Fiction. She is a co-founder of Kelsey Street Press.

Hillman, an alumna of the Writers' Workshop, has received many awards, including the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award for Poetry and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is a member of the permanent faculties of Napa Valley Writers' Conference and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Her six collections of poetry are "White Dress," "Fortress," "Death Tractates," "Bright Existence," "Loose Sugar" and "Cascadia," and she has also written three chapbooks and edited an edition of Emily Dickinson's poetry.

"Without a Net" has been described as "fierce, honest, tender essays written by writers who can't go home to the suburbs when their assignment is over."

Michelle "Shell" Feijo has won awards for her prose, including the "sexy mama" writing contest, and various scholarships. She is currently completing her memoir, "Caterpillar in the Snow," and several of her narratives are looking for homes in upcoming feminist anthologies dealing with issues of race and poverty.

India icon Michelle Tea is the author of novels including "The Passionate Mistakes" and the Lambda-winning "Valencia." She is a contributor to several publications and the co-founder and curator of the all-girl performance group, Sister Spit.

Jasper Fforde is in the midst of a series of literate comic novels. A Publishers Weekly preview explained: "In this delicious sequel to 'The Eyre Affair' and 'Lost in a Good Book,' Fforde's redoubtable (and now throwing-up-pregnant) heroine Thursday Next once again does battle with philistine bibliophobes, taking a furlough from her duties as a SpecOps Literary Detective to vacation in the Well of Lost Plots, the 26 noisome sub-basements of the Great Library.

"Pursued by her memory-modifying nemesis Aornis Hades, Thursday joins Jurisfiction's Character Exchange Program, filling in for "Mary," sidekick to the world-weary detective hero of 'Caversham Heights,' a hilariously awful police procedural. At the imminent launch of UltraWord, the vaunted 'Last Word' in Story Operating Systems, Thursday's friend and mentor Miss Havisham is gruesomely killed, and Thursday gamely sets out to restore order to her underground world, where technophiles ruthlessly recycle unpublished books and sell plot devices and stock characters on the black market."

The UI Writers' Workshop and the Women's Studies Program are units of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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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,