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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 23, 2004

Feb. 2-6 "Live From Prairie Lights" Features Writers' Workshop Poet Waldrep

The week of Feb. 2-6, broadcasts of the "Live from Prairie Lights," readings series hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will range from mischievously irreverent biblical rewrites to an emerging voice in serious poetry.

The broadcasts from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City will feature:

-- Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet reading from "Killing the Buddha: A Heretics Bible" at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2;
-- poet G.C. Waldrep, a student in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, reading from his debut collection, "Goldbeater's Skin," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3;
-- Michigan humorist Cheryl Peck, reading from "Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs" at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5; and
-- Ana Menendez, reading from her novel, "Loving Che," at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6.

Listen to the readings on the internet at

Ninth-century sage Lin Chi advised, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him" -- suggesting that this Buddha would only be a projection of unexamined beliefs and persistent desires.

Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet, founding editors of the on-line journal literally went "on the road" to explore the lower realms of American religion. Along the way they encountered everything from a cross-dressing terrorist to a philosophical stripper working out of a converted Baptist church.

In "Killing the Buddha," their accounts of their travels and encounters are interspersed with 13 freshly imagined books of the Bible, contributed by a variety of American writers, including Rick Moody and Francine Prose.

Publishers Weekly described the result as "some of the most original and insightful spiritual writing to come out of America since Jack Kerouac first hit the road." A review in O Magazine concluded, "This collection proves that fear and trembling are only human, but a sense of humor is divine."

G. C. Waldrep, who earned a bachelor's degree at Harvard and a doctorate in American history from Duke University before he came to the UI, previously published the non-fiction book "Southern Workers and the Search for Community."

His poetry has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, the Gettysburg Review, Poetry and Tin House, and "Goldbeater's Skin" was published as the winner of the 2003 Colorado Prize for Poetry.

Arthur Sze, author of "The Redshifting Web" and "Archipelago" described "Goldbeater's Skin" as "a gorgeous debut; reading these poems renews our recognition of the world's precarious splendor."

Waldrep has had residencies in poetry at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. From 1995 through late 2000 he was a member of the New Order Amish community at Yanceyville, NC.

Cheryl Peck's "Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs," was described by "Kiss My Tiara" author Susan Jane Gilman as "the literary equivalent of chocolate kisses and M&M's: yummy, vital, and nearly impossible to put down."

The Publishers Weekly preview explained, "Originally self-published for the benefit of her friends, family and cat, these warmhearted reminiscences cover everything from Peck's childhood (when she was driven to be the 'first, fastest, loudest and best' and therefore hated by her peers and feared by her four younger siblings) to her experiences as a gay woman of size. . . . Cat lovers will appreciate the goofy narratives ostensibly told by Peck's cat, Babycakes, but the author's self-deprecating wit and ability to see the drama in everyday situations make this collection so inviting."

Ana Menendez's first book, the short story collection "In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd," was a New York Times Notable Book in 2001. Her first novel concerns a Cuban refugee in Miami who learns through old photographs and letters that her mother carried on a passionate affair with the revolutionary leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

Publishers Weekly recommended the book, commenting, "the glimpses of vibrant 1950s Cuba and Teresa and Che's perfectly rendered relationship make this a moving novel from a writer to watch."

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

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