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University of Iowa News Release

June 10, 2004

Prairie Lights Features Writers' Workshop Alumnus Rosenberg June 21

Robert Rosenberg, an alumnus of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will open the June 21-25 week of reading on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910, at 8 p.m. Monday, June 21.

Other readings that week, broadcast from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, will be:

--Knox College poet Gina Franco reading from her first collection, "The Keepsake Storm," on Tuesday, June 22.
--UI English and music alumna Jennifer Stevenson reading from her erotic fantasy "Trash Sex Magic" on Friday, June 25.

Listen on the Internet at

The reading by Lan Samantha Chang, which had been scheduled for June 24, has been postponed to July 27, due to a publication delay.

Rosenberg, a former peace corps volunteer, set his novel in Turkey in 1999 on the eve of a great earthquake when the fortunes of four culturally diverse characters intertwine. As a result of this novel, which celebrates the power of human connection in a largely unsettled world, Rosenberg has been hailed as "an original and important new voice in contemporary fiction."

Rosenberg came to the UI, where he held Maytag and Teaching-Writing fellowships, after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in newly independent Kyrgyzstan. He lived there for two years, and afterward the Peace Corps awarded him a fellowship to teach on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona while he completed a master's degree in education.

He lived in Cibecue, a small Apache village, and as one of the four original teachers he helped establish the village's first high school. He also founded and edited a community magazine devoted to preserving the culture of the White Mountain Apache tribe. In 1999 he took a teaching job in Istanbul, arriving there five days before the Aug. 17 earthquake.

Gina Franco's highly acclaimed poems, which reflect the rich tradition of Latino literature, "sing themselves into memory," according to Maurya Simon. Ray Gonzalez called "The Keepsake Storm" "A book that rings with power and sings with amazing writing . . . A knockout."

Alice Fulton wrote, "Gina Franco does the impossible thing that lyric poets set out to do: she retrieves the storm of being in its unsettling breadth, the world's devouring, the thou-art-that of transformation: hunger, love, death."

Franco's poems have appeared in the Georgia Review, the Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner and other publications. She is a recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize from Smith College and the Robert Chasen and Corson-Bishop Poetry Prizes from Cornell University.

Jennifer Stevenson co-owns Hawkeye Scenic Studios, Inc., a scenery construction shop located in Chicago, with her husband, Rich Bynum, a graduate of the UI Department of Theatre Arts. Her stories have been published in a number of anthologies, and "Solstice" was published as a chapbook by Green Man Review, but "Trash Sex Magic" is her first book.

Audrey Niffenegger, author of "The Time Traveler's Wife," wrote, "This just absolutely rocks. It's lyrical, it's weird and it's sexy in a very funky way." And John Crowley called the book "a winning, touching, open-eyed love story . . . but with trash sex and magic too."

The Writers' Workshop, the School of Music and the English department are academic 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.

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