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University of Iowa News Release

March 12, 2004

UI Alumni Featured On 'Live From Prairie Lights' March 22-25

"Live from Prairie Lights," the literary readings series hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will feature UI alumni during each broadcast the week of March 22-25.

The week's broadcasts from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City will be:
-- poets Oni Buchanan, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Jon Woodward at 8 p.m. Monday, March 22;
-- distinguished poet, fiction writer, essayist and editor Robley Wilson at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 23; and
-- and poets D.A. Powell and John Isles, both of whom attended the UI Writers' Workshop, at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 25.

Listen to the readings on the Internet at

Buchanan, who is now pursuing a graduate degree in piano performance at the New England Conservatory of Music, will read from "What Animal," winner of the University of Georgia's Contemporary Poetry Series Competition.

Poet Fanny Howe commented, "Exud[ing] a knowledge of pain, physical and psychological. . . . the poems themselves are ways to extract and heal."

Buchanan's poems have appeared in publications including Verse, Conduit and Fence.

Jon Woodward has studied with former UI faculty member Jorie Graham at Harvard University. His surreal, narrative poems -- collected in "Mister Goodbye Easter Island" -- satirize, among other things, the commodification of virtually everything, from saviors to love to the apocalypse. The collection was the winner of the Alice James Books 2002 New England/New York Award.

Graham wrote, "Jon Woodward's poems exhibit a rage and humility at the role of the human in the cosmos which makes one want to weep. In addition, his work amazes one with its variety of formal strategies, the multiple ways in which it uses -- and often reinvents -- our sense of what an image is, collapsing allegory into realism and realism into fable in ways that are vertiginous and deeply instructive. Trans-forming our current use of wit, of bitter and sweet irony, and bringing honesty back on board as if from the back door of contemporary poetics, Woodward seeks news rather desperately from outer space -- and finds it in that huge vacancy, the human heart."

Robley Wilson will read from his new novel, "Splendid Omens," in which a man travels across the country to honor his best friend's dying wish that he break the news to the ex-wife.

T.C. Boyle called the novel, "A tender and beautiful book, written with a quiet mastery that brings to mind Kent Haruf's 'Plainsong.' From the first eerily evocative scene to the final wrenching revelation, Robley Wilson stirs deep emotions, and stirs them again."

Wilson has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Nicholl Fellow in Screenwriting and is the author of five story collections, including "Terrible Kisses," a New York Times notable book. He is the only writer to have won both major literary prizes offered by the University of Pittsburgh Press. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic, Esquire and many other publications. For 31 years, he edited the North American Review.

Powell, currently the Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Poetry at Harvard University, will read from his third book, "Cocktails." Isles, who has recently taught English in Estonia, will read from "Ark," part of the Kuhl House Poets series from the University of Iowa Press.

A preview of "Cocktails" in Publishers Weekly declared, "Powell's third, and best, book completes his much-talked-about trilogy about growing up gay and uneasy in the age of HIV -- and about living with the virus himself. 'Cocktails' signifies both drinks on the town and a mix of anti-AIDS drugs; the pun is the first of many effective (if showy) doublings, ambiguities and slippery phrases throughout the book, some brightly flirtatious, others grave indeed."

Poet Carl Phillips wrote of Powell's work, "I admire these poems immensely, for their deftness with craft, their originality of vision, their ability to fuse old and new without devolving to gimmick-and for a dignity as jazzily inventive as it is sheer."

Isles varied experiences include a stint in the Peace Corps, and his poems have appeared in magazines including the Colorado Review, the Denver Quarterly, Pleiades and ZYZZYVA .

Chase Twichell, editor, Ausable Press, wrote of Isles' poetry, "Beneath their meticulous, smart, aphoristic surfaces, Isles investigates the collisions between mystery and meaning without allowing either to be absorbed by the other. He's also a marvelous linguistic flirt."

The Writers' Workshop is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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