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University of Iowa News Release

March 24, 2004

WSUI Spotlights Writers' Workshop Graduates April 5-6

"Live from Prairie Lights," the literary readings series hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will feature two UI Writers' Workshop alumni -- poet Matthea Harvey (left) and novelist John Dalton (right) -- during its broadcasts April 5 and 6.

The full week's schedule of broadcasts from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City will be:

-- Harvey reading from her new collection, "Sad Little Breathing Machine," at 8 p.m. Monday, April 5;
-- Dalton reading from his debut novel, "Heaven Lake," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 6; and
-- gardening columnist Amy Stewart celebrating the lives, labors and loves of earthworms at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 7.

Listen to the readings on the internet at

Harvey's reading -- the first "Live from Prairie Lights" poetry reading during 2004's National Poetry Month -- comes from a new volume that James Tate described as "a nearly insane amount of fun."

A preview in Publishers Weekly predicted that her new collection "seems sure to consolidate her status as a young poet to watch. In acute unrhymed couplets, typographically teasing experiments and titles as oddly audacious as the poems themselves ('O the Zoetrope & the Periscope Should Be Friends'), Harvey explores the possibility that people are nothing more than desiring machines; the chance that she and her friends are as predictable as physical law or ephemeral as gossip; and the countervailing weight of love and want."

Harvey, the author of "Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form," is the poetry editor of American Letters & Commentary.

John Dalton's first novel reflects his experiences living and traveling in Asia before he came to the UI. Kristine Huntley wrote for Booklist, "Dalton's debut novel is an evocative, beautiful exploration of modern-day China, seen through the eyes of a young Christian volunteer named Vincent, who travels to Toulio, a small town in Taiwan, to teach English and Bible-study classes. . . . (A)s Vincent travels across China, he learns more about the country and, ultimately, himself than he expected. Powerful and rewarding reading."

Kathryn Harrison wrote, "Dalton gives his reader a deeply satisfying story of love's disguises. So few novels succeed in being erotic as well as profound, at revealing the divine as well as the profane. This is one of them."

Dalton, who has taught at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, was awarded two fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and "Heaven Lake" was honored with a James Michener/Paul Engle Award.

Essayist Amy Stewart will read from "The Earth Moved," which has been described as "the best and most entertaining book about earthworms ever written."

A Publishers Weekly preview observed, "Even Charles Darwin found the lowly earthworm fascinating: all their tiny individual labors in tilling the soil and nourishing it with their droppings add up over time to a massive collective impact on the landscape.

"In this absorbing, if occasionally gross, treatise, gardening journalist Stewart ('From the Ground Up') delves into their dank subterranean world, detailing their problem-solving skills, sex lives (Darwin noted their 'sexual passion') and shocking ability to re-grow a whole body from a severed segment (scientists have even sutured together parts of three different earthworms into a single Frankenworm). . . . Stewart writes in a charming, meditative but scientifically grounded style that is informed by her personal relationship with the worms in her compost bin."

The Writers' Workshop is a unit 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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