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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 27, 2004

Nov. 8 WSUI Reading Features Iowa City Artist Barbara Robinette Moss

Iowa City artist/writer Barbara Robinette Moss will read from her new memoir, "Fierce," at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8 in Shambaugh Auditorium of the University of Iowa Main Library.

The free reading will be broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the Internet at

"Fierce" extends the narrative of Moss's acclaimed "Change Me Into Zeus's Daughter," her account of growing up impoverished and malnourished, with a violent alcoholic father, in the rural South.

A Publishers Weekly preview summarized, "Moss does what you'd expect from a visual artist: She paints pictures with her words. As with her first memoir, 'Change Me into Zeus's Daughter,' she uses the painful stuff of her life -- an alcoholic father; numerous abusive husbands; continual, exhausting poverty -- and turns it into chilling, visceral imagery."

Deborah Donovan wrote for Booklist, "Moss traces her determined footsteps from her rural Alabama home to Sarasota with her 8-year-old son, Jason, in tow. Leaving her abusive second husband, she finally follows her dream, at age 27, to attend art school, paying the bills with an evening job in the school's photo lab with Jason nearby in his sleeping bag. Her next destination is graduate school in Des Moines, chosen both because of a scholarship and because it was farthest away from yet another violent man who stalks her every move.

"Interspersed throughout Moss' engaging narrative are details of her frequent trips home, where she grew up with eight siblings, a nurturing mother and an alcoholic father. Embellished with details of her brother's alcoholism, her father's suicide, her destructive relationship with a schizophrenic artist, the second-class treatment she received because of her welfare status, and her mother's faith and encouragement, Moss' struggle ultimately yields uplifting testimony to tenacity and familial love."

Rick Bragg, author of "All Over but the Shoutin'" and "Ava's Man," wrote, "With 'Fierce,' Barbara Robinette Moss proves that the lives of real people will carry a book, a good book, and her writing, as always, has grit and beauty and bottom."

And Silas House, author of "Clay's Quilt" and "The Coal Tattoo" called the book, "A powerful and beautiful meditation on addiction and survival, on the healing power of art, friendship and family. Moss lets her story unfold in economical, poetic chapters that hum with the power of real life. Never sentimental but always life-affirming, 'Fierce' is an amazing look at one single mother's fight to make the best life she can for her and her son."

Moss received a Master of Fine Arts from Drake University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Ringling School of Art and Design. She has participated in more than 100 juried art exhibitions, including the Los Angeles Printmaking Society Contemporary American Printmakers and the Museum of American Art Drawing Midwest.

She won the 1996 gold medal for personal essay in the William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition, sponsored by the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society in New Orleans; the 2002 Alabama Author Award for Nonfiction, sponsored by the Alabama Library Association; and the Iowa Authors Award 2000, sponsored by the Library Association of Des Moines Foundation.

Goldie Hawn has optioned "Change Me Into Zeus's Daughter" for her film production company and Marsha Norman is writing the screenplay.

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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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