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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 7, 2004

photo: top, Rebecca Wolff

Writers' Workshop Poets Wagner And Wolf Read On WSUI Sept. 21

Poets Catherine Wagner and Rebecca Wolff, alumni of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will read from their second published collections at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The reading, hosted by Julie Englander, will be a free event at the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Wagner's "Macular Hole" and Wolff's "Figment" will be the sources of the reading.

A Publisher's Weekly preview of "Macular Hole" observed, "Ragged exclamations and folk and playground rhymes give her choppy, hip discourse surprising energy; her anger -- and her willingness to identify its causes -- set it further apart. Some of those causes come from sexual experience, others from the travails of raising a young son. . . . Readers accustomed to canny ironies may find her "outrageous,/ power-outageous" interjections too demonstrative, but her powerful ends finally justify their strenuous means."

Rae Armantrout wrote in the Boston Review, "Wagner's poems are both colloquial and Baroque, richly associative, with the prolific instability of the biological world, the gigantic "maculate room" where consciousness is a footnote."

Wagner's prizes include a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Greg Grummer Prize from Phoebe Magazine and a Steffensen Cannon Fellowship at the University of Utah.

"Figment," winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize, was described by poet Eavan Boland as evidence that "Wolff's poetry has a vivacity and edge that give it immediate presence."

And Claudia Rankine wrote, "'Figment' is a delicious spinning out of the imagination in which 'I am' and 'Am I?' jostle for context. Or 'waking up to contents' the lyric tries to form a face but finds its subject is sensitive. In the meanwhile the incredible music in these poems sings us through. Another great achievement."

Wolff's first volume, "Manderley" was selected by Robert Pinsky for the National Poetry Series. She is a founding editor of Fence.

The Writers' Workshop is an academic 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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