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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 26, 2005

'Live From Prairie Lights' Readings Include Mt. Vernon Poet Heather Smith

The week of Labor Day, "Live from Prairie Lights" will feature short-story writer Aimee Bender on Tuesday, Sept. 6, Mt. Vernon poet Heather Smith on Wednesday, Sept. 7 and cooking author Sherri Brooks Vinton on Thursday, Sept. 8.

The 7 p.m. broadcasts of live literary readings are featured on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910. The readings, hosted by WSUI's Julie Englander, originate in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Bender, the University of Southern California faculty member who set the literary world on fire with her highly praised "Girl in the Flammable Skirt," will read on Tuesday from her new collection, "Willful Creatures."

The new collection merited starred reviews in both Publishers Weekly ("Fifteen stories bursting with heart and marvel") and Booklist ("What is remarkable about Bender's stories is that no matter how outlandish or fanciful, they connect with the reader on an emotional level, with wisdom and intelligence shining through in every tale.")

On Wednesday, Smith will read from her debut collection of poems, "Each End of the World," located primarily in the Bosnia of the 1990s. Poet Mark Doty wrote, "The language of devastation courses through this book, and seems to course through the poet herself."

Thursday's reading was scheduled in conjunction with this year's "Field to Family Forum," with Vinton introducing her book "Real Food Revival," written with Ann Clark Espuelas. She has devoted her career to promoting the rewards of eating sustainably raised food, and she is a leader of the New York Convivium of Slow Food.

A starred review in Publishers Weekly explained, "We long for days gone by, when farmers were plentiful and prosperous, produce was free of chemicals and cows weren't mad. What can we do to return to safer, more flavorful and natural food? Vinton and Espuelas answer that question via this information-packed, well-written volume. The authors aren't dietitians, but they are excellent researchers and top-notch storytellers who love delicious food and believe it should not come at a cost to our health and to farmers' livelihood. . . . This book gives readers tools for change, offering hope for a future rife with sustainable and flavorful food."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,