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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 11, 2005

UI Poets Swensen And Rumsey Read From New Collections Oct. 24

Poet Cole Swensen, a faculty member in the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will be joined by workshop alumna Tessa Rumsey in a free reading at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

Rumsey is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and of the visual criticism department at California College of the Arts. Her collection "Assembling the Shepherd" won the 1998 Contemporary Poetry Series Competition. Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, The New Republic and many other publications.

Her latest work is "The Return Message," winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize. Critic Cate Marvin wrote, "The foremost organizing principal of this fascinating second volume is the manner in which Rumsey pairs poems beneath shared titles and erects a dialogue between the shorter, pastoral poems that occupy the left pages and the longer, cityscape poems on the right... Encoded in the complex and lush weave of language that characterizes these poems is a narrative of despair, loss, obsession, and paradoxical blossoming."

Swensen's new volume is "The Book of a Hundred Hands," published by the UI Press Kuhl House Poets series.

Critic Susan Howe wrote, "'The Book of a Hundred Hands' shows one of our most gifted poets at the top of her form. Swensen's meditations on the classical tradition of ekphrasis and its continuation into our contemporary so-called secular world inspire her concern for the moment of transition between the visual and the verbal. Ear and eye meet in the hand drawn and defined."

And a preview in Publishers Weekly observed, "The title is accurate: 100 short, smart, off-kilter poems about the human hand -- its physiology, its uses, its role in history, its symbolism and the art forms that depend upon it -- form Swensen's entertaining latest collection. . . (T)hese passages about palm and fingertip, tendon and thumb, are far more than five-finger exercises and could be the form that will find this poet, much admired in academia, an audience outside it."

Swensen's other books of poetry include "Try," winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize; "Such  Rich Hour," which was also published by the UI Press and won the Poetry Center Book Award; "Noon," winner of the New American Poetry Series  Award"; "New Math," winner of the National Poetry Series award; and "Goest."

The Writers' Workshop is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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