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University of Iowa News Release

July 6, 2006

Correction: This release corrects the day and date of the reading by John McNally.

UI Poet Marvin Bell Kicks Off July 17-21 WSUI Readings

Poet Marvin Bell, a University of Iowa emeritus faculty member and former Iowa poet laureate, will kick off the July 17-21 broadcasts -- all by UI-connected writers -- on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on UI radio station WSUI-AM 910. Listen on the Internet at

The week's readings, which will originate in free events hosted by Julie Englander at 7 p.m. in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, will be:

--Bell on Monday, July 17.

--Writers' Workshop graduate John McNally, reading from "America's Report Card" on Wednesday, July 19.

--2005 Nightboat Poetry Prize winner Juliet Patterson, who is teaching in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, reading from "The Truant Lover" on Thursday, July 20.

--Workshop alumnus J.C. Hallman reading from "The Devil is a Gentleman: Exploring America's Religious Fringe" on Friday, July 21.

Bell, whose work has been called "some of the most incisive poetry currently being written," is a frequent guest on "Live from Prairie Lights," often treating the audience to new poems not yet published.

When Silk Road magazine asked Bell how he has managed to be a prolific poet while touring and teaching, he answered, "First, I mainly write late at night. Second, I write in spurts. Third, I write a lot and leave a lot behind.

"I write by raising the temperature. I depend on the pot to boil over. In any case, I can't give it up. I get too much from poetry to stop. It explores inside and outside. It parties with logic and the Absurd. It rummages in philosophy. It disabuses. It lets me stamp out my overactive brain. It tells me what I didn't know I knew. It finds form and beauty. It enables me to escape time. Besides, I'm not cut out to sit still for long. I yam what I yam."

McNally, whose first novel was the critically praised "The Book of Ralph," has followed up with a satire of post-9/11 America, set in Iowa City and Chicago. Irvine Welsh, the author of "Trainspotting," called it, "Don Delillo's 'White Noise' for the over-educated generation of Americans who will be poorer than their parents."

And Dan Chaon, author of "You Remind Me of Me" and "Among the Missing," wrote, "It has been a long time since I've been so excited, provoked and haunted by a novel as I have been by 'America's Report Card.' I want to run out and buy multiple copies -- for my kids' teachers, my co-workers . . . even my stupid senator. I flat-out can't wait to talk about this book, which is a brilliant, laugh-out-loud satire of contemporary American life with a tender, angry heart and enormous compassion for the little guy. You've got to read it. John McNally is emerging as one of the best American writers of the new century."

Publishers Weekly gave a strong recommendation for "The Truant Lover": "Patterson has crafted a far reaching first book that blends self-interrogation with metaphysical inquiry."

Jean Valentine, the judge for the Nightboat Poetry Prize, wrote, "Juliet Patterson's poems are entirely themselves; they use time and the eye and tongue -- all the body, as thought and insight, inside and outside history. 'The Truant Lover' is a marvel."

Patterson has been the recipient of a SASE/Jerome fellowship in poetry, a 2004 fellowship with the Institute for Community and Cultural Development through Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, and a fellowship from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, the Bellingham Review, Bloom, Conduit, DIAGRAM, the Hayden's Ferry Review, the New Orleans Review, The Journal, Washington Square, Verse and other magazines. She teaches poetry and creative writing in Minneapolis through the College of St. Catherine, Hamline University, The Loft Literary Center and the Perpich Center for Arts Education.

Hallman, author of "The Chess Artist," chronicles contemporary American religions diversity in "The Devil is a Gentleman: Exploring America's Religious Fringe." His subjects include druid circles in California, the mother church of Scientology, UFO cults and Texas fundamentalism.

Robert D. Richardson Jr. wrote, "This is a bright fair-minded search by a genuine seeker. I couldn't put this book down." And June Sawyers wrote for Booklist, "Never patronizing or condescending, Hallman presents the material through a reporter's eye, offering balanced and compassionate portraits of the persons and movements he describes. Combining journalism, history and personal anecdotes, he conducts an insightful journey into the hearts and souls of America's spiritual fringe."

The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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