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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 6, 2007

D'Agata receives National Endowment for the Arts fellowship

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) this week awarded a $25,000 creative writing fellowship to John D'Agata, associate professor of English in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

NEA Literature Fellowships are awarded to published creative writers and translators with exceptional talent in prose and poetry, supporting the endowment's goal to encourage and support artistic creativity and preserve our diverse cultural heritage. Creative writing fellowships enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel and general career advancement. D'Agata was one of just 40 recipients selected from a pool of 800.

D'Agata is exploring his next project, having just completed three books scheduled for publication over the next few years. He is considering a book-length essay on a perpetual motion machine he discovered in Tennessee. The machine was built during the Civil War by a southerner who dismantled it after the North won because, as he put it, the country "no longer deserved it."

D'Agata, a UI faculty member since 2005, is the author of "Halls of Fame," a collection of essays, and the editor of "The Next American Essay," an anthology of innovative modern American nonfiction. His forthcoming books include "The Lifespan of a Fact," a meditation on the Yucca Mountain Project in southwest Nevada, and two historical companions to "The Next American Essay." He is editor of Seneca Review, a national literary journal, and recently founded The Essay Prize, an annual literary award for an essay published in the United States that best exemplifies the art of essaying. D'Agata's graduate students select the winner from a pool of 15 nominated essays.

D'Agata did his undergraduate work at Hobart College in New York, then earned two Master of Fine Arts degrees from the UI, one in poetry and one in nonfiction. He has taught at the University of Wyoming, Columbia University and the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. He will hold the Mary Routt Chair in Creative Writing at the Claremont Colleges in Los Angeles for the spring semester before returning to the UI in the fall.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,