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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 16, 2007

UI writers win 2007 National Book Awards in fiction and poetry

The fiction and poetry sections of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop were both represented when the 2007 National Book Awards were announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, in New York City. Denis Johnson won the fiction award for his monumental Vietnam novel "Tree of Smoke," and Robert Hass was honored for "Time and Materials."

Johnson (photo, left) is a workshop alumnus and has also returned as a visiting faculty member. Hass (photo, right), the former U.S. Poet Laureate, has been a visiting faculty member several times, most recently last academic year.

Johnson -- an acclaimed fiction writer, non-fiction writer, poet and playwright -- is the author of "The Name of the World," "Already Dead," "Jesus' Son," "Resuscitation of a Hanged Man," "Fiskadoro," "The Stars at Noon" and "Angels." His poetry has been collected in the volume "The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly."

"Jesus' Son" was not only an influential cult classic, but also the basis of a 1999 independent film that was hailed as one of the 10 best films of the year by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Roger Ebert and others.

Johnson is the recipient of a Lannan Fellowship, the Salon Book Award, a Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and a Whiting Writer's Award, among many honors for his work.

Hass was a visiting faculty member in the Writers' Workshop in 1995 when he was selected U.S. Poet Laureate, a post he held from 1995 to 1997. He returned to the UI to teach 2002-03, 2004 and 2006-07.

He has won the MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship and the William Carlos Williams Award, and he has twice received the National Books Critic Circle Award. His first book, "Field Guide," earned the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1973.

Hass' other collections of poetry include "Praise," "Human Wishes" and "Sun Under Wood." He also wrote "Twentieth-Century Pleasures," a book of essays on poetry. He has translated many of the works of Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and is the editor of Thomas Transtromer's "Selected Poems: 1954-1986" and "The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa." He was co-editor of "The Best American Poetry 2001."

A professor of English at the University of California-Berkeley since 1989, Hass was named Educator of the Year in 1997 by the North American Association on Environmental Education. He is a chancellor of the Academic of American Poets.

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

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