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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 3, 2007

Oct. 16-18 'Live from Prairie Lights' schedule includes new UI Press book

A new book from the University of Iowa Press will be featured during the free "Live from Prairie Lights" readings at 7 p.m. Oct. 16-18 in Prairie Lights Books at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The readings will be:

-- National Public Radio book reviewer Alan Cheuse reading from his new pair of novellas, "The Fires," on Tuesday, Oct. 16;

-- Emeritus Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member Marvin Bell, former Iowa Poet Laureate, reading from his newest collection, "Mars Being Red," on Wednesday, Oct. 17; and

-- UI English faculty member Jeff Porter, reading from his new UI Press memoir, "Oppenheimer is Watching Me," on Thursday, Oct. 18.

Listen live via the Writing University Web site at The events will also be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, originating on UI radio station WSUI-AM 910. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City, WOI-AM 640 in Ames and KRNI-AM 1010 in Cedar Falls.

The two novellas in Cheuse's new book are linked thematically: In one a woman journeys half way around the world to ensure that her dead husband's wish to be cremated is honored, and in the other a father, after learning of the death of his ex-wife, travels to retrieve his troubled daughter from college. Donna Seaman wrote in Booklist, "Startlingly beautiful in their searing radiance and molten heat, Cheuse's poetic tales of pain and forgiveness, loss and remembrance stoke our age-old fascination with fire as a force of destruction and renewal."

Bell's 19th collection, which was published in July, is his most political book to date. "I've been trying for 30 years to figure out how best to put the news into poems -- what other people would call politics," he said in a recent interview. "But there are some hairy aesthetic questions connected to overtly political poems."

A review in Published Weekly observed about his new poems, "They speak out directly, angrily and almost despairingly against the current administration and the war in Iraq. There are too many body bags to bury in the mind. Unlike many poets of protest, though, Bell ties his antiwar sentiment to an awareness that, even in peacetime, we all must die."

An article in the Harvard Review proclaimed, "Marvin Bell has the largest heart since Walt Whitman."

When Porter discovered that his father worked on missiles for a defense contractor, he was inspired to revisit that era, and in particular J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb. The result, "Oppenheimer is Watching Me," is a mixture of memoir and history that takes readers back to the Cold War. Author Paul S. Boyer commented, "This memoir is valuable not only for the way it bears witness to a fast-receding era but also as a commentary on the terrors of our own day and the toll they are taking on our spirit."

Porter teaches in the UI English Department, where he specializes in literary nonfiction, documentary film and digital media, with particular emphasis on science and technology. He offers classes on radio and video essays, documentary writing and filmmaking, postmodernism and the history of the essay.

The Writers' Workshop, the Department of Political Science and the English Department are units of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights, 319-337-2681,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),