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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 7, 2009

Paul Engle Memorial Reading highlights busy week of UI literary events

Irish writer Eavan Boland, (photo, left) Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa, will present the annual Paul Engle Memorial Reading at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library. The free event will be part of a busy week of UI literary happenings.

--International Writing Program (IWP) participants Fedosy Santaella and Efrat Mishori will be joined by Alexander Maksik, a graduate student in the Writers' Workshop, in a free reading at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, in Prairie Lights Books at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

--Prize-winning fiction writer Cornelia Nixon from Mills College will read from "Jarrettsville," her new novel, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, in Prairie Lights, streamed live on

--The Writing University Web site will host an online chat with Boland at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, featuring questions submitted to

--IWP Director Christopher Merrill (photo, right) and Iowa Writers' Workshop emeritus faculty member Marvin Bell will read from and discuss "7 Poets 4 Days 1 Book" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, in Prairie Lights, also streamed live by the Writing University.

--IWP participant Lijia Zhang will introduce the 2000 Hong Kong/China/Japan film "Platform" - part of a historical epic about the economic changes sweeping China -- and lead a post-screening discussion in a free Cinematheque event at 8 p.m. Oct. 14, in E104 of the UI Adler Journalism Building.

--At 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, Merrill and Bell will be featured in a live Writing University on-line discussion. Submit questions to

--Iowa Writers' Workshop alumna Alessandra Lynch ("It Was a Terrible Cloud at Twilight") will be joined by Butler University faculty member Chris Forhan ("Black Leapt In") in a free poetry reading, streamed live at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 from Prairie Lights.

--Paula Iovene, a faculty member in East Asian Languages and Civilization at the University of Chicago, and IWP participant from China, Ge Fei, (photo, left) will preview his Oct. 16 IWP reading when she speaks on "Untimeliness in Chinese Writer Ge Fei's Fiction" at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 in S207 of the Pappajohn Business Building.

--IWP participants Jan-Willem Anker from the Netherlands, Bo Han from China, Kyoko Nakajima from Japan and Mani Rao from India/Hong Kong will discuss "Questions of Travel" at noon, Friday, Oct. 16, in the Gerber Lounge on the third floor of the UI English-Philosophy Building.

--Ge Fei will be joined by Hong Kong's Dung Kai Cheung in a free bilingual IWP reading at 5 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Shambaugh House, 430 N. Clinton St.

Biographies of all the IWP writers are accessible at

Boland, who attended an IWP residency in 1979, has published nine volumes of poetry, as well as two volumes of prose. Her awards include the Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry and an American Ireland Fund Literary Award. She is a member of the Irish Academy of Letters and the advisory board of the International Writers Center at Washington University. She is professor of English at Stanford University and director of the creative writing program.

The Engle reading honors the memory of visionary Iowa poet Paul Engle, who led the Iowa Writers' Workshop to prominence and co-founded the IWP. In Iowa, Engle's birthday became officially Paul Engle Day in 2000.

The Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program was established in 1978-79 based on a bequest from the late Ida Beam of Vinton, Iowa, who willed her family farm to the UI Foundation. The proceeds from the farm's sale enabled the UI to establish a fund that brings top scholars in a variety of fields to the university for lectures and discussions.

"7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Books" is the result of unique creative experiment initiated by Merrill, who invited a diverse group of poets - Bell and Dean Young from America, Istvan Geher from Hungary, Simone Inguanez from Malta, Ksenia Golubovich from Russia and Tomas Salamum from Slovenia -- to join him for a concentrated writing session at the UI. Each poet wrote for 30 minutes, creating a poem of 15 lines, and then read it aloud to the group. Then, each poet took one line from another poet, and created another poem using that line. These rounds continued, until, in a process of call and response, 80 poems had been composed.

"The possibilities for failure seemed limitless -- which perversely appealed to me," Merrill says. Critic Ryan Bayless wrote, "It is the very act of seeing a failed image in one poem find success in a later one that gives the book life and makes it unpredictable and fun to read. Ultimately, the poetic conversation that manages to take its participants out of their individual habits of form and style in order to create a collective work of art justifies its weaker moments by inspiring poets and readers alike to rethink their definitions of poetry and remember the larger goal of poetic expression in general: to find the collective's place in the singular and the individual's place in the whole."

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: For additional arts information, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Winston Barclay, UI News Services, 319-384-0073, For events at Prairie Lights: For IWP events: