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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 23, 2009

'Word Painters' readings Nov. 5 feature Hemley, Hendrickson

The second of the University of Iowa Museum of Art's fall 2009 "Word Painter" readings takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, in the Old Capitol Museum's Senate Chamber.

Janet Hendrickson, a graduate student in the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program and one of the UI Museum of Art's Fall 2009 "Word Painter" fellows, and Robin Hemley, Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus and director of the UI Nonfiction Writing Program, will read from their recent works.

Originally from Wisconsin, Hendrickson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Dallas in 2003. Her Spanish to English translations of fiction and essays have been published in Words Without Borders, n+1, and Zoetrope: All-Story. She has two forthcoming publications in Mandorla and The Virginia Quarterly Review.

Before coming to the UI, Hendrickson volunteered for more than two years in Nicaragua, where she taught adult literacy, started a high school newspaper and helped with other communication needs.

"I went to Nicaragua, because I was motivated by a desire to work for social change and to understand on a personal level some of the global inequities between the rich and poor," she said.

Her experiences in the country, the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, led to her thesis project, a combination of memoir and ethnography about failed visions of utopia on Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast. Hendrickson will present a chapter from her thesis at the Nov. 5 reading.

Hemley is the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction. His awards include a 2008 Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, two Pushcart Prizes, the Nelson Algren Award for Fiction from The Chicago Tribune and many others. His essay, "Twirl and Run" is the text for New York street photographer Jeff Mermelstein's new book, also titled "Twirl/Run" (powerHouse Books).

For his most recent book, "DO-OVER!" (Little, Brown, May, 2009), Hemley returned to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom and other embarrassing moments from his youth to give them another shot-this time, as 48-year-old father of three, equipped with some adult wisdom and perspective.

"I saw the differences between my childhood and the way kids grow up now," Hemley said of his work on "DO-OVER!"

Hemley will read from a mix of his fiction and nonfiction works at the "Word Painters" reading. Currently he is working on his next novel as well as various essays.

Created in the fall of 2006 to foster writing about the visual arts, the UIMA's collaborative writing program invites four UI Nonfiction Writing Program Master of Fine Arts candidates to think critically about the intersection of art and life.

UIMA "Word Painters" receive an honorarium to work on writing projects, including an art-based essay, and they read from their work throughout the academic year alongside well-known writers from the faculty of the UI's famed writing programs.

The Nov. 5 "Word Painter" reading is sponsored by Kevin and Pat Hanick. For more information on the UI Museum of Art, including updated event listings, visit

The Nonfiction Writing Program is part of the Department of English in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. For more information, visit

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 Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-384-0037,; Writer: Claire Lekwa