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University of Iowa News Release


April 9, 2010

UI Press releases poems for Obama's first 100 days

"Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama's First 100 Days," edited by Rachel Zucker and Arielle Greenberg and featuring a foreward by Rita Dove, is now available from the University of Iowa Press.

The book is available at bookstores or directly from the press, 800-621-2736 or Customers in Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at It is also available as a pdf e-book:

"Starting Today" contains 100 poems written during -- and responding to -- Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office. The poems included in this anthology, except for Elizabeth Alexander’s inauguration poem, were all written no more than a day before they appeared on the popular blog, “Starting Today: Poems for the First 100 Days” (

The result is a work that documents the political and personal events of those crucial days through a variety of contemporary poetic voices, from the ebullient to the admiring, from the pithy to the loquacious.

The title comes from a line in Obama's inauguration speech: “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

Editors Zucker and Greenberg explain in their enthusiastic introduction: “In those jittery, pre-inaugural hours, it became clear to us that our exhilaration stemmed, in part, from the knowledge that we were not alone in our enthusiasm. We knew others felt called to action just as we were.

"That same afternoon we compiled an e-mail list of poets -- friends, acquaintances and folks we admire -- from across the country and across generations. Could we get 100 poets to commit to writing a new poem during the first 100 carefully watched days of the new presidency? And could we get them to respond overnight, so that our project would coincide with Barack Obama beginning his job? Yes, we could! Poets wrote back immediately and with gusto.”

Denise Duhamel, the author of "Ka-Ching!" and "Two and Two," commented, “I love this idea and I love these poems. The poem-a-day breeziness of the work is instructive not only to poets but also to cultural and academic critics and 'Starting Today' will be an important cultural and historical document.

"The editors cast a wide net when considering poets for this project and then trusted the poets themselves to come up with quality work. In doing so, they have accomplished something amazing. Obama is known for assembling strong teams and the editors have done this as well. The poets, representing various schools, approach their poetry ‘assignment’ with vigor, intelligence and wit.”

Zucker, an alumna of the UI Writers' Workshop, is the author of four books of poetry, including "Museum of Accidents," and "The Bad Wife Handbook," and is coeditor, with Greenberg, of "Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections," published by the UI Press. She teaches at Columbia University in New York. Learn more at

Greenberg is the author of "My Kafka Century," and "Given," and coeditor of the forthcoming "Gurlesque," with Lara Glenum. She teaches at Columbia College–Chicago. Her Web site is:

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Means, UI Press,;Winston Barclay, University News Services, 319-430-1013,