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University of Iowa News Release


April 22, 2011

Update: The Christine Whelan reading on Thursday, April 28 has been cancelled.

Writing University streams April 25-28 Prairie Lights readings

Live streams of "Live from Prairie Lights" readings on the University of Iowa's Writing University website -- -- April 25-28 will include UI faculty members Kembrew McLeod and Christine Whelan and three UI writing alumni.

Originating in free events in Prairie Lights, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, the line-up will be:
--Iowa Writers' Workshop alumna Ann Packer ( will read from her new novel, "Swim Back to Me," at 7 p.m. Monday, April 25.
--McLeod, a UI communication studies faculty member (, will be joined by Peter DiCola to read from their "Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling," complete with musical accompaniment by the Killer Apps and the CommStud Criminals, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 26.
--At 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, UI Nonfiction Writing Program alumnus Ryan Van Meter will from his award-winning essay collection, "I You Knew Then What I Know Now.
cancelled--Whelan will read from her book "Generation WTF: From 'What the #%$' to a Wise, Tenacious, and Fearless You" at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 28.
--Poet Kristin Kelly, another Writers' Workshop alumna, will read at 7 p.m. Thursday. (See

Packer's new collection features emotionally searing stories that are framed by two linked narratives depicting the transformation of a single family over the course of a lifetime. She has received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Michener-Copernicus Society and the National Endowment for the Arts.

An O Magazine review stated, "Most readers know Ann Packer from her best-selling debut novel, 'The Dive from Clausen's Pier.' Her stunning linked-story collection… is even better, richer, more insightful. Packer can break your heart—and she can mend it, too."

A focus of McLeod's scholarly work is the historical and legal implications of digital sampling. "Creative License" addresses questions including, how did the Depression-era folk-song collector Alan Lomax end up with a songwriting credit on Jay-Z's song "Takeover"? And why doesn't Clyde Stubblefield, the primary drummer on James Brown recordings from the late 1960s including "Funky Drummer" and "Cold Sweat," get paid for other musicians' frequent use of the beats he performed on those songs?

The music industry's approach to digital sampling —- incorporating snippets of existing recordings into new ones —- holds the answers. Exploring the complexities and contradictions in how samples are licensed, McLeod and Northwestern law faculty member DiCola's new book puts digital sampling into historical, cultural and legal context.

Observing that the same dynamics creative problems for remixers now reverberate throughout all culture industries, they conclude by examining ideas for reform.

Van Meter's coming-of-age is complicated by coming-out in these personal essays leavened with humor, generosity and all the awkward indignities of growing up.

UI nonfiction faculty member John D'Agata says that "Ryan Van Meter's is both a charming and wounding intelligence. To read a book this observant, this fiercely honest, and this effortlessly beautiful is to feel the very pulse of contemporary American essays."

Van Meter's essays have appeared in many literary journals and have been selected for anthologies including "Best American Essays 2009." He is now an assistant professor of creative nonfiction at the University of San Francisco. Visit

Whelan, the author of "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" and "Marry Smart," was a member of the UI sociology department before moving to the University of Pittsburgh in 2009.

We all know what "WTF" usually stands for: It's an exclamation of frustration and anger, and it's an understandable reaction to the tough new economic realities that have hit young adults harder than any other group. "WTF" happened to promises of a bright future? What happened to the jobs? Rather than focusing on the frustration that "WTF" usually stands for, In "Generation WTF," she leads the charge to reclaim the acronym as a battle cry for a positive future for young adults.

As a "public sociologist" Whelan has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times, and she writes a bi-weekly relationship advice column for the young-adult website BustedHalo and a monthly column on everyday virtues for BigQuestionsOnline. By the age of eight, she was already a media star: She hosted a nationally syndicated radio show called "No Kidding," a health talk show for kids, by kids.

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