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University of Iowa News Release


April 27, 2011

Former IWP director Blaise returns for Prairie Lights/Writing University reading

Live streams of "Live from Prairie Lights" readings on the University of Iowa's Writing University website -- -- May 3-5 will include the return of Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus Clark Blaise, former director of the UI International Writing Program (1990-98).

Originating in free events at 7 p.m. in Prairie Lights, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, the line-up will be:
--Blaise and St. Mary's University faculty member Alexander MacLeod in an all-Canadian reading on Tuesday, May 3.
--On Wednesday, May 4, Francisco Goldman will read from "Say Her Name," his new novel based on personal grief following the death of his wife, Aura Estrada, in a surfing accident.
--Poets Geoffrey G. O'Brien, a Writers' Workshop alumnus from California, and Cyrus Console from Kansas will read on Thursday, May 5.

Blaise will read from "The Meagre Tarmac," a new collection of fiction that Joyce Carol Oates called "brilliantly imagined": "a novel in short-story form, warmly intimate, startling in its quick jumps and revelations, a portrait of individuals for whom we come to care deeply -– and a portrait of an Indo-American way of life that shimmers before our eyes with the rich and compelling detail for which Clark Blaise's fiction is renowned."

Blaise is the author of 20 books of fiction and nonfiction, including novels, short-story collections, memoirs, essays and historical nonfiction. He has taught writing and literature at Emory University, Skidmore College, Columbia University, New York University, Sir George Williams College, the University of California-Berkeley, SUNY-Stony Brook and the David Thompson University Centre, in addition to the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

He founded the postgraduate creative writing program at Concordia University -- Canada's first such program -- and became as President of the Society for the Study of the Short Story (2002-present). Internationally recognized for his contributions to the field, Blaise has received an Arts and Letters Award for Literature from the American Academy and in 2010 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

MacLeod's award-winning stories have appeared in many of the leading Canadian and American journals and have been selected for "The Journey Prize Anthology." His new book is "Light Lifting," which Ali Smith described as "the debut of a writer clearly a master of the form."

Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of "American Salvage," wrote, "To read each story in this gorgeous collection is to live a series of rich and dangerous lives along the Canadian-Michigan border. The forces threatening Alexander MacLeod's characters include speeding trains, rip tides, lice, old age, automobile assembly lines, the exuberant despair of vacationing in Nova Scotia, and everything that lurks in the Detroit River. MacLeod is a literary rock star, and his prose is wise and rowdy music."

Calling Goldman's latest book "passionate and moving" and "beautifully written," a featured piece by Robin Romm in the New York Times Book review stated, "the truth that emerges in this book has less to do with the mystery of [Aura's] death . . . than with the miracle of the astonishing, spirited, deeply original young woman Goldman so adored. So remarkable is this resurrection that at times I felt the book itself had a pulse."

Richard Eder wrote in the Boston Globe, "To call Francisco Goldman's book about the death of his young Mexican wife an elegy hardly represents it. Lament is closer, but insufficient. It is a chain of eruptions, a meteor shower; not just telling but bombarding us in a loss that glitters. With the power and fine temper of its writing, it is as much poem as prose.

"Tense set pieces, respectively heartbreaking and chilling…generate the book's propulsive drama. What they propel, though, is its most remarkable achievement: the incandescent portrait of a marriage of opposites."

A contributing editor for Harper's magazine, Goldman is the author of three novels, "The Long Night of White Chickens," which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award; "The Ordinary Seaman," a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and "The Divine Husband."

He is also the author of the nonfiction book, "The Art of Political Murder: Who killed the Bishop?," which was named a Best Book of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Economist.

O'Brien will read from his new collection, "Metropole." Describing the book as a collection of "ambitious and highly self-conscious poems," a preview in Publishers Weekly observed, "If O'Brien's poems are becoming increasingly resistant to, if not combative with, their readers, their rewards are also growing richer for readers willing to engage in the poems' arguments."

O'Brien is also the author of the collections "Green and Gray" and "The Guns and Flags Project." A visiting faculty member at the UI in 2008-09, he has been Distinguished Poet in Residence at St. Mary's College of California and the Holloway Lecturer in the Practice of Poetry at the University of California, Berkeley. He also teaches in the Prison University Project at San Quentin.

Console's "The Odicy" -- from which individual poems have been published in journals -- is forthcoming, and he is also the author of "Brief Under Water" and the chapbook "Okay Tony."

He has won the Ana Damjanov Poetry Prize; Fund for Poetry Award; the Victor Contoski Poetry Prize and William Herbert Carruth Poetry Prize. He has published in the Boston Review, No: A Journal of the Arts, the Critical Quarterly and Lana Turner.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jan Weismiller, Prairie Lights,; Winston Barclay, University News Services,