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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 24, 2011

UI poets read at benefit event for former faculty member Dean Young

Poet Dean Young, a former faculty member of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, received a life-saving heart transplant on April 15, just a few days before the publication of his collection "Fall Higher." To show their affection and support for Young -- and to help offset the tens of thousands of dollars of his annual medications that are not covered by insurance -- UI poets will read at a special benefit event at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, in Prairie Lights Books.

Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty members James Galvin, Mark Levine and Cal Bedient will be joined by Robyn Schiff, director of the UI Undergraduate Creative Writing Program, International Writing Program Director Christopher Merrill and Prairie Lights' owner Jan Weissmiller to read from Young's work. A reception will follow the reading in the Prairie Lights Café following the reading.

Listen to the event through a live Internet stream at

Poet and novelist Joseph DiPrisco, chair of the Dean Young fundraising efforts, explained that Young's out-of-pocket expenses will be about $50,000 a year.

For more than a decade Young -- now a faculty member at the University of Texas -- suffered from congestive heart failure as a result of a heart defect, idiopathic hypotropic cardiomyopathy. For several years his condition was stabilized by medications, before deteriorating dramatically -- with his heart eventually pumping at 8 percent of normal volume.

As his condition reached a critical state, poet Tony Hoagland wrote, "If you know Dean, you know that his non-anatomical heart, though hardly normal, is not malfunctioning, but great in scope, affectionate and loyal. And you know that his poetry is what the Elizabethans would have called "one of the ornaments of our era"--hilarious, heartbreaking, courageous, brilliant and already a part of the American canon."

While he was an Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member, his "Elegy on Toy Piano" was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Learn more about Young, and hear him read from his pre-transplant poetry at And learn more about his case and find out how to donate at

The Writers' Workshop is a program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Graduate College.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay,