Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


June 8, 2011

Streams of June 20-24 readings including Summer Writing Festival faculty

Live streams of "Live from Prairie Lights" readings on the University of Iowa's Writing University website -- -- June 20-24 will include Iowa Summer Writing Festival faculty member Christine Hemp, whose poetry has traveled 1.7 billion miles on a NASA spacecraft.

The streams, originating as free events in Prairie Lights, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, are:

--Novelist Tim Schaffert will read from "Coffins of Little Hope" at 7 p.m. Monday, June 20.
--Poet and communications consultant Hemp will read from "That Fall," her first collection, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 22.
--Dean Bakopoulos will read from his new novel, "My American Unhappiness," at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 23.
--At 5 p.m. Friday, June 24, Iowa Writers' Workshop alumna Ann Joslin Williams will read from her debut novel, "Down from Cascom Mountain," rescheduled from June 13.
--And Iowa City chef Kurt Michael Friese will read from "Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail" at 7 p.m. June 24.

In his fourth novel, Schaffert tells the story of Essie, an octogenarian obituary writer for her family's small town newspaper. When a young country girl is reported to be missing, perhaps whisked away by an itinerant aerial photographer, he stumbles onto the story of her life.

"Devils in the Sugar Shop," Schaffert's previous novel, was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice and a Book Sense pick from the American Booksellers Association. A faculty member at the University of Nebraska, he has won the Henfield Award and the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, and has been short-listed for the O. Henry Prize. He is a contributing editor for Fairy Tale Review and the web editor of Prairie Schooner. Visit for more information.

"Why are you so unhappy?" That's the question that Zeke Pappas asks almost everybody he meets as part of an obsessive project, "The Inventory of American Unhappiness," in Bakopoulos' novel. The answers he receives —- a mix of true sadness and absurd complaint —- create a collage of woe.

Author of the award-winning debut novel "Please Don't Come Back from the Moon," Bakopoulos was the founding director of the Wisconsin Book Festival and is now a creative writing faculty member at Iowa State University.

He has published related essays and criticism in the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, the Progressive, the Believer and Real Simple. His one-act plays "Phonies" and "Wayside" have been produced at Alley Stage in Mineral Point, Wis. Visit

"That Fall," Hemp's poetry chapbook, won an award at Finishing Line Press, and she has read her commentary and poems on NPR's "Morning Edition. She has received an Iowa Review Award for Literary Nonfiction, the Harvard University Conway Award for teaching writing, the 2010 Paula Jones Gardiner Award for Poetry at Floating Bridge Press and a Washington State Artist Trust Fellowship for her memoir in progress.

One of her poems traveled 1.7 billion miles in space on a NASA mission to monitor the pre-natal activity of stars.

Williams sets her slow, wistful debut novel in and around the fictional town of Leah, N.H., created by her father, National Book Award winner Thomas Williams.

The novel opens as Mary Walker returns to her deceased parents' summer home with her new husband, Michael. The isolated house, barely accessible by road, is nestled in the valley below the densely forested Cascom Mountain, and, within a few pages, Michael falls to his death up on the mountain, leaving Mary to be consoled by characters facing trials of their own.

Robert Olmstead, the author of "Coal Black Horse," wrote, "Here in are the qualities of enduring greatness, our turbulent natures, instructions for life. Inside these covers there's a woman's profound love, a terrible and beautiful world, the claw of grief. Her story is told with grace and dignity and the kind of writing we hunger for: straight and true, spare and generous."

In "Chasing Chiles," Friese looks at both the future of place-based foods and the effects of climate change on agriculture through the lens of the chile pepper -— from the farmers who cultivate this iconic crop to the cuisines and cultural traditions in which peppers play a huge role.

Friese is author of "A Cook's Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland" and owner and founding chef of the Devotay restaurant in Iowa City. He is owner and publisher of Edible Iowa River Valley magazine, a board of directors member for Slow Food USA, and a graduate and former chef-instructor at the New England Culinary Institute. Visit his blog at, and read a feature at

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

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: Exhibitions are searchable at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to click on "Subscribe or Unsubscribe and then follow the instructions.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jan Weismiller, Winston Barclay, University News Services,