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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 12, 2011

Memories of the Writers' Workshop headline Sept. 26-Oct. 1 readings

Eric Olsen will read from "We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers' Workshop," which he co-wrote with fellow University of Iowa alumnus Glenn Schaeffer, at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, in Prairie Lights Books at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free event will streamed live at

Other events will be also streamed from Prairie Lights that week:
--Alan Jacobs will read from "The Pleasures of Reading in the Age of Distraction" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27.
--Poet Edward Pavlic, a faculty member at the University of Georgia, will read at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28.
-- UI alumna Kirsten Kaschock will read from her novel, "Sleight," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29
--UI School of Medicine and Cornell College alumnus Lawrence Dorr, who endowed a UI chair in hip surgery, will read from his debut novel, "Die Once Live Twice," at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.
--Iowa City author Delia Ray will read from "Here Lies Linc," her new book for young readers, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1

"We Wanted to Be Writers" blends original interviews, commentary, advice, gossip, anecdotes, analyses, history, and asides with nearly 30 graduates and teachers at the Writers' Workshop between 1974 and 1978. Among the talents that emerged in those years are John Irving, Jane Smiley, T. C. Boyle, Michelle Huneven, Allan Gurganus, Sandra Cisneros, Jayne Anne Phillips, Jennie Fields, Joy Harjo and Joe Haldeman.

Olsen and Schaeffer co-founded the International Institute of Modern Letters, a literary think tank that helped writers who were victims of censorship and persecution, and Olsen also helped establish the first American City of Asylum in Las Vegas.

The Glenn Schaeffer Library recognizes his contributions to build the addition to the UI Dey House.

Jacobs (photo, right), who teaches at Wheaton College in Illinois, has received considerable attention for "The Pleasures of Reading in the Age of Distraction."

Author Jay Parini wrote, "As so many recent studies have suggested, the activity of reading itself is seriously threatened in this digital age. But Alan Jacobs -- bless him -- has an approach that will warm the hearts of serious readers and lead many prospective readers into the deeply satisfying swells of good prose. Reading should be a pleasure, and Jacobs shows us how to make sure we take delight in this work, which is not work at all. This is a witty and reader-friendly book, and it's one I would happily give to any potential reader, young or old."

Jacobs' other books include "The Narnian," a biography of C.S. Lewis; "Original Sin: A Cultural History" and "A Theology of Reading." His literary and cultural criticism has appeared in the Boston Globe, the American Scholar and the Oxford American.

Pavlic's most recent books are "But Here Are Small Clear Refractions," "Winners Have Yet to be Announced: A Song for Donny Hathaway" and "Labors Lost Left Unfinished." His prizes include the Darwin Turner Award from African American Review, the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize and the Author of the Year Award from The Georgia Writers Association.

A 2009 UI Distinguished Alumnus, Dorr (photo, left) is an internationally renowned orthopedic surgeon who has written 300 scientific articles, as well as the definitive book on hip replacement surgery. But he says he has dreamed of writing a novel since his undergraduate days: "I enjoy a wonderful, fulfilling career as a surgeon, making miracles happen every day, but have still always thought about combining the miracle and mystery of medicine with the miracle and mystery of creating a novel.

"Four years ago I decided to pursue this lifelong dream. The topic was a natural -– medicine. What attracted me was the mystery of how medicine-by-chance became Medicine the profession. The transformation was a time of miracles and profound discoveries for the doctors. People saw how their loved ones actually survived, stayed alive and thrived, because of a medical treatment. Medicine could provide a second chance to live. It was then I knew the name of my book: 'Die Once, Live Twice.'

"'Die Once, Live Twice' is the story of the Sullivan and Specht families as they live through this transformation of medicine from just being able to give hope to one that could fulfill hope… In my novel doctor scientists unravel one mystery after another by hard work, suffering, and continual learning. Sometimes their reward is saving someone! My reward as a physician has been to save many people. My reward as a novelist will be to entertain, inspire and perhaps make my readers laugh and cry! Even teach a little of the amazing history of my ever-fascinating profession!"

Kaschock (photo, right) is the author of two collections of poetry, "Unfathoms" and "A Beautiful Name for a Girl," and she is currently a doctoral fellow in dance at Temple University. Her novel portrays two sisters have have spent their lives honing their bodies for sleight, an interdisciplinary art form that combines elements of dance, architecture, acrobatics and spoken word -- and a production in the wake of a mass murder that threatens to destroy them.

"Here Lies Linc" is Ray's (photo, left) third book for young readers. When 12-year-old Linc Crenshaw decides he wants to go to public school, his professor mom isn't so happy with the idea. He's convinced it will be the ticket to a new social life. Instead, it's a disaster when his mom shows up at their field trip to the local cemetery to lecture them on gravestones, and Linc sees her through his fellow-students' eyes. He's convinced his chances at a social life are over until a cemetery-related project makes him sought-after by fellow students he's not so sure he wants as friends, helps him make a new, genuine friend, and brings to light some information about his family that upends his world.

When Ray was little, she and her sister and their cousin invented the Brave Girl Club as a way to make the long, hot summers in Tidewater, Virginia, a little more exciting. They dared each other to perform all sorts of daunting challenges—swims across an algae-covered, snake-infested pond, for example, or solo trips to the second story of an old, abandoned farmhouse hidden deep in the woods. Delia says she still uses her Brave Girl training today whenever she's conducting research for her books, which have taken her on adventures from the Yukon Territory in Canada to cemeteries spread across the state of Iowa.

The Writers' Workshop is an academic 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 CONTACTS: Jan Weismiller, Prairie Lights, Winston Barclay, UI News Services,