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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 20, 2011

UI alumni Dentz and Dobrian featured in Oct. 3-7 Prairie Lights readings

University of Iowa alumni Shira Dentz and Iowa Citian Joseph Dobrian will be featured during live literary streams from Prairie Lights Books Oct. 3-7. Events include:

nelsonMaggie Nelson (left) will read from "The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning" at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3.

dentzDentz (right), a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, will read from her latest collection, "black seeds on a white dish," which was nominated for the 2011 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5. She will be joined by poet Julie Carr, a University of Colorado faculty member and National Poetry Series winner who was awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

dobrianJoseph Dobrian (left), a long-time business consultant and a former Libertarian Party candidate for mayor of New York City, will read from his novel, "Willie Wilden," at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7.

In "The Art of Cruelty" Nelson addresses the fact that in the contemporary world both reality and entertainment crowd our fields of vision with brutal imagery. What to do now? When to look, when to turn away?

Guggenheim fellowship winner Nelson is the author of several books, including "Bluets," "Something Bright, Then Holes" and "Red Parts." She teaches at CalArts.

Don Revell wrote of "black seeds on the white dish," "Paul Cézanne once quietly avowed 'I will astonish Paris with an apple.' And now I may, with quite an equal confidence, announce that Shira Dentz will astonish us all with the 'the curve of a melon,' 'a sunray diagonal' and 'pumpkin seeds.' Which is to say that here is a book to unstill all the still life images resting in our hearts. Shira Dentz is the most powerfully delicate poet I know."

Dentz is also the author of a chapbook, "Leaf Weather," and her poems and stories have appeared in journals including the American Poetry Review, the Iowa Review, the Western Humanities Review, jubilat, Brooklyn Rail, the Black Warrior Review and Bombay Gin. She has been featured in Poetry Daily and on National Public Radio.

Her awards include an Academy of American Poets' Prize, The Poetry Society of America's Lyric Poem Award and the Cecil Hemely Memorial Award. She is co-editor of Quarterly West and a Fellow at the Tanner Center for the Humanities in Salt Lake City.

Dobrian, who moved back to Iowa City in 2010, has written a novel of political and romantic intrigue, set at Van Devander College in the remote little town of Wildenkill, N.Y. The story takes a satirical look at American attitudes toward politics, academia, literature and family values.

"Van Devander is a very stodgy, old-fashioned college, with a new president who's trying to modernize it," Dobrian explains. "Some people support her and some don't. The book's main character, Roger Ballou, is a novice professor who has made a mid-life career change and doesn't know much about campus politics —- but he finds out, fast.

"The title of the book, 'Willie Wilden,' refers to the mascot of the college's sports teams -- a funny-looking cartoon Indian. The question of whether that mascot should be retained is one of the hottest issues on campus, and Prof. Ballou, being a football fan, can't stop himself from getting involved."

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

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 the link "Subscribe or Unsubscribe" and follow the instructions.

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

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, UI News Services,