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University of Iowa News Release

April 17, 2003

Reading By UI Alumna Mukherjee Part Of WSUI Series

National Book Critics' Circle Award-winner Bharati Mukherjee, an alumna and former faculty member of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will return to Iowa City to appear on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Mukherjee's reading, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, is one of five readings during the week of April 28-May. 2.

The week's full schedule of "Live from Prairie Lights" readings -- all free events at 8 p.m. in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City -- features:
--Poets Suzanne Wise and Sarah Messer on Monday, April 28.
--Journalist Daniel Levitas, on Tuesday, April 29.
--Mukherjee, reading from the new paperback edition of "Desirable Daughters," on Wednesday, April 30.
--Poets Peter Richards, a UI alumnus, and Writers' Workshop faculty member Dean Young on Thursday, May 1.
--Horace Porter, chair of the UI African-American World Studies Program, at 8 p.m. Friday, May 2.

The readings will also be available for listening on the internet at http://wsui.uiowa.edu.

Eileen Myles described Wise's collection, "Kingdom of the Subjunctive," as "Droll, cavalier, magnificent and terrified." And Alice Fulton wrote, "Suzanne Wise's imagination is assertive and surprising; her sensibility extends from the deliciously funny to the austerely tragic. . . This is a poetry of info-shock confessions and blasted narrators in which urban glut and debris are compounded into monuments to nation-state and private soul, in which female space is both indeterminate and profligate. Suzanne Wise's work bristles with the struggle to define and comprehend the absurd component of evil and despair. "

Wise's work appears in "American Poetry: The Next Generation," and her poems have appeared in Volt, Tikkun, 13th Moon, the Denver Quarterly, the Santa Monica Review, the Boston Review, the Columbia Poetry Review and other journals. She won the Bellingham Review's 49th Parallel Poetry Award and has twice been a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass.

Writers' Workshop visiting faculty member Claudia Rankine called Messer's "Bandit Letters," "A book length love affair with the wild west." And Richard Howard wrote that her work is filled with, "So many originalities -- of phrasing and figure."

Messer has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the American Antiquarian Society and the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches poetry and creative non-fiction at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Daniel Levitas has written widely about America's radical right, and particularly anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi groups. He has testified in American and Canadian courts as an expert witness on racist violence, the Ku Klux Klan, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, the Skinhead movement, Aryan prison gangs, crossburning and Posse Comitatus.

Levitas traces the history of these groups in his new book, "The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right." Vanessa Bush wrote for the American Library Association's Booklist, "With so much attention focused on international terrorism, this book hits closer to home with an eye-opening look at potential domestic terrorist threats. . . This is a well-researched, disturbing look at domestic terrorism."

Responding to Mukherjee's "Desirable Daughters," the critic of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Bharati Mukherjee has such a gift for language she could rephrase the telephone book to mesmerizing effect."

Mukherjee was the first naturalized American citizen to win the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and her output includes "The Middleman and Other Stories," " Leave It to Me," "The Holder of the World," "Darkness," "The Tiger's Daughter" and "Wife."

The Publishers Weekly preview of "Desirable Daughters" concluded, "It should take nothing away from the achievements of new young writers of South Asian origin to state that Mukherjee eclipses all of them in her new novel, the highlight of her career to date. Only a writer with mature vision, a sense of history and a long-nurtured observation of the Indo-American community could have created this absorbing tale of two rapidly changing cultures and the flash points where they intersect."

And Pulitzer Prize-winning UI alumnus Robert Olen Butler wrote, "Bharati Mukherjee is writing achingly compassionate, ravishingly beautiful, absolutely essential books. And 'Desirable Daughters' is one of the best."

In addition to receiving a Master of Fine Arts from the UI Writers' Workshop, Peter Richards is a 2002 Massachusetts Book Award honoree, and a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and the John Logan Award. "Nude Siren" comes in the wake of his earlier collection, "Oubliette."

David Rivard wrote in Ploughshares, "For Richards, life in a poem is like life in a body -- most at risk, and most fully at play," and Steve Healey wrote in City Pages that in "Nude Siren," "Compelling human sound pervades . . . in pages of brief, shimmering lyrics."

Dean Young has published five books of poems, including "Skid"; "Strike Anywhere," winner of the Colorado Poetry Prize; "Beloved Infidel"; and "Design with X," and he is a frequent contributor to "The Best American Poetry."

The Publisher's Weekly preview of "Skid" observed, "Young makes one-of-a-kind, read-aloud poems from the verbal detritus he juggles," and Ray Olson wrote, "Surrealism seldom seems as much like real life as in Young's hilarious and cautionary poems"

"Dean Young's exhilarating, complex, and wide-ranging poems give one the impression of conversations with an angel in which the poet has to be super-alert at every second, for every second counts and the angel knows everything," critic Kenneth Koch wrote. "To listen to these conversations is to experience a colloquial, witty, emotional, and urgent discourse not to be found anywhere else."

The University of Iowa Press recently published Horace Porter's "The Making of a Black Scholar," as part of the Singular Lives autobiography series.

James Alan McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning faculty member of the UI Writers' Workshop, wrote, "Horace Porter has provided us with an excellent evocation of one of the most overlooked dimensions of the black American experience since desegregation began in the 1960s: the movement of black American scholars from segregated academic institutions into higher and higher levels of formerly white academic institutions. This process of 'intellectual integration,' with all its pains and risks and glory, is brilliantly captured by Horace Porter in the review of his own academic career. This is a rich and warmly felt memoir, one that is very much needed."

The book trace's Porter's personal journey from a rural Georgia house without electricity or running water to the Ivy League and the UI.

Porter is also the author of "Jazz Country: Ralph Ellison in America" and "Stealing the Fire: The Art and Protest of James Baldwin."

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu.