The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

April 1, 2004

Poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg Reads At UI April 8

Gjertrud Schnackenberg, one of the most acclaimed American poets of her generation, will read from her work at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 8, in Shambaugh House on the University of Iowa campus. The reading, sponsored by the UI Writers' Workshop, is free and open to the public.

Schnackenberg is the author of the volumes, "A Gilded Lapse of Time," "The Lamplit Answer," "Portraits and Elegies" and "The Throne of Labdacus." Most of the poems in her three earliest books were collected in "Supernatural Love."

Poet and critic Adam Kirsch wrote in the New York Times, "Gjertrud Schnackenberg stands out among younger American poets for her ambition, in the best sense of the word. Her verse is strong, dense and musical, anchored in the pentameter even when it veers into irregularity; behind it are formidable masters, Robert Lowell most notably, but also Yeats and Auden. Lowellian, too, is her desire to treat history as something more than a stage setting, to make it the medium of thought and feeling."

A review in the Library Journal commented, "Grand and imposing, her poems storm through civilization, paying homage to art's greatest figures in language that is formal, articulate, and cool and glittering as a knife. Even when she touches on personal issues -- her neighbors, her father's death -- she works large."

Los Angeles Times critic Richard Eder observed, "Rich, even ornate at times, [Schnackenberg's] poetry carries its weight as if it were no weight at all, by its thematic intensity and by the sheer beauty of its imagery."

And a feature in described Schnackenberg as "a story-teller, but also a poet of ideas. She revels in allusion and draws inspiration from much learned material (the endnotes are not copious but bespeak a very broad range of humanistic knowledge and interests).

"The poetry is, at least at first glance, approachable. Schnackenberg doesn't look for the obscurest way to express an idea or revel in any sort of technical jargon. She even uses rhyme on occasion. But it's not all as straightforward as it might appear -- approachable, yes, but layered, textured, nuanced."

Shambaugh House, the headquarters of the UI International Writing Program, is at the corner of Clinton and Fairchild streets.

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

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

PHOTOS are available at or