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University of Iowa News Release

June 16, 2005

Iowa City Naturalist Steve Semken Reads June 29 On WSUI

Iowa naturalist Steve Semken will read from his new book about herons, "The Great Blues," at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the Internet at

The reading, hosted by Julie Englander, will be a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

"The Great Blues," illustrated by Andrew R. Driscoll, reports on Semken's time studying the Great Blue Herons at one of their rookeries in northeastern Kansas.

A UI alumnus, Semken runs the Ice Cube Press in North Liberty, and founded the Standing By Words Center, sponsor of the Harvest Lectures Series.

Semken's books include "Moving With the Elements," "River Tips and Tree Trunks," "Northern Spirits Distilled" and "The Tin Prayer: Words of the Wolverine." He contributed to the recent collection "Living With Topsoil," edited by Mary Swander.

Swander wrote of Semken's new book, "What happens when you enter a great blue heron rookery in Kansas and completely abandon yourself to the experience? In 'The Great Blues,' naturalist Steve Semken becomes so engrossed in his subject that he, the observer, becomes the observed by the prophets of the prehistoric, the herons. Drawing on the writings of a range of profound thinkers from Hildegard to W.S. Merwin, Semken develops his own native Tao. He discovers the magic of his intuition and embarks upon an exploration of the soul external, finally centering himself in his faith in the natural world."

Wes Jackson, president of the Land Institute in Kansas and author of "Becoming Native to this Place," wrote, "If Steve Semken were offered a cup of Heron blood to drink, he would do so without hesitation. If you read this book, you'll know why."

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

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