Feb. 13, 2008
Chang and Harvey offer free reading at UI Feb. 20
University of Iowa Writers' Workshop Director Lan Samantha Chang and visiting poetry faculty member Matthea Harvey, a workshop alumna, will offer a free reading at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Frank Conroy Reading Room of the Dey House on the UI campus.
Harvey is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for her latest book, "Modern Life," which is the subject of an enthusiastic full-page review in the Feb. 17 issue of the New York Times Book Review.
"If it is relatively easy to write passable poetry in the style du jour, it's never easy to write good poetry in any style," critic David Orr wrote, "Which is what makes Harvey's new collection, 'Modern Life,' such a pleasure.
"She's willing to risk genuine failure, and her reward -- our reward -- is that richest and rarest thing, genuine poetry. . . . This collection should make us optimistic about the future of American poetry."
A starred review in Publishers Weekly stated, "The verse and prose poems of this third collection by Harvey is rife with her signature wit, darkened by an ominous sense of fearfulness in a post-9/11 world, which the poems' seeming levity tries to combat . . . Harvey continues to match her unique sensibility with subjects that matter; her poems are both empathic and delightful."
Harvey is also the author of "Sad Little Breathing Machine" and "Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form," and she is a contributing editor to jubilat.
Chang is the author of a collection of short fiction, "Hunger," and a novel, "Inheritance." Her work has been translated into nine languages and has been chosen twice for "The Best American Short Stories."
Chang has been honored as the California Book Award Silver Medalist, as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and with a Bay Area Book Award, and literary awards from the Greensboro Review and the Transatlantic Review. Her work has also been nominated for the PEN Center USA West Award and the PEN/Hemingway Literature Prize.
At the UI, she was the winner of the James-Michener-Copernicus Award. She has received fellowships from Stanford University, Princeton University, the Radcliffe Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo and the McDowell Colony.
Before taking over as workshop director at the UI, Chang was the Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in creative writing at Harvard University. She has also taught at Warren Wilson College and Stanford University, as well as at the UI Summer Writing Festival, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Napa Valley Writers' Conference, the Sarah Lawrence Summer Writers' Conference and the Asian American Writers' Workshop.
Anna Shin wrote in the Seattle Contemporary Review of Asian American Literature, "Chang's restrained prose enthralls with its sheer elegance, gaining power as much from what is left unsaid as from that which is articulated. Ms. Chang also has the rare ability to fashion tales whose cumulative sum is greater than their individual parts; in her characters' lives, one finds a depth of meaning made universal not despite its specificity, but because of it."
The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
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