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University of Iowa News Release


April 15, 2009

Political poet, labor activist Mark Nowak reads April 24

Political poet, social critic and labor activist Mark Nowak will read from his latest book, "Coal Mountain Elementary," at 7 p.m. Friday, April 24, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The free event will be streamed live on the University of Iowa Writing University Web site, and then will available through the Writing University archive.

"Coal Mountain Elementary" is a genre-defying remix of verbatim testimony from the surviving Sago, W.Va., miners and rescue teams; the American Coal Foundation's curriculum for schoolchildren; newspaper accounts of mining disasters in China; and full-color photographs of Chinese miners by photojournalist Ian Teh.

Chicago Postmodern Poetry profiled Nowak as "closer to the tradition of Upton Sinclair or James Baldwin than to American academic poetry. A Political Poet who is the real deal -- his work breaks barriers."

"I was educated in the neighborhood," Nowak said. "People who lived next door to me were steelworkers, bricklayers, bakery truck drivers. My dad was the vice president of his union for many years. I went to four grammar schools, two high schools, a community college . . . I learned almost nothing about literature, about art, about politics, about life, at any of them."

Heralded by Adrienne Rich for "regenerating the rich tradition of working-class literature," Nowak regularly leads transnational poetry workshops for American and international trade unions. The author of "Revenants" and "Shut Up Shut Down," he is a frequent contributor to the Poetry Foundation's Harriet blog.

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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 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),