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University of Iowa News Release


April 16, 2009

UI poet Cole Swensen introduces new anthology in April 27 reading

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member Cole Swensen will introduce "American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry," which she co-edited with workshop alumnus David St. John, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 27, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. She will be joined by workshop faculty members James Galvin and Mark Levine, who will read from their selections in the anthology, along with other work.

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

A review in the San Francisco Chronicle observed, "Norton anthologies are among the most respected in the country, but respectability can suggest stodgy, predictable. 'American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry' is neither, proving that much contemporary American verse is daring and original," and concluded, "'American Hybrid' is splendidly satisfying and deserves, like abstract art in its heyday, the kind of following more commonly bestowed on popular fiction."

A starred review in Publishers Weekly stated: "In their introductions, editors Swensen and St. John, both accomplished and forward-thinking poets, outline the contention that spurred this anthology: For a long time, poetry has been divided, or has divided itself, into two basic camps, traditional and experimental. In contemporary American poetry, the editors argue, and the poets collected here demonstrate, these distinctions no longer make sense, as poets now draw equally from both traditions, often in the same poem.

"Hence these generous selections from 73 poets who seek to blend, in varying degrees, the straightforward clarity and formal rigor of the long poetic tradition with the disjunction, self-consciousness and obscurity of experimental poetics. For serious readers of poetry, novices looking for a way in to what's new, and, perhaps especially, for poetry professors, this is a must-have book."

St. John wrote in his introductory essay, "I have always believed that the great strength of American poetry resides, at its source, in its plurality of voices, its multitude of poetic styles, and its consistent resistance to the coercion of what emerges -- in each generation -- as a catalogue of prevailing literary trends."

The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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