• January 16, 2014
    by TIR staff

    Congratulations to managing editor Lynne Nugent, who—between calling tough shots as TIR's interim editor and wrangling the world's cutest two-year-old performance artist—wrote a winning application for an NEA Art Works grant! The $15,000 award will help support The Iowa Review's Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans writing contest.  

    The official press release:

    National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced on Dec. 10 that The Iowa Review, the literary magazine at the University of Iowa, is one of 895 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. The Iowa Review is recommended for a $15,000 grant to support the publication of creative writing by U.S. military veterans.

    The funding will allow The Iowa Review to expand the reach of its Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans, a contest sponsored by the family of Vietnam War veteran and antiwar writer and activist Jeff Sharlet. NEA funding will be used to publicize the contest among possible entrants, to allow for an expanded number of prizes to be awarded, and to distribute the work of the winners widely, both in print and on a website gallery.

    The Iowa Review held its first veterans’ writing contest in 2012, with winners published in its spring 2013 issue. The next contest deadline will be May 15, 2014. Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead, will be the final judge. The contest is open to U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel writing in any genre and about any subject matter.

    Acting Chairman Shigekawa says, "The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States. Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement, or innovation, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable experiences for the public to engage with the arts."

    “With involvement in wars such a major part of our story as Americans, and most recently with our country having been at war continuously for the past 12 years, there are veterans from previous and current conflicts who have returned and are wanting to share and process their experiences,” says Lynne Nugent, managing editor of The Iowa Review. “We believe the contribution of a literary magazine can be to provide a point of connection between those who want to explore their experience through the creative use of language and those who want to learn about it and understand it in the deep way that literature can provide.”

    Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence: public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancing the livability of communities through the arts. The NEA received 1,528 eligible Art Works applications, requesting more than $75 million in funding. Of those applications, 895 are recommended for grants for a total of $23.4 million. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, visit the NEA website.


  • December 20, 2013
    by TIR staff

    Our Christmas Carol
    by Michael C. Smith
    [The Iowa Review, Fall 1978]

    We know the story:
    How ghosts cluttered his night,
    Then later,
    Scrooge Community College.

    You resent giving
    As much as I,
    But we aren't the Macbeths yet.
    After all, we appreciate
    The humanity
    Of accidentally shopping
    For ourselves.

    So he sells his iron lung
    To buy her a Mazda;
    So she foregoes her mastectomy
    To buy him a place
    By her heart.
    What is that to us?

    What is the meaning of normal?
    A man running down 
    Hospital halls,
    Clutching yellow feathers,
    Yelling Ramona, Ramona?

    We know the story:
    Your mother out
    To a long lunch,
    Your brother and father
    Playing pool—forever.

    It comes this way each year,
    Cloaked in the mystery
    Of their wants: Christmas.

    In the algebra of snow,
    Our dark relatives cancel
    Our well-intentioned friends,
    Leaving us.

  • November 27, 2013
    by Rachel Arndt

    I drove home to Chicago from Iowa City last weekend. Along the way I passed a bunch of cows, some flat raccoons, many semi trucks, and more French-named towns and doubles of foreign cities (Cairo, Rome) than you can shake a map at.

    Here's how we say them in the middle of the country:

    Athens: AY-thens
    Berlin: BER-lin
    Bourbonnais: burh-BOHN-nis
    Buena Vista: BOON-a-vista
    Cairo: CAY-roh
    Delhi: DEL-high
    Des Plaines: des-PLAYnz
    Hidalgo: heye-DAL-goh
    La Moille: luh-MOYL
    Madrid: MAD-rid
    Marseilles: mar-SAYLZ
    Milan: MY-lan
    Monticello: mon-ti-SEL-oh
    Peru: PEE-roo
    Renault: REE-nawlt
    Tripoli: tri-PO-la
    Versailles: ver-SAYLZ

    Rachel Z. Arndt is an MFA student in the nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa, and an editorial assistant at The Iowa Review.

  • November 21, 2013
    by TIR staff

    Kudos to TIR contributor Mary Szybist, winner of a 2013 National Book Award!

    And of course we're delighted that several of the Annunciation poems in her award-winning book Incarnadine (Graywolf) first appeared in our Winter 2008 issue:

    Annunciation: Eve to Ave

    Annunciation Under Erasure

    Annunciation in Play

    Annunciation (from the grass beneath them)

    Hurray, Mary!

    Mary Szybist is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an associate professor of English at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon. She is also a member of the faculty at the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.

  • November 5, 2013
    by TIR staff

    Congrats to former contributor Jason Ockert, who has just released his newest collection of short stories, Neighbors of Nothing (Dzanc Books). We haven't read it yet, but if the stories are anything like "Max," which appeared in our Spring 2011 issue and was a finalist for the national Shirley Jackson Award, we can't wait to score a copy.


    Neighbors of Nothing examines characters who find themselves searching for new identities in worlds they no longer recognize. In "Piebald," parents assume the identity of their dead son; in "Everyday Murders," the sole survivor of a violent crime attempts to confront an online entrepreneur who sells football-style serial killer jerseys. Through odd, compelling, and sometimes futile gestures, these characters struggle against guilt and grief and the seemingly endless stretch of days. Influenced by absurdism and the southern gothic, Neighbors of Nothing offers intelligent and heartrending insights into the complex human struggle to exist with purpose.

    Order the book here...or review it!