THE BLOG @ TIR
December 28, 2011
Fred Sasaki, associate editor of Poetry magazine and founder of the Printers' Ball—and whose essay "Punch No. 96" appeared in our Spring 2011 issue—is featured in the new "People" issue of the Chicago Reader.
Check it out!
December 22, 2011
Sometimes I imagine the Iowa Review, publisher of literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, as inhabiting the opposite side of the publishing spectrum from, say, a newspaper: not so much Great Men or Great Events—what Virginia Woolf summarized as the kind of history that proclaims, "In the year 1842 Lord John Russell brought in the Second Reform Bill"—as a more lowercase version of history: personal, idiosyncratic, filtered through the consciousness of a single writer who, in the moment of writing, seems not so much engaged with world events as contemplating them from a distance.
That's why it is somewhat startling to see our "headlines" intersecting with those in the newspapers. Amid the many reports of police brutality at Occupy protests in the last few months, one stood out to us in particular: the violence against three poets whose words have appeared in our pages: Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, and Geoffrey G. O'Brien. Robert Hass writes in the New York Times about what transpired at the Occupy Berkeley protest on November 9. He describes the professor-poets remonstrating with police in an attempt to protect student protesters from their blows. Brenda Hillman was "shoved" in the chest. Robert Hass, former poet laureate of the United States, was "whacked" with a billy club. Geoffrey G. O'Brien was also hit with a truncheon and sustained a broken rib.
It was a stark reminder to me of, among other unpleasant realities, the need to not assume such distance between our poets' words and the events of the world. Often beautiful, often erudite, their words still seek to engage with the world and alter its brutal outcomes, whether published in the pages of a magazine or spoken in public.
"My wife [Brenda Hillman] was speaking to the young deputies about the importance of nonviolence and explaining why they should be at home reading to their children," Hass writes. A lovely poem, there.
In tribute to these poets and their colleagues and students, we present Geoffrey G. O'Brien's poem "Street Cry" from our Fall 2010 issue. Reading it again, I contemplated his words in a new light: "a dream in which the rich are friendly / up to a point"; "the day game / that rains down on short notice"; "values day puts a boot through"; and especially "the institution's / gates, where we gather to be held / back, what happens afterward is / night, relatedness of much too little."
photo credit: floppyphotos.wordpress.com
December 20, 2011
91st Meridian is the electronic publication of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and features all manner of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and artwork.
The journal appears twice a year and aims to contribute to general reading beyond the (national, linguistic, cultural) borders of the Anglophone sphere.
December 19, 2011
For a new series of posts, we’re asking our editors to choose a recent story, essay, or poem they’d selected for publication and tell us how it won them over.
Here, our 2010-2011 fiction editor, Bryan Castille, recalls his discovery of Bradley Bazzle’s “Magellan,” which appears in the Winter 2011 issue.
It was the end of a very long day of reading fiction manuscripts. The sun had long set, and my head ached from hours of straining my eyes. My contact lenses had fused themselves to my corneas. I was about to log out of my computer when I saw another unopened envelope. (Envelopes tended to inexplicably repopulate my desk when I was ready to go home.) Rather than toss it back into the slush pile for another day, I opened it, thinking, “I’ll just read the first page. If it’s good, I’ll take it home. If it’s not so good, I’ll leave it for tomorrow.”
The story, titled “Magellan,” which I expected to be some kind of metaphor, the meaning of which I might not discover until the very end of a long and maddening experiment, if at all, began, “By the end we were starving.” By the third sentence, I realized that I was reading a story about the real Magellan, a man whom, aside from his name and maritime trajectory, I knew nothing about. I kept reading, and soon I realized that it did not matter much to me whether some, none, or all of the story was historically inaccurate. The phony translator, the persecuted Jew, the perverse, anti-Semitic Magellan, and even the sexualized turkeys fascinated me like a fairy tale at five. Something new under the sun.
Within the hour I had finished. I called Russell Valentino, our editor, and told him I had something good. He picked up the manuscript and shortly brought it back (I was still in the office, for some reason). He was short of breath. “Let’s take it,” he said. And we wondered whether there may have ever been a Jew aboard the Trinidad, and what a fascinating idea it was, regardless.
What Bazzle has written is a collision of history and fiction, but I would not dare call it historical fiction. It is more enchanting than that. I have just now reread it, and again I am struck by the feeling of having read an entire novel, and I am laughing at its audacity. A delightful, alchemical mixture of realism and complete bullshit, “Magellan” is the most thrilling story I read the entire year.
December 16, 2011
The 2012 Bedell NonfictioNow conference in Melbourne, Australia is seeking panel proposals.
The University of Iowa, RMIT University, the Copyright Agency Limited, and the Nonfiction Writing Program of The University of Iowa's Department of English are pleased to present the 2012 NonfictioNow conference in Melbourne, Australia, a UNESCO City of Literature.
NonfictioNow is one of the most significant gatherings of writers, teachers, and students of nonfiction from around the world. Three full days of panels, screenings, and events will center on the practice, thinking, communication, and writing of nonfiction in all its forms. Keynote speakers will include Helen Garner, Margo Jefferson, and David Shields. Complete details are available at the NonfictioNow website.
Please submit panel proposals online. Submissions close April 2012, and conference registration opens in February.