The Blog

Jennifer Moxley’s THE OPEN SECRET

Davy Knittle

If Jennifer Moxley is the speaker of the poems in her new collection The Open Secret (Flood Editions, 2014), she is a number of people. If she is “the poet” and also the “I” of the poems, and I, as the reader, am the “you,” because the “I” is also sometimes the “you,” we might be each other. Personhood is fluid, as she writes in “Evacuations”: 

                                             …The poet starts
counting in order to show the “active” reader
that counting is intentional and structure meaningful,
and both are true. Repetition is also a convenient device.
If I just repeat things, people will take note. If I think
about the past my life will seem to have a kind of
structure. But sometimes you need a new recipe.  

DEADLINE EXTENDED for Iowa City Literary Landmark Photo Contest

TIR staff

The Iowa Review is accepting entries to its Iowa City Literary Landmark Photo Contest until midnight on October 15, 2015. The winning photo will be published on the cover of the Winter 2015 issue of The Iowa Review, and the photographer will receive $500. Finalist photos will be featured in a virtual gallery at iowareview.org.

Sarah Rose Nordgren's BEST BONES

Phoebe Reeves

Best Bones, Sarah Rose Nordgren’s first book of poems, won the 2013 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize and was released from the University of Pittsburgh Press Pitt Poetry Series last year. Nordgren’s debut collection displays a Greek chorus of voices, ranging from the quiet tones of small children and ghosts to the sly or bitter tales of adults: wives, mistresses, slaves, and shepherds. “Stillbirth,” the poem that opens the first section of the book, warns the reader, “If you learn anything / from living in this house, it will be how / to survive a variety of interruptions.”

Interview with Ottessa Moshfegh

James Yu

Ottessa Moshfegh's allergy toward self-promotion makes her rise all the more impressive. The recipient of the Stegner Fellowship, a National Endowment of the Arts grant, and the Fence Modern Prize in Prose, she has in the last few years become something of a house writer for The Paris Review.

Before she deleted her Twitter account, her avatar was not a professionally burnished headshot of the kind gracing the dust jackets of debut novelists but a medical illustration of three pairs of eyes, each depicting a condition known informally as lazy eye. It is a nonstandard choice for an avatar and seems to capture the forthrightness of Moshfegh's work, in which characters use colostomy bags and have genitals swollen due to pituitary situations, who think mean thoughts and make morally ambiguous decisions.

Richard Siken's WAR OF THE FOXES

Lisa Butts

Richard Siken's second collection, coming a decade after his Yale Younger Poets prize-winning debut Crush, finds the poet a subdued man with more mature preoccupations. The erotic energy and dazzling infatuation that drove Crush are replaced in War of the Foxes with frustrations about the impossibility of creating pure and true artistic representations. Siken sets this conversation in motion from the book's opening line: “The paint doesn't move the way the light reflects, / so what's there to be faithful to?” The trappings of aesthetics are insufficient: “It should be enough. To make something / beautiful should be enough. It isn't.” 

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