The Blog

Brian Blanchfield's A SEVERAL WORLD

Zach Savich

One might miss, in the exquisitely shapely poems of Brian Blanchfield’s second collection, A Several World, how frequently the poems’ brash dazzle gives way to wit. In the book’s second poem, “The City State,” for instance, one might still be reeling from the invocation of an expansive shopping list (“bone buttons, stronger cord or—what / more did you need?—hard rolls, then fish and flowers in / descending sectors”) when we get this quick exchange: 

Remember answering machines? The gods,
be they pleased, of whichever specific needs, accommodating
singly. Barnaby, after the tone, this is the guy from the grove

Peaches are in. Snap beans (ping in the bowl.). Good surprises
if you hike up into the higher coppices with me in mind.

Remembering Tomaž Šalamun

TIR Staff

We were saddened to learn of the recent passing of legendary Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun, who was both an Iowa Review contributor and a visiting writer at the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. Christopher Merrill, director of the IWP and one of Šalamun's translators, said in 2001, "Šalamun has exerted a great deal of influence on many younger poets, including me. He's a world-class poet. He's easily the best poet of the Balkans, and one of the best of them all." (Read Merrill's recent tribute to Šalamun on the Huffington Post.) For more on Tomaž Šalamun, please visit the Poetry Foundation.

June Melby's MY FAMILY AND OTHER HAZARDS

Michael S. Lewis-Beck

Midwest humorists can be pretty funny—sometimes very funny, like June Melby. Melby, an Iowa native who for years worked the stand-up comedy circuit in L.A., returns to her childhood serving up sno-cones and wisecracks in her debut memoir about growing up on a mini-golf course, My Family and Other Hazards (Henry Holt and Company, 2014).

Django Decapitated: On Shane McCrae’s BLOOD

Micah Bateman

Shane McCrae’s second full-length collection of poems, Blood (Noemi Press, 2013), adapts the sliding and stuttering syntax of his first collection, Mule, to narrate and lyricize gruesome slave narratives from America’s past. Actually McCrae gives voices to the wounds themselves from such narratives, assembling an otherworldly chorus of haunting grotesqueries. Whereas nineteenth-century abolitionist novels waged their battles largely on the grounds of sentiment, McCrae’s collection switches the arena to horror staged with graphic realism. Rather than demythologize the America we all know was founded on its original sin, McCrae repaints America’s creation myth. Like Athena springing from Zeus’s cleaved head, what if America was born from a bath of blood? This collection depicts its new genesis.

Dispatches from Iowa City's Rescue Press Reading

Hope Callahan

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending a packed reading at Prairie Lights which featured two recent books of poetry published by Rescue Press. Co-editor Danny Khalatschi introduced both poets, beginning with Bridgette Bates. Bates earned her MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and now lives in L.A., where she is the writer-in-residence at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and frequently contributes to Kirkus Reviews.

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