The Blog


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.

"Winter in North Liberty" by Mark Strand

TIR staff

Mark Strand (1934–2014), acclaimed poet, essayist, editor, and translator, taught at the University of Iowa from 1962 to 1965. We offer his poem "Winter in North Liberty"—a town just north of Iowa City—in memoriam. The poem is from his recent book, Collected Poems by Mark Strand (Knopf, 2014)

Winter in North Liberty

Snow falls, filling
The moonlit fields.
All night we hear
The wind on the drifts
And think of escaping
This room, this house
The reaches of ourselves
That winter dulls.

Pale ferns and flowers
Form on the windows
Like grave reminders
Of a summer spent.
The walls close in.
We lie apart all night,
Thinking of where we are.
We have no place to go.


Playing Twenty-One with Mark Strand

TIR staff

Mark Strand (1934–2014), acclaimed poet, essayist, editor, and translator, taught at the University of Iowa from 1962 to 1965. In 2005, we published this poem by Millie Mae Wicklund, one of his students at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. We offer it here, in memoriam. For more on Mark Strand, please visit the Poetry Foundation

Playing Twenty-One with Mark Strand


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