The Blog

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's HELLO, THE ROSES

Karen An-hwei Lee

Under the editorial vision of Jeffrey Yang at New Directions, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s newest collection in seven years, Hello, the Roses, dazzles with her signature margin-to-margin lines on the physics of light, phenomenological structures of consciousness, botany, and human physiology. As her readerly fans would expect, a Berssenbrugge rose is strikingly radiant in a phenomenological, mathematical, or physiological sense rather than a classic lyric tradition.

Reading Teju Cole's OPEN CITY in NYC

Rachel Arndt

The narcissism began to seep: through Teju Cole’s narrator, into my paperback-clutching hands, on an airplane from Chicago to New York. It was my first time back in New York since I’d left, six months ago, after living there for a little more than three years. The city demands approximation: about a half a year ago; more than three years; an airplane, suspended over someplace in between two other places. And also that seeping—the empathy with the narrator I couldn’t quite achieve but didn’t mind not achieving because that seemed, in a way, the point of the book, the proof that no matter how open a place or person is, sharing emotion after emotion, there’s still much left beneath the storytelling or, sometimes, literally buried beneath the city.

An NEA grant!

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:

Aries Sipping at a Ruby Pool: John Gosslee's 12 SONNETS FOR THE ZODIAC

Erik Martiny

As prevalent as it has been in popular culture since Babylonian times, the zodiac has inspired but a dearth of recent visual art, and even fewer texts. Lord Byron is one of the few notable poets who paid it any attention at all. The vast bulk of alluringly story-bolstered mainstream myths is probably the reason why so few writers have turned to the wheel of the zodiac as a wellspring of poetry.

"Our Christmas Carol" from the archives

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?

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