The Blog

Religion, the Bible, and Personal Morality: An Interview with Chinelo Okparanta

Rae Winkelstein-Duveneck

Born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Chinelo Okparanta is a fiction writer, teacher, and graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. In 2012, she was nominated for a United States Artists Fellowship in literature. Okparanta has been interviewed by the BBC’s The Forum, New African Woman magazine, GRANTA (New Voices), KRUI's The Lit Show (The University of Iowa), The Scarlet Scroll (Rutgers University), RTÉ Arena (Ireland), The Sun (Nigeria), and others. Her collection of short stories, Happiness, Like Water, is due out in May from Granta Books in the UK and August from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the US, and will be followed by her debut novel, Under the Udala Trees. Happiness, Like Water has been listed by the Huffington Post as one of its picks for the best books of 2013.  Okparanta served as 2012-2013 Olive B.

“It’s a Long Story, But Basically[…]”: Four Blurbs of Blowout in Lieu of a Review—Denise Duhamel's BLOWOUT

Julie Marie Wade

Denise Duhamel is one of my favorite poets and one of the most captivating, comforting, challenging writers I have ever read.  But because she is “established” in the genre and I am only “emerging,” I realized with some chagrin as I was reading Blowout, her newest and best poetry collection to date, that I will never have a chance to blurb one of Duhamel’s books.  We are poets of two generations. I belong to the one that comes after—and am grateful.

Then, I thought, what would Denise Duhamel do if she wanted to write a blurb of a book but knew she was unlikely to be asked? I think the poet-problem-solver would find a way, and in that spirit of playful tenacity, I offer the blurbs below:

Tanya Larkin's MY SCARLET WAYS

Rebecca Morgan Frank

The opening section of Tanya Larkin’s debut collection, My Scarlet Ways, selected by judge Denise Duhamel for the 2011 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, sweeps us into the world of girls, but these are timeless, hell-raising girls with a kick and bite. The second poem could be read as an ars poetica of sorts: “Sisters, don’t let sisters / ride the chandelier. It’s just a Turkish tea set / with a drunken seductive chime / like the bell in the broken doll’s head / we loved to kick around.” Well, an ironic ars poetica, that is.

New lit mag at Iowa!

TIR staff

Iowa Literaria, the electronic literary journal of the Master of Fine Arts in Spanish Creative Writing program at the University of Iowa, launched its first issue on Tuesday, Feb. 26! 

The inaugural issue of this Spanish-language literary magazine contains a dossier on the great Chilean poet (and former UI faculty member) Óscar Hahn, who just received the National Prize on Literature of Chile; a collection of short stories by young Bolivian writers; essays on the Mexican writer Juan Rulfo; and poetry by students in the Spanish Creative Writing MFA program. It also contains an exclusive interview with the Argentinean writer Federico Falco, who came last fall to Iowa City by invitation of the International Writing Program (IWP).

After Death, Music: Tightening the Slackened Strings of the Lyre—Rusty Morrison's AFTER URGENCY

Virginia Konchan

The landscape of Rusty Morrison's newest poetry collection, After Urgency, is one rid not only of music but the hope of its return.

From “Verdancies of repetition”:

Struck again and again, destiny might never chime.

Toss consonants against the vowels for luck of true correspondence.

Rhyme-fellows remain distinct even at a distance, like two wings frame
the jay’s flight.

Harbor the hidden accentual in the beautiful repose after vowelling.


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