The Blog


Brent House

As a child growing up in South Mississippi, I was given the chore of plucking the fascicles of pine needles that had fallen into the zigzag of the chain-link fence surrounding our family home; so, on a Saturday morning after a week of late-summer storms, I would carry a small metal bucket to the edge of our yard, I would pluck the needles fallen from forest to the wire, and, before I placed the fascicles in the bucket, I would press each sharp needle against my sun-darkened skin, blanched myself white, for a moment. For longer moments, I would rest in the pine shade, and, as I laid my head on the needles I placed around the roots of the pines, I would look back to the house, and I would rest, sometimes dream of a fence clean and rust-less, as falling needles returned to the twists of the red-orange-brown wires.

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:


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