The Blog


Nick Ripatrazone

Rose McLarney’s debut collection feels born of the same world as Irene McKinney’s first book, The Girl with the Stone in Her Lap. Both collections mine the grain and coarse chaff of the American pastoral, where “golden apples / glow in sheer skin,” and yet “Their weight breaks branches . . . and you fall in fruit.” McKinney moved from direct representations of her dark pastoral in later collections, yet those poems still contained the solemn whispers of place. McLarney’s debut arrives with equal weight as McKinney's, though McLarney appears willing to remain longer in this “harmed” world of “buildings abandoned by paint, the now unfarmed fields.”

McLarney imbues a particularly elegiac tone to her corner of the pastoral: this is a world on the brink of change, and not all of it is good. Nature’s shifts introduce “Autumn Again”:

Understanding the Essay: an interview with Patricia Foster, co-editor

Katharine Monger

We are pleased to announce Understanding the Essay, Patricia Foster's fourth anthology, co-edited with Jeff Porter!  Foster's previous editorial work includes Minding the Body: Women Writers on Body and Soul (Anchor/Doubleday, 1994), Sister to Sister (Anchor/Doubleday, 1996), and The Healing Circle, co-edited with Mary Swander (Dutton, 1998).

The Trouble with Spring, from the TIR archive

TIR staff

by Mark W. Halperin
[Iowa Review, Fall 2005]

The warmth is welcome, the green seeping into
stems, chickadees drilling the air
with their staccato nonsense. There's no harm
in any of that. Even the gnats, like pepper
on the wall, are only annoying. But the lack of blue

sky, the pall of clouds, that constant lead-
gray above, sloping my shoulders, the weight of time
bending and pulling, oppress me. It's all in your head,
you say, but if so, the shadows inside are still outside
like a burden, and intolerable—no breaking free

of the self, no integrity to subject
object distinctions. Thank God spring's not stubborn,
even if that requires the same of fall.
I reject sameness, blurred edges. Let other people
and clear skies flourish, worlds beside our own

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.


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