The Blog

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.

“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.


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