The Blog


Michael Martin Shea

Water Puppets, Quan Barry’s third full-length collection and winner of the 2010 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, is anything but puppetry, striking a forceful blow against the idea of poetry as naïve navel-gazing. It takes as its motivating question, “What does poetry have to do with the real world?” and throws an emphatic response, as Barry builds a narrative at once personal and political, reflecting on her own past as an immigrant from Vietnam as well as the current state of world affairs.

(Do Not) Beat Poets

Lynne Nugent

Sometimes I imagine the Iowa Review, publisher of literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, as inhabiting the opposite side of the publishing spectrum from, say, a newspaper: not so much Great Men or Great Events—what Virginia Woolf summarized as the kind of history that proclaims, "In the year 1842 Lord John Russell brought in the Second Reform Bill"—as a more lowercase version of history: personal, idiosyncratic, filtered through the consciousness of a single writer who, in the moment of writing, seems not so much engaged with world events as contemplating them from a distance.

Why We’re Excited to Publish…“Magellan” by Bradley Bazzle

Bryan Castille

For a new series of posts, we’re asking our editors to choose a recent story, essay, or poem they’d selected for publication and tell us how it won them over. Here, our 2010-2011 fiction editor, Bryan Castille, recalls his discovery of Bradley Bazzle’s “Magellan,” which appears in the Winter 2011 issue.

It was the end of a very long day of reading fiction manuscripts. The sun had long set, and my head ached from hours of straining my eyes. My contact lenses had fused themselves to my corneas. I was about to log out of my computer when I saw another unopened envelope. (Envelopes tended to inexplicably repopulate my desk when I was ready to go home.) Rather than toss it back into the slush pile for another day, I opened it, thinking, “I’ll just read the first page. If it’s good, I’ll take it home. If it’s not so good, I’ll leave it for tomorrow.”


Chris Martin

You may come to this book looking for a stance on Beauty. You may come to it looking for more Snoop Dogg references. You may come looking for a catalog of Mark Leidner’s Twitter feed. In each of these cases you will arrive misguided, but by the time you realize it you will be halfway through this immanently readable book and a couple of express stops past your intended subway exit. In adopting the serial aphorism for his debut collection of poetry, Beauty Was the Case that They Gave Me (Factory Hollow 2011), Leidner doesn’t so much aim for Nietzsche as shoot for perpetual brain spasm, a sort of intellectual pleasure buzz built on the evolution of a comic theme over lines.


Subscribe to The Blog