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THE IOWA REVIEW Celebrates National Poetry Month 2020

Abby Petersen

Of all poetry’s qualities, “voice” is perhaps the most celebrated and the most elusive. It’s a quality that is best measured by its effects: its directness or obscurity, its atmosphere and mood, and the sense of company it imparts through the creation of shared space. The Iowa Review is pleased to celebrate another National Poetry Month through our online feature. Each day in April, TIR will present a poet whose work not only speaks to personal concerns, but collectively to us and each other.

Here's the list of this year's poets:

Dora Malech's FLOURISH

Jane Huffman

Dora Malech has never been afraid of flourish: whip-smart, wind-whipping, hair-raising masterstrokes of language define so many of her poems. (Recall “The Kisser”: “Drew the short straw, scared herself apart / to spit-sweet shards and into time that counted / backwards from two lips ago.”) But in her new book Flourish, Malech produces a subtler vision of her wit and tenor—an orchestra rising from a deeper, darker pit. A line from her poem “Progress” says it best: “Geometry that gestures toward itself / or not at all as in the inward wave / that in one culture simply greets and in / another draws one closer.”

Jennifer Soong’s NEAR, AT

Amanda Auerbach

Jennifer Soong’s Near, At is a book that precisely tracks the consciousness as attention trails off, distracted by the blurring of perceptions, or caught up in stray wisps of emotion. Soong’s poems show that new possibilities open up lyrically, politically, and personally when the mind is allowed to become diffuse, loosening its grip on the here and the now. If we have to choose between keeping track of the thoughts that give rise to our emotions and keeping track of the mind as it resists that awareness, Soong’s collection shows there is much to be gained from making the latter choice.

 

Interview with David Shields

Cassandra Jensen

Writer and filmmaker David Shields has authored twenty-two books, including the groundbreaking Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Vintage Books, 2010) and the award-winning Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season (University of Nebraska Press, 2000), as well as, most recently, The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power (Mad Creek Books, 2019). His latest documentary, Lynch: A History, explores the silence-as-protest of NFL star Marshawn Lynch. I talked with Shields via email about the film and some of his other projects-in-progress.

Interview with Jessica Laser

Peter Myers

Jessica Laser was raised in Chicago. She is the author of Sergei Kuzmich from All Sides (Letter Machine Editions, 2019) and the chapbooks Assumed Knowledge and the Knowledge Assumed from Experience (Catenary Press, 2015), and He That Feareth Every Grass Must Not Piss in a Meadow (paradigm press, 2016). A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has taught writing at Brown University, the University of Iowa, Parsons School of Design, and elsewhere. She is currently a PhD student in English at UC Berkeley. 

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