The Blog


Erika Jo Brown

Let us, for a moment, judge a book by its cover. The title of Jennifer Karmin’s debut poetry collection, aaaaaaaaaaalice, stretches across the span of the book in hollow, clean, orange typeface. Several blue keywords wrap around laterally. The front cover, mostly white space, is modestly embellished with three inky bunnies in the bottommost corner. The astute typography and layout design reflect the accomplishments of the book, which experiments with space and presence in an unpretentious and, frankly, perky way. It is at once socially generous (the keyword “hello” is bolded in salutation), intellectually inquisitive, and aesthetically tickling. aaaaaaaaaaalice is a generous book that innovates its own space in which to breathe and invites the reader to do the same.

2011 Iowa Review Award Winners

TIR staff

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our 2011 contest. In fiction, the winner is John Van Kirk's "Landscape with Boys," about a neighborhood civil war. Fiction judge Allan Gurganus called it "a muscular, comic, ambitious, and very pure piece of writing."

For fiction runner-up, Gurganus chose Suzanne Scanlon's "Her 37th Year, An Index," a story told in alphabetized topic headings, describing it as "a thoroughly engrossing almanac of desire."

Patricia Hampl, nonfiction judge, said her choice for winner, "Life Care Center" by Helen Phillips, "manages its desperate material"—a visit to a severely disabled sister—"without indulgence."

The nonfiction runner-up, "City by the Woods: A Memoir" by Maria Rapoport, was, Hampl writes, "a real consideration of the lingering effects of emigration."


Colin Fleming

The art of Jackson Pollock doesn’t polarize museum-goers as it once did, given his canonization as the patron saint of Abstract Expressionism. But when Pollock was tabbed a mid-century gallery god, there were plenty of people who wondered if his art—like that of Ornette Coleman’s in the late 1950s—wasn’t an outright piss-take. A case of “this isn’t really intended seriously, is it? Surely he’s having a laugh on all of us.” But Americans have come to esteem non-representative painters in a way they’ve never really cared for their native naturalists and portraitists. Perhaps it’s the attendant quality of enigma, or maybe it’s because you could make the argument that Abstract Expressionism is this country’s one indigenous art form.

Statistic by Statistic, a Decade of Documenting Human Rights Abuses

TIR staff

Last month, as it does three times a year, a new Human Rights Index appeared on the TIR Online section of our web site. But this Index—on the theme of gender inequality in the U.S.—has the distinction of being the 30th Human Rights Index published by The Iowa Review, and thus marks ten years of a partnership between TIR and the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR).

Burns Weston, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Iowa Law School, first wrote a Human Rights Index in 2001 at the suggestion of then–TIR editor David Hamilton. “The original idea was to acknowledge the context within which we find room for art,” says Hamilton. “Of course the Harper’s Index was something of a model.”

David Philip Mullins's GREETINGS FROM BELOW

David Duhr

Restraint is hard to come by in Las Vegas; just go to any gate at McCarron International and people-watch. Today’s bright-eyed passengers surging from the jetway, filled with the certainty that their big score is just over the horizon, are tomorrow’s dead-eyed downtrodden, shame and humiliation blanketing their faces, some of their innocence chipped away. It’s not easy to leave Sin City with your dignity intact.

Some people, like Nick Danze, don’t even try. Protagonist of David Philip Mullins’s story collection Greetings from Below, Nick is shame incarnate, and being in his world for nine stories is like a two-week vacation in his desert hometown—exhausted, we leave with the sense that we’ve stayed too long and seen too much.


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