The Blog


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.


Tod Marshall

“A book of poems is a damn serious affair,” says Wallace Stevens. If so, a book of one hundred seventy-seven pages is mighty serious. That’s the length of Richard Kenney’s newest book, a sprawling yet coherent collection in which he harmonizes serious chords with playful notes to make a metrically brilliant, tonally various, emotionally resonant, sometimes scathing, sometimes silly book that impresses as much with its technical virtuosity as with its intellectual and emotional power. Appreciate poems, admire lines, marvel at turns of phrase and acrobatic diction—fine: the great accomplishment is how everything comes together and it works as book.


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