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Poet Bialosky returns to read from Intruder

BY RACHAEL LANDER | FEBRUARY 26, 2009 1:33 PM

While completing their degrees, some Iowa Writers’ Workshop students can only dream of coming back to Prairie Lights Books as the featured author of the night. For graduate Jill Bialosky, it will become a reality.

The Writers’ Workshop alumna will read at Prairie Lights, 15 S. Dubuque St., at 7 p.m. today more than 25 years after graduating from the UI. She will read excerpts from her newest poetry collection, Intruder, although her writing is not limited to poetry.

“I like moving between the two worlds of making a novel and making a poem,” she said. “I find an eerie freedom in it, in not being confined to one form of expression.”

Bialosky has written two novels, House Under Snow and The Life Room, along with three collections of poetry, including her most recent work.

Although she enjoys switching between forms of writing, she said, poetry will always be her “first love.”

“I derive great pleasure in thinking about rhythm and word choice and sound — the mechanics of poetry,” she said.

Her poetry editor, Deborah Garrison, describes Bialosky as a creative, to-the-point writer. Garrison said she admires her ability to be a professional and understand the business behind being an author and also commended the honesty in her writing.

“I have really enjoyed Jill’s frankness, her interest in creativity and the poetic self as subject matter,” Garrison said. “Her fearlessness in the face of a certain kind of female material.”

Not only does Garrison praise Bialosky’s professional ability, she notes that people will find her an easy person to talk to.

“They’ll find something approachable and open about her, a need to communicate and share basic human stories that are always compelling,” Garrison said.

Attending the Writers’ Workshop didn’t come easily for Bialosky. She didn’t receive a fellowship upon arrival, she said, forcing her to work numerous jobs while living in a third-floor attic on Bowery Street and trying to make it as a writer.

For her, returning to the Workshop is “a thrill.” She has not yet read at Prairie Lights since becoming a published poet and author, she said, but she used to attend readings at the store while working on her degree.

“I spent endless hours there when I was a grad student, poring over the current poetry and fiction,” she said.

She is excited about returning to Iowa City after all of the work she has produced.

“It feels like completing a circle,” she said. “When I was at the Workshop, I was 24-years-old and just finding my voice as a poet. It was an uncertain and exciting time and a great privilege to have time to work on the craft and to study with other poets.”


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