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Reading highlights from the Iowa Review

BY JULIA JESSEN | AUGUST 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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Eduardo Halfon thought his career would be in engineering, but when he returned to school to study philosophy, he was required to take a literature class.

“It was immediate,” he said. “I immediately fell in love with reading. I had never read or even thought about reading as a pastime, much less as a career, but it was immediate.”

His short story “Distance” — “Lejano” in its original Spanish title — is a piece featured in the fall issue of the Iowa Review.

Numerous authors as well as two editors from the fall issue of the Iowa Review will appear at 7 p.m. today at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St. The authors will read from their work, and the editors will share behind-the-scenes stories of the publication process.

Jenny Zhang, one of the writers, describes her writing as a sort of mystery. The potential of stories yet to be created appeals to her.

“I’m a big beginner,” she said. “I like to open up a ton of Word documents and write the first page of a lot of potential stories.”

Her short story “You Fell into the River and I Saved You” can also be found in the Iowa Review.
Poet Kim Lazano draws inspiration from home and childhood.

“Oftentimes, it’s my years growing up in rural Kansas, the place that’s still the middle of the world for me, the place that contains so many of my ‘firsts,’ ” Lazano said.

“I’m inspired by beauty and ugliness — anything that makes me feel deeply. I suppose I’m addicted to feeling, to passion, to grief even. When I remember or experience something that makes me ache, I go there.”

Lynne Nugent, the managing editor of the Iowa Review, said the publication is highly regarded and holds a lot of weight in the literature world.

“The Iowa Review helps tie together the various writing programs at the university,” she said. “It is where people from the Writers’ Workshop, the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Translation Program, the English Department, the International Writing Program, and elsewhere get together to talk about what makes writing good.”

The Review receives around 2,000 unsolicited submissions from writers and aspiring writers in any given year. There are a few solicited submissions published that come from requested authors. But the “slush pile” (the unsolicited submissions) makes up most of the magazine.

“The slush pile proves that talent can rise to the top, that it’s not who you know or what connections you have — the writing itself is what matters,” Nugent said.


In today's issue:


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