Poets Against the War, Press Release, February 2003


CONTACT: Ted Genoways

(319) 354-6865


IOWA CITY, IA (Feb. 15)

A group of Iowa poets, including the Iowa Poet Laureate, will hold a reading in opposition to military action in Iraq at 4 P.M., Wednesday, February 12, at the R. Wayne Richey Ballroom on the third floor of the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus. The reading is scheduled to include Iowa Poet Laureate Marvin Bell, University of Iowa Writers' Workshop professors James Galvin and Cole Swensen, director of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program Christopher Merrill, and University of Iowa graduate students Katie Ford and Ted Genoways.

The event is part of the National Day of Poetry Against the War, a movement founded barely a week ago by poet and publisher Sam Hamill after he received an invitation from Laura Bush to attend "Poetry and the American Voice," a White House symposium on the works of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and Walt Whitman. "I was overcome by a kind of nausea," Hamill wrote in his open letter to American poets. "Only the day before I had read a lengthy report on George Bush's proposed 'Shock and Awe' attack on Iraq, calling for saturation bombing that would be like the firebombing of Dresden or Tokyo, killing countless innocent civilians."

More than 3,500 American poets sent poems of protest for Hamill to deliver to the White House. When Laura Bush learned of the plan, however, the event was quickly cancelled. "While Mrs. Bush respects and believes in the right of all Americans to express their opinions," the first lady's press secretary Noelia Rodriguez said in a prepared statement, "she, too, has opinions, and believes that it would be inappropriate to turn what is intended to be a literary event into a political forum."

In response to the cancellation, poets have organized readings in more than twenty-five cities across the country and as far away as Oxford, United Kingdom, and Uppsala University, Sweden. A full list of readings and selected poems from poets of national reputation have been posted at www.poetsagainstthewar.org. Interested poets may also submit a poem on the website or make donations toward the purchase of advertising space in national newspapers.

Please watch for future releases, or call Ted Genoways for updates to the program.


Marvin Bell, the Flannery O'Connor Professor of Letters in the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop and Iowa's first Poet Laureate, is the author of fifteen books of poetry, including Nightworks: Poems, 1962-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2000); Ardor: The Book of the Dead Man, Volume 2 (1997); A Marvin Bell Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose (1994); The Book of the Dead Man (1994); Iris of Creation (1990); New and Selected Poems (1987); Stars Which See, Stars Which Do Not See (1977), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; Probably Volume of Dreams (1969), which was a Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets; and Things We Dreamt We Died For (1966). He has also published Old Snow Just Melting: Essays and Interviews (1983).

Katie Ford, a masters student in the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, is the author of Deposition (Graywolf, 2002). Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Partisan Review, Ploughshares, and Seneca Review. She holds a masters of divinity from Harvard was featured in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers.

James Galvin, a member of the permanent faculty of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, has published several collections of poetry, most recently Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997 (Copper Canyon, 1997), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Lethal Frequencies (1995); Elements (1988); God's Mistress (1984), which was selected for the National Poetry Series by Marvin Bell; and Imaginary Timber (1980). He is also the author of the critically acclaimed prose book, The Meadow (1992) and a novel, Fencing the Sky Henry Holt, 1999). His honors include a "Discovery"/The Nation award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ted Genoways, a doctoral student in the University of Iowa's English program, is the author of Bullroarer (Northeastern, 2001), winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize, the Natalie Ornish Poetry Award, and the Nebraska Book Award. He is also the editor/translator of The Selected Poems of Miguel Hern‡ndez (Chicago, 2001), and the editor of several books, including an upcoming volume of new letters by Walt Whitman.

Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, is the author of four collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Aleš Debeljak's Anxious Moments and The City and the Child; several edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature; and three books of nonfiction, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee, and Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars.

Cole Swenson, who will join the permanent faculty of the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop next year, is the author of seven books of poems, including Such Rich Hour (University of Iowa Press, 2001); Oh (2000); Try (1999), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize; Noon (1997), which won the New American Poetry Series Award; Numen (1995); Park (1991); New Math (1988), which won the National Poetry Series competition; and It's Alive, She Says. Her translations of contemporary French poetry include Art Poetic (1999, by Olivier Cadiot), Natural Gaits (1995, by Pierre Alferi), Past Travels (1994, by Olivier Cadiot), and Interrmittances II (1994, by Jean Tortel).

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