Pity Iowa City, dear Lit Show listeners; we’re having a rough time of it.
First N+1 brews a familiar tempest in a well-used teacup with the publication of MFA vs. NYC, a book debating the pros and cons of writers either testing their water wings in the freelancing pool, or seeking instruction in graduate school. Now we hear Hannah Horvath, the protagonist of HBO’s series Girls is heading our way, having been accepted to the esteemed Iowa Writers’ Workshop. . . despite the fact that her character is a self-declared essayist. (The Workshop, you see, hosts masters racks in poetry and fiction, while nonfiction students belong to a separate MFA program.) The point is, regardless of genre, Iowa MFA students suddenly seem to have a lot to explain; all this, and it’s thesis deposit season. We’re tired. Our thumbs are sore from tweeting. So thank god the Mission Creek festival is right around the corner, and thank god for the visiting writers who bring fresh air and perspective.
This week, the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Program was proud to present David Lazar, whose latest collection of essays, Occasional Desire, has been hailed as “raising the bar for all contemporary literary nonfiction,” by fellow-essayist and iconoclast Philip Lopate. Lazar is the author of six acclaimed books of nonfiction, including The Body of Brooklyn, Powder Town and the award-winning Conversations with MFK Fisher. He is also the author of two highly influential collections of essays on craft in nonfiction, Essaying the Essay and Truth in Nonfiction. A long time champion of the essay, and of creative writing in academia, Lazar established Columbia College’s Creative Nonfiction MFA program in 2010, after spending 16 years with Ohio University, where he founded one of the country’s first creative writing doctoral programs. He is also the founding editor of the ground-breaking and genre-bending journal Hotel Amerika, which just celebrated its thirteenth year.
Today, at 10am, he will be hosting a Masters Class in the Gerber Lounge of the English-Philosophy Building. He will be discussing some of his favorite literary journals, and the work that goes into starting and maintaining them.
David Lazar on transgeneric work, anthologizing, and aphorisms, plus a reading from Occasional Desire: