In 2009, Governor Chet Culver appointed Mary Swander the Poet Laureate of the State of Iowa. Swander is the author of four books of poetry, her most recent being The Girls on the Roof (Turning Point/Word Tech, 2009), a Mississippi River flood narrative.

upcoming events

May 12 2016
Writers Under the Influence

HEATHER DERR-SMITH's new collection, TONGUE SCREW (Spark Wheel Press) explores themes of female sexuality and agency, of personal connection, of love, and of desire sometimes gone wrong and violent.

HEATHER-DERR SMITH was born in Dallas, Texas in 1971. She spent most of her childhood in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She earned her B.A. from Art History at the University of Virginia, where she also took poetry workshops with Charles Wright, Rita Dove, and Greg Orr. She went on to earn her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has published two books of poems, Each End of the World (Main Street Rag Press, 2005) and The Bride Minaret (University of Akron Press, 2008). Tongue Screw is her third collection.

SASS BROWN is a recipient of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship in Poetry, a Vermont Studio Center fellowship, and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarship, among other honors. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Her poetry has been published in many literary journals, including Hayden’s Ferry Review, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, and Gulf Coast. USA-1000 is her first book.

And hosted by:
ELIZABETH HAZEN - a poet and essayist whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2013, The Normal School, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, and other journals. Her debut poetry collection, Chaos Theories (2016), is an Atomic Books bestseller. She teaches English at Calvert School in Baltimore.

Writers Under The Influence takes place in Atomic Books' Eightbar - the backroom bottleshop serving beer, wine and soda.

2709 Walnut Street
50265 West Des Moines, Iowa

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A few hours after Des Moines
the toilet overflowed.
This wasn't the adventure it sounds.

I sat with a man whose tattoos
weighed more than I did.
He played Hendrix on mouth guitar.
His Electric Ladyland lips
weren't fast enough
and if pitch and melody
are the rudiments of music,
this was just
memory, a body
All night I flew the dark recess of God's mind.
It was arranged like Iowa fields--

not a damn thing missing.
You ask how I survived.

I lived on a message, broad light
at the end of the world.

Words, they have so much in common with departure,

the clouds elliptical & nervous.
Why translate? It's just a