The Blog

Techniques for Home Sutures

Ellis Panetta

We are delighted to present Ellis Panetta's essay "Techniques for Home Sutures," nominated by instructor Elizabeth Weiss, as runner-up for the second annual David Hamilton Undergraduate Creative Writing Prize. This prize is sponsored by anonymous donors who wish to honor the mentorship and support they and other students at the University of Iowa received from Emeritus Professor of English David Hamilton. In addition to publication online, Panetta will be awarded a $250 scholarship.


Montreux Rotholtz’s UNMARK

Jane Huffman

Montreux Rotholtz’s debut poetry collection, Unmark, is puzzling, and like all good puzzles, it challenges the puzzler to slow down and take a hard look. To pluck out a corner from a pile of pieces and lay down an edge. I’m reminded of Mary Szybist’s abecedarian “Girls Overheard While Assembling a Puzzle,” which begins: “Are you sure this blue is the same as the / blue over there?” Unmark asks this question again and again, as Rotholtz probes the connotative and emotional power of the given gestures and objects. Under her discerning floodlight, nothing is sanctified or pure—not girlhood, not beauty, not landscape, not dogma: “Blight of crop / becomes blight of fields becomes just blight.”


Rachel Z. Arndt's BEYOND MEASURE

Anya Ventura

Rachel Arndt’s brilliant debut collection, Beyond Measure, explores the idea of “the quantified self," the movement which purports to grant “self-knowledge through numbers.” Overwriting any sentimentalized notion of a unique and irreducible “I,” the self as the sum of private thoughts, Arndt’s “I” is instead an assemblage of data: sleep stats, Airbnb ratings and Tinder likes, pounds weighed and sweat leaked, to-do lists and domestic routines that function like algorithms. This “I” is the circuitry of feedback loops, the precise circling currents of inputs and outputs, the “I” as digital accumulation. In the opening essay, as she attempts to cure her narcolepsy, Arndt writes: “In the sleep lab I let myself become an object . . .

Heather Derr-Smith's THRUST

Thomas Simpson

Heather Derr-Smith’s fourth collection Thrust, winner of Persea Books’s Lexi Rudnitsky Prize, is a volume of exorcism and ecstasy, of violence and desire. It takes her out of some of her earlier work’s terrain—the refugee camps of Syria and Bosnia-Herzegovina—and into ruins far closer to home: the American South, where her speaker was conceived in distinctly American sin. The broken lines of her opener, “Hide Out,” hint that what’s to come is lethally perverse. It’s the only sort of warning we get before the speaker takes us by the hand into the wilderness of eastern Virginia (“all of it battlefield”), where an overpowering older boy “made for coming like a second coming” sexually abuses her as a child.


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