Iowa Writes

"Algren Meets Donoso"

True story, Word of Honor:
Back in 1966, with the Vietnam War going on,
in September, the start of a new academic year
at the legendary Writers' Workshop
out at the University of Iowa,
I introduced the world-class novelist Nelson Algren,
onetime lover of Simone de Beauvoir,
wife of Nobel Laureate Jean-Paul Sartre,
to the world-class novelist José Donoso,
nickname "Pepe,"
both of them now in Heaven.

We three had all gone bust,
and so had come to work as teachers
of Creative Writing.
I explained to Nelson
that José, that Pepe, was from Chile.
Nelson thought a moment,
possibly about Simone de Beauvoir.
And then he said to José, to Pepe,
"It must be nice to come
from a country
that long and narrow."

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Kurt Vonnegut was a master of contemporary literature, known for such novels as The Sirens of Titan; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; and Slaughterhouse-Five, which he began while teaching at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. The honorary president of the American Humanist Association at the time of his death in 2007, he's up in Heaven now.

About the poem: "Algren Meets Donoso" was first published in the Winter 2005/2006 issue of The Iowa Review (35.3). Like everything published in the magazine from its founding in 1970 through 2009, it can be found online, for free, at The Iowa Review's digital archive.

This page was first displayed
on May 23, 2013

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