Paul Engle Reading: Nathaniel Mackey

Each year the Coe English Department sponsors a reading from a distinguished poet in honor of Paul Engle, a Coe graduate and past director of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. This year we are hosting poet, fiction writer, and critic Nathaniel Mackey, who will be on campus for a reading on October 30th. The reading will be held in Kesler Auditorium at 7:30pm.

Nate Mackey is the author of several volumes of poetry, including the National Book Award-winning Splay Anthem, Whatsaid Serif, and his most recent book, Nod House. He has also published four volumes of an ongoing prose project entitled From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate. When he’s not writing he can be found broadcasting jazz and world music on local radio stations.


Hear Nate Mackey read and discuss his poem “On Antiphon Island” here.

Mackey is constantly experimenting with language, using rhythms and different qualities of sound to create poetry and prose that reads like music. In a piece for Jacket Magazine, Luke Harely writes of Mackey: “He thinks like an experimental jazz musician, forever pondering ways to reinvent the art form in which he operates. By closely examining the similarities and differences between words and tones, he seeks to occupy a poetic realm populated by what I will call word-tones, a realm as free as possible from denotation.”

Mackey also experiments with point of view in his work, moving deftly from first person to first person plural and back again, blurring the identity of the speaker. In an interview for Publishers Weekly, Mackey tells an anecdote in which “the question of the “we” came up, and one of the students said something that was quite resonant for me, which was that he didn’t experience the “we” as presumptuous or as an imposition; he experienced it as an invitation. I guess that’s what it is—an invitation to the reader to identify, to include him or herself.”

At the upcoming reading, Mackey will read from his work and participate in a question and answer discussion exploring his writing, musical influences, and any questions you might have about the writing life. Mackey will close by signing books for any who are interested, and desserts will be served in Hickok lobby after the reading. As always this event is free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

Last Chance: Submit to the T-Shirt Contest!

Attention English and Creative Writing Students!

Our t-shirt contest is quickly coming to a close, so it’s time to submit the fantastic ideas you have spiraling through your literary minds.

There are printed templates on which to draw your design in Office Suite 303. Pick one up, let those creative juices flow, and submit it to the file folder in Office Suite 303 by this Friday, October 10, at 1 PM. Make sure to write your name on the template so we can lavish you with praise when all is said and done.

You can also print your own template here.

One entry per student, please. (If you get more than one mind-blowing idea, have a friend submit your second idea for you…and then secretly take credit for it.)

Get excited for some truly novel shirts! (Pun, of course, intended.)

Participate in the Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium!

Vertibo Unversity in La Crosse, Wisconsin is hosting the 12th Annual Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium and has sent out a call for submissions of research/creative work from English and Creative Writing Majors at Coe. This is a fantastic opportunity for those who are interested to present and receive recognition for their work, as well as meet students and faculty from other schools.

There is no fee for participating, and the symposium is also open to students who do not have anything to present but are be interested in engaging in research in the future.

It is important that anyone who is interested register and submit an abstract (300 words or less) by Friday, October 31, 2014. The registration/submissioin form can be found here.

More information regarding the symposium, including their tentative event schedule and numerous resources from previous years, can be found on their website, and you can direct any outstanding questions to

The symposium will take place at Vertibo University on November 14, 2014. We hope you will consider presenting your work!

First Annual T-Shirt Design Contest

This year, we want Coe College’s English and Creative Writing students to show off their literary pride with our first annual custom-made t-shirts.

We know that between writing papers and reading for classes, you will need a little study break — so help us design our new shirts! Use your knowledge of literature to come up with a witty slogan or picture that perfectly captures the joys and struggles of the English and Creative Writing student’s life.

Here is a template with a picture of a blank t-shirt. Just print the PDF, draw your design, and submit it in the “T-Shirt Designs” submission box in office suite 303. If your design uses various colors, the colors will not be considered in order to keep the price of the shirt down. All submissions due by 1 PM on Friday 10/10 (right before Fall Break).

We will open t-shirt designs to voting after Fall Break. We will also give information about how to order your shirt at that time.

Happy designing!

Upcoming Reading: Linh Dinh

If you’ve been waiting with baited breath for the English Department’s reading series to begin, wait no longer! We are kicking off the semester with a visit from distinguished fiction writer, poet, translator, and photographer Linh Dinh, who will be coming to Coe’s campus for a reading next Wednesday, September 24. The reading will be held in Kesler Auditorium at 4:30pm.

 Linh Dinh on 9-4-14--Philadelphia

Linh Dinh was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States in 1975, narrowly escaping the fall of Saigon. He has two collections of short stories, five books of poetry, and a novel to his name, and his short story collection Blood and Soap was chosen by the Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. His most recent work of translation is Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao. Dinh’s work walks cultural boundaries between America and Vietnam, and he often mixes grotesque imagery with sharp political commentary.

In an interview with the Pacific Rim Review of Books, Dinh talks about a major theme of his work, which is lifting the cracked facade of both American and Vietnamese society: “The two cultures I’m most familiar with, the U.S. and Vietnam, are tremendously fake, but in different ways. During the Vietnam War, the Hanoi government also called the South Vietnamese “nguy,” or “fake” (This term “nguy” is frequently translated into English as “puppet,” but it actually means “fake.”) One of my favorite lines of all time is Elias Canetti’s “She saw behind everything. Behind that, she saw nothing.” So my motto is, “You’ve got to see behind what’s behind,” you’ve got to see beyond the so-called authenticity behind the fakeness.”

Dinh’s current project is Postcards from the End of America, a blog featuring haunting photographs of America’s homeless in cities across the US. It is set to be released as a book in 2015.

At the upcoming reading, Dinh will read from his work and participate in a question and answer discussion exploring his writing, translation work, editing, and much more with Assistant Professor of English, Nick Twemlow. The reading is free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!

-Laura Mills, English Department Student Blogger

Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities

Simpson College will host the 4th Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities on November 8, 2014. We invite submissions focusing on any area of original research-based scholarship in the humanities, including creative work, from colleges and universities in the Midwest.  Presentations may take the form of 10-15 minute papers, readings, displays, or lecture-recitals. Please direct questions to J.J. Butts ( The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2014.


Streamlines Undergraduate Conference

On Saturday, November 15, 2014, Clarke University, Loras College and University of Dubuque will host Streamlines, an opportunity for undergraduate students at colleges and universities to share scholarship and creativity. The conference will be held at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, and is open to all interested college students and faculty.


Creative Writing Double Header and Other Upcoming Events

Please join the English Department for two upcoming events this Thursday, April 17:


Creative Writing Senior Reading

Thursday, April 17 at 4 p.m.

Kesler Auditorium

Featuring Mirah Bolender, MJ Eyzaguirre, Rashad Harris, Courtney Marti, Jordan Miller and Lea Mislevy


Sarah Lindsay Poetry Reading

Thursday, April 17

7:00 pm

Off Campus@CSPS

1103 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Book signing to follow at New Bo Books


Please join Sarah Lindsay, formerly of Cedar Rapids, as she reads from her new collection of poems, Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower, published last year by Copper Canyon. The reading will be held at CSPS, with a book signing to follow at New Bo Books. Several of Lindsay’s books will be available for purchase, and she would be happy to sign a copy and answer questions following the reading.


A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, Sarah Lindsay graduated from St. Olaf College with a B.A. and a Paracollege major in English and creative writing. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro. She has worked at Coe College as a typist, at the Cedar Rapids Gazette in the makeup department, and at Unicorn Press as a typesetter, printer, bookbinder, and floor-sweeper. As a copy editor at Pace, she has worked on such titles as Amtrak Express, Southern Bride, IGA Grocergram, the inflight magazine for Delta Airlines, and Verizon publications; nowadays she is the copy editor for Four Seasons Magazine and its website. She is also an amateur cellist. Her books of poems include Primate Behavior (finalist for the National Book Award), Grove Press, 1997; Mount Clutter, Grove Press, 2002; Twigs and Knucklebones, Copper Canyon Press, 2008; and Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower, Copper Canyon Press, 2013.



Other upcoming events to mark on your calendars:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
7:30 p.m. Dows Theatre

Accomplished actor, award-winning author and playwright Jim DeVita brings new life to Sir Ian McKellen’s play, “Acting Shakespeare.” Twenty-three years after seeing Mr. McKellen’s play, DeVita was inspired to adapt it for his own performance. It took him two years of research and revisions and 14 drafts to finally complete his rendition. While some of the original writings of McKellen are retained, DeVita’s creation emphasizes a more intimate story of one person’s journey towards meeting Shakespeare. DeVita has over 25 years of experience in American Theater, and currently writes and adapts plays for children and young adults.


Creative Writing Reading

Tuesday, April 22 at 4 p.m.

Kesler Auditorium

Pimone Triplett Engle Reading at Coe Thursday, April 10 at 7 p.m.

Pimone Triplett

Paul Engle Poetry Reading


Thursday, April 10

7:00 pm


Kesler Auditorium (first floor Hickok Hall)


Please join distinguished poet Pimone Triplett for Coe College’s annual Paul Engle Writers Series poetry reading Thursday, April 10, at 7:00 p.m. in Kesler Auditorium (first floor of Hickok Hall). Triplett, who has been described in the pages of The New Yorker as a poet “of complex surfaces and elegant ideas,” will read new work as well as from her three collections of poetry. She will also participate in a question and answer discussion exploring her poetry, the writing process, identity, editing, and much more with Assistant Professor of English, Nick Twemlow. The reading is open to the public and a reception will follow the event.

About the Paul Engle Writers Series Poetry Reading

The Coe English Department sponsors an annual poetry reading commemorating Paul Engle, a Coe graduate, past director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and co-founder with Nieh Hualing of the International Writing Program. In the spirit of Paul Engle’s mentoring of young writers, Coe brings a distinguished poet to campus each year for a reading and an informal meeting with students.

Pimone Triplett’s most recent collection of poems is Rumor. She is also the author of The Price of Light, and Ruining the Picture, as well as co-editor of the essay anthology, Poet’s Work, Poet’s Play. A recipient of the Larry Levis Poetry Prize and the Hazel Hall Poetry Prize, her poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, Iowa Review, Canary and many others. Noted in The New Yorker as a poet of “of complex surfaces and elegant ideas,” her work has been widely anthologized, appearing in W.W. Norton’s Language for a New Century, Legitimate Dangers and Asian American Poetry, the Next Generation, among others.  Her MFA is from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She teaches in the University of Washington MFA program and lives in Seattle with her husband and son.


Also note the following upcoming events (2 on the same day!):

Creative Writing Senior Reading

Thursday, April 17 at 4 p.m.

Kesler Auditorium

Featuring Mirah Bolender, MJ Eyzaguirre, Rashad Harris, Courtney Marti, Jordan Miller and Lea Mislevy


A reading featuring the award-winning poet (and Cedar Rapids native) Sarah Lindsay

Co-sponsored by the Coe College English Department and New Bo Books

Thursday, April 17 at 7 p.m. at CSPS

1103 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Book signing to follow at New Bo Books


Creative Writing Reading

Tuesday, April 22 at 4 p.m.

Kesler Auditorium


Research Presentation featuring Assistant Professor of English Amber Shaw

Join us for a research presentation featuring Assistant Professor of English Amber Shaw. Her talk, entitled “‘The Pallid Incipience of the Pulp': Herman Melville, the Lowell Mills, and Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture,” will be drawn from her current research project on the links between the transatlantic textile industry and nineteenth-century British and American literature. You can find an abstract of her talk below.



Thursday, April 3 at 4 p.m. in Kesler Auditorium

Refreshments will be served


“The pallid incipience of the pulp”: Herman Melville, the Lowell Mills, and Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture

When British luminaries such as Charles Dickens and Harriet Martineau toured textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, they praised what they observed in newspaper articles and travelogues on both sides of the Atlantic. In “The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids” (1855) Herman Melville highlights the discrepancy between these public celebrations of the Lowell mills and the reality of factory life. These critiques, however, are not overt, for Melville’s diptych, as a piece of fiction, inherently poses the problems of eyewitness believability and supposedly factual accounts. Moreover, Melville published the story in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, a popular America periodical that often avoided controversy. Throughout the story, then, Melville at once talks about—and does not talk about—the Lowell mills; by describing cotton-rag paper instead of textiles and by filtering these observations through his largely ambivalent narrator, Melville emphasizes the real material—and transatlantic—connections between consumer and factory. 

This talk explores how Melville’s narrator’s muted reactions throughout the story are themselves a critique of both the Lowell mills and the periodical culture surrounding the mid-nineteenth-century cotton industry. While the narrator initially considers his tour a “novelty,” he becomes increasingly affected by what he sees and concludes his tour (and the story) with a not-quite-articulated critique of the factory system. In doing so, Melville underscores the relationship between actual poor working conditions and more nebulous damage from the transatlantic literary community’s idealization of the Lowell mills—and he urges his readers to come to terms with their own complicity in the global economy.