Jesus’ Son and then some: Denis Johnson reads to Iowa City this week


Denis Johnson: A Remedy for Loneliness

UI campus locations — March 5-7

According to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the acclaimed poet, playwright, essayist, short-story guru and award-winning novelist Denis Johnson has returned this year as a writer-in-residence to interact with undergraduate writers and the wider community. But we suspect the Workshop grad (1974), best known for his short-story collection Jesus’ Son (1992) and his apocalypse-then Vietnam War era novel Tree of Smoke (2007), as well as over four decades of precise and other-worldly verse revered by poets from Manila to Marshalltown, is here to lift the veil, if only for a moment, for those of us too worn down by winter to care what’s beyond it.

His motives aside, he is among us. There is a Q&A with Johnson Wednesday, March 5, at 11 a.m. at the Workshop’s Frank Conroy Reading Room, Dey House. The author will be reading selections from his fiction on Thursday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in Lecture Room 1 of Van Allen Hall.

There will also be a reading of his plays and monologues on Friday, March 7, at 7 p.m. at the Frank Conroy Reading Room, Dey House. These events are free and open to the public, but seating at the Dey House is limited. Johnson can’t shorten the bleakest winter in Little Village memory, but as he writes in his early poem “The White Fires of Venus,” he may help you understand that “The remedy for loneliness is in learning to admit solitude as one admits the bayonet: gracefully, now that already it pierces the heart.”

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