Tribute to honor Denis Johnson Friday

Memorial Service for Denis Johnson

Macbride Auditorium — Friday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m.

Denis Johnson — file photo

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa will hold a tribute on Friday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. in honor of Denis Johnson, acclaimed writer and Workshop graduate (and former instructor) who passed away in May.

Current Workshop director Lan Samantha Chang, who will speak at the service, wrote of Johnson, “He was and remains inspiring, not just for the moving subject matter of his writing, but also for the technical mastery he demonstrated, from which we will continue to learn from for many years.”

At the time of his death at 67, Johnson had published nine novels (including the National Book Award winner Tree of Smoke), one novella, two short story collections, three collections of poetry and two of plays. A final collection of short stories, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, is set for publication in January.

Earlier this month, at the National Book Festival, he was posthumously awarded the Library of Congress’ Prize for American Fiction.

Speakers at Friday’s tribute will include Workshop representatives Chang and poetry chair James Galvin, as well as 2015 National Medal of Arts recipient Tobias Wolff; UI Department of Dance chair George de la Peña; Christopher Merrill, Director of the International Writing Program; recent Workshop graduate Connor White; and Johnson’s son, Morgan Johnson.

Ed. Note: This post has been updated to reflect changes to the list of speakers.

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