John D’Agata

John D’Agata

GENRE
Nonfiction
AFFILIATION
Alumnus Faculty
TIME IN IOWA CITY
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Image

John D’Agata celebrates the Nonfiction Creative Writing Program 40 year Anniversary


Location

The University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and the program’s director John D’Agata has hundreds of lapel pins and rub-on tattoos in his office to help celebrate.

The design for that tattoo and pin is a bright red heart on fire with a pencil stabbed through it. On it, in cursive, is written a single word: “Essay.”

If such an image doesn’t do justice to the kind of passion D’Agata has for the essay, the fact that he just finished a three-volume, 1,786-page anthology, “A New History of the Essay,” dedicated to celebrating the art of the essay, does.

“It was absolutely the collection of essays I love,” D’Agata said in his fourth-story office of the English Philosophy Building where the lapels and tattoos are kept. “This is, for a lack of a better way to say it, a selfish way of saying it’s my anthology.”


Berg, Zach. “UI’s John D’Agata Celebrates Nonfiction Program’s 40 Years.” Iowa City Press-Citizen, Press Citizen, 6 Apr. 2016, www.press-citizen.com/story/news/2016/04/06/uis-john-dagata-celebrates-nonfiction-programs-40-years/82673302/

Audio

John D’Agata reading, Live from Prairie Lights, February 22, 2012


Location
Prairie Lights Bookstore
15 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City Iowa

John D’Agata and Jim Fingal read from their new book, The Lifespan of a Fact, which focuses on the question of how negotiable a fact in nonfiction actually is. What emerges is a brilliant and eye-opening meditation on the relationship between truth and accuracy and a penetrating conversation about whether it is appropriate for a writer to substitute one for the other.

Audio

John D’Agata, James Galvin, Elizabeth McCracken and David Hamilton reading


Location
Prairie Lights Bookstore
15 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City Iowa

John D’Agata, a faculty member in the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, introduced The Lost Origins of the Essay. The book is a companion to D’Agata’s The Next American Essay, which was published in 2002. D’Agata is joined by Iowa Writers’ Workshop poet James Galvin, longtime Iowa Review editor David Hamilton, and Writers’ Workshop visiting faculty member Elizabeth McCracken to sample the content of this wide-ranging anthology of short nonfiction, which takes the reader from ancient Mesopotamia to classical Greece and Rome, from fifth-century Japan to 19th-century France, to modern Brazil, Germany, Barbados, and beyond.

Audio

John D’Agata, Live from Prairie Lights, February 10, 2010


Location
Van Allen Hall
30 North Dubuque Street

UI nonfiction writing faculty member John D’Agata reads from About a Mountain. A Publishers Weekly starred review of About a Mountain stated, “In this circuitous, stylish investigation, D’Agata (‘Halls of Fame’) uses the federal government’s highly controversial (and recently rejected) proposal to entomb the U.S.’s nuclear waste located in Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas, as his way into a spiraling and subtle examination of the modern city, suicide, linguistics, Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream,’ ecological and psychic degradation, and the gulf between information and knowledge.

“Acting as a counterpoint to Yucca is the story of a teenager named Levi who leapt to his death off Las Vegas’ Stratosphere Motel. It is testament to D’Agata’s skillful organization of the book, broken into Who, What, When, Where, and Why, and his use of a rapid sequences of montages — Levi’s suicide is spliced with Orwellian Congressional debates on the stability of Yucca Mountain — that readers will be pleasurably (and perhaps necessarily) disoriented but never distracted from the themes knitting together the ostensibly unrelated voices of Native American activists, politicians, geologists, Levi’s parents, D’Agata’s own mother, and a host of zany Las Vegans. ” A sublime reading experience, aesthetically rewarding and marked by moral courage and humility.”

Place

John D’Agata: NWP Reading Series at the Sanctuary Pub


Location
Sanctuary Pub
405 S Gilbert St, Iowa City, IA 52240

Like many program directors at UI, a lot of D’Agata’s time is spent pushing papers, literally and figuratively. He helps shape the curriculum; schedules visiting editors, writers and publishers; organizes student awards and makes sure every graduate student in the program is fully funded.

But he also gets to organize more nontraditional events, like program-wide bowling parties and readings at Sanctuary Pub in Iowa City. These small, social events create what D’Agata hopes is a “happier program” and to make sure “the feeling of community is here.”


Berg, Zach. “UI’s John D’Agata Celebrates Nonfiction Program’s 40 Years.” Iowa City Press-Citizen, Press Citizen, 6 Apr. 2016, www.press-citizen.com/story/news/2016/04/06/uis-john-dagata-celebrates-nonfiction-programs-40-years/82673302/

Audio

Mission Creek Festival reading: Roxane Gay and John D’Agata reading, Live from Prairie Lights, April 2, 2013


Location
Prairie Lights Bookstore
15 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City Iowa

John D’Agata reads with Roxane Gay at the 2013 Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City. D’Agata is the author of the books Halls of Fame, About a Mountain and The Lifespan of a Fact. He is the editor of The Next American Essay, The Lost American Essay, and the forthcoming The Making of the American Essay. He teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa. When Halls of Fame was published, David Foster Wallace called John D’Agata “one of the most significant U.S. writers to emerge in the past few years.” Reviewing About a Mountain in the New York Times Book Review, Charles Bock called the book “unquestionably art, a breathtaking piece of writing.”

John D’Agata is the author of Halls of Fame, About a Mountain, and The Lifespan of a Fact, as well as the editor of the 3-volume series A New History of the Essay, which includes the anthologies The Next American Essay, The Making of the American Essay, and The Lost Origins of the Essay. His work has been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, an NEA Literature Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and a grant from the Oberman Center for Advanced Studies. He holds a B.A. from Hobart College and two M.F.A.s from the University of Iowa.

 

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