[Photo by Jennifer May Hires]
In retrospect, it was not a big moment, my first reading of Jo Ann Beard. We had been assigned one of the essays from her book The Boys of My Youth to read for a creative writing class at the University of Iowa in my first year as an undergrad. If you are familiar with that collection, perhaps you can guess which one. In that hazy time between the shattering horror of Columbine and the devastating shootings at Virginia Tech, most of the students in the class, myself included, were completely unaware that years before, Iowa had been the site of a similar tragedy, one that would become all too common for my generation. Beard’s essay exploring the event, “The Fourth State of Matter,” is the sort of ruminative, elliptical, webby work that can catch a reader prepared for melodrama unawares.
Check out this article on reading Jo Ann Beard by our Awards and Programs Manager Sara Batkie!