Writers Stephanie Ash and Jen Rouse Offer Up New Fiction and Poetry

Jan 12, 2017

This hour, we hear from two women (one an Iowan and the other a former Iowan) who have had their first books published.  Charity speaks with Stephanie Ash, who grew up in Oelwein and attended the University of Iowa and Jen Rouse, who lives in Iowa City.   Stephanie's book is a novel and Jen's is a poetry collection.

Ash was first on the program and talked about "The Annie Year," (The Unnamed Press), a comic novel set in a small Iowa town.  Ash's lead character is Tandy Caide, a CPA whose business is to know everyone's business, but as it turns out, everyone in the town seems to know what she's up to as well.   Ash told Charity about the genesis of the story-line, "I was in the unusual situation of having to read a short story in a bar as an opening act for a notorious local band.  So if you want to learn how to be a writer, that's a really rough start.  I had to make a story that was loud and unusual in its voice. It had one joke--if you read the book yCancelou can see the joke, it's pretty evident.  It's a kind of raunchy joke and I built a character around it.  And the story was funny and it went from there..."

Later in the hour, Charity speaks to poet and playwright Jen Rouse of Iowa City.  She has had her first collection of poetry published, "Acid and Tender" (Headmistress Press), inspired by the life and work of artist Frida Kahlo.  Rouse grew up in Des Moines and attended Iowa State University, among other schools.   Regarding her love for Kahlo, she told Charity: "Living in Washington D.C., I got to see a lot of Kahlo's work.  My draw isn't necessarily to her life or her biography, but instead her way of creating.  I see us both as "confessional" artists, we are both re-inventors of self.  Poetry does not ask for complacency and neither does Frida's art.  She's a symbol of being a really strong warrier and I admire that."