Fellow Spotlight: Stephen G. Bloom

Following a four-year odyssey that took him across five continents in pursuit of a story, University of Iowa Journalism Professor Stephen Bloom arrived at the VCCA to put the experiences to paper during a five-week residency.

HIs project, Tears of the Mermaid, is world-wide detective story whose central character is pearls, and will be published by St. Martin's Press. Tears traces an arc—from the moment a woman in New York wraps a strand of pearls around her neck, fastening its clasp, back to the instant a diver off the coast of Australia scoops up from the ocean floor an oyster. It uses pearls as a metaphor to explore the interconnections of global politics, world finance and haute couture.

In 1993, Steve left the world of newspapers to become a professor at the University of Iowa. Seven years later, he wrote Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America, which explores what happens when 150 Lubavitcher Jews move to a northeast Iowa town, buy the local slaughterhouse, and become the town's power brokers.

Steve just completed The Oxford Project, to be published by Welcome Books next fall. The collaborative project probes the lives of 100 residents in a single American town. The project has been selected by ExhibitsUSA for a national museum tour, and is scheduled for two exhibitions in the Veneto Region of Italy in mid-2009.

His writing has appeared in Smithsonian, and The International Herald Tribune, and on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." A collection of Bloom's nonfiction writing, Inside the Writer's Mind, was published in 2002.


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