Thursday, April 2, 2020

In these strange and difficult times, the University of Iowa Press, with the Writing University, is reaching out to its authors to gain perspective, advice, humor and connection. We want to know how they are doing, first and foremost: we are primarily checking in. But we also want to know how they are living (or surviving, or managing) with the pandemic that surrounds all of us. We are a family here -- the press, the authors, the university -- and this is what families do: we check in.


Our first author conversation came from Greg Hoch. Greg works as a prairie habitat supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He is author of Booming from the Mists of Nowhere: The Story of the Greater Prairie-Chicken (2015), Sky Dance of the Woodcock: The Habits and Habitats of a Strange Little Bird (2019), and With Wings Extended: A Leap into the Wood Duck’s World all from the University of Iowa Press. He lives near Cambridge, Minnesota.

Greg wrote UI Press marketing director Allison Means about his daily life during the pandemic:

Hi Allison,

I've been spending my whole life distancing myself from being social.  In some ways, this is an introverts ideal!  Stay home with the dog and avoid people.  Got it.

My home internet is acting up, so I've been driving into town, sitting in the parking lot and doing email/meetings from there.

Greg sent us pictures of his “coworker” (his dog, Ding!) and his “home office” (which, right now, is his car because of unpredictable internet in his house.)


An update from Greg:

After a couple transition days working out of the truck while we solved rural internet issues, we are working away at home.  It's a mixed blessing.  The commute is much nicer and the companionship is wonderful.  However, the home office used to be used only for writing in the evening after I've left the job for the day.  Now the job and creative writing space are one and the same.  And it's hard to walk away from work because of that one, and one more, email late in afternoon.

The commuting time I've been able to save has been largely spent enjoying nearby public lands during the spring bird migration season. 


He also described the origin of Ding's name: a cartoonist from Iowa!

My four conservation heroes are Aldo Leopold, Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and Ding Darling. . . . Ding Darling was an editorial cartoonist from Iowa whose cartoons had a strong conservation theme, the artist who drew the first Duck Stamp, and the first director of my previous employer and an agency I still work closely with today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The pup from central Iowa would be named Ding.

And lastly

Favorite things to do...  long walks, large stacks of books to work through, gardening (soon), etc.  And Skype mtgs and email of course.


Thank you Greg! Be well, take care, keep going.

Established in 1969, the University of Iowa Press serves scholars, students, and readers throughout the world with works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. As the only university press in the state, Iowa is also dedicated to preserving the literature, history, culture, wildlife, and natural areas of the Midwest. The UI Press is a place where first-class writing matters, whether the subject is Whitman or Shakespeare, prairie or poetry, memoirs or fandom. They are committed to the vital role played by small presses as publishers of scholarly and creative works that may not attract commercial attention. For more information, please e-mail


Photo by Galina N on Unsplash