Iowa Caucuses: Stranger Than Fiction

Jan 25, 2016

Zachary Michael Jack, a farmer and teacher, is a seventh-generation Iowan who still lives in rural Jones County. He has followed Iowa’s caucuses his entire life.

In fact, he’s followed them closely enough to write a novel based on the quadrennial political gatherings, Corn Poll: A Novel of the Iowa Caucuses. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Jack about his inspiration for the book.

Jack says he wrote the novel because the caucuses “have become a bona fide Iowa folkway—the subject not just of conversations over coffee, but also literature, film, and music.” Iowa Public Radio’s Dean Borg says he enjoyed Corn Poll’s behind-the-scenes peek at presidential candidates and the media covering the campaign drama. But don’t worry, this is not a dry academic treatise. Fans of the novel say the book will make you laugh first and then think. Jack has now written more than twenty award-winning books and doesn’t like to restrict himself to one form—thus, his next book could be another novel, or poetry, literary journalism, creative non-fiction or personal essays.

In the third segment of the program, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on Caucus! The Musical, with creator Robert John Ford and director Alison Shafer. 

"Politics is so theatrical, and there's larger than life characters," says Ford. "I thought, this has to be a musical, it can't be just a straight play. It has to be a musical comedy."

Caucus! The Musical is a look at the oversized role Iowa plays in the presidential election process. The 2016 edition of the performance has been significantly rewritten and features new characters, new scenes, and six new songs. Performance schedule, ticket information, and more information about the show are available at