New downtown banners celebrate the City of Literature

Our new City of Literature street-pole banners are up throughout downtown Iowa City, reminding residents to celebrate our designation as the third UNESCO City of Literature in the world.

The banners, based on our new logo design, were created by Mara Cole with the Iowa City Public Library, and were funded by the Community Foundation of Johnson County. Our friends at TruArt Color Graphics printed the banners, completing this local celebration of the arts.

Thanks to the above-mentioned, as well as the Iowa City Streets crew that hung them for us.

April 30 International Jazz Day event celebrates ‘Art of Improvisation’

IJD poster 2

In celebration of UNESCO’s International Jazz Day, the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature presents “The Art of Improvisation,” an event that celebrates and explores the unique role that improvisation plays in jazz.

Steve Grismore, a full-time jazz instructor at the University of Iowa and a familiar face in jazz performance in the area for decades, will lead a group that will perform songs and explain how improvisation plays a part in the performance.

Grismore will be joined by bassist Danny Oline, saxophonist Jim Buennig, and drummer Paul Cunliffe. All three have extensive experience playing jazz in Iowa and beyond.

The official program will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library. Music will be performed for 15 minutes before and after the program.

The program will be aired live on the Library Channel, Iowa City cable channel 20, and will be broadcast live on KCCK Jazz 88.3 or at

The event is co-presented by the University of Iowa School of Music, the Iowa City Public Library, and KCCK. Additional support is provided by Hancher.

Chicana: Memories of Life in the Barrio and and Readings in Latino Poetry


Celebrate National Poetry Month on April 16th with readings in Latino/Chicano poetry and biographical recitations about life in the 18th Street Chicago barrio in the 1960′s. Biography is based on the life of Maria del Rosario (Rose) Flores-Curry, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant who fought in the Cristero War. This event is co-sponsored by the Senior Center’s poetry Reading Aloud group and the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature.

Saturday, April 16, 1 – 2:30 p.m. at the Iowa City Senior Center.



“Story Hour” events bring laughs in the City of Literature

The City of Literature’s first annual “Story Hour” events were held on Saturday, March 31; and Friday, April 1, and both offered plenty of laughs.

The first event, “Made in Iowa,” was held at the Iowa City Brewlab and featured Iowa Nice Guy Scott Siepker. The star of the popular series of “Iowa Nice” videos shared his thoughts about the amazing things happening in Iowa, and encouraged attendees to be proud of their state, while making them laugh throughout.

The second event, “What’s So Funny?” was held at Brown Deer Golf Club in Coralville. Hosted by Siepker, the event featured local storytellers sharing humorous stories about work and the workplace. Presenters included Megan Gogerty, a local actress and comedian; Robyn Hepker, a designer with Benson & Hepker; and Dave Parsons, CFO of Tallgrass Business Solutions.

In addition, they were joined by Brittany Borghi, a graduate student in the nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa. Borghi was unable to appear in person, so a video of her presentation was shown. Many in attendance asked us to share Borghi’s video so they could share it in turn.

Here is Borghi’s “Letter to Iowa City.”


Paul Engle high school student essay contest now open

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The City of Literature’s annual Glory of the Senses: Paul Engle Day high school student essay contest is now open for submissions.

Continuing Paul Engle’s tradition of inspiring writers and celebrating the rich culture of Iowa, the City of Literature organization annually solicits essays from Iowa high school sophomore about an “Iowa experience,” drawing on a specific memory to capture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of the day. The author of the essay judged by reviewers to be the best receives one year of free tuition to the University of Iowa. A select number of runners up receive a $500 scholarship from the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature.

The contest and an accompanying weeklong curriculum distributed to all high schools in Iowa are based on Engle’s writings, particularly his memoir, A Lucky American Childhood.

Winners will be announced on or around July 1. They will be invited to Iowa City this fall to read from their work and receive their prizes.

The 2016 contest deadline is May 9. To view information about the contest, click here.