Downtown Iowa City Arts Showcase: Rachel Yoder of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature

In 2008, Iowa City’s literary heritage earned its recognition as the first UNESCO City of Literature in the United States. The nonprofit Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature is building on that legacy by working to advance writing on all levels: local, national and international.

Rachel Yoder talked to Little Village about some of the organization’s events, and read a piece she performed at last year’s MusicIC festival, which is sponsored by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature. Advertisement Yoder is the co-founder and editor of draft: the journal of process.

Support Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature: To support Rachel Yoder: Presented by the Iowa City Downtown District and Little Village.

MusicIC Festival moves online this week

While the in-person programming for the 2020 edition of MusicIC was canceled due to the COVID-19 situation, the festival still will offer programming this week as it moves online.
The festival, presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, will offer performances by veteran festival performers and one MusicIC newcomer. These performers were scheduled to perform in person this year, and plans call for them to visit Iowa City in 2021.

The performances can be viewed at the festival website,, or at the festival’s Facebook page. The videos will be available starting at the listed time, and will be viewable from that point forward.
  • Saturday, June 20, 10:30 a.m. – “Ferdinand the Bull” story by Munro Leaf and music by Alan Ridout. Performances by Tricia Park, violinist (Artistic Director of MusicIC) and vocalist Meagan Brus (Managing Director of MusicIC). In partnership with the Iowa City Public Library children’s department.
Will will be raising funds for our artists and two local community organizations during these concerts. Donations made between now and June 30 through the City of Literature’s secure donation platform will be shared between our artists and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance and the African American Museum of Iowa. (Links will be available on the video descriptions).
We wish we could be together with you to share music and literature in person. Please join us virtually to celebrate the artistry of these talented musicians, and look forward to seeing them in Iowa City in 2021.
Visit for more information about the festival.

MusicIC Festival cancels June 2020 in-person programming

Summer video performances; fall collaboration with Iowa City Book Festival planned

What was planned to be the 10th annual MusicIC Festival has been canceled. Programming planned for June 18-20, 2020, will be pushed to summer 2021. The festival, presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, will offer alternate programming. In place of the in-person performances this year, the festival will offer video performances from musicians to be highlighted in the 2021 season.

Details about these video performances will be forthcoming. City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon said these performances are designed to give the festival’s fans something to enjoy in lieu of this season’s live performances.

      • Thursday, June 18 – Video Concert with Miki-Sophia Cloud, violinist.
      • Friday, June 19 – Video concert with Jorell Williams, baritone.
      • Saturday, June 20 – “Ferdinand the Bull” story by Munro Leaf and music by Alan Ridout. Performances by Tricia Park, violinist (artistic director of MusicIC) and vocalist Meagan Brus (managing director of MusicIC). In partnership with the Iowa City Public Library children’s department.

In addition to this programming, MusicIC and the Iowa City Book Festival plan to partner with Riverside Theatre for October performances to celebrate Beethoven’s 400th birthday. The organizations will collaborate on a production of “The Kreuzer Sonata: A Play in Five Tiny Movements” by Jennifer Fawcett. The play is based on the novella “The Kreutzer Sonata” by Leo Tolstoy. Music performed is Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 9 (Kreutzer), and Leos Janáček’s Quartet No. 1 (Kreutzer Sonata). Details about this production will be shared this summer with the Book Festival lineup.

Electoral college book author presents May 12 as part of LIT Talks series

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, in partnership with the Iowa City Public Library, will host author Jesse Wegman on May 12, when he will discuss his new book, Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College. Wegman’s talk will be online at 7 p.m. Visit to register for this free Zoom webinar, or stream live via The Library Channel at

Wegman’s talk is part of LIT Talks, a series of occasional events designed to bring the authors of books about politics and social engagement to the library to discuss the ideas in those books. For this event, Wegman will visit virtually. Attendees who watch through Zoom will be able to ask questions of Wegman using the Q&A function.

Wegman has been a member of the New York Times editorial board since 2013, writing editorials on the Supreme Court and legal affairs.

Two of the last five presidential elections have been won by the candidate who lost the popular vote. That, coupled with Iowa’s own problems with voting and how those votes are counted, makes Wegman’s book a timely contribution to an ongoing discussion.

In the book, Wegman makes a case for choosing presidents based on a national popular vote. In this compact, deeply researched, highly readable history of the Electoral College, he describes its controversial origins, profiles some of the more than 700 efforts to abolish or reform it over the years, and explains why it is now essential for us to revamp this obsolete system and finally make every citizen’s vote matter.

Wegman debunks the most persistent myths and misconceptions about the Electoral College, from “The framers thought it was the best way to choose a president,” to “Big cities would dominate a popular vote.” He also follows the efforts of the team behind the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a constitutional workaround that has won the support of 15 states and the District of Columbia, bringing the nation closer to this goal than it has been in half a century.

Previous LIT Talks include presidential candidate and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg discussing his book, Shortest Way Home, and Drake University Professor Jennifer Harvey discussing her book, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America.

While Prairie Lights usually would be on hand to sell books at the event, for this virtual event the store will have the book available for advance purchase at 25 percent off the list price. They are offering free delivery in Iowa City/Coralville, as well as mail order. Visit or call (319) 337-2681 to order. A digital edition also is available through with library card.