Iowa City hosts UNESCO Cities of Literature conference

“It’s been an outstanding conference and an exceptional experience. It is incredible how unique our cities are and how much we can learn from each other.” – Justyna Jochym, Chair of the UNESCO Cities of Literature and Head of Development & International Cooperation, Krakow UNESCO City of Literature

 36 delegates representing 23 countries came together for a four-day conference showcasing activity in their literary cities and to discuss projects and potential collaborations for the future. The conference ran from the 3rd to the 6th April and it was the first time this prestigious international forum had taken place in the USA. Literature is one of the seven fields that form the UNESCO Creative City Network which currently consists of 180 members from 72 countries.

Representatives from 23 of the 28 designated UNESCO Cities of Literature attended the meeting: Baghdad, Bucheon, Dublin, Durban, Edinburgh, Granada, Heidelberg, Iowa City, Lillehammer, Ljubljana, Lviv, Manchester, Melbourne, Milan, Norwich, Nottingham, Obidos, Prague, Quebec City, Reykjavik, Seattle, and Tartu, with the meeting chaired by Krakow City of Literature.

“Our two goals for the meeting were to send our guests home with a greater understanding of Iowa City as a City of Literature and connections with the people who are doing that work, and to raise awareness for our designation and enthusiasm for the people and projects who earned that designation,” said John Kenyon, Executive Director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature. “It was tremendously successful on both counts. It was heartening and instructive to see our city through the eyes of our guests from around the world, to experience their awe and wonder, and to re-experience things we might otherwise take for granted.”

Iowa City was designated the third UNESCO City of Literature in 2008 and welcomed the guests to their city with a reception at the Old Capitol where they were welcomed by members of the community, including Congressman Dave Loebsack and University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld.

The delegates met with representatives from across Iowa City’s literary scene, including the Iowa Writers’ House, the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Center for the Book, and the International Writing Program. The conference took place during Iowa City’s Mission Creek Festival, which presented a variety of cultural, literary, and musical events attendees could experience during their free time.

Iowa City welcomed the world to its city the week of the conference, as the United World Wrestling Freestyle World Cup also took place in Iowa City the same week.

The conference and the World Cup received strong media attention with features on the news in KWWL (NBC News in Eastern Iowa) and articles in Little Village (print), the Iowa City Press-Citizen (print), and The Gazette (print).

For more information: Iowa City UNESCO City of LiteratureThe Cities of Literature press pack, The Creative City Network

Children’s Author Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Author/Illustrator Claudia McGehee Win the John Burroughs Riverby Award

New York, NY – Children’s book writer Jacqueline Briggs Martin and author/illustrator Claudia McGehee have been honored by the John Burroughs Association with the Riverby Award. The award is given to exceptional natural history books for young readers. Briggs Martin and McGehee wrote and illustrated Creekfinding, A True Story (published by the University of Minnesota, 2017) which was recognized at the Association’s annual event at the Yale Club in New York City, Monday, April 2, 2018. Claudia McGehee accepted the award on behalf of the team. “Because of this honor, our book about a restored creek will meander its way to many more readers”, she said.

The John Burroughs Riverby Award has been given annually since 1988 to books that present perceptive and artistic accounts of direct experiences in the world of nature, demonstrating a respect for nature, accuracy of information, and quality of prose and illustrations.

Publisher Weekly said of Creekfinding, A True Story, “The story springs to life through Martin’s (Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious) buoyant, personified language. McGehee’s (North Woods Girl) vibrant, stylized illustrations show nearly smiling fish, birds, and insects populating their new environment.” 

Annual Meeting of UNESCO Cities of Literature coming April 3-6

The 2018 Annual Meeting of the UNESCO Cities of Literature will be held in Iowa City from April 3-6.

The meeting will gather representatives from most of the 28 Cities of Literature for a series of working meetings, discussions, tours and more.

In addition, representatives of the nine U.S. members of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network will meet for the first time to learn more about one another’s cities and to discuss potential collaborative projects.

John Kenyon, executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, said the meeting is an opportunity to show literary leaders from around the world some of the many reasons why Iowa City holds the City of Literature designation.

“It’s one thing to hear it from me each time we meet,” Kenyon said. “The greater impact comes when our guests meet the writers, publishers, translators, librarians, administrators and others who contribute to the literary life of our community.”

The Reclamation Workshop: A Two-Day Cultural and Literary Intensive

The Englert is proud to announce The Reclamation Workshop: A Two-Day Cultural & Literary Intensive on our stage Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15.

This workshop is led by two writers born on opposite sides of the Atlantic—Kumasi, Ghana and Shreveport, Louisiana, respectively—whose pursuit of literary and artistic excellence led them to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, from which Derek Nnuro is a graduate and Tameka Cage Conley is in her final semester of study. Central to this workshop is the belief in the power of literature of the African Diaspora to embolden and empower, to enrich and sustain, and the ways that our personal histories, including triumph and challenges, inform our art.

Nnuro and Cage Conley will co-lead participants in a transformative literary program that includes study of Black fiction of the Diaspora and issues of identity and the self. The instructors will empower and encourage students to unlock, pursue, and write from the place of their unique voice and intellectual curiosity. The workshop will be a space of inclusion and will open with a translation experience by the instructors, and will include creative writing and open, supportive discussion. The event will culminate in a reading on Sunday.

This workshop is part of Englert Wavelength: Deeper Learning Through the Arts, the Englert’s arts education series featuring workshops and learning opportunities for youth and adults. More events will be announced soon.

Entry fee is $185 and includes admission on both days and lunch on SaturdayThis workshop is limited capacity. For more information, please click here

One Book Two Book winners selected

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization’s annual One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival will recognize the creative excellence of more than 80 area students over the course of the three-day festival, Feb. 23-25.

The festival begins Friday, Feb. 23, with the “Once Upon a Time” banquet. One student from each of 22 participating Iowa City-area elementary schools has been selected to read a piece of original writing at the dinner. These students, selected by ACT in Iowa City, are: