Lit Walk

From acclaimed poets and playwrights, to accomplished novelists and journalists, Iowa has been both host and home to literary genius. The Literary Walk, conceptualized by the Iowa City Public Art Advisory Committee in 1999, celebrates works by 49 writers who have ties to Iowa. The Literary Walk is comprised of a series of bronze relief panels that feature authors’ words as well as attribution. The panels are visually connected by a series of general quotations about books and writing stamped into the concrete sidewalk. All artwork, by Gregg LeFevre, is set in the pavement along both sides of Iowa Avenue from Clinton Street to Gilbert Street. It was installed in conjunction with the Iowa Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project, which took place from 2000 to 2001.

The interactive map below shows where every art piece is located on the Literary Walk. Each icon on the map provides a photo of the art piece, a photo of the author, and a short description of the featured author. To view these details, click on one of the orange icons on the map, or click the white icon on the top left of the map to reveal a full list of authors represented on the Literary walk.

Take a stroll along the Literary Walk, and you’ll discover the outstanding array of material represented: there are passages from children’s books, quotes from memoirs, and dialogue from plays and short stories. In some instances, you’ll notice Iowa’s direct influence on the writers’ work; Herbert Quick, Bess Streeter Aldrich, and W.P. Kinsella are among several to make reference to Iowa in their featured passages.

The author section includes Literary Walk quotes as well as brief biographical information for each writer. Each entry reveals the writer’s connection to Iowa. Josephine Herbst, William Shirer and Amy Clampitt were born in the state while others, such as Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’Connor and Rita Dove were involved with the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the internationally acclaimed creative writing program.

As you walk along, make sure you pause to read the writers’ words, and as you do, imagine their presence where you stand. Many of them once took the exact steps you take, on Iowa land in a city where academia meets Midwestern community.

Literary Walk booklets are available for a nominal fee at Prairie Lights Bookstore or Iowa Book & Supply.

Authors Represented on the Literary Walk

Bess Streeter Aldrich

Roberto Ampuero

Kate Aspengren

Larry Baker

Douglas Bauer

Ray Young Bear

Jo Ann Beard

Marvin Bell

Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson

John Berryman

Richard P. Bissell

Stephen G. Bloom

Vance Bourjaily

T.C. Boyle

Jacqueline Briggs-Martin

Bill Bryson

Ethan Canin

Ruth C. Carlsen

Raymond Carver

Lan Samantha Chang

Sandra Cisneros

Amy Clampitt

Max Allan Collins

Frank Conroy

Robert Dana

Andre Dubus

Mona Van Duyn

Paul Engle

Jeannette Eyerly

Lori Erickson

James Galvin

Hamlin Garland

Rebecca Gilman

Susan Glaspell

Gail Godwin

Jorie Graham

Stephen Greenleaf

Allan Gurganus

Oscar Hahn

Joe Haldeman

David Hamilton

Patricia Hampl

Curtis Harnack

Robert Hass

Black Hawk

James Hearst

Josephine Herbst

Emerson Hough

John Irving

Denis Johnson

Donald Justice

MacKinlay Kantor

Tracy Kidder

W.P. Kinsella

Carl Klaus

Philip Levine

Yiyun Li

Robert Lowell

Frederick Manfred

Elizabeth McCracken

James McPherson

Christopher Merrill

Nicholas Meyer

David Milch

Merle Miller

David Morrell

Bharati Mukherjee

Flannery O’Connor

Chris Offutt

Sarah Prineas

Herbert Quick

David Rhodes

Marilynne Robinson

Tomaž Šalamun

John Sandford

William L. Shirer

Ellie Simmons

Jane Smiley

W.D. Snodgrass

Wallace Stegner

Phil Stong

Mark Strand

Ruth Suckow

Mary Swander

James Tate

Susan Allen Toth

Kurt Vonnegut

Margaret Walker

Tennessee Williams

Meredtih Willson

Richard Yates