Lit Walk

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