Glasgow organist performs in Iowa City for UNESCO connection

Glasgow-based concert organist Kevin Bowyer gave the inaugural organ performance today on the new pipe organ in the University of Iowa’s Voxman School of Music building.

Bowyer didn’t play just any piece, but rather the eight-hour “Second Symphony for Organ” by Kaikhosru Sorabji. The piece began at noon today, and will conclude this evening. About 300 people were on hand to hear the beginning of the piece.

The occasion was the culmination of a fruitful partnership between institutions in the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, and the Glasgow UNESCO City of Music. Bowyer is the organist to the University of Glasgow, a position he has held since 2005.

City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon noted the occasion with brief remarks before Bowyer’s performance, and presented the organist with a special bookmark noting Iowa City’s designation.

Both cities joined the Creative Cities Network in 2008, and each as the third city to hold its respective designation. Iowa City is now one of 20 Cities of Literature in the world, while Glasgow is one of 19 with the City of Music designation.


Top student writers honored at One Book Two Book

OneBookTwoBook- logoThe Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization’s annual One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival will recognize the creative excellence of nearly 100 area students over the course of the three-day festival, Feb. 24-26.

The festival begins Friday, Feb. 24, 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:

Student   School   Grade
Sylvia Broffitt Horn 3rd
Siena Brown Mann 3rd
Adelaide Capps Hoover 2nd
Brooke Chandler Borlaug 4th
Ruby Frank Penn 5th
David Gugliuzza Lucas 5th
Jhael Herrera Twain 4th
Kaden Huntley Willowind 4th
Kenton Huynh Central 4th
Rhys Long Van Allen 5th
Braeden Marker Alexander 5th
Julianna Mascardo Weber 6th
Abby McNeely Garner 6th
Violet Mowrey Longfellow 6th
Alan Nass Hills 3rd
Ahlonko Porto-Rico Wood 6th
Mary Cate Pugh Regina 6th
Praneel Rastogi Wickham 3rd
Eviann Smith Lemme 5th
Charlotte Windmill Kirkwood 6th
Chuan (Alex) Xu Lincoln 4th
Eleanor Ziehr Shimek 4th

The festival’s final day, Sunday, Feb. 26, features the annual “Write Out Loud!” event, 1-3 p.m. in the auditorium in the University of Iowa’s Macbride Hall. The event is free and open to the public. Students in Corridor districts were encouraged to submit one page of original writing. Nearly 800 students answered the call. Those submissions were evaluated by a team at ACT in Iowa City, and the best of these were singled out for recognition.

In each grade, first through eighth, winners were selected in two categories. They are:

• The Write Stuff, which is judged based on language, clarity, structure, and emotional impact.
• From the Heart, judged based on creativity, passion, and expressiveness.

These winning students are:

“The Write Stuff” Winner (grade, student, school)
1 Willa Ohlmann, Lincoln
2 Rial Shriver, Willowwind
3 Tallulah Proulx, Willowwind
4 Kaden Huntley, Willowwind
5 Leela Strand, Lincoln
6 Sage Slessor, Prairie Creek
7 Sarah Bunyan, Northwest
8 Reece Yang, Northwest

“From the Heart” Winner (grade, student, school)
1 Kyros Yuefan Wu, Van Allen
2 Macy Mickalson, Hoover
3 Mae Knight, Mann
4 Rob McMurray, Hoover
5 Zaira Ahmad, Wickham
6 Kento Yahashiri, Longfellow
7 Lochlan Krupa, South East
8 Kora McClure, South East

In addition, the ACT team identified students in each grade whose writing was deemed worthy of honorable mention, roughly the top 10 percent of submissions. These 60 students will be recognized as part of the Feb. 26 event, which is free and open to the public. The students are (grade/name/school):

1 Sonya Zhu, Borlaug
1 James Haack, Lemme
1 Edmund Svoboda, Lincoln
1 Benjamin Sauder, Willowwind
1 Eero Foliente, Willowwind
2 Ellie Wilson, Garner
2 Adelaide Capps, Hoover
2 Ben Haines, Lincoln
2 Carson Perry, Van Allen
2 Sam Perry, Van Allen
3 Natalie Ramsey, Garner
3 Alan Nass, Hills
3 Sylvia Broffitt, Horn
3 Siena Brown, Mann
3 Mira Cunning, Willowwind
3 Lillian Cheney, NorthBend
3 Lydia Evans, Weber
3 Praneel Rastogi, Wickham
3 Madeleine Seitz, Willowwind
3 Flora Laurian, Willowwind
4 Brooke Chandler Borlaug
4 Kim Hahyeon Borlaug
4 Dania Hussein, Coralville Central
4 Lily Lumb, Hoover
4 Kaj Larsen, Lemme
4 Chuan Xu, Lincoln
4 Hannah Michalec, Penn
4 Thomas Fowler, Penn
4 Jhael Herrera, Twain
4 Owen Ruth, Twain
5 Braeden Marker, Alexander
5 Ella Anneling, Coralville Central
5 Jayden Khamphilanouvong, Garner
5 Eviann Smith, Lemme
5 Tate Williams, Longfellow
5 Kael Kurtz, Lucas
5 Ruby Frank, Penn
5 Julissa Paz, Twain
5 Rhys Long, Van Allen
5 Dahlia Garcia, North Bend
6 Abby McNealy, Garner
6 Charlotte Windmill, Kirkwood
6 Anushka Saxena, Lincoln
6 Rigby Templeman, Lincoln
6 Ava Cross, Longfellow
6 Chayse Pearl, Longfellow
6 Violet Mowery, Longfellow
6 Alexis Mapel, Penn
6 Miya Swenson, Prairie Creek
6 Juliana Mascardo, Weber
7 Julia Stoll North, Central
7 Ferguson Ward, South East
7 Kiva Meeks-Mosley, South East
7 L’Engle Charis-Carlson, South East
7 Maria Volkman, South East
8 Fareeha Ahmad, North Central
8 Natalie Kaiser, North Central
8 Aidan Spurgetis, South East
8 Celeste Obara, South East
8 Rachel Meehan, South East

Writers Resist event set for the Englert from 2-4 p.m. on Jan. 15

What began with an idea on social media by a writer in Florida has spread across the nation to Iowa. Writers from Iowa City will join with those in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and dozens of other locations around the country for a local event as part of an international Writers Resist movement being held on the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Writers will gather as part of a “re- inauguration” of our shared commitment to the spirit of compassion, equality, free speech, and the fundamental ideals of democracy.

The Iowa City event will be held on Jan. 15, 2017, at the Englert Theatre from 2-4 p.m., and will feature area writers reading from their work and that of others. Invited speakers include Mary Swander, Christopher Merrill, Iris DeMent, Jeff Biggers, Lisa Schlesinger, Kembrew McLeod and many others, and all will read work that speaks to the ideals of democracy, compassion, and free expression.

The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend. The event is hosted by the UNESCO City of Literature and the Iowa Writers’ House nonprofit literary organization, with support from other partners, including the Englert Theatre. Donations will go to the Iowa ACLU.

A post-event gathering will be held at the Mill from 4-6 p.m. to allow attendees to continue the conversation and provide a forum for others hoping to share their work.

Similar events will be held on Jan. 15 at  Coe College’s Dows Fine Arts Center from 2-4:30 p.m. in Cedar Rapids, and at Des Moines at Beaverdale Books from 1-4 p.m.

Poet, and founder of the Writers Resist movement, Erin Belieu, grew increasingly concerned during the recent Presidential campaign over public cynicism and how disdain for truthfulness seems to have eroded democratic ideals. When asked why her initial outreach to fellow writers the day after the election seemed to elicit such a strong response, Belieu, who also co-founded VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, said, “Writers are acutely aware when the uses of language are empty.” She continued, “Whether you live in a red or blue state, or another country that cares deeply about the American experiment, there is no more important battle than our right to truth.”

Poetry in Public 2017

Entries for Poetry in Public 2017 now being accepted

2016 Iowa City Book Festival: Build your own theme

Two years ago, we had the great fortune of presenting an Iowa City Book Festival featuring two Pulitzer-winning authors with strong Iowa ties in Marilynne Robinson and Jane Smiley. An attendee at the Smiley event remarked, “You obviously had an Iowa theme to this year’s festival. What will the next theme be?”

Our theme that year was actually something closer to “amazing authors with new books out who said ‘yes’ when we asked them to appear,” but we took the compliment in stride, and wondered about the next year’s festival. We stuck with that theme, and again presented a festival that attendees said they thought would be difficult to top.

This year, we again sought out a mix of writers who would be able to speak on a number of different topics and who represent various styles and genres.

However, we seem to have stumbled onto the theme first articulated by that attendee two years ago, because our schedule is full of authors with Iowa ties — writers who live here, teach here, studied here and moved on, or who write about our state.

We have another Pulitzer winner with local ties in novelist Robert Olen Butler, a University of Iowa graduate who went on to write many critically acclaimed novels. His latest is Perfume River.

On the other end of the experience spectrum is Nathan Hill, whose The Nix is one of the best-reviewed debut novels in recent memory, with theNew York Times saying he has “talent to burn” and likening him to Thomas Pynchon and John Irving. Hill worked as a reporter in the Gazette’sIowa City office more than a decade ago.

We have Iowa-based poets in Jennifer L. Knox,Ryan Collins and Anais Duplan, Iowa fiction writers in John Domini and Kali VanBaale, and mystery novelists with Iowa ties in beloved former northeast Iowa Sheriff’s Deputy Donald Harstad and Minneapolis-based UI grad Allen Eskens.

Those writing about Iowa also make up a big part of our lineup this year. Dan Barry, a New York Times reporter who wrote extensively about disabled men forced to work at a processing plant in Atalissa, revisits that story in the acclaimed Boys in the Bunkhouse. Claire Hoffman, a well-respected magazine writer, recounts her time growing up within the sphere of Fairfield’s Maharishi International University inGreetings From Utopia Park. Tom Shroder writes about his grandfather, the Iowa-born MacKinlay Kantor, in The Most Famous Writer Who Ever Lived, while Julie Rubini writes about the Iowa-born Nancy Drew scribe in Missing Millie Benson.

The list goes on. And that’s not the only list. If you are interested in issues of race,Leonard Pitts, Jr.Roxane Gay, and Crystal Chan are not to be missed. Are international politics and immigration of interest? Come hear Suki Kim and Okey Ndibe. If you love poetry, the aforementioned writers will be joined by a contingent of visiting Irish poets from our fellow City of Literature in Dublin. Medicine? TryAngelo Volandes or Leslie Jamison. Travel? Check out Tom Lutz. Science Fiction? F. Paul Wilson‘s Panacea is a ripping read.

The above only scratches the surface of what is on offer.  With more than 100 presenters in 60 events over six days, you can build your own Book Festival, find your own themes, and curate your own experience. It’s all free and open to the public.