Help Crown a Slam O Vision Champion

Participating Cities of Literature have chosen their winners, now it is time to rank them all. Videos of the winners will be screened at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, August 1 at MERGE. Those in attendance at our event will help to rank them. These rankings will join those from other cities and be used to pick an overall Slam O Vision champion!

MusicIC Festival to celebrate ‘greatest hits’ during June 26-29

The MusicIC festival returns for a ninth season from June 26-29, 2019. Over the course of four programs, MusicIC will feature some favorites from past festivals, celebrating classics of chamber music as well as contemporary sounds. The Festival is presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization.

The festival is curated by MusicIC Artistic Director Tricia Park, violinist with the Solera Quartet. The quartet’s members have been the primary performers at the festival for the past several years. The group released its debut CD, Every Moment Present, since the last MusicIC festival, and will mark that release with a special performance of its selections during the festival.

“For the past few summers, MusicIC and Iowa City have been hugely important to the Soleras’ development, acting as an “’incubator’ space for us to advance our musical growth, learn and perform new repertoire, and hone our artistic vision,” Park said.

Over the nine years of the festival, MusicIC has featured work by an array of the best known composers in the classical canon, and this year’s program revisits many of those works. All three evening concerts will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City. The quartet – Park and Miki-Sophia Cloud on violin, Molly Carr on viola, and Andrew Janss on cello – will be joined by pianist Dominic Cheli on select compositions.

The first, Wednesday, June 26, “À la Russe,” explores Beethoven’s Op. 59 No. 1, in which he incorporates Russian folk tunes in honor of his patron, Count Razumovsky, as well as Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No 2. The second, Thursday, June 27, is “With Our Compliments,” featuring Beethoven’s String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2, the Franck Violin Sonata and music by contemporary composer Missy Mazzoli. Pianist Cheli will join the quartet on the pieces by Shostakovich and Franck. The third, Friday, June 28, is “Every Moment Present,” a special live concert presentation of all of the music on the Solera Quartet’s new album. This includes work by Caroline Shaw, Janáček, and Mendelssohn.

The festival closes on Saturday, June 29, at 10:30 a.m. with a free family concert at the Iowa City Public Library in the Story Time Room in the Children’s Area. The Solera Quartet will play music from the festival program interspersed with student writers from the Iowa Youth Writing Project, who will read work inspired by the music and the festival’s themes.

Festival sponsors are the University of Iowa, Iowa Public Radio, Dunn Investments, and Toyota of Iowa City.

For the full schedule and more information about the pieces to be performed, please visit


The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature will co-host a special slam poetry event with Iowa City Poetry Slam and Drop the Mic – Iowa City at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, at MERGE as part of the Downtown Iowa City Block Party.

The event, Slam O Vision, is a project of the international UNESCO Cities of Literature. Slam poets in 11 Cities of Literature will compete to be named the Slam O Vision champion.

A video of the winning poet from the June 22 event in Iowa City will be entered into the contest. At a later date, Iowa City poets and poetry lovers will convene to watch and rank the 11 poets. The same will happen in the other participating Cities of Literature. The scores will be tabulated and an international Slam O Vision poet will be crowned during the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Participants from Bucheon, South Korea; Edinburgh, Scotland; Iowa City; Heidelberg, Germany; Melbourne, Australia; Nottingham, England; Quebec City, Canada; Reykjavik, Iceland; Seattle, Tartu, Estonia; and Utrecht, the Netherlands will take part.

Poets can sign up Saturday, June 22, at MERGE beginning at 7:00 p.m.

From Text to Television

Now that school is out and we can shamelessly binge Netflix, Hulu and all your other favorite streaming platforms, checkout these films and series based on your favorite books.



     In AMC’s version of Joe Hill’s best-selling novel of the same name, a Victoria McQueen realizes she has supernatural abilities and discovers she can track an immortal being who lives off the souls of children and disposes what’s left in Christmasland, a grim land of his imagination where sadness is against the law and every day is Christmas Day. Victoria must use her new-found powers to stop Charles Manx’ cruel habits and save the souls of those already fallen victim to his treachery. This eerie drama series premieres on June 2, 2019 on AMC.

Learn more about the book in our Writers on the Fly conversation with Hill here:


Good Omens

     Based on Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel Good Omens, this Amazon mini-series is a comedic tale of the end of the world following a demon and an angel living among us mortals on Earth. The two have grown fond of their lives on Earth and aim to prevent the coming apocalypse by stalling the coming of the antichrist. All six episodes for this light-hearted series about Armageddon premieres on Amazon on May 31, 2019.



     Taking place during World War II, this satirical dark comedy follows Yossarian, a US Army Air Forces bombardier who faces more and more danger as the number of missions he and his comrades are expected to fly are ever-increasing. As the stakes become more dire, an alarmed Yossarian can’t get out of any military assignments because of a perverse rule called Catch-22, which states that a man willing to continue to fly dangerous missions is considered insane, yet a request to be removed from duty is an indication of sanity and therefore is unfit to be removed from duty. Based on the novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, all six episodes were released on Hulu on May 17, 2019.


The Haunting of Hill House

     Based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 horror novel, this Netflix series follows five siblings who experienced hair-raising paranormal activity at the “Hill House.” The show alternates between flashbacks of the siblings growing up in the haunted house and twenty-six years later as the siblings are being forced to confront the traumas that the house caused them in the wake of a family tragedy. This supernatural horror series premiered on Netflix in October of 2018 and season two is to premiere in 2020.


Altered Carbon

     This Netflix series based on Richard K. Morgan’s novel of the same name takes place in the year 2384 in a futuristic dystopia where a person’s memories and consciousness can be preserved in a disk-like device. The device can be transferred from body to body as their original body, or “sleeve” undergoes the natural process of aging. This advanced technology reserves becoming immortal for only the wealthiest. The series follows 300 year old Laurens Bancroft, who has died twice, but his consciousness lives on in other “sleeves.” Bancroft hires a prisoner of 250 years to solve his own murder, in exchange for the promise of a new life. This first season premiered on Netflix in February on 2018, and was renewed for a second season with a release date to be determined.

IWP Bookshelf: New Releases from IWP Alumni

For over 50 years now, the International Writing Program (IWP) has been bringing writers from all over the world to Iowa City. For some, it’s a first encounter with America, certainly with the Midwest; a good number of them already have a publishing career in the U.S., however. Check out a selection of 2017-8 titles by IWP alumni here below. Chances are excellent that you can find them at University of Iowa Main Library, whether you are a UI or a community borrower. – Nataša Ďurovičová, IWP Editor


Pakistani novelist, journalist, and blogger Bina Shah (IWP Fall Resident ’11) has written Before She Sleeps, “a book that is in explicit conversation with The Handmaid’s Tale, and though Shah’s society is emphatically secular, situating her narrative in a predominantly Muslim area of the world is an overdue enlargement of the cultural conversation that Atwood’s novel continues to provoke. But Shah’s novel, which blends the spy genre and soap opera with speculative fiction, isn’t really the feminist dystopia one might expect.” – Kirkus Review

(HarperCollins, 2018)


Bride and Groom, the new novel by IWP veteran Alisa Ganieva (Russia, IWP Fall Resident ’12, ’18; IWP Between the Lines Instructor ’15-’17; “To What Do I Belong” IWP Conference ’17) “…seems to promise traditional marriage story. Her main characters, a young man and woman who have each returned home from Moscow to ‘an outlying settlement’ near a big city in Dagestan, and face pressure from their respective families to find a suitable match, seem to be playing stock parts familiar from romantic comedies… But ultimately this is a tenser, sadder tale that underscores the horror and despair of post-Soviet life. Ganieva immerses us in a world where corruption and violence are so widespread and legal protections so meaningless that even love at first sight cannot guarantee a happy ending.” – Emily Johnson, World Literature Today

(English edition translated from the Russian by Carol Apollonio. Deep Vellum, 2017.)


In Crimson Papers: Reflections on Struggle, Suffering, and Creativity in Pakistan, a collection of four essays entitled “Blood,” “Sweat,” “Tears,” and “Ink,” Harris Khalique (IWP Fall Resident ’15; “To What Do I Belong” IWP Conference ’17) “elaborate(s) on what has happened to Pakistani citizens’ rights to a dignified physical space to live, a respectable economic space to earn a decent living, a free intellectual space to think, and an uninhibited artistic space to create.” – Anwar Shaheen, The Free Library

(Lahore: Oxford University Press, 2018)


Zot ani, Iowa [It’s Me, Iowa] is a slim “memoir” of Galit Dahan Carlibach’s 2016 Fall Residency at the IWP, “during which she underwent a complete mental breakdown, commencing an affair with a local musician before murdering him and dumping his body in the Mississippi. That is, it’s not an actual memoir at all but a very dark comedy taking wild fictional liberties in Philip Roth fashion with the happily married (and not homicidal) writer’s real-life 2016 stint at the Iowa program.” – Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2018

(In Hebrew. Tel Aviv, Graff, 2018)


In Negative Space, her third collection of poems published in the US, Luljeta Lleshanaku (IWP Fall Resident ’99) “searches for answers to… the existential and historical ‘why.’ One may read this collection as a poetry of witness, as Lleshanaku seeks to understand significant moments of recent Albanian history through the lens of her family’s experiences. However, the poet complicates the act of witnessing by refusing to denounce those responsible for atrocities [and] instead focuses on poetry’s ability to help people come to terms with trauma. The opening poem… recalls the narrator as a 12-year-old girl watching her parents return from making love in the barn, ‘looking around in fear / like two thieves.’ Familiarity with fear and deprivation mean that her empathetic, if deliberately inattentive, eye will retain these memories over the decades: ‘You cannot easily forget what you watch with one closed eye— / the death of the hero in the film, / or your first eclipse of the sun.’” – Viktor Berberi, Poetry Foundation

(English translation from the Albanian by Ani Gjika. New York: New Directions, 2018)


Trol, by the Slovak journalist, translator, and novelist Michal Hvorecký (IWP Fall Resident ‘04) is set in eastern Europe in a near future: the European Union has collapsed, and is replaced by Fortress Europe.

The antagonist it now faces is a dictatorship in whose realm public opinion is fully managed by an army of internet trolls. One of them, the unnamed protagonist, gripped by ever stronger doubts, attempts to destroy the System from within, together with an ally. The effort pushes them into freefall inside the network—and to the far edge of their trust in each other. – Translated from the German publisher Klett-Cotta

(In Slovak and German. Bratislava: Marenčín, 2017)


Novelist, essayist, and scholar Dung Kai-cheung (IWP Fall Resident ’09) tells two stories in The History of the Adventures of Vivi and Vera: “One of a novelist who recounts his family’s history against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s development from the 1930s to the 1990s, building his story through vignettes about the protagonist’s relationship with technological inventions that shaped his life, as glimpsed through his uncertain memory and family myths. Running parallel to this is a rebellion by the novelist’s oppressed fictional characters, who attempt to break the yoke of servile obedience laid upon them by the conventions of novel-writing. The central character, Vivi, has been written into being by the author but, once created, takes a life of her own.” – BooksActually

(English translation from the Chinese by Wai Ping Yau. Hong Kong University Press, 2018)