Resources

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature seeks to serve as a clearinghouse for information about the literary community in our area. Below you can find information about area libraries, publishers, reading groups and more. If you would like to have your information included here, please contact us at info@iowacityofliterature.org

Bookstores

Barnes & Noble – Locations in Coralville, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Waterloo, and Sioux City.

The Book End – The Book End sells gently used books, DVDs, and CDs. Proceeds help provide prizes for the Summer Reading Program, new art for the Art-To-Go, as well as other items the Library needs.

Captain’s Bookshoppe – Rare and used book. The Captain’s Book Shoppe specializes in vintage pre-owned books. We buy, sell and trade books.

Daydreams Comics – Locally owned and operated in downtown Iowa City since 1986. Specializing in new and old comics, graphic novels and pop culture novelty items.

The Haunted Bookshop – Established in 1978, The Haunted Bookshop carries over 45,000 titles in more than 80 different sections ranging from Iowa interest to poetry, children’s books to ecology, Classical Studies to science fiction and more. The sections are divided topically, then arranged alphabetically by author or editor, in the ten rooms of our beautiful 1847 home.

Iowa Book – Iowa Book is a local bookstore serving the students, faculty and staff of University of Iowa with pride. Our primary goal is to ensure students are able to obtain the course materials they need at reasonable prices. We also provide many other items to support your academic career and school spirit.

M and M Bookstore – Our mission is to connect readers with books. Our inventory contains over 50,000 books and changes every day. We offer a wide variety of genres including adventure, autobiographies, biographies, children’s, christian fiction, classics, cozy mystery, general fiction, horror, mystery, nonfiction, paranormal romance, science fiction/fantasy, “spicy” romance, true crime, war and young adult.

Murphy Brookfield Books (Online only)- Murphy-Brookfield Books has been in business in Iowa City, Iowa since 1980, specializing in scholarly used books in the Humanities. Areas of interest are Philosophy, Art, Women’s Studies, Ancient History, Religion, Poetry, Literary Criticism, History, University Press.

Next Page Books – Next Page Books (NPB) is a locally owned, independent bookstore situated in the historic New Bohemia (NewBo) district of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Established in July 2012 as New Bo Books by Mary Ann and Chuck Peters, the store has grown to become a valuable community asset serving the greater Cedar Rapids area.

Prairie Lights Books – An Iowa City landmark, Prairie Lights offers three floors of literature, including an acclaimed children’s department, as well as a cafe/wine bar. Visit their website for a schedule of readings and special events.

Sidekick Coffee & Books – Sidekick Coffee & Books is a community coffee shop and bookstore that seeks to be a hub for residents in our walkable community, as well as a destination in the corridor and beyond for those looking for exceptional coffee, food, books, and conversation. It provides a full-service coffee bar that offers pastries, ice cream, and more. Its book collection focuses on children and young adult books while also offering a selection of best sellers for adults.

Area Libraries

Antelope Lending Library – Antelope Lending Library, founded in 2012, is an independent, non-profit bookmobile library working to overcome barriers and provide full and equal access to information and ideas in our community. All materials are lent on a no-fees basis, so access is always free, no matter what.

Cedar Rapids Public Library – We connect people to information, experiences, and services that enhance their quality of life so our community can learn, enjoy, and thrive.

Coralville Public Library – The Coralville Public Library was established in 1965.  The library owns approximately 100,000 items for public use: including books, magazines, newspapers, audio-visual materials, reference databases, downloadable eBooks and eAudio books, and computer multimedia. The facility has community meeting rooms available for area non-profits and study space available for patrons. New Pi Co-Op Cafe is also located near the library’s main entrance.

Iowa City Public Library – The Iowa City Public Library was established in 1896 and has served the community from a downtown location ever since.  The Iowa City Public Library encourages and sustains a literate, informed, and diverse community, is committed to equal accessibility, intellectual freedom, and life-long learning, and provides a community gathering place for meetings and programming for the benefit of the public.

Iowa Masonic Library and Museums – The Iowa Masonic Library and Museum, located at 813 First Ave. SE, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States, is one of the largest Masonic libraries in the world, and incorporates at least three museum collections. The library was the first, world-wide, to have its own building

Iowa Writers Library – The Iowa Writers’ Library, maintained by the Coralville Public Library, is a 1,000 square-foot treasure that houses approximately 800 books written by former students, graduates, and faculty of the nationally renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Over 100 authors are represented, including many books that are now out of print.

Little Free Libraries – Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.

National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library – The collection includes books, periodicals, musical recordings and sheet music, videos, and archival materials. Visitors to the Reading Room may browse books about history and politics, immigration, customs and traditions, folk and fine arts, music, and food as well as other topics. Items in the Library are intended to be used on site and are non-circulating.

North Liberty Community Library – The North Liberty Community Library provides convenient and equal access to all library patrons. The Library offers materials, programs and up-to-date technology to meet the needs of the growing library community.

Oxford Public Library – The Oxford Public Library provides library service for the citizens of Oxford, Iowa and the surrounding rural area. Our holdings include a very current fiction collection for our size, non-fiction books, children’s books, and even a cake pan collection.

Solon Public Library – The Solon Public Library provides a welcoming environment that facilitates the educational, cultural and informational needs for all members of the community.

Swisher Community Library – Books and the love of reading will always be at the heart of what we do, but that is just the start of what we do and what we can do for the Swisher Community.

Tiffin – Springmier Community Library – The Springmier Community Library is located inside Clear Creek Amana Middle School. The library was founded in 2003.

University of Iowa Libraries – The University Libraries are critical to the intellectual vitality of the University of Iowa. With more than 4 million volumes, the Libraries rank among the top research libraries in the country and central to the University’s teaching, research, and service mission.

Literary Publications, Presses, and Publishers

91st Meridian – 91st Meridian is an electronic publication of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City (41° 38′ N /91° 33′ W). It appears two times a year, and aims to contribute to general reading beyond the (national, linguistic, cultural) borders of the Anglophone sphere.

508Press – Printer of poetry broadsides and chapbooks and other things at the Iowa City Press Cooperative. Poet. Curator of the Subterranean Tape Library.

Anomaly – Anomaly is an international journal of literature and the arts. We provide a platform for works of art that challenge conventions of form and format, of voice and genre.

Anomoulous Press – Anomalous has its sights set on publishing literary text, advancing audio forms and creation, and supporting all sorts of alternative realities of the near future. The online publication is available in both visual and audio forms on various platforms.

Autumn Hill Books – Autumn Hill Books is an independent non-profit press based in the Midwest. We publish works of translation and our focus is contemporary world literature. More recently, AHB launched an online literary magazine M—DASH, which features essays, fiction, and poetry either excerpted from or inspired by our published titles. We also publish the imprint 91st Meridian Press in collaboration with the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

Brooklyn Publishers – Brooklyn publishes plays and theatre books for teens and youth, and we specialize in scripts that are clean, yet have a cutting-edge quality. The genre of works we publish is broad and includes comedy, drama, mystery, fantasy, farce and melodrama from 10 to 120 minutes in length.

Candle Light Press – We make books that entertain, challenge and reveal. There are an awful lot of independent comics that are just more of what you can get from the big boys cheaper and more often. The thing that makes a graphic novel or comic independent isn’t just who paid for the printing–it’s the voice. An independent voice challenges; it offers a critique of the status quo by merely existing. That said, it’s also a good thing if the book is good too. We work toward making each book unique unto itself; we have a strong belief in narrative. We’re not what you’re looking for; we’re something you find.

Catstep Press and Bun Fight Press – Sara T. Sauers is a typographic designer and letterpress printer who designs and produces books and other printed matter using both historical and contemporary print production methods. From her Iowa City letterpress shop she publishes literary fine press books under the Catstep Press imprint and operates Bun Fight Press for selected job printing.

Charge Magazine – An independent publication that seeks to publish work that deals intimately, creatively, and rigorously with the ideas, questions and challenges that confront us as humans on this planet.

Corridor Business Journal Custom Publishing – Partner with the CBJ to write, create, design and distribute your publication through print, digital, video and events. We have the turnkey operation and experience to deliver your message.

Digraph Press – Digraph Press publishes new works of poetry and prose in the form of chapbooks, broadsides and other ephemera. It is the literary fine press imprint of Candida Pagan.

Draft: The Journal of Process – Featuring stories, essays, and poetry, first drafts, and interviews with authors of note, draft is a unique print publication emphasizing the importance and diversity of the creative process. We’re interested in mechanics, techniques, approaches, triumphs, failures, concussive frustration — everything that goes into crafting a great piece of writing.

earthwordsearthwords is the University of Iowa’s original undergraduate literary review. earthwords strives to showcase the creative works of UI undergraduates in literature and the arts while providing students with the educational experience of producing a literary magazine.

The Examined Life Journal – We’re seeking works related to health and the human condition in all its myriad definitions. The Examined Life Journal began in the Fall of 2010 when a group of physicians who were also writers approached the director of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Writing and Humanities Program with the idea for starting a journal that explored the confluence of art and medicine. After a couple brief meetings it was settled: The journal would publish its first issue in conjunction with the Examined Life Conference in the spring of 2011, and twice a year thereafter.

Following Moon Press – Following Moon Press is the imprint of Kim Maher. She interested in collaborating with writers or poets to create limited edition broadsides or chapbooks. Most of the work on this site is available for sale or trade. Please feel free to contact with questions or comments.

Fools Magazine – A student-run arts & culture magazine in Iowa City.

Fox Den Press – The Foxden Press is a letterpress print shop at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. It is the dream child of three professors from the Department of English and Creative Writing: Leslie Hankins, Michelle Mouton, and Kirilka (Katy) Stavreva. Located on the ground floor of the historic Van Etten-Lacey House, it opened its doors to the public in the fall of 2014, after years of planning, fundraising, networking, and exploring the “black art” of letterpress printing and other book arts.

Guesthouse – The goal of Guesthouse and its constituents is to diversify the literary journal scene by including a foreword with each issue that casts the included poems, essays, stories, and photographs in a critical light. At the onset, I saw a gap in the field; unless writers have recently published a popular book, they tend not to have many opportunities to read thoughtful, contextualized analyses of their work. I want Guesthouse to interrupt this standard, and in turn, foster productive conversations and communities. So come on in and make yourself comfortable. – Jane Huffman, editor-in-chief

Heuer Publishing – Heuer Publishing was established in 1928 and today is one of the oldest publishing houses serving the educational and community theatre markets. Heuer is a pioneer in commissioning and publishing unique works from a broad range of playwrights, which are entertaining and yet thought provoking, family appropriate and yet edgy, and which provide a standardized formula for technical production with flexibility for directors desiring a greater challenge.

Ice Cube Press  (North Liberty) The primary and driving force behind the Ice Cube Press and the Tall Corn Books imprint is Steve Semken. Steve has been inspired to work with words, to write, and to promote and learn about the world in which we live in for over twenty-five years now.  He can speak on all aspects regarding writing to any size group on issues involving writing, publishing, promotions, business operations, and books. If you would like to improve the writing in your company or need advice on getting your journal started he is able to come and speak.

INK (Writing Certificate Journal) – Ink Lit Mag is a unique undergraduate literary journal published through the generous support of the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Conceived, edited, designed, staffed, and promoted by residents of the Iowa Writers Living-Learning Community.

The Iowa ReviewThe Iowa Review is an American literary magazine that publishes fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews.  “We see our mission as nudging along American literature, being local but not provincial, experimental but not without respect for literary traditions.”

Little Village Magazine – Little Village is an independent media company based in Iowa City. Readers collect our twice monthly print editions as quality guides to the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area’s top artists, events and ideas, as they emerge.

Midwest Writing Center Press – MWC Press is the publishing extension of the Midwest Writing Center and its programs. MWC Press is part of the Midwest Writing Center’s 501(c)(3) non-profit status, and all sales from MWC Press go back into our programs and toward future publishing opportunities. The MWC Press publishes The Atlas, a literary magazine produced by the Young Emerging Writers Summer Internship Program each year; special project books by local and regional authors on a rolling basis which are usually selected from pitches during the David R. Collins Writers’ Conference; and, starting in 2019, poetry chapbooks as part of the Susan K. Collins Chapbook Series (formerly the Susan K. Collins/Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest).

North American Review – Founded in Boston in 1815, the North American Review is the oldest and one of the most culturally significant literary magazines in the United States. Contributors include important nineteenth-century American writers and thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Edith Wharton, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman; and twentieth-century writers like William Carlos Williams, John Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe, William Saroyan, and Flannery O’Connor.

PromptPress – Prompt is an online and book arts journal for writing inspired by visual art and visual art inspired by writing. Every six months we showcase an exciting new work from a visual artist or writer on our website. We then invite others to use this work as a prompt, springboard, or source of inspiration.

Red Door Press – We specialize in hand-printed cards, broadsides, social stationery, gig and event posters, corporate branding, workshops and much more.

Rescue Press – Rescue Press is an independent publisher of chaotic and investigative work, founded in the winter of 2009. We publish work by activists, artists, craftsmen, list-makers, philosophers, poets, scientists, writers, and creative thinkers of all kinds. We’re interested in collections of artwork, comics, essays, experiments, how-tos, interrogations, manifestos, notes, poetry, stories, and anything else that transforms us.

The Translate Iowa Project/Boundless – By reaching out to our community and maintaining linguistically and culturally inclusive creative platforms, we seek to spotlight the importance and creativity of all languages and cultures, and the multiplicity of ideas that exist in our community and our world. Without limits, we do so by translating creative works, broadcasting of world news and music, and collaborating with misrepresented populations in our community.

University of Iowa Press – The University of Iowa Press is a university press that is part of the University of Iowa. Established in 1969, the University of Iowa Press is an academic publisher of poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. The UI Press is the only university press in Iowa, also dedicated to the preservation of literature, history, culture, wildlife, and natural areas of the Midwest.

Vital SignsVital Signs is an entirely student-run newspaper. The content of the paper is limited only by the imagination of  reporters and contributors. “We publish all kinds of material. Regular reporters, essayists, fiction writers, poets, photographers, and artists will all be welcomed with warmth and enthusiasm.”

The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review – The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review is a literary quarterly sponsored by the Graduate College and the Department of English and published by The University of Iowa. WWQR is the official journal of the Walt Whitman Studies Association, affiliated with the American Literature Association.

Wapsipinicon Almanac (Anamosa) An almanac published by Route 3 Press in Anamosa, Iowa for more than 25 years. It was handmade on antique letterpress equipment by Timothy Fay and featured stories, reviews, essays and poems. The first issue, published in 1988, sold out, and the publication subsequently became a staple of the Iowa literary scene, including an annual Iowa Public Radio reading broadcast/streamed from Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature. Fay retired the publication with the 2018 issue, the 25th.

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing Press – Elizabeth Munger is a maker of artist books, & print & paper works, including installations & collage. She is an Iowa native residing in Iowa City where she has her print studio, as well as runs & operates a print shop. She received her M.F.A. in 2014 from the University of Iowa Center for the Book.

Programs, Groups, Classes, and more

Center for the Book – A distinctive degree-granting program that integrates training in book arts practice and technique with research into the history and culture of books.

Creative Matters lecture series – The Creative Matters lecture series seeks to demonstrate that creativity is not only at the core of all research and discovery, but also central to our human experience. The exciting lineup of invited speakers includes artists, thinkers, builders, and doers who challenge conventional thinking about creativity, science, and artistic expression, and borrow from a range of influences and disciplines in their work. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Fail Safe Podcast – The Fail Safe podcast explores how today’s most successful writers grapple with and learn from creative failure. From the blank page to the broken sentence, we examine the many challenges and pitfalls of the literary life and discover how authors transform false starts, dead ends, and assorted blunders into works of literary genius.

Free Generative Writing Workshop – Provides a space for career writers, curious beginners, writers of all income levels and stages of life. Our goal is to make it easy to meet and learn from some of the most talented writer/teachers living in or passing through Iowa City. Every month a new writer leads a generative workshop, presenting a prompt inspired by their own preoccupations, passions, or interests.

International Writing Program – The International Writing Program (IWP) is a unique conduit for the world’s literatures, connecting well-established writers from around the globe, bringing international literature into classrooms, introducing American writers to other cultures through reading tours, and serving as a clearinghouse for literary news and a wealth of archival and pedagogical materials. Since 1967, over fifteen hundred writers from more than 150 countries have been in residence at the University of Iowa.

Iowa City Poetry – It’s a one-stop site for all things poetry in Eastern Iowa. The ultimate coffee house bulletin board.

Iowa City Press Co-op – The IC Press Co-op is Public Space One’s community print studio, offering studio access and education in intaglio, relief, silkscreen, letterpress, and book arts. ICPC is run collectively by its members, and work to foster and develop a local community of book and print artists and enthusiasts by providing affordable access to shared equipment and creating educational and professional opportunities, projects, and collaborations.

The Iowa Chapbook Prize – The Iowa Chapbook Prize is dedicated to capturing emerging voices among undergraduates currently enrolled in colleges or universities in the state of Iowa.

Iowa Writers’ House – Our mission is to provide writers with the support and necessary tools to to bring their literary dreams to fruition. From lectures and inspiration on first putting pen to the page, to seminars on tips and how-to’s for the publishing world and everything in between, the Iowa Writers’ House exists as a writing launchpad for all who seek it. We believe the world needs your story.

Iowa Writers’ Workshop – The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop was the first creative writing degree program in the United States, and since its founding in 1936, the program has been home to thousands of remarkable writers.

Iowa Youth Writing Project – The Iowa Youth Writing Project (IYWP) is a non-profit outreach collective founded by University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduates in 2010 that aims to join Iowa City’s unique literary heritage with Iowa’s larger community by empowering, inspiring, and educating Iowa’s youth through language arts and creative thinking.

The Midwest Writing Center – Fostering appreciation of the written word, supporting and educating its creators.

Paul Engle Center for Neighborhood Arts – The Paul Engle Center is located in the heart of Wellington Heights neighborhood on the southeast side of Cedar Rapids. It is historically known as the W.J. Burton House, and named after poet and Cedar Rapids native, Paul Engle.

The University of Iowa Writing Center & Satellite centers – The Writing Center is located in the English-Philosophy Building, Room 110. Writing Center staff also review work at the Iowa City Public Library from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays throughout the fall.

The Writing University – The Virtual Writing University (VWU) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary initiative sponsored by the Graduate College and the Office of the Provost at the University of Iowa. Its primary venue is the Writing University website (www.writinguniversity.org), a portal to the programs, news, and events associated with writing at Iowa, and a platform for special VWU Projects.

Reading Series

The Hook – Telling true stories on stage that ENGAGE.EMPOWER.INSPIRE. Each year we feature over 100 creatives whose stories we are honored to tell on stage through Drop the Mic, Youth Writing, The Living Room Series, and ArtLOUD!.

Iowa City Poetry Slam – Iowa City Poetry Slam, on the last Monday each month find us to share your original poetry and compete for prizes and bragging rights. Location may vary.

Live from Prairie Lights – An internationally known readings series, which features some of the best up-and-coming and well-established authors & poets from all over the globe. Presented before a live audience and streamed over the world wide web, this long running series brings the spoken word from the bookstore to the masses.

Poetry and Motion – Phenomenal wordsmiths will perform with a live jazz band in a collaboration of creativity!

Writer’s Open Mic – Share 3-4 minutes of your original writing with an appreciative audience. This event is open to all writing genres.

Festivals and Conferences

Cedar Rapids Comic Con – Cedar Rapids Comic Con is the best attended comic and gaming convention in Eastern Iowa.

The Examined Life Conference – We seek to explore the intersections between the arts and medicine. How can they be of use to each other? How can they interact to make each more than they were without the other? Enjoy discussions and presentations on how the arts can be used in medical education and patient and provider care. Experience works by others like you: people who are trying to get along in the world of health care.

ICON – ICON is Iowa’s longest running science fiction and fantasy convention. Typically held in the fall every year, ICON is completely volunteer-run and features a wide range of programming, an Art Show, Dealers’ Room, Gaming and more.

Ice Cream – Iowa City Expo for Comics and Real Eclectic Alternative Media

Iowa City Book Festival – The Iowa City Book Festival is organized by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, a nonprofit 501(c)3 that manages the Iowa City area’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. The City of Literature works to advance its mission of celebrating and supporting literature on a local, regional, national, and international level, connecting readers and writers through the power of story.

Iowa Dance Festival – We aim to give Iowa artists a place to share their work and proudly present opportunities to watch dance and take dance classes.

Iowa Summer Writing Festival – The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a noncredit writing program for adults administered by The University of Iowa’s Division of Continuing Education. The Festival offers 130 weeklong and weekend workshops across the genres, including novel, short story, poetry, essay, memoir, humor, playwriting, screenwriting, science fiction, and writing for children. Writers at all levels are welcome. There are no requirements beyond the desire to write.

Mission Creek Festival – An intimate festival experience in downtown Iowa City each spring for 6 days with most venues within a 5-minute walk of each other. Thriving on immediacy and cross-medium experiences, we turn music lovers onto new lit, writers onto new music, and expand everyone’s appreciation of arts, community, and culture. We embrace live performance, literary arts, and radical community happenings. We are the music festival with deep literary roots, the literary gathering with music and other happenings tucked around the edges, and the cultural experience that rivets both locals and visitors.

MusicIC: Where Music & Literature Meet – MusicIC was inaugurated in 2010 by Artistic Director Tricia Park and Managing Director Judith Hurtig. In Park’s words, she and Hurtig created the festival “out of our deep love for Iowa City and the community, and we wanted to be sure that the festival reflects what the community is about and also that it be rooted in this place. Not to offer just another generic music festival, but a festival that the community could connect to and be invested in as well. The City of Literature designation was a strong inspiration for the genesis of MusicIC and our fruitful relationship with Amy Margolis and Summer Writing Festival has strengthened these musical and literary ties.” A secondary mission has been to bring “Iowa grown” musicians and artists back to Iowa City; young performers who have the potential for or are embarked upon major careers in music.

One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival – Recognizing and celebrating this talent is a big reason behind the City of Literature organization’s annual One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival. Like traditional festivals, it offers the chance for attendees — in this case, children and their families — to hear from published authors about their work. But more important is its ultimate goal: to champion writing by children.

Summer of the Arts – Summer of the Arts brings people together to experience the arts, out loud, in the heart of Iowa City. Since 2005, Summer of the Arts has hosted summertime, family-friendly, arts and cultural festivals, including Iowa Arts Festival, Iowa City Jazz Festival, and Soul & Blues Festival.

Witching Hour Festival – Presented by The Englert Theatre and Little Village Magazine, Witching Hour is a festival dedicated to exploring the unknown, discussing creative process, and presenting new work. Each year, we welcome the brightest artists and thinkers pushing the boundaries of their respective crafts. Through performances, readings, discussions, workshops, and screenings, we engage what it means to be human in today’s world.