MusicIC Presents: Discussing Whitman’s “Lilacs” with Ed Folsom

As part of the 2022 MusicIC festival, professor Ed Folsom led a lecture and discussion focusing on Walt Whitman’s poem Lilacs and why musicians continue to set his poetry to music.

MusicIC continues Friday, June 17, at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church (320 E College St, Iowa City), with a concert featuring George Walker’s Lilacs for Soprano and Piano (originally for orchestra), which was unanimously awarded the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for music, the first to be awarded to an African-American composer. Walker’s Lilacs sets to music Walt Whitman’s 1865 poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” which was written as an elegy to President Abraham Lincoln after his death on April 15, 1865. Walker’s composition was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Faye Robinson on Feb. 1, 1996.

Centering on themes of death, grief, and the “ever-returning spring” of hope and new beginnings, lilacs permeate the remainder of the program with continued references in Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 2 and Sonatensatz in C minor; and complementary vocal pieces die Mainacht, wie Melodien zieht es mir, Feldeinsamkeit, Meine Liebe ist grün, and Auf dem Kirchhofe; as well as Rachmaninoff’s Lilacs for solo pianoThe concert will feature violinist Tricia Park, pianist Dominic Cheli, and soprano Faylotte Joy Crayton.

The following day, Saturday, June 18 at 10:30 a.m., at the Iowa City Public Library, enjoy a family concert, featuring a program of musical storytelling for kids of all ages. MusicIC’s Artistic Director, violinist Tricia Park, and vocalist Meagan Amelia Brus, who also serves as the festival’s Managing Director, will join pianist Dominic Cheli to perform Debussy’s Clair de Lune, Copland’s Hoe-Down from Rodeo for violin and piano, and Alan Ridout’s Ferdinand the Bull.

Libraries partner with City of Literature for ‘Stories from Ukraine’ project

The “Stories from Ukraine” project is a series of videos that offers a chance to better understand Ukraine, its culture, and its people.


The project is a collaboration among the Lviv Public Libraries, the Lviv UNESCO City of Literature, Ukraїner, and the Ukrainian Library Association. It is presented here in partnership with the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, the Iowa City Public Library, the Coralville Public Library, the North Liberty Community Library, and the University of Iowa Libraries.


The four local libraries will show the videos in their public spaces during the week of June 13. Each video is between one and two minutes in length, and highlights a town, attraction, or region in Ukraine.


The videos were created between June 2016 and October 2018, and cover all 16 historic regions of Ukraine. The organization Ukraїner sought to capture stories from the farthest corners of Ukraine and to tell them to those who have moved from rural to urban regions or who have emigrated from the county. With the increased interest in Ukraine after the attack by Russia that began in the spring of 2022, the series became an opportunity to teach the rest of the world about the country.

Lviv, in the west of the country, and Odessa to the south, are both UNESCO Cities of Literature. They have asked colleagues in other Cities of Literature around the world to help share their story. Here in Iowa City, we continue to seek ways to support our fellow Cities of Literature, and know that learning about Ukraine is the best way to start.

Iowa PBS presents Telling Our Own Story

Iowa’s civil rights history boasts many early freedoms for Black citizens, many long before such laws were passed nationally. In 1868, Iowa was the first state outside of New England to grant Black men the right to vote, two years before the Fifteenth Amendment. In 1884, the Iowa legislature passed an Iowa Civil Rights Act, outlawing discrimination in barbershops, theatres, hotels and on public transportation. In 1892, another law was passed making discrimination illegal in restaurants. While Iowa was just the fourth state in the country to pass such laws, they were largely ignored. Eventually, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission was established to enforce the Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965. Slowly, legal injustices were reversed, but Black Iowans continue to experience racism and discrimination across urban and rural landscapes today.

This June, Iowa PBS presents Telling Our Own Story, four films produced by Black Iowan independent filmmakers providing insights on topics that have dominated recent headlines and Black culture since Iowa became a state. The unique perspectives of these filmmakers show what life is like for Black Iowans and provide a window for other cultures to see where similarities and differences exist.

Racism and Its Impact — Monday, June 6 at 8 p.m.

Filmmaker Terrence Thames explores the basis for how racism took hold in Iowa and why it persists.

Poverty and the Wealth Gap — Monday, June 6 at 8:30 p.m.

Terrence Thames explores the journey of Black Iowans navigating the nuances of generational wealth.

Black History — Tuesday, June 7 at 8 p.m

Professor Venise Berry and filmmaker S. Torriano Berry spotlight Black Iowans who have made their mark on the state and world.

Ending Racism — Tuesday, June 7 at 8:30 p.m.

Journalist Ty Rushing explores racism and discrimination across rural and urban landscapes in Iowa.

An advance online preview of Telling Our Own Story will be hosted by Iowa PBS Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. Attendees will get to see a sneak peek of this powerful series before it airs on statewide Iowa PBS. Following the clips, David Miller, executive producer and director at Iowa PBS, will continue the conversation with filmmakers. Through the online shared media viewing platform, audience members can discuss the films and ask questions during the live discussion. For more information and to register for free, visit

In addition to its statewide broadcast, Iowa PBS .1 is available to livestream on,, the PBS Video App and YouTube TV. Iowa PBS programs, behind-the-scenes extras and more can be enjoyed on, Facebook and YouTube. Viewers can also stream their favorite shows on demand using the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android and many streaming devices.

Learn more at

Our next Community Read: 100 Days of The Count of Monte Cristo


Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Le Désespéré (Desperation or The Desperate Man), a self-portrait painted in 1843-1845 – the years of the writing and publication of “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

Our next Community Reads project with Anna Barker will be The Count of Monte Cristo. The project follows on past readings of The Red and the Black, Colonel Chabert, War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, The Decameron and more. As with those projects, Barker will lead a Facebook group where participants can follow along and learn more about the book as they read a certain number of pages each day. Barker will hold Zoom discussions a few times throughout the project as well. Participation is free; readers need only acquire a copy of the book and join in!

Here, Barker introduces the project:

The count of Monte Cristo is a dark character. A dark, brooding, mysterious, and vengeful character. A literary link between Milton’s Satan and DC’s Batman, Monte Cristo may be considered the first avenging superhero who conceals shocking secrets and has power over characters whose lives he wishes to control. At the time of its publication (the novel was serialized 1844-1846), The Count of Monte Cristo was the most popular book in Europe and its appeal has not diminished over the years.

Unfolding during the waning days of Napoleon’s First Empire, the Bourbon Restoration, the Revolution of 1830, and the reign of Louis-Philippe, and covering French history between 1815 and 1839, The Count of Monte Cristo reveals a tale of an ordinary human being caught up in a turbulent historical moment, unable to understand or control the circumstances that determine his fate — until… But I shall say no more — the novel is a thrilling page-turner and quite possibly the best, and darkest, adventure story ever written!!!

Please join us on a journey into this enigmatic darkness on June 1, 2022 for 100 Days of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo!!! The novel consists of 117 chapters of uneven length. We will read approximately one chapter per day and combine some of the shorter chapters in order to finish the novel in 100 days. We will consider this summer reading with my commentary appearing only twice a week. Trust me, you will not get lost – the novel is a seductive page turner!!! I will be reading the Penguin edition of the novel in the Robin Buss translation. Between May 25 and May 31, I will post 20 historical notes to get us ready for the whirlwind of historical events that constitute the background of The Count of Monte Cristo!!! I will post my commentary to Chapter 1 on June 1!!!


Acclaimed Writers’ Workshop alum T.C. Boyle returns to Iowa City

Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate and PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author T.C. Boyle will visit Iowa City to read from his acclaimed works during a free, public event at the Englert Theatre.

During the event, which will take place on Thursday, May 5, beginning at 7:30 p.m., Boyle will read “The Lie” from his short story collection, Wild Child, which was originally published in the New Yorker.

Boyle is best known for The Tortilla Curtain, The Road to Wellville, World’s End, and several other award-winning novels and short story collections. His work tackle themes like environmentalism, fanaticism, and the unintended consequences of technology.

This event is free, but guests are asked to register in advance by visiting Attendees can join the event in-person or via livestream.

Boyle will also be at FilmScene on Wednesday, May 4, for a screening of the 1994 film adaptation of his book The Road to Wellville. A discussion will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the film showing around 6:50 p.m.

Learn more about T.C. Boyle and his latest novel, Talk to Me, by reading this Q&A with Iowa Magazine.

The University of Iowa Center for Advancement, UI Lecture Committee, Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature are proud to present this program.