Eve Ewing’s Mission Creek visit allows for long-delayed Engle Prize presentation

Dr. Eve L. Ewing with the 2020 Paul Engle Prize.Each October during the Iowa City Book Festival, we present the Paul Engle Prize. This prize, named for the long-time director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and co-founder of the International Writing Program, honors an individual who, like Paul Engle, represents a pioneering spirit in the world of literature through writing, editing, publishing, or teaching, and whose active participation in the larger issues of the day has contributed to the betterment of the world through the literary arts.

Dr. Eve L. Ewing was the tenth winner of the Engle award in 2020. It is usually celebrated with an in-person event at the Coralville Public Library, Coralville being the sponsor of the prize. We held a virtual event that featured Dr. Ewing being interviewed by Iowa City’s own Andre Perry in October 2020. However, the award also includes a one-of-a-kind artwork crafted to reflect the work and impact of the recipient, usually presented during that ceremony. Because her ceremony was virtual, we never had that opportunity, and waited for a time when Dr. Ewing could visit Iowa City.  Her visit to the Mission Creek Festival afforded us that chance.

We presented Dr. Ewing’s prize before her keynote reading on April 9, at FilmScene. The prize was created by artist Mike Sneller with M.C. Ginsberg here in Iowa City. In Mike’s words, the prize “recognizes Dr. Ewing’s work bringing attention to inequalities in education in inner city areas with a blend of sociology and personal experience. The base of the prize is a cutout of Logan Square in Chicago, where she is from, with each of  the schools marked with a silhouette from the cover of her book, Ghosts in the School Yard. In the center is an Ironheart-like figure launching out into the world to improve it with her experience and knowledge.”

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