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.”

Reading for Ukraine set for April 11

Join Ukrainian and U.S. writers in person at the Shambaugh House or online for a special reading dedicated to supporting Ukraine. Co-sponsored by Prairie Lights Bookstore, the Iowa City, Lviv, and Odessa UNESCO Cities of Literature, and International Programs.

Participating readers include Marilynne Robinson, Bob Shacochis, Elizabeth Willis, Jane Hirshfield, Oksana Lutsyshyna Pavlo Korobchuk, Joyelle McSweeney and more.

Register for the streaming version at bit.ly/readingforukraine.

CR Prairie student selected as Iowa Student Poet Ambassador

On Friday, April 22, Cedar Rapids Prairie junior Johnnie Each will be inaugurated in Des Moines as the 2022 Iowa Student Poet Ambassador.

The Iowa Student Poet Ambassador program is a collaboration of the following partner organizations:

“The Poet Ambassador program recognizes an outstanding, young writer and celebrates poetry and the literary arts in Iowa,” said Jan Warren, Assistant Director for Student Services at the Belin-Blank Center and Coordinator of the Iowa Scholastic Writing Awards. “We are so pleased that Ms. Each will continue in what is now an impressive tradition set by our inaugural Student Poet Ambassador, Shreya Khullar.”

The Ambassador was chosen from a select group of students who participated in either the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards or the Iowa Poetry Association. There were two rounds in the selection process: first, a blind reading and ranking of each student’s poetry, and then a selection committee made up of individuals from the partner organization selected Each based on her ability to serve in an ambassadorial role. Each earned multiple gold medals at both the regional and national level in this year’s Scholastic competition for her poetry. She is also winner of the City of Literature’s 2021 Glory of the Senses: Paul Engle Essay Contest.

  • Belin-Blank Center and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
  • Iowa Arts Council
  • Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature
  • Iowa Library Association
  • Iowa Poet Laureate Program
  • Iowa Poetry Association
  • State Library of Iowa/Iowa Center for the Book
  • University of Iowa Arts Share

Each will be inaugurated in the Rotunda of the State Capitol at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 22, as part of National Poetry Month.  Representatives from partner organizations will be in attendance and poetry will be read by Iowa Poet Laureate Debra Marquart, Khullar, and Each.

Cities of Literature stand with Ukraine on World Poetry Day, March 21

In celebration of World Poetry Day, and standing in solidarity with our sister Cities of Literature in Lviv and Odessa in Ukraine, several UNESCO Cities of Literature joined together to present the poem, “[So I’ll talk about it]” by Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin. Poets from 11 Cities of Literature read lines from the poem.

Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey from Iowa City is among the poets taking part.

The poem will premiere on the City of Literature’s YouTube channel at noon CT on Monday, March 21, which is World Poetry Day.

Thank you to Melbourne City of Literature for organizing this project.

To read bios of the participating poets, click here.

To read this poem and others by Ukrainian poets, click here.

Canceled: Dylan scholar Michael Gray to speak April 14

NOTE: This event has been canceled.

Michael Gray, a pioneer in the study of the work of Bob Dylan, will present “Bob Dylan, Literature, and the Poetry of the Blues” at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library. The event, presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature’s Iowa City Book Festival, is free and open to the public, and marks Gray’s first visit to Iowa and a rare appearance in the U.S.

Gray pioneered the serious study of Bob Dylan’s work with, Song & Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan, in 1972, the first such critical book. Born in 1946, he grew up on Merseyside, England, and studied History and English Literature at York University, where he chatted with visiting performer Jimi Hendrix. His books include the massively updated Song & Dance Man III (2000), The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (2006), Hand Me My Travelin Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell (2009), and the new Outtakes On Bob Dylan: Selected Writings 1967-2021. The 750,000-word Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, produced single-handedly by Gray, is still in frequent use in colleges and libraries on both sides of the Atlantic.

Gray’s lectures are lively and spontaneous, witty and acute, and offer a thoroughly entertaining, fresh account of music and Dylan’s achievement.