Booksellers’ Holiday Gift Guide

Gift Guide post 2014

The City of Literature organization is partnering with several area bookstores to host the City of Literature Booksellers’ Holiday Gift Guide. Local booksellers will gather at 7 p.m. Monday Nov 24, at the Iowa City Public Library to present and talk about their top suggestions for holiday gifts.  This is an opportunity to ask for an expert’s recommendations and get a jumpstart on holiday shopping.

“We are fortunate to live in a community with so many world-class independent bookstores. These booksellers are experts on what writers and readers want, and they have fantastic gift ideas for all ages,” said Rachael Carlson, operations manager at the City of Literature.

Participating stores include: Among the Stacks, The Book End, The Book Shop, Defunct Books, The Haunted Bookshop, Iowa Book, New Bo Books, Prairie Lights Books, University Bookstore, and Uptown Bill’s.

The City of Literature Bookseller’s Holiday Gift Guide will take place in Meeting Room A at the Iowa City Public Library on Nov 24 at 7 p.m. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served. The event is free and open to the public.

Poems, History and Songs of World War I

Great War

Head to the Iowa City Public Library at noon Tuesday, Nov. 11, for “On the Centenary of the Great War: Poems, History and Songs of World War I.”

Voices of Experience will open the program, followed by poetry reading presented by members of Reading Aloud from the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center.

Local historian Loren Horton will present “Europe on the Edge of Catastrophe.” Horten worked for the State Historical Society of Iowa for nearly 25 years.

The program will end with songs of the period, performed by members of Voices of Experience from the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center. The group is directed by Joyce Brokke.

“On the Centenary of the Great War: Poems, History and Songs of World War I” is sponsored by the Iowa City Public Library and the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center. The program is free and open to the public.

City of Literature, Press-Citizen partner on holiday story contest

The City of Literature is partnering with the Iowa City Press-Citizen and the Iowa City Downtown District to find a story to publish in the paper’s Dec. 25 issue.

This continues a tradition that began three years ago, when the paper began publishing an original short piece of fiction on that morning. This year, the paper seeks a holiday-themed story from someone in the community.

Submissions will be accepted through Nov. 19. The winner will be selected by a panel assembled by the City of Literature, and the winning story will be published on the front page of the Press-Citizen on Dec. 25. The author will receive a $50 Downtown District gift card.

Other submissions may be published on the Press-Citizen website on Dec. 25.

The guidelines:

• In a Microsoft Word document, write a holiday-themed story no more than 1,700 words in length.

• Email the finished story to Include the words “holiday story” in the subject line.

• Be sure to include your name, phone number and the town you are from so we know how to contact you, if needed.

• The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Nov. 19.

Happy 10th anniversary Edinburgh City of Literature

UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network got its start 10 years ago this month when Edinburgh, Scotland, was named the first member as a City of Literature. Since that time, the network has grown to 41 cities (with more on the way), and the Cities of Literature now number seven.

Congratulations to Edinburgh on a decade of literary excellence, and thank you for lighting the way for the rest of us!

Our friends in Edinburgh celebrate the 10th anniversary of their designation with this wonderful poem by Christine de Luca, current Makar, that reserves a line for each of the other six Cities of Literature. The poem was read this morning at a full meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council.

Through the Traffic of Tongues

Ten years we’ve had of trafficking,
of keeping borders open through words,
through discerning conversation,

the hospitality of books. Seven citadels
of literature, all fostered from a dream;
seven hills and heavenscities of possibilities.

Edinburgh: first to light up with literature,
spelled out its heritage and future. That night
in Paris was a consummation, a delight.

We passed the flame to Melbourne:
an ancient meeting place of sign and symbol,
built on gold, a rush of writing, a wealth.

Then Iowa City made the cut; told the world
it had made the sentence behave
and misbehave, recast our myths.

Dublin followed with its Book of Kells,
its four Nobel literary laureates
and a daft Bloomsday every June.

Reykjavik was standing in the wings,
holding its ancient tongue; weighing
its Edda and Saga, its poetic forms.

But Julian of Norwich was stirring in her grave.
Across 600 years we still need the solace of words
that tell us that all shall indeed be well.

Kraków is the seventh hill, the seventh dream:
its word hordes, bulging libraries, its bookshops;
the deep lines on its literary face.

All outward-looking places, all generous,
all built on the topography of words.
Open the book, read, translate, pass on the gift.

This poem, including the title, includes snippets – italicised – from poems by Edinburgh’s three previous Makars; Stewart Conn, Valerie Gillies and Ron Butlin. Also a quote from the Iowa City of Literature website.)


Stream receives Engle essay contest prize during Book Festival

engle essay

Palen Stream, top winner in the 2014 Glory of the Senses: Paul Engle Essay Contest from the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, received her prize of one year of free tuition to the University of Iowa during and event at this year’s Iowa City Book Festival.

Stream, now a junior at Bedford Community High School in southwest Iowa, read her winning essay, “The Trail of Senses That Leads Me Home,” at the ceremony. She was one of three winners in attendance, joined by runners-up Paige Curry from Spencer High School, and Erin Kinne from Boone High School. Curry and Kinne also read their winning essays, which earned them $500 cash scholarships.

Other runners-up unable to attend were Sarah Cabeen, Clarinda High School; Claire Boes, Abraham Lincoln High School (Council Bluffs); Sierra Paul, Bedford Community High School; and Cassidy Strickland, Bedford Community High School. They also will receive $500 cash scholarships.

In her winning essay, Stream writes about a series of places in and around her community that to her are “quintessential Iowa.” The essays were judged by a team from ACT in Iowa City. In notes about the winning essays, the judges wrote that Palen’s essay “is a tour-de-force through the sounds, smells, and sensations of quintessential Iowa, taking her reader fluidly through the complex set of emotions that arise from growing up in a state with one foot planted firmly in tradition and one foot pointed toward the future.”

The contest asked Iowa high school sophomores to write a three-to-five-page essay about an “Iowa experience,” drawing on a specific memory to capture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of the day.

The contest and an accompanying weeklong curriculum distributed to all high schools in Iowa are based on the writings of Paul Engle – the long-time director of the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop and co-founder of the UI’s International Writing Program – particularly his memoir, A Lucky American Childhood.

Details about the 2015 contest will be released this fall.

Photo: Paige Curry, Palen Stream, Erin Kinne and University of Iowa President Sally Mason (photo by Linda Schreiber)
Video: University Office of Strategic Communication