Several events set to celebrate World Book Day in Iowa City

UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day and World Book Night on April 23 will be celebrated in Iowa City with several events and other activities.

On World Book and Copyright Day, UNESCO invites everyone to rally around books and all those who write and produce books. This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance.

The idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia where on 23 April, Saint George’s Day, a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold.

In Iowa City, the day begins at 10 a.m. at the Pheasant Ridge Neighborhood Center with a program designed to promote reading to children. Experts will speak with those in attendance about the benefits of reading to children in their early learning years, while readers will read books to children. The event will close with a bi-lingual family literacy activity.

Those in attendance can tour the center and enjoy snacks at the close of the event.

This year World Book Day is also the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday. To celebrate, the City of Literature is teaming up with Professor Alan MacVey’s graduate acting class to stage flash Shakespeare performances in various locations throughout downtown Iowa City starting at 3:30 p.m.

Local flower shop Every Bloomin’ Thing is sponsoring the event by providing roses that will be handed out after each performance.

Several Iowa City book stores are also offering special treats and giveaways to celebrate the day.

In another partnership with the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, special sessions will be held during the After School Program at Mark Twain elementary starting at 4 p.m. Several stations will be set up throughout the school that focus on various aspects of reading and literacy.

These will include sessions with LaDonna Wicklund of I Can Read, volunteers with the Iowa Youth Writing Project, a presentation about the Antelope Lending Library, a Little Free Library build, visits from children’s librarians and more.

The day closes with World Book Night. More than 30 givers have signed up in Johnson County to distribute free books to light or non-readers in the area. This national project will involve tens of thousands of people going out into their communities to distribute half a million free World Book Night paperbacks. In Iowa City, givers plan to pass out books at the Shelter House, on the downtown Pedestrian Mall and elsewhere.

Hawkeye Readers program under way

About a dozen members of the University of Iowa football team are visiting classrooms at three Iowa City area elementary schools between now and early May as the fifth year of the Hawkeye Readers program is under way.
The program, a partnership between the UI football program and the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, brings the UI student-athletes into classrooms to talk about the importance of reading and their educational path as it relates to their collegiate success. They also will work with the elementary students by reading to them and hearing the students read.

 Hawkeye football players are visiting with students at Mark Twain, Grant Wood and Kirkwood elementary schools, and will do so once a week through May 7.

Paul Engle Glory of the Senses Essay Contest

essay contest

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature invites all Iowa high school sophomores to submit essays to the 2014 Paul Engle Glory of the Senses Essay Contest.  The contest asks students to write three-to-five-pages about an “Iowa experience,” drawing on a specific memory to capture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of the day.  This year the essays will be reviewed by a panel of judges from ACT.  The contest and an accompanying week-long 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.

Thanks to generous donors, the overall winner will receive one year of free tuition to the University of Iowa and other top students from across the state will receive a $500 cash scholarship.  The winners will also be honored at the Iowa City Book Festival on October 4th.

Students: Click here for contest rules and guidelines.

Educators: Click here for contest rules and accompanying curriculum.

Paul Hamilton Engle was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on October 12, 1908, and grew up in a frame house in the Wellington Heights area. After graduating from Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Engle attended Coe College and the University of Iowa where he was one of the first students to earn an advanced degree based on a thesis of creative work—a collection of poems.  His first published collection, Worn Earth, went on to win the Yale Series of Young Poets. His best-selling second book of poetry, American Song, was heralded on the cover of the New York Times Book Review in a headline declaring him “A New Voice in American Poetry”.  After Iowa, Engle traveled as a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford University in England.

Though Engle did not found the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, he built its reputation as the top graduate writing program in the United States. During his tenure as director, he was responsible for luring some of the finest writers of the day to Iowa City: Phillip Roth, John Berryman, Kurt Vonnegut, and many other prominent novelists and poets served as faculty under Engle. Additionally, Engle increased enrollment and oversaw numerous students of future fame and influence, including Flannery O’Connor, John Irving, Raymond Carver, William Stafford, and Robert Bly. After directing the Writers’ Workshop for twenty-four years, Engle and future wife, author Nieh Hualing, co-founded The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, which invited dozens of published authors from around the globe to visit the University of Iowa to write and collaborate. For their work with the IWP, Engle and Hualing were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.  Engle died at the age of eighty-two, having published fourteen books of poetry, a novel, a memoir, and an opera libretto, and his literary legacy lives on in the lives and works of those authors he helped to educate and inspire.

In 2000, nearly a decade after his death, Paul Engle was declared Iowa’s “Poet of the Century” and then-Governor Tom Vilsack declared that Engle’s birthday, October 12th, would hereafter be known as “Paul Engle Day” to honor this life of creativity, mentorship, and generosity.

Old Capitol Museum launching new exhibit “Poe: A Wilderness of Mirrors”

Poe

The University of Iowa’s Old Capitol Museum is hosting a series of events paying homage to classic author Edgar Allan Poe.  Known as the master of the macabre, Poe revolutionized the genres of horror, mystery, and science fiction in stories such as “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”. He was also America’s first great literary critic and a talented author whose canon ranged from poetry to books of scientific theory. Poe’s works often provide a chilling reflection of American society and the inner workings of the human psyche. Explore his troubled life, his mysterious death, and his lasting legacy in Poe: A Wilderness of Mirrors, on display February 13 – May 25, 2014.

Programs in conjunction with this exhibit include:

  • Film screening of The Masque of the Red Death at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, in the Senate Chamber.
  • Storyteller Darrin Crow will perform “Morbid Curiosities: An evening with Edgar Allan Poe” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 12. A reception will follow.
  • Students from the English class of Christine Norquest will present a special reading of selected works of Poe at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9.
  • The museum will screen the 1961 classic film The Pit and the Pendulum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23.

For more information on Poe: A Wilderness of Mirrors and related programming, contact the Old Capitol Museum at 319-335-0546 or email old-capitol-museum@uiowa.edu.

 

Whitman course offered as UI’s first MOOC

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The University of Iowa is offering its first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with a free online course on Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself.”

Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s ”Song of Myself” is an interactive MOOC  developed by the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Every Atom will be taught by IWP director Christopher Merrill and preeminent Whitman scholar Ed Folsom.

A welcome video created by Folsom and Merrill introduces the concept and the topic: http://courses.writinguniversity.org/info/every-atom.

During the six-week course, Folsom and Merrill will break down ”Song of Myself” in 12 video conversations. Folsom and Merrill will pose a question to participants at the end of each session and will critique answers and offer insights within the MOOC’s discussion forum. During a live breakout session held at the end of each week, the teaching assistants – each a Whitman specialist of a type – will recap discussion topics and answer popular questions.

The course will begin on Feb. 17 and runs through March 29. To register, please visit http://courses.writinguniversity.org/info/every-atom and select “SIGN UP.”