Gray Hawks writing group donates book proceeds to City of Literature

Greyhawks donation 7-20-15

Members of the Gray Hawk Memoir Writing Group have donated proceeds from their first book, Yesterdays, to the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization.

The book gathers writing selections from members past and present, 24 in all. It is available at Prairie Lights Books and Amazon.com.

 “Everyone in Iowa City has a story to tell,” said John Hudson, moderator of the Gray Hawk Writers. “We believe that since Iowa City has become a UNESCO City of Literature more and more average citizens are beginning to find joy in writing, and think of themselves as writers. Some of us write only to entertain ourselves, others to share with a writing group, some actually do end up being published. That is what happened with a group of memoirs written by the Gray Hawk Writers. Our book, Yesterdays, has had some success. Our check is just a small way of saying thank you to the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature for not only honoring the esteemed professional writers, but also raising the awareness and enthusiasm of us just plain folk.”

The group agreed to donate proceeds to the City of Literature, and donated $250 in late July.

“This group’s very existence is evidence of the rich literary culture in Iowa City that exists beyond the bounds of traditional structures, and its book is evidence that the writers who thrive in that culture have considerable talent and wonderful stories to tell,” said John Kenyon, executive director of the City of Literature organization.

Winners named in Paul Engle student essay contest

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization has completed judging for this year’s Paul Engle Day: Glory of the Senses Essay Contest, and will award scholarships to 10 high school sophomores from across Iowa.

The winning essay was “Beneath a Green Sky,” by Natalie Holmes, a student at Iowa City High School. In recognition of her essay, Natalie will receive one year of free tuition to the University of Iowa, offered in partnership with the UI.

In the essay, she writes about a tornado that hit Iowa City in 2006 when she was a young girl, and about the stories her mother told her and her siblings during the storm to keep them calm.

The essays were judged by a team from ACT in Iowa City. Commenting on Natalie’s essay, the team said, Holmes’ essay stood out because of her “masterful weaving of the essential themes of Iowan life.”

“The powerful force of Nature enveloping us, the comfort of close family, equanimity in the face of crisis, the transformative power of our creative imagination — the Iowa of Natalie’s story-within-a-story is at once both fantastical and familiar, retelling a powerful recent event from our lives with the wonder and innocence of a child.”

The competition 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.

Nine runners up from around the state will receive $500 cash scholarships from the City of Literature. This year’s cash scholarships were funded by a donation made in honor of departing University of Iowa President Sally Mason in recognition of her six years as a member of the City of Literature board of directors.

The runners up are:

  • Julia DeValk, Solon
  • Peyton Schmitt, Lone Tree
  • Olivia Schuster, Dyersville
  • Shannon Hoffman, Dyersville
  • Allysan Bushore, Boone
  • Sophia Burger, Spencer
  • Deion Malloy, Wayland
  • Hailey Pullman, Hawarden
  • Alex Kasemeier, Denver

All prize winners will be recognized this fall at an event in Iowa City.

MusicIC celebrates fifth year June 17-20 in downtown Iowa City

MusicIC2

MusicIC is celebrating its fifth year! This free festival (under the Summer of the Arts umbrella), scheduled for Wednesday, June 17, through Saturday, June 20, in downtown Iowa City, features small ensembles and explores the connections between music and literature, drawing on Iowa City’s rich literary life.

The annual festival is notable for two more innovative features. First, it provides a stage for current and former University of Iowa faculty and for Iowa and Iowa City natives, all of whom have or are making names for themselves in the world of classical music. Second, but just as importantly, over the five years of its existence, the festival has undertaken increasingly ambitious theatrical projects.

This year, MusicIC presents “Abundant Happiness: The Music of Robert and Clara Schumann,” a performance combining song, a string quartet and acting, conceived and directed by Iowa City playwright Jennifer Fawcett of Working Group Theatre. The performance takes place on Friday, June 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City. Performers for “Abundant Happiness” include former UI faculty member and violinist Tricia Park, Iowa native and soprano Megan Brus, Iowa City-born pianist Yi-heng Yang and Iowa City actress Saffron Henke. Brus and Yang will perform songs by both Schumanns. Park will be joined by violinist Miki-Sophia Cloud, violist Molly Carr, and cellist Andrew Janss in a performance of Robert Schumann’s String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3 of 1842. The quartet begins with a theme often associated with Clara’s name and the music of the first movement explores that theme in a range of variations.

“Abundant Happiness” draws on the Schumanns’ diary and music to present an image of their love and happy marriage. In 1841, in an explosion of joy following his marriage, Robert Schumann wrote 150 songs. Several of those compositions, as well as two songs by Clara Schumann, provide the music for the performance, which will be dramatized by Henke’s acting.

Other MusicIC events, all free and open to the public, are as follows:

  • Wednesday, June 17, 11 a.m., Iowa City Public Library: MusicIC musicians and playwright Fawcett will explore the Schumanns’ relationship and how it is expressed in poetry and music. This event is offered in cooperation with the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival.
  • Wednesday, June 17, 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 320 E. College Street: MusicIC musicians celebrate America in three works, including selections from Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs” and Samuel Barber’s work for singer and piano, “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” which draws on text by writer James Agee. The third work is a celebration of America by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, who famously spent a summer in Spillville, Iowa. The musicians will play his String Quartet in F Major, Op. 96, “American.”
  • Thursday, June 18, 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal: In contrast to Friday’s concert, which focuses on the Schumanns’ love, this concert explores how other composers have channeled the experience of unrequited love into music. Selections include Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 60, “Werther,” and Janacek’s String Quartet No. 2, “Intimate Letters.”
  • Saturday, June 20, 10:30 a.m., Iowa City Public Library: Violinist Park and fiddler Taylor Morris will present a family concert.

“MusicIC delivers high impact music experiences in concerts that are rarely more than 75 minutes and are performed without intermission”, says Judith Hurtig, who with Park is the co-founder of MusicIC. “The four concerts are free, require no tickets, and take place in the heart of Iowa City. “All of our musicians have active careers in classical music, but they have carved out a few days to participate in our event because they love our innovative programming and the free and easy spirit of downtown Iowa City,” she adds. “We are indebted to them for the highest quality of music they provide, which has helped MusicIC to become nationally renowned.”

More information at: http://www.summerofthearts.org/festival-menu/music-ic/about.aspx

Hot Tin Roof Accepting Submissions for Fall 2015

Hot Tin Roof

Iowa City Writers: City of Literature would like to remind you that submissions for Hot Tin Roof are open now through June 30, 2015 for publication in the fall. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.

Hot Tin Roof is a program supported by the City of Literature in conjunction with the Englert Theater and Little Village Magazine. The program seeks to promote literary work currently being produced in Iowa City by local writers. Named after the famous work by former Iowa City resident and University of Iowa undergraduate Tennessee Williams, Hot Tin Roof honors the literary history of Iowa City by ensuring its further continuation and enrichment.

Entrants should submit a work of creative fiction up to 1,000 words in length. Poems, short stories and more are welcome. Winning entries will be published monthly in Little Village Magazine, with the winning author receiving a $100 prize in addition to the publication of their work within the magazine. Further guidelines for submitting to Hot Tin Roof can be found at Little Village Magazine’s website at http://littlevillagemag.com/hot-tin-roof-one/.

Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to engage with the literary community of Iowa City by submitting your writing today!

Paul Engle essay contest now open to Iowa high school sophomores

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The City of Literature organization’s annual Paul Engle: Glory of the Senses high school sophomore essay contest is now open to submissions.

The contest seeks essays from current Iowa high school sophomores, and is inspired by the writings of Paul Engle, a long time director of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and co-founder of the UI’s International Writing Program.

In his autobiography A Lucky American Childhood, Paul Engle describes his Iowa upbringing and how it helped him to grow from the son of a horse trainer in the heartland to a poet and professor of international reputation.   More than merely keeping a record of locations and events, Engle uses sensory detail to evoke his experience, to recreate it for the reader.

 In the chapter entitled “The Glory of the Senses”, Engle addresses each of the senses in turn to bring to life the Iowa of his youth.  He revels in “the smell of wood and coal [that] burned the kitchen air” and the “healthy sound … of a horse’s broad teeth grinding grain”, experiences that were common to a young person growing up at the beginning of the twentieth century in Iowa.  He recalls the accents of the Czech, German, Irish, and Russian immigrants whose “speech had not yet become homogenized by radio and television…trying hard to communicate with these strange Americans,” sounds that mirrored the combination of heritages that comprise the American quilt.  As he watches the spectacle of a cattle drive down Fifth Avenue in Cedar Rapids, the animals “snorting, frightened of the city, tossing their horns, trampling the lawns, a furious animal force…,” Engle says he “learned from them, as I watched their massive motion, the power of mass,” as the “thousand-pound beef animals look at you with their oval, liquid eyes…”

 The contest asks students to consider their own Iowa experience, and to write an essay in which they choose a single, specific Iowa memory to write into life using details that evoke the sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch of that memory.

The author of the essay judged by reviewers to be the best will receive one year of free tuition to the University of Iowa. A select number of runners up will receive a $500 scholarship from the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature.

 Essays may be submitted to the competition by emailing them as an MSWord attachment on or before May 15, 2015 to info@cityofliteratureusa.org. Please put “Paul Engle Day Student Essay Contest submission” in the subject line. All submissions must include the cover sheet found on p. 6 of this packet.