News from the Great Wide World: Ralph Ellison and the Cultural Ambassadors of Jazz

In celebration of UNESCO’s International Jazz Day, the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature presents an event that celebrates the intersection of jazz with the work of the writer Ralph Ellison. Horace Porter, F. Wendell Miller Professor of English & American Studies at the University of Iowa, will discuss Ellison’s work. Throughout the program, a jazz ensemble will performance songs composed or made famous by jazz artists who connected with Ellison, including Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong. The ensemble includes Damani Phillips (saxophone), James Dreier (drums), Blake Shaw (bass), and Grace Leong (piano) from the University of Iowa School of Music.


Thursday April 30, noon to 1 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library. Music will be performed for 15 minutes before and after the program.


Co-presented by the University of Iowa School of Music and the Iowa City Public Library

All Iowa Reads 2015 selection: “My Name is Mary Sutter” by Robin Oliveira

The North Liberty Community Library will host All Iowa Reads author, Robin Oliveira, on Tuesday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m. This is a cultural partnership with Marion Public Library.

The purpose of All Iowa Reads is to foster a sense of unity through reading. Iowans are encouraged to come together in their communities to read and talk about a single book title in the same year. Libraries, book clubs, schools and other local organizations are encouraged to sponsor discussions of the title.

The 2015 selection is “My Name is Mary Sutter” by Robin Oliveira. This Civil War epic is about a young headstrong midwife determined to become a surgeon striving to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine. Fully drawn characters, family conflicts, the politics of war, and achieving humane medical care in the aftermath of violence are some of themes that will be at the center discussions among hundreds of Iowans during 2015.

Funds Available for Little Free Libraries


The weather is getting warmer, which means you might be thinking of fun outdoor projects for your home or neighborhood. If you live in Johnson County and you’ve ever considered building your own Little Free Library, now is the time. Limited resources are available for expenses related to the construction, installation and final registration of Little Free Libraries.

Completed LFLs must be installed and registered on the website before funds can be requested.  The fund is managed by the Altrusa International Club of Iowa City and the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature office, and is housed at the Community Foundation of Johnson Country.

Grants up to $75 are available for each LFL which has been built, installed and registered.

To apply for funds, please visit: and submit your information or call 319-887-6100.

UI Libraries to hold Edible Book Festival event on April 1

The University of Iowa Libraries invites faculty, staff, students, and the Iowa City community to celebrate the annual International Edible Book Festival April 1 by crafting a delicious book to share and, of course, eat.

To participate, follow two simple rules: entries must be edible, and they must have something to do with books as shapes and/or content. Edible books will be displayed on April 1 in the Main Library Learning Commons, Group Study Rooms 1103 and 1105 in the South Lobby from 3:00-3:45 p.m., followed by a book tasting.

Prizes will be awarded in multiple categories including Best Book Structure, Best Literary Allusion, Judge’s Favorite, Audience Favorite, and Best Tasting. Judges will include Executive Chef of the Iowa Memorial Union Barry Greenberg, and University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections Librarian Colleen Theisen.

Photos and updates will be added to the Twitter hashtag #ediblebookiowa.

The International Edible Book Festival is an annual event held on April 1 around the world. The event unites bibliophiles, book artists, and food lovers to celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment. Participants create edible books that are exhibited, photographed, and then consumed. Information and inspiration can be found at

For more information or to submit an entry, please contact Brett Cloyd via email at or by telephone at (319) 335-5743, and bring your entry to Room 1103 between 2:00-2:45 p.m. on April 1.

More than 120 student writers to be honored at One Book Two Book


The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization’s annual One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival will recognize the creative excellence of more than 120 area students over the course of the three-day festival, March 6-8.

The festival begins Friday, March 6, with the “Once Upon a Time” banquet. Each of 21 participating Iowa City-area elementary schools has selected one student to read a piece of original writing at the dinner.

In addition, students in Corridor districts were encouraged to submit one page of original writing. More than 800 students answered the call. Those submissions were evaluated by a team at Pearson in Iowa City, and the best of these were singled out for recognition.

In each grade, first through eighth, winners were selected in two categories. They are:

The Write Stuff, which is judged based on language, clarity, structure, and emotional impact.
From the Heart, judged based on creativity, passion, and expressiveness.

In addition, the Pearson team identified students each grade — for a total of 87 — whose writing was deemed worthy of honorable mention.

Click here for a full list of all of the students who will be recognized for their creative excellence during the festival.