For 80 years, Iowa City has been committed to celebrating writing. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa pioneered the teaching of creative writing at the university level; and dozens of creative programmes exist at the university and throughout the city.
Known as a long-standing home for writers, Iowa City has a unique set of influential literary institutions which explore new ways of teaching and supporting writers. Many of these cultural assets are housed at the University of Iowa. In addition to the Writers’ Workshop, the University is home to the International Writing Programme, the Nonfiction Writing Programme, the Translation Workshop, the Playwrights Workshop, the Spanish Language Creative Writing MFA, and the Iowa Center for the Book, to name but a few.
The community is also home to a rich array of literary spots, from the world-renowned Prairie Lights independent bookstore to the Iowa City Public Library – the busiest library building in the state per capita.
These organizations, and the City of Literature organization, provide rich programming that includes the Iowa City Book Festival, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the One Book Two Book Children’s Literature festival.
The city also boasts several presses and publishing houses, all of which support the many writers who have called or who continue to call Iowa City their home.
10 dingen die je moet weten over Iowa City
Iowa City is the cultural capital of Iowa with a population of 73,000. The city has a network of university, grassroots and civic institutions that teach, celebrate, nurture and study great writing.
The highly acclaimed Iowa Writers’ Workshop is the world’s first Master of Fine Arts degree program in creative writing. Iowa City and the University of Iowa have played a substantial role in how literature, first in America and then around the world, has come to be written. The MFA degree workshop concept has spread to more than 300 hundred American universities and to universities in numerous other countries.
Important programs include the Translation Workshop; the Playwrights Workshop; the Nonfiction Writing Program; the Spanish Language Creative Writing MFA, the Summer Writing Festival (composed of dozens of workshops for the general public); and the Young Writers’ Studio, a summer program for high-school students.
Since 1955 graduates and faculty of the University of Iowa have won more than 25 Pulitzer Prizes in literature. Authors who have lived, taught and studied in the city include Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Robert Penn Warren, Robert Lowell, Flannery O’Connor, Rita Dove, Jane Smiley, Robert Hass and John Irving.
More than 1,400 emerging and established writers from more than 120 countries have been in residence at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, including such luminaries as Bessie Head, Bei Dao, Luisa Valenzuela, John Banville and Nobel Prize-winners Orhan Pamuk and Mo Yan. Each fall these writers participate in dozens of public events, including readings and panel discussions.
‘Live From Prairie Lights’ at Prairie Light Books has been the only ongoing series of live-broadcast literary readings on American radio, and the tradition is now entering a new era through different media.
Iowa City is home to severalliterary presses, including one devoted to translation and two publishers devoted to language and literacy materials. There are a range of print and online journals, and several literary blogs. The highly respected Center for the Book preserves and extends the art of bookmaking.
In 2006, borrowers as a percentage of population reached 101 percent, factoring in borrowers from out of town. The university’s research library is the 18th largest of its kind in the country; its holdings include special literary collections and hundreds of thousands of rare books; and it is the location of many literature-related exhibitions.
Iowa City’s literary institutions sponsor more than 180 literary events a year, including the Iowa City Book Festival each fall and the One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival in the spring.
A series of commissioned bronze artworks are embedded in the sidewalks downtown, each highlighting the words of an Iowa City writer.