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Iowa City to host 2018 meeting of UNESCO Cities of Literature

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Iowa City has been selected as the host for the 2018 annual meeting of the UNESCO Cities of Literature. Iowa City was designated as the third City of Literature in the world in 2008. The meeting will be part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the designation.

Each year, representatives of member cities gather in one of the designated cities for a meeting to discuss policy and projects. Past meetings have been held in Heidelberg, Germany; Dublin, Ireland; and Barcelona, Spain.

At the 2017 meeting in Barcelona, member cities selected Iowa City to host the 2018 meeting. Delegates from Cities of Literature will visit Iowa City in early April 2018. While much of the schedule will include working meetings for the delegates, opportunities for the public to interact with the visitors, and for the visitors to learn more about Iowa City’s literary assets, will be built into the visit.

Iowa City is one of 20 UNESCO-designated Cities of Literature. A call for applications from aspiring cities to the Creative Cities Network is open through June, and new cities will be named to the network in November. New Cities of Literature will be invited to the Iowa City meeting to begin their integration into the network.

“Given the growth trends of the network, we could have representatives from 30 or more cities with us in Iowa City next April,” said City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon. “This will offer our area a wonderful opportunity to show the rest of the world the things that make us a City of Literature, and a great way to celebrate our 10th year with the designation.”

Celebrate International Jazz Day in Iowa City!

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To celebrate International Jazz Day, the City of Literature and the Iowa City Public Library are joining to present “Jazz in The Fight for Civil Rights: Jazz as Activist Music.” This free event will be held at 2 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.

During the Civil Rights movement, many musicians joined African-Americans in using their musical voice as a catalyst in demanding change in America. Many overlook the more subtle sonic contributions that jazz musicians made to this cause. Through live performance, spoken remarks and a visual presentation, this unique program will highlight three of the more prevalent examples of jazz music’s alignment with the African-American fight for civil rights and the backstory behind their creation.

The program was conceived and will be led by Dr. Damani Phillips with the University of Iowa School of Music. Phillips, a saxophonist, will be joined by drummer Jim Dreier, Pianist Steve Shanley, and bassist Blake Shaw.

Through a combination of live performance, spoken remarks and a visual presentation, this unique program will highlight three of the more prevalent examples of jazz music’s alignment with the African-American fight for civil rights and the backstory behind their creation.

This Wheel’s on Fire: Celebrating the Music and Words of Bob Dylan

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Join us at This Wheel’s on Fire, an event celebrating the music and words of Bob Dylan and a benefit for the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, live on Friday, April 28 at 7 p.m. Sponsored by Urban Acres, University of Iowa Community Credit Union, and Carpenter’s Local 1260.

Featuring Iris DeMent, William Elliott Whitmore, David Zollo & the Body Electric, Elizabeth Moen, BF Burt, Jason T. Lewis, The Recliners, and Ingrid Streitz, all performing works spanning Dylan’s career. This event brings together some of our essential Iowan performers and songwriters who will reinterpret Dylan’s catalog through their own voices and perspectives. The program will span the wide breadth of Dylan’s career from his beginnings as a folk music icon to his current reflections on life in the modern age.

Net proceeds from this event will support Iowa City’s UNESCO City of Literature. The City of Literature works to advance its mission of celebrating and supporting literature on a local, regional, national, and international level, connecting readers and writers through the power of story. The City of Literature is a nonprofit 501(c)3 that manages the Iowa City area’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Community Reading of Martin Luther King’s Controversial “A Time To Break Silence” Speech


April 4 marks fifty years since Martin Luther King delivered the most controversial speech in his career, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”  Veterans For Peace Chapter #161 is sponsoring a community serial reading of that speech, to be held near the fountain in the Iowa City Ped Mall.  It will begin at 11:30 AM and conclude at 7:30 PM, Tuesday, April 4, 2017.    April 4th also marks forty-nine years since King was assassinated in Memphis.

King’s April 4, 1967 speech criticized the ongoing Vietnam War and made clear that acceptance of the war was intertwined with the struggle for civil rights.  Many civil rights leaders at that time criticized him.  The speech speaks eloquently to today’s crises.  As King said in the speech, “ A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death….When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

John Jadryev, co-president of Veterans For Peace #161 and a Vietnam combat veteran, said “We extend an invitation to join us in the reading.  We ask as you read and listen to the words of Dr. King from April 4, 1967,  to fast forward to today, looking for the parallels that are present in our nation’s current reality.”

The public is invited to listen to the speech, and individuals who wish to read a portion of the speech will be given the opportunity.   The speech takes nearly an hour to read, and it will be read eight times.  Several organizations, including PEACE Iowa, University of Iowa Center For Human  Rights,  and Iowa Physicians For Social Responsibility, are co-sponsoring the event.  Other organizations are also participating, including 100Grannies and Johnson County United Nations Association.

For further information, contact John Jadryev, 319 430-2019 or Jim Bradley, shoalbro@yahoo.com

Submission period opens for ‘Glory of the Senses’ essay contest

To continue Paul Engle’s tradition of inspiring writers and celebrating the rich culture of Iowa, the City of Literature organization annually solicits essays from Iowa high school sophomore about an “Iowa experience,” drawing on a specific memory to capture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of the day. The submission period for the 2017 competition is now open, running through May 8.

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

The contest is based on Engle’s writings, particularly his memoir, A Lucky American Childhood.

 Winners will be announced this summer, and the winners will be invited to Iowa City in the fall to read from their work and receive their prizes.To view information about the contest, click here. To view the rubric used by judges to evaluate submissions, click here.

The winning essay in 2016 was Adrift by Jackie Olberding of Dyersville.