Friday, July 8, 2011

Third Annual Iowa City Book Festival

The Iowa City Book Festival will celebrate books, reading, and writing, July 15-17, 2011. Sponsored by the University of Iowa Libraries, the three-day festival will begin Friday with an author dinner in the Main Library. Saturday will feature booksellers, music, children's activities, food vendors, book arts demonstrations, readings and panel discussions in Gibson Square, and Sunday will be "A Day in the City of Literature."

Among the many events for this year's festival will be Novel Iowa City, an attempt to produce a communal Twitter novel, a genre that is yet in its infancy. Nonetheless, for those interested in joining the experiment, the ground rules are as follows:
Beginning at noon on Friday, July 15 and continuing through 5 pm, Sunday, July 17, commissioned authors and interested community members will contribute tweets to create a text that can be read in real time, as it is written, via the Internet.

Anyone with a Twitter account is welcome to contribute to the project, and can do so by using the hash tag #icbfn in their tweets. There are no strict guidelines for the content of contributions, other than the 140-character limit of tweets.

In 2008, Iowa City was designated as a UNESCO City of Literature, one of just four such cities worldwide, the others being Edinburgh, Scotland (2004), Melbourne, Australia (2008), and Dublin, Ireland (2010). The long literary tradition fostered by the University of Iowa's creative writing programs was a major factor in attaining UNESCO recognition. Beginning in 1922, Iowa was the first university to grant advanced degrees for creative works in artistic disciplines, including poetry, fiction, music, and art. The Iowa Writers' Workshop is the oldest such program in the country, and is this year celebrating its 75th anniversary. A key element supporting the practice and study of the book arts is Iowa's Center for the Book, which will begin its own M.F.A. degree program this fall. Other noteworthy programs include the International Writing Program, and the constellation of programs affiliated with The Writing University.

As a side note, the Common Curator earned an M.F.A. from Iowa's Translation Workshop, then based in the Department of Comparative Literature (now Cinema & Comparative Literature), and also served as assistant editor and designer for the first several years of the multilingual publication, Exchanges: A Journal of Translation. The journal presented en face the original language of all translations, and contained translator commentaries, along with scholarly articles on the art and practice of literary translation. Exchanges is still being produced, though in recent years has only been available online; after a one-year hiatus, submissions are being solicited for fall/winter 2011.

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