Writers speak their truths at various local businesses

On Friday, the Mission Creek Festival Lit Walk included a large variety of writers, who read excerpts of their work to community members in local venues and shops.



A literature themed sign welcoming visitors to Iowa City is seen on the corner of Washington and Dubuque Streets on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017.

Haley Triem, Art's Reporter

The room is filled with the scent of coffee and the Spanish language as people mingle around and greet friends or perhaps former classmates they haven’t seen for a while.

A lady clears her throat at the microphone up front, saying she’ll introduce the event “en ingles,” evoking a laugh from the crowd. Then, she invites the first reader to step up, and they begin reading in Spanish with the English translations projected behind them.

At 5 p.m. on Friday, Cortado opened their doors to readers from the Spanish MFA program, as part of the Mission Creek Festival Literary Walk.

The Lit Walk on Friday consisted of three rounds. Round one began at 5 p.m. at multiple locations, including Discerning Eye, Cortado, and Beadology, and round two began at 6 p.m. at White Rabbit, Revival, and RSVP. Finally, at 7 p.m. the Believer magazine hosted the third round of the Lit Walk at Goosetown Cafe, simultaneously while the Writers of Color shared works at Haba Salon.

“Mission Creek is an incredible celebration of literature, music, and art in our area,” Lisa Roberts, Assistant Director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project said. “It’s focused on young, progressive artists who are generously donating their time to promote art and activism. The Lit Walk is especially exciting because many downtown businesses donate their space and invite [writers to] read in 45 minute sections. People come and stop in, then move in for the next one.”

According to the Mission Creek Festival schedule, those in the lineup include Stephanie Burt who authored Advice from the Lights, Sabrina Orah Mark who wrote Wild Milk, and Michael Martone who won the AWP Award for Nonfiction. While many of the readers were well known names, others were up-and-coming young writers from Iowa City.

“We’re excited because we’ve been invited to showcase the young poets and writers in our community,” Roberts said. “This particular reading is focused on teen writers—we have some junior high readers and the rest will be from high school. They’re very nervous and excited to share their work.”

Younger writers at the various walk locations included teenagers involved in the IYWP, as well as people currently studying in graduate programs at the University of Iowa. These readings don’t just benefit the writers around the Iowa City area, however; According to participants, the readings are great for the local businesses that host the readings.

“The city is supporting literature,” Roberts said. “It’s exciting that the businesses supporting artists, and I hope the public comes and supports these businesses in turn.”

Karen Kubby, the co-owner of Beadoloy, helped host part of the Lit Walk event. She invited both young readers and community members into the lamp-lit, brick-walled space nestled at the back of her store.

“We have our bead lab and we love transforming it for little girls’ birthday parties, bridal showers, classrooms,” Kubby said. “It’s a perfect space for readings. We really love having all those folks from all over the country come over and be a part of the community.”

Although a seemingly overwhelming amount of readings were available, community members could find a strong literary spirit in any of the businesses open Friday night for the Mission Creek Lit Walk. And as community members and business-owners of Iowa City listened, readers from all walks of lives spoke their truths.

Overall, Lit Walk was an opportunity, as Mariana Mazer, Spanish MFA at UIowa eloquently put it, for readers and listeners “to look for a poem in the fire, one to compensate our words.”

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