The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Mission Creek book fair continues to provide literary opportunities

On Saturday, SpareMe Bowling Alley hosted the Small Press and Literary Magazine book fair from noon to 4 p.m.
Ava Neumaier
Small presses work a stand at SpareMe bowling alley in the Chauncey during a book fair for the Mission Creek festival on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

On its last day, the Mission Creek Festival set up shop at the SpareMe bowling alley for an afternoon book fair filled with local press, editors, and more on April 6.

At the entrance, there was a vendor with Mission Creek-themed tote bags, one with images of each Iowa City venue and one with a blend of the FilmScene logo and the Mission Creek text to represent their collaboration.

Stacks of books and other forms of mixed media like digitally drawn stickers, photographs, and lookbooks covered each stand, along with their respective pink, yellow, and blue Mission Creek-themed signs for each magazine or publication.

The aesthetics of each stand were from all around the spectrum, ranging from black-and-white photographs to book covers that swelled with vibrant colors.

Editor Devin Johnston was on the first floor. He represented Flood Editions, a Chicago-based publishing house mainly based on poetry and fiction.

“[The book fair] gives writers a sense of what’s being published,” Johnston said. “Particularly with smaller presses, sometimes it’s hard to see, so it’s nice to make [them] visible.”

Director of The Writers’ Rooms, Erin Casey, said the fair gives a chance for the community to meet one another.

Her site is a mix of volunteers who come together to run free individual rooms where any writer can get help with their craft. They are established at different public locations, such as the Sanctuary Pub and the Iowa City Public Library.

“They provide a lot of different events for people to go to, so it feels like it caters to everybody,” she said.

One University of Iowa film alum Bryon Zeimet’s top mindset is supporting locals.

“I’m getting to see local publications being shown,” Zeimet said. “Getting to see what award-winning authors and Iowa alums do is fantastic.”

Members of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop joined in on the festivities as well.

Colby Vargas, who just moved to Iowa City to attend the university’s graduate fiction program, said he appreciates the presence of smaller presses.

“There are some national ones here but there are also some Iowa City local ones that I like to learn about and support,” he said. “Honestly, I am looking for places to submit my work.”

Another Writers’ Workshop student, Jeffrey Xiong, browsed the Two Dollar Radio publishing stand, which had a mission to “reaffirm the cultural and artistic spirit of the publishing industry.” A book on its display was “Other Minds and Other Stories” by UI professor Bennett Sims, which Xiong had previously read.

When asked about Mission Creek’s goal, which was that it “thrives on intimacy and visceral connections between artists and audiences,” poet Cory Hutchinson-Reuss of Brink Publishing said that it was a nice intersection of different fields.

“Being at the meeting place of all that gives us face-to-face time with people who are doing work that is outside of all small single categories,” she said.

Co-founder of Rescue Press Daniel Khalastchi’s favorite part of the event was seeing the value that the creative community shared.

“You can’t have a book festival like this unless the community [is] willing to show up and participate, and similarly, you can’t have a book festival unless all of these presses want to come to a community that will support them,” he said.

Khalastchi is also the director of the Magid Center for Writing, which produces ten different student literary publications, some of which had stands on SpareMe’s first floor.

“They’re [the students] here running a booth in the same way I came as a publisher, so they’re building community and getting professional development experience,” he said. “To have UIowa students represented as if they are important publications, I think that’s really valuable.”

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About the Contributors
Isabelle Lubguban
Isabelle Lubguban, Arts Reporter
Isabelle Lubguban is a third-year student at the University of Iowa. She is majoring in English with a concentration of Creative Writing. This is her first year at the Daily Iowan as an Arts Reporter, and she enjoys doing photo and video editing in her free time.
Ava Neumaier
Ava Neumaier, Photojournalist
Ava Neumaier is a first-year student at the University of Iowa, majoring in English & Creative Writing. She was the Editor-in-Chief of her high school yearbook in New York, and has interned for a New York Times photographer. She enjoys taking pictures of performances and student life.