A missive from our literary liaison Joseph Tiefenthaler.
Meet the very model of a modern music festival.
Song and dance. Check. Costumes. Check. Crowd. Check. Dizzying array of events. Double check. Readings…???
In many ways the course of literature’s consumption over the past few years mimics that of music, online and on the display screen of your gadget-of-choice. And thanks to umpteen graduate colleges offering degrees to these otherwise-unemployable torch-carriers, there’s more writers out there fighting for your page-turning than ever before. Their weapons of choice? Websites. Blogs. Small presses. And online and hand-crafted journals focused more on the quality of contemporary letters. In other words, where the artist meets the fan.
Which makes the literary offerings at Mission Creek just another show you shouldn’t miss (except, this time, you don’t have to pay!)
Thursday, April 1
Prairie Lights / 7 pm
Leading off the readings, the first of two highlight writers published by can’t-miss Sarabande Press, nonfiction writer Ashley Butler will read from her book Dear Sound of Footstep.
Friday, April 2
Motley Cow / 5 pm
New York will get some fanfare during the festival, but Chicago’s entrenched Make Magazine will take over Iowa City’s northside with the invasion of Joel Craig, Rob Schegel, and Katie Scanlan inside our very own Motely Cow Café.
Prairie Lights / 7 pm
Few writers are as busy as Thomas Beller. A New York writer who’s found a second home in New Orleans, Tom Beller is a teacher, editor, publisher, and maybe before all of that a writer. With eight volumes, a literary journal, small press, and on online neighborhood to his name (no, really, its http://mrbellersneighborhood.com/) literature could hardly find a better poster-boy renaissance man. His journal, Open City, is one of the better tri-annuals in the country. His small press of the same name, of the same reputation. His predilection for collecting New York stories from all walks of life, a study of the very fire of his career…that of promoting as many writers as possible who have a story to tell. Take a gander at Beller’s eulogy to J.D. Salinger here. It doesn’t hurt that writers-of-local-legend will be in support; Ben Hale and Stephen Kuusisto will entertain!
Saturday, April 3
The Mill / 3 pm
First, the book fair. Some of the nation’s most exciting literary journals will have tables of their craft on display throughout the festivities, to name a few: The Iowa Review, Serabande Books, Make Magazine, Hobart Magazine, Wag’s Review, and Flim Forum.
Selection will be limited, so get there early [ed. just show up around 2 pm if you want your pick of the litter], snap up some copies, and grab a seat for the reading at 3.
New York City’s writing scene is just different than ours, and one of its finest ambassadors is coming to town. Colson Whitehead is one of the most exciting writers today. His novels are of unseen insight. From The Intuitionist and Colossus of New York, to his recent offering Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead has investigated and chronicled peculiar careers, heroes and lore, and summertime malaise. He’s kind of a big deal.
And he has two writers supporting before him who aren’t slouches either. Kiki Petrosino’s collection of poems Fort Red Border, out on Sarabande (there’s that Press again!), is just flat out one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. There’s a quality to her poems, of care, wit, obsession, and humility, the balance of which makes any writer jealous. The other, Eula Biss, is fresh off of winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for her collection of essays Notes From No Man’s Land (read an excerpt here). The book also won the Greywolf Prize for nonfiction, and if that isn’t enough, has been lauded by legends Albert Goldbarth, Sherman Alexie, and everyone I know who has ever encountered her work. This. Is. Stuff. Legends. Are. Made. Of.
The Mill / 5 pm
Worlds will collide, blood may be shed, and a victor will be crowned at the Literary Death Match. Starting at 5:30 pm, Opium Magazine and Anthology curate this reading of epic (vegetable, animal, mineral?) proportions.
Still more Mission Creek Festival coverage right here.