Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


July 7, 2010

Library exhibit shows literary life of Iowa City, UI

A new exhibition opening Tuesday, July 13 in the University of Iowa Main Library highlights diverse aspects of literary life both at the UI and throughout Iowa City.

“City of Literature: Literary Life in Iowa City” will feature books, manuscripts, letters, photographs and other items featuring the writers from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, International Writing Program, and many other writing programs connected with the UI. Some 100 authors will be represented, including Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Smiley, Flannery O'Connor, Orhan Pamuk and Rita Dove.

The UI Libraries' Special Collections Department will show the papers of many writers, small presses, and little magazines, including several papers of Paul Engle and Nieh Hualing, who established the International Writing Program. These items in particular contain a wealth of information on the Iowa City literary scene, including correspondence with countless writers in the United States and abroad.

Also included in the exhibit are items from the Actualist Poets, who flourished in Iowa City in the 1970s. A "living" part of the exhibit will be Dave Morice, who will create a 10,000-page poem in 100 days titled "Poetry City Marathon." Morice will be writing several hours each day in the exhibit area, the North Exhibition Hall of the UI Main Library. People will be able to follow the volume-by-volume progress online at his website,

Morice, also known as "Dr. Alphabet," was part of the Actualist poet movement in the 1970s and 1980s, He wrote in 60 poetry marathons and other public writings in Iowa City and elsewhere. His works included wrapping a city block in Iowa City with a poem, and a poem that was dropped from the Jefferson Building. The library will exhibit his original "Dr. Alphabet" outfit, a white shirt, pants, shoes, top hat, and cane spangled with letters of the alphabet in different colors.

“City of Literature: Literary Life in Iowa City” was curated by UI Libraries staff members Chiaki Sakai, Timothy Shipe and Ericka Raber. It will be on display through Oct. 31.

"When Iowa City was named a City of Literature in 2008, it joined Edinburgh and Melbourne to become the third city worldwide to receive this designation -- a recognition of a century and a half of activity in a small university city that has played a role in the world of literature far out of proportion with its size,” the curators write in the exhibit’s brochure. “Iowa City has long been host to a lively literary scene that has extended beyond the university’s campus to inform the spirit of the community.”

MEDIA CONTACTS: Kristi Bontrager, University of Iowa Libraries, 319-335-5960; Stephen Pradarelli, University News Services, 319-384-0007,