Authors share stories at Mission Creek Lit Crawl

BY EVAN CLARK | MARCH 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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A strong selection of writers will descend on Iowa City this weekend, along with the numerous musical acts, for the annual Mission Creek Festival.

Literature has played an important role in each of the festival’s six years; in addition to authors, this year’s schedule boasts a “Lit Crawl” with more than 25 writers for the first time in festival history.

Twenty-seven-year-old actor Amber Tamblyn, whose rising career in movies and television appears to overshadow her passion for poetry, will read from her collection of poems Bang Ditto at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is free.

Tamblyn said she’s excited to stop by Iowa City for Mission Creek, mainly because of her fondness for Iowa City’s established writing community.

“I think Iowa City is a place that embraces all kinds of writers from many walks of prestige,” she said. “From the absurd or the queer, the quiet or the loud, the slam poet or the academic writer, I always love to get introduced to new budding journals and writers around here.”

Somewhere between filming episodes for “House” and the recently Oscar nominated 127 Hours, she managed to release Bang Ditto in 2009. The Golden-Globe-nominated actor is also excited to catch some of the performances at Mission Creek as well as explore the downtown Iowa City scene.

“I plan on seeing John Waters’ one-man show for obvious reasons,” Tamblyn said. “I’m also excited about the pink fighter-pilot jump suit I’m planning on wearing and the Laphroaig I will drink at some specialty whiskey bar in town. That place is amazing.”

While Sam Lipsyte may not have any Golden Globe nominations, as Tamblyn does, the author’s work was recognized by the New York Times for a Notable Book of the Year in 2005, in addition to winning a coveted Guggenheim Fellowship grant for outstanding writing in 2008. Lipsyte, who teaches fiction writing at Columbia University, will read from his 2010 novel, The Ask, at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Mill. Admission is free.

Lipsyte credits his achievements in fiction writing as being able to balance his life experiences along with writing about topics he has no knowledge about.

“I guess my work comes out as a mixture of what I know and what I don’t know,” he said. “It’s like a great cocktail; it’s all about being able to find a combination of the two and revising it until the story is as good as it can get.”

He will visit Iowa City for the first time and also hopes to find the time to check out all the big names in music that are performing this week.

“I’d love to see some of the bands playing around here, especially Guided by Voices; I’m a big fan,” Lipsyte said. “And Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon’s lecture and show — they all sound very exciting.”

Another writer attending the Mission Creek Festival is 27-year-old Tao Lin, who is known for his heavily narcissistic yet hilarious writing. Lin will read from his latest novel, Richard Yates, at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St., at 6 p.m. Friday. Admission is free.

Lin said he also looks forward to catching a few acts at this year’s Mission Creek.

“I hope to see Deb Olin Unferth, because I like her writing a lot and also enjoy talking to her, but I’ve seen her read maybe 20 times already,” Lin said. “So maybe I’ll see Snowblink. I’ve listened to the album Long Live maybe 150 times. But I’m mainly looking forward to eating food, relaxing, driving places in Iowa where I’ve never been, and exploring Iowa with my wife.”

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