Mission Creek hosts a literary crawl through Iowa City venues

BY JULIA JESSEN | MARCH 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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Literature lovers will crowd into packed venues in Iowa City, excited by the prospect of seeing many of the local and visiting writers present their work during the Mission Creek Festival's second Lit Crawl.

"Everyone's just sort of hyped up on poetry and fiction," said Adrienne Raphel, an Iowa Writers' Workshop student in poetry and one of this year's readers. "I think sometimes in the typical reading setting it can be tricky to remember, 'Oh, this stuff is fun.' That's why we do it — because it's fun, and Mission Creek just gets that."

More than 50 writers will appear on Saturday at eight events in eight locations hosted by more than 15 publishers. This year's Lit Crawl will also include food from various local restaurants to add to the entertainment atmosphere.

Raphel, who attended the Mission Creek Festival for the first time last year, said that her expectations about experience were proven wrong.

"I thought it would be just another weekend at Iowa — lots of readings," she said. "What I didn't expect was the scale and party atmosphere and fun of it, how the whole city really does turn over into this literary, musical party."

One of Raphel's peers in the Workshop, Mark Mayer, will also read. The fiction writer said he looks forward to the variety of work that will be presented.

"People are coming from all over and come from so many different backgrounds and traditions," he said. "I think the readings are going to be an elaborate mix of styles, voices, and goals."

Mayer said he was excited to hear from the big-name writers as well as his peers in the Workshop.

"I think anyone who loves to read or just loves to have interesting experiences would be remiss not to go see some of the work that their neighbors are doing," he said.

Zach Dodson, a co-publisher and creative director of Featherproof Press in Chicago, will be a host at the event this weekend. He said writers can gain insight into the literary world by interacting with their peers.

"I think just seeing what other people are up to is really beneficial," he said. "There's something about meeting people in person and getting to know them — getting to see somebody's reading style."

BJ Love, a recent graduate of the Writer's Workshop and an assistant in the UNESCO City of Literature Office, said the Mission Creek Festival is a great opportunity for local artists.

"I view it as a launching pad," he said. "It helps to be able to have that buzz, and Mission Creek allows you to gain that buzz with reputable presses and cool people in the literary community."

The event focuses many people's attention on Iowa City and its culture of literature.

"I think as the festival continues to grow, it's gaining more and more attention," Love said. "It's getting to the point now where Mission Creek is one of the things that people talk about when you say you live in Iowa City."

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