Summer Writing Festival to host 11th Hour weekdays at 11 a.m

BY LU SHEN | JUNE 21, 2012 6:30 AM

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Since 1987, Iowa City has played host to 26 Iowa Summer Writing Festivals, welcoming people from all over the world and across a variety of genres.

As a part of the festival, the Eleventh Hour, a program hosted by the Iowa City Summer Writing Festival, serves as a chance for writers, readers, festival participants, and community members to converse about writing.

The program is a hourlong lecture series starting from 11 a.m. each weekday from June 11 through July 27 in 101 Biology Building East. Presenters from different backgrounds and genres lead the event each day and bring a wide range of topics to the discussion, including their own writing lives, the writing process, techniques, and publishing.

Caryl Pagel, the curator of the Eleventh Hour, said the program has run smoothly this summer.

"It's going wonderfully. We've had a really a wide range of types of lectures even in this first week," she said. "Today [June 14], we were back to Carol's presentation on juxtaposition, which was great craft talk. It's been going amazing. And tomorrow we have our faculty reading."

Pagel said the Eleventh Hour is not only a presentation but a conversation among the presenters and audience.

"It's just to give people another opportunity or place to have conversation about writing," she said. "People have fun, and they ask a lot of questions. It's usually a great conversation."

Many of the presenters are instructors of different workshops of the festival. She hopes to develop a diverse and interesting event, Pagel said.

"Usually what I do is ask for ideas and proposals from our faculty," she said. "Then I go through those and try to curate or arrange a summer that looks interesting, that hopefully addresses different genres of writing and different types of conversations about writing."

This is Pagel's seventh summer working for the festival. She said she likes the Eleventh Hour because it is a great chance to meet new friends, see old friends, and have fun.

"One of the things that's nice about the Eleventh Hour is that it's a part of the festival that's open to the public," she said. "And so a lot of festival participants come, but so do other writers from around town, other teachers, people who are interested in the writing life. We welcome everyone."

Carol Spindel, an instructor of nonfiction writing at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, has taught at the festival for more than 20 years.

"It's a wonderful program. Wonderful organizers and wonderful administrators. That's why I come back year after year," said the author of two books. "Plus, I love Iowa City. And I love the fact that it has one of the best bookstores in America, that it's a UNESCO Literary City. It's filled with writers. I just love being here."

Spindle spoke about the art of juxtaposition at the presentation on June 14.

"It's nice, too, to get people from different genres together, because I think there are some poets here and some fiction writers," she said. "Maybe there's a science-fiction writer sitting next to a poet. That's great. That's cool."

Mark Gerner, a participant of the festival, told The Daily Iowan that he was writing the morning of Spindle's presentation when he decided to attend.

"[The lecture] helps me to think about [the topic] particularly," he said. "I love it. It's brilliant."

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