Thursday, September 30, 2010

Our View - Iowa City: City of literature, city of football

Printed in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Jan. January 7, 2010.

Iowa fans knew in their bones that the No. 10 Hawkeyes would upset the No. 9 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Tuesday's Orange Bowl. But Iowa fans also knew the Hawkeyes weren't going to make it easy on themselves.

After the Hawks racked up a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter, fans mentally were prepared for the interception that allowed the Yellow Jackets to cut that lead in half. And even though Iowa kept the lead throughout the rest of the game, many fans started nibbling their nails in the third quarter when it looked like Georgia Tech's offense finally found a way to break through the defense strategy orchestrated by Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker.

But with quarterback Ricky Stanzi playing like he never had had ankle surgery, the Hawkeyes were able to move on despite injuries and insults to win their first Bowl Championship Series bowl game in half a century.

Press-Citizen columnist Pat Harty summed it up best when he wrote, "And with Parker coming back, along with nine starters on defense, and a stable of running backs, and not to mention Stanzi, the future looks extremely bright.

"The present feels awfully good, too."

A grateful Hawkeye nation congratulates Kirk Ferentz and his team.

Writing workshops for veterans

Besides being a football city, Iowa City also is an UNESCO-designed city of literature. And our city leaders still are hard at work trying to figure out how to capitalize on this international recognition in terms of opportunities for economic development and cultural programming.

That's why we'd like to commend Emma Rainey and John Mikelson for managing to find such an innovative way to build on the city's literary reputation while reaching out to underserved sector of the public at large. Starting Jan. 15, Rainey and Mikelson will host a free, three-day writing workshop for current and former military personnel. Initially targeted toward veterans who live in the Iowa City area, the UI Vets Midwestern Writing Workshop soon went national and started attracting veterans from across the country, from a host of different conflicts and who range in age from 20 to 61.

Rainey, a recent graduate of the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, said she first became interested in working with veterans after reading so many stories about soldiers who had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and decided to end their own lives. After trying to start some writing projects with other veteran groups, she eventually started working with the UI Veterans Center.

"I've been working for a long time writing exercises to help develop a sense of safety for soldiers," Rainey said. "They're not used to expressing themselves. In fact, they are trained not to. That's what they have to do in order to deal with conditions, to follow orders and to be part of a team."

Mikelson, the veteran's advisor for the UI Veterans Center, said he thought Iowa City would be a perfect place to host such a workshop. Similar programs have worked well in Los Angeles and New York and have resulted in works such as the anthology, "Operation Homecoming," and the HBO film, "Taking Chances."

"The genre is not new territory," said Mikelson, citing UI classes on topics such as "The Essay Goes to Combat" and "Wounded Warriors in Film and Literature." "But we're helping veterans themselves get to the point where they can write about their experiences."

The workshop also is sponsored the UI Division of Continuing Education, and Mikelson said he is working with the division to offer similar classes as online or distance learning courses. (The Jan. 15-17 workshop will take place in the UI Distance Learning Site on the second floor of the U.S. Bank building at 30 S. Dubuque St.)

Class size for the workshop is limited to the first 50 registrants, but there still are spots available. And although the workshop is free and open to all current and former military personnel, registration is required.

Visit for more information or to start thinking about other creative ways to build on Iowa City's literary history.

No comments:

Post a Comment