Reading, Discussion with Bret Anthony Johnston

Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumnus Bret Anthony Johnston, the University of Iowa’s first Frank N. Magid Visiting Writer in Residence, will read from his work at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 1, in a free reading at Prairie Lights Books in downtown Iowa City. The reading also will be streamed live on the Writing University website.

In addition to the Prairie Lights reading, Johnston will lead a discussion on the craft of teaching writing from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library. The talk is free and open to the public. His film Waiting for Lightning will be screened publicly that same day at 7 p.m. in the Bijou Cinema, followed by a Q&A session.

Details about each event are listed below:

1)      Thursday, November 1st, 7pm: Johnston will read from his work at Prairie Lights. 

2)      Friday, November 2nd, 2:30pm: Johnston will lead a discussion on the Art of Teaching Writing.  This will take place in meeting room A at the Iowa City Public Library.  Obviously I think this conversation will be of great interest to your students--past and present--and I'd love to get as many interested parties as we can to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

3)      Friday, November 2nd, 7:00pm: Johnston will be on hand for the premiere screening of Waiting for Lightning, a feature-length documentary he wrote about skateboarding legend Danny Way. The screening is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a Q&A with the writer.  After the SXSW screening of the movie, Film Threat had this to say about the project: "It’s a story that has appeal beyond the fans of the genre, but one that is also quite eye opening for those same people to see just how difficult the skateboarding world can be and how much these athletes have accomplished. It’s a human tale...simply put, in skateboarding slang, this is one gnarly film." As we move into Unit #3, which focuses so heavily on the opportunities for hybrid writing projects, this type of event (and its corresponding discussion) seems perfect for our students.

Johnston, director of creative writing at Harvard University, is best known for his award-winning debut story collection, Corpus Christi: Stories. The collection was named a Best Book of the Year by The Independent of London and The Irish Times, the collection has received the Southern Review's Annual Short Fiction Award, the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, the Texas Institute of Letters' Debut Fiction Award, the Christopher Isherwood Prize, the James Michener Fellowship, and was shortlisted for Ireland's Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. In 2006, the National Book Foundation honored him with a National Book Award for writers under 35.

Johnston’s work appears in magazines such as Esquire, the Paris Review, Oxford American, and Tin House, and in anthologies such as Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards. He is a graduate of Miami University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. He has written essays for the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times, Slate.com and NPR's All Things Considered.

This reading is sponsored by the Undergraduate Certificate in Writing Program. For more information or special accommodations to attend this reading, call Jan Weissmiller at Prairie Lights, 319-337-2681. For a UI arts calendar and details about upcoming events visit the new Arts Iowa website.

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