Sunday, February 22, 2009

Writer's Blog

A couple weeks ago, my colleague Ted told me that my blog was badly out of date. This surprised me; I hadn't realized anyone ever noticed. I told him I'd been suffering from writer's blog. Poet William Stafford said there's no such thing as writer's block. All you have to do is lower your standards. Good advice for any writer--or blogger.
I was in Iowa City last week for several days. The weather was warmer than it often is in February, with temps reaching a balmy 38 degrees one day. The most severe weather-related problem that university town faced over the past year came when the Iowa River flooded in June. A number of university buildings along the river were affected; some are still unusable. Apparently, the university has rented out buildings elsewhere in the area to accomodate art and music programs. The university's wonderful art collection was saved, but for insurance reasons, it will have to be housed elsewhere in the future. The art museum building (located right on the river) will be renovated and used for something else. The huge performing arts center is out of commission and may have to be replaced. My Iowa City friend Cile told me about an essay on the flood written by her friend Joe Blair and published in the New York Times.

The nights were busy in Iowa City. Wednesday I heard the Burlington Street Bluegrass Band play at The Mill Restaurant. The next night, I attended Stephen Lovely's reading from his novel, Irreplaceable, at Prairie Lights Bookstore. Friday evening in Wild Bill's used bookstore on the south side of town, I heard Dave Morice read from his quirky The Great American Fortune Cookie Novel, a book consisting only of Chinese fortunes from cookies. Finally, Saturday night took me to the restored Englert Theatre downtown to hear the national Hindi A Cappella Championship. Hindi groups from 6 universities around the country competed. The UC-Berkeley group won. Beautiful music start to finish. Most groups dressed in traditional Indian garb.

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