Flash Writers-in-Residence


IOWA CITY, IA – The Englert Theatre announces a first-of-its-kind event for Iowa City: the “Flash Writers-in-Residence” will be held at the Iowa Arts Festival (June 6-8). Staged in the Englert tent throughout the festival, three local writers – essayist Ariel Lewiton and poets Nikki-Lee Birdsey and Montreux Rotholtz – will participate in live demonstrations of the writing process, as well as hold Q&A discussions on the craft of writing.

Part literary experiment, part performance art, the mini-residency will attempt to take one of the most private artistic processes – writing literature – and put it in the public view. The project also seeks to bridge the gap between Iowa City’s esteemed literary community and the community at-large (all three of the participating writers attended University of Iowa MFA programs).

“Writing and literature are such essential elements of the Iowa City experience, but the writing process is typically a very private and arduous endeavor,” said Englert Executive Director Andre Perry. “Even the scores of writers we see everyday working on their literature in coffee shops around Iowa City are tucked away into their spaces with the aid of headphones. We see this project as an opportunity to present these wonderful writers in our town to the greater community. They are amazing writers but also extremely nice people — they won’t bite.”

Iowa Arts Festival attendees can engage in the interactive Flash Writers-in-Residence exhibit in several ways: by brainstorming/“feeding” the artist words or ideas that may be incorporated into the finished work, by encouraging youth to write poetry of their own in the Englert tent’s youth workstation, and by participating in informal Q&A sessions on the writing process with each writer at the end of her segment. Final works created at the event by the writers-in-residence will possibly be shared with the general public at a later date.

The Englert Flash Writers-in-Residence event is an extension of the Englert’s commitment to supporting local artists through special projects and commissions. Past efforts include the Iowa City Song Project (a CD/vinyl recording of Iowa City-inspired songs created by over 30 Iowan musicians), the Black Angel Gallery show (a visual art exhibit by local artists inspired by Iowa City’s notorious Black Angel statue), The Englert at 100 photography exhibit (showcasing Iowa City-based photographer Sandy Dyas’ work) and the Englert’s Illustrated Century book (a graphic novel by local artist Josh Carroll depicting the Englert’s historical legacy).

The Englert Theatre is a community arts center and performance space that enhances the vitality of Iowa City’s historic downtown as its last historic theater. The Englert Theatre provides diverse programming, educational opportunities and exposure to the performing and visual arts. The organization strives to highlight the talents of local performers, artists and ensembles as well as hosting regional, national and international touring performances.

Nikki-Lee Birdsey – Sat, June 7 / 10:00 – 1:00

Nikki-Lee Birdsey was born in Auckland, New Zealand. She is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has a BA from New York University. Her work has been published in The Broome Street Review, the Claudius App, Petri Press, Hinchas de Poesia, as well as poems forthcoming in Handsome Magazine, 3:AM Magazine and others. She is also the author of the chapbook Free That Hooker (Aero Press, 2012).

Montreux Rotholtz – Sat, June 7 / 12:00 – 3:00

Montreux Rotholtz is from Seattle and lives in Iowa City. She earned a BA in creative writing from the University of Washington and an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her manuscript, Unmark, was a finalist for the Rescue Press 2013 Black Box Poetry Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including Columbia Poetry Review, Denver Quarterly, the PEN Poetry Series, The Iowa Review, and Fence.

Ariel Lewiton – Sun, June 8 / 11:00 – 3:00

Ariel Lewiton’s essays and stories appear in Vice, The Paris Review Daily, Tin House (online), Ninth Letter, Wag’s Revue, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program and is a former writing fellow at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She lives and teaches in Iowa City.

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