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Third Annual Wonder of Words Festival Kicks off Nov. 1

October 21, 2014

The third annual Wonder of Words Festival will take place Nov. 1–16, 2014 with more than 45 events around Greater Des Moines featuring prominent authors including Henry Rollins, Gary Soto, Leonard Pitts, Jr., Colin Woodard, Billy Collins and more.

“There is truly something for everyone with our expanded calendar of events this year,” says Salome Nengean, Program Manager for the Wonder of Words Festival. “Together with our Community Partners we have more than tripled the number of events from 2013 and lengthened the festival, which historically has only been one week, to accommodate this diverse and rich programming.”

In its third year, the Wonder of Words Festival is hosting a series of 48 events, around Greater Des Moines (DSM), that showcase a variety of genres of the written word. Featured events include:

Tuesday, Nov. 11, Pub(lishers) Crawl
This free public event will begin at El Bait Shop at 5 PM when Historian and author Maureen Ogle will read from her book, In Meat We Trust. The crawl will then move next door to The High Life Lounge where Dave Price will talk about his book, Caucus Chaos. Next, the party will return to El Bait shop to hear about Iowa Pints from author J. Wilson. Finally, the party will crawl back to The High Life Lounge where Paul Ingram will discuss his book, The Lost Clerihews of Paul Ingram

Tuesday, Nov. 11, A Piece of My Heart: The Poetry and Prose of Gary Soto
Gary Soto, a poet and essayist from Fresno, California, has authored 13 poetry collections and more than 30 books. His most recent book, What Poets Are Like, is a humorous look at his 35-year writing career. Mr. Soto will draw upon his poetry and prose to entertain and inspire while promoting reading as a means of self-discovery. This free public event will take place at the Temple for Performing Arts at 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 14, An Evening with Henry Rollins
Henry Rollins is a spoken word artist, actor, musician and front man for both the Rollins Band and Black Flag, radio DJ and author of more than 25 books. “An Evening with Henry Rollins” will provide a seamless mix of humor and outrage, pop culture, political commentary and personal anecdote, healthy skepticism and rugged optimism. Rollins will touch on his travels around the world, his past experiences touring, unusual encounters and more. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through MidwesTIX via wonderofwordsfest.com for $25-$30. This event will take place at Sheslow Auditorium, Drake University Campus at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 15, RunDSM Spoken Word
Enjoy spoken word performances with slam poetry readings by local high school and college students.  Movement 515 is a creative writing community where students and teachers come together to write spoken word and performance poetry. Attempting to slow down the world and investigate themselves, they work toward becoming change agents, shedding light on the impact human emotion and connection bring to the global community. The event will take place at the Des Moines Social Club at 6 p.m., admission $5.

Tuesday, Nov. 4, Author John Shors
Des Moines native and best-selling author of Beneath a Marble Sky, a historical fiction book about the building of the Taj Mahal, and Temple of a Thousand Faces, which brings to life the legendary temple of Angkor Wat, will discuss how travel influences his view of the world and his writing.  He’ll intersperse his presentation with stories of his roots in Des Moines. This free public event will take place at Central Library.

Thursday, Nov. 6, Photojournalist David Peterson
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Peterson will discuss his new book, The Drake Relays:  America’s Athletic Classic, an iconic photographic tribute to the Drake Relays which includes astounding and dramatic photos taken over the span of nearly 40 years. For fans of the Drake Relays, runners, photographers or anyone who has ever dreamed of achieving success or attempted to capture on film the beauty, grace and drama of a moment in time.  This free public event will take place at the Iowa Hall of Pride at 7 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 10, Author Leonard Pitts, Jr.
A columnist for the Miami Herald and a 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary, Leonard Pitts, Jr. will discuss his newest novel, Freeman, which chronicles the journey of Sam, a runaway slave living in Philadelphia, who leaves his safe haven upon learning of the Confederate surrender. The book addresses several themes that are still hotly debated today, some 145 years after the official end of the Civil War. This free public event will take place at Sheslow Auditorium on the Drake University Campus at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 11, Author Colin Woodard
Award-winning journalist and author Colin Woodard will discuss his book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Beyond red states and blue – a history of North America and its patterns of migration that led to eleven regional cultures or “nations” with its own dialects, religious denominations, ethnic heritage, and cultural traditions. This free public event takes place at Hubbell Hall in Kent Campus Center at Simpson College.

Wednesday, Nov. 12, Author Chad Lewis
Researcher and lecturer on topics of the strange and unusual, Author Chad Lewis will explore haunted bridges, cemeteries, historic homes, roads, theatres and much more as he discusses his book, The Iowa Road Guide to Haunted Locations. This free public event takes places at the Central Library at 7 p.m.

Lunch Outside the Box Series

Add some food for thought to your lunch hour with an eclectic mix of authors.

Monday, Nov. 3 — Author Christine McMahon Sutton, Stop and Smell the Garbage: A Caregiver’s Story of Survival
Wednesday, Nov. 5 — Author Ann M. Crowley, PhD, European Farmers’ Markets Cookbook
Thursday, Nov. 6 — Photographer Ty Smedes, The Return of Iowa’s Bald Eagles
Wednesday, Nov. 12 — Author David Mackaman, Dogmatic Slumber: My Journey to Awakening
Friday, Nov. 14 — Cowboy Poet David Nelson, The Campfire Collection of Cowpoke Poetry

Each free program begins at noon in the Central Library Meeting Wing and is designed to finish within the hour, books will be available for sale and signing following each program.

Thursday, Nov. 13, Author Lowell J. Soike Q & A and Book Signing
Retired Historian and Author, Lowell J. Soike will discuss his book, Busy in the Cause, which explores the role of the Midwest in shaping national politics concerning slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. Soike's detailed and entertaining narrative illuminates Iowa's role in the stirring western events that formed the prelude to the Civil War. This free public event takes place at the Iowa State Historical Building at 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 15, Geology Rocks! Workshop
Get your hands dirty at the Science Center of Iowa with Author Cindy Blobaum during an hour-long workshop for children ages 8-14. Learn how this Iowa native transformed from naturalist to author and participate in an activity featured in her first book, Geology Rocks! This event is free with SCI general admission, RSVP at (515) 274-6868 ext. 222.

Sunday, Nov. 16, Poet Billy Collins
Mr. Collins has been called “the most popular poet in America” and his level of fame is almost unprecedented in the world of contemporary poetry.  He served two terms as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001-2003.  His work has been described as “quirky, tender or profound observation on the everyday, reading and writing”. This free public event will take place at Hoyt Sherman Place Theater at 7 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 13, Old News, New News:  220 Years of Journalistic Wisdom
Veteran journalists Larry Cotlar (sports radio personality, Cumulus Media, Drake University), Janette Larkin (Business Publications Corporation publisher), Rekha Basu (Des Moines Register columnist), Dave Busiek (KCCI News Director) and Rob Dillard (Iowa Public Radio programming host) will discuss the changing face of journalism and how the rise of the internet and social media has impacted the way that stories are covered.  Professor Kathleen Richardson (Dean of the Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication) will moderate. This free public event will take place in the Cowles Library Reading Room at Drake University at 7 p.m.

Full details and schedule of all 48 events can be found at wonderofwordsfest.com.  All media inquiries should be directed to Jessica Barlow at (515) 286-4907 or (563) 505-9226.

About Wonder of Words Festival

Co-produced by the Des Moines Public Library and the Downtown Community Alliance, The Wonder of Words Festival is a compilation of several events, taking place at various venues in Downtown Des Moines (DSM) and surrounding communities Nov. 1-16, 2014. The mission of the Wonder of Words Festival is to connect readers, writers, and publishers at events that celebrate reading and share the joy of lifelong learning. 2014 Festival sponsors include Prairie Meadows, Alliant Energy, Bankers Trust, BRAVO Greater Des Moines, Casey’s General Stores, Des Moines Public Library Foundation, Humanities Iowa, Meredith Corporation, MidAmerican Energy Company, Principal Financial Group, Ruan Center Corporation and Wells Fargo. Media Partners include Business Publications Corporation, Iowa Public Radio and Register Media. Community Partners include Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Des Moines Performing Arts, Drake University, Graceland University, Grand View University, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Grinnell College, Iowa Historical Museum/Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Iowa Hall of Pride, Iowa History Center at Simpson College, Iowa State University, Science Center of Iowa and the Temple for Performing Arts. For more information, visit wonderofwordsfest.com.