Iowa Alumni Magazine | June 2008 | People

Amy Margolis

By IAM Staff
Amy Margolis makes summer in Iowa City an inspiring getaway for hundreds of aspiring writers.

Planning a summer wedding would be a piece of cake for Amy Margolis. After all, she likens her job as director of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival to organizing simultaneous weddings for 1,400 brides.

Margolis, 92MFA, helps adults of all skill levels and career paths find their way to writing bliss at ten sessions and 135 classes over the next two months. Writers from every state and continent gather on the UI campus for the festival, which offers weeklong and weekend courses with the country's best writing instructors.

Margolis can't imagine the event taking place anywhere else. "It wouldn't be a festival without the energy of the literary community here," she says. "Writers are accustomed to being outsiders—the red-headed stepchildren of the culture—and in Iowa City, writers are insiders."

CURRENTLY READING:

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

SUMMER VACATION READING:

Middlemarch by George Eliot.

WRITING INSPIRATION:

"Reading generates momentum for me. If I'm stuck, I pick up [former Iowa Writers' Workshop (IWW) faculty member] John Cheever's 'Goodbye, My Brother,' and when I put it down, I'm able to start."

FAVORITE BOOK:

Boston Adventure by Jean Stafford. "I list it as my favorite not because it's the best book I've ever read, but because it's a book that's come with me through my life and that I link to such rich experiences."

FAVORITE AUTHOR:

[Former IWW faculty member] Deborah Eisenberg.

FAVORITE MAGAZINE:

"I nearly always have a bone to pick with the New Yorker, but when you complain about something week after week, year after year, you have to admit you have an attachment to it."

FAVORITE SONG:

"Lush Life" by Billy Strayhorn. "A song to weep in your highball by."

FAVORITE MOVIE:

The Rose Tattoo. "Nobody can pitch a fit like Anna Magnani."

FAVORITE MUSICAL:

The Wizard of Oz. "I was so terrified of this movie when I was a child that I watched it with my fingers in my ears while I sang "Oklahoma." Now I find it endlessly evocative and borrow metaphorically from it more than just about anything."