Iowa Alumni Magazine | June 2009 | Reviews

Andre Perry

By IAM Staff

Andre Perry didn't leave his heart (for music and literature) in San Francisco. Instead, he brought a little of San Francisco to Iowa City.

Four years ago, the UI postgraduate writing fellow introduced the Mission Creek Festival—a Bay Area music and literary tradition—to the Hawkeye State. This year's Iowa City event drew thousands to concerts and literary readings downtown. GZA/Genius of the Wu-Tang Clan headlined the weeklong April festival, which featured 75 local and national musical acts that played everything from indie rock and folk to avant-garde and experimental music.

When Perry isn't scoping out talent for next year's Mission Creek Festival (, he teaches nonfiction and organizes literary events for the UI's undergraduate writing program. His central aim in both pursuits is to help Iowa City build a stronger arts community. "[These kinds of events] get artists energized about their work," says Perry, 08MFA. "We want to get them excited about town, so they see that Iowa City is a cool place to stick around."

FAVORITE MUSIC: "Anything that has elements of both experimental and pop music."

FAVORITE MUSICAL ARTISTS: Singer-songwriter Neil Young, experimental band Animal Collective, and indie rockers The Walkmen.

WHAT'S ON MY iPOD: Brian Eno, known as the father of ambient music. "I write well to him."

LAST CONCERT I SAW: Beach House, an indie rock and dream pop band.

FAVORITE AUTHORS: Nathanael West, James Baldwin, and UI English professor Stephen Kuusisto. "Kuusisto is an amazingly poetic writer. I've read his memoir more than once when I've had a hard time writing. He describes [his subjects] with honesty, insight, and beauty."

FAVORITE BOOKS: Miss Lonelyhearts by West and Notes of a Native Son by Baldwin.

FAVORITE TV SHOW: Friday Night Lights. "On the surface, it's about football, but it's also one of the best shows that looks at domestic life with an honest eye."

FAVORITE MOVIES: Days of Heaven and The Last Picture Show. "Both are depressing movies about American life that are beautifully shot."

FAVORITE WEBSITES: Independent music news websites Pitchfork and CokeMachineGlow).