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Mic Check Poetry Fest brings spotlight to Iowa poets, young and old

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

A new poetry festival is aimed at building stages for the many Iowa poets looking for a mic. And a Buena Vista University student has published a book of poetry on his parents' journey from El Salvador to the United States.

Despite the Iowa Writers Workshop’s reputation for fostering new poets, those outside the program don’t have the same access to community and support. The organizers of the Mic Check Poetry Fest are hoping to create an annual space for community building, workshopping and performance for poets of all ages and forms.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Caleb Rainey, who performs as "The Negro Artist," about the poets and performances coming this weekend to Iowa City. Mic Check will take place November 5 through 7 with a headline performance by Javon Johnson and many chances for poets young and old. For more information, see Mic Check Poetry Fest's website for tickets and a schedule.

Then, we hear from Matthew Marroquín, a Buena Vista University student, who just published "Guanaco Binge." This first poetry collection attempts to understand his place in the United States through the stories of his parents and their journey from El Salvador to the United States.


  • Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey, an organizer of Mic Check Poetry Fest
  • Matthew Marroquín, author of "Guanaco Binge"
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa