7. John Kenyon

“There’s always something new being created.”

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I sit down with John Kenyon, executive director of The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization. John grew up in Des Moines and graduated from the University of Iowa and lives in Iowa City.

I enjoyed being able to talk with John about Iowa City’s role as a City of Literature, the organization’s approach to programming, and, as a non-profit, how to manage resources effectively, as well as the many facets of this literary community. John talks about his journey in exploring journalism that led him to The University of Iowa and how the that industry has changed over the past few decades. As a student, John worked worked at The DI, The Daily Iowan. Shortly after recording this interview, the Society of Professional Journalists named The Daily Iowan the Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper in the country. John and I also cover the role of collaboration in building resilient communities.

From the City of Literature website “how could a small city in the center of the American heartland have such a wide-ranging impact on creative writing? The answer is that Iowa City, for its size, may be the most literary city on earth. It has a unique set of influential literary institutions, which explore new ways to teach and support writers. At the same time, it has long been, quite simply, a place for writers: a haven, a destination, a proving ground, and a nursery.”

Thanks for checking out The Iowa Idea Podcast. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About John

John Kenyon is the executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization. Prior to that, he spent 20 years in journalism in the Corridor, most recently as editor of the Corridor Business Journal. He is a Des Moines native and a graduate of the University of Iowa. He lives in Iowa City with his wife, Mary, and their two sons.

Iowa City was named the third City of Literature in the world in 2008 by UNESCO, and today it is one of 39 international Cities of Literature, and part of the 246-member UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The nonprofit Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization manages the designation on behalf of the city. In that role, the organization advocates on behalf of the community’s literary assets, produces programming to enhance the literary culture, and interacts with UNESCO and the other members of the Creative Cities Network.


Thank you to John Kenyon for taking the time to join the podcast.

Episode produce by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/)

The Iowa Idea Podcast music written and performed by Paisley Bible.