Donnelly’s Pub

Donnelly’s Pub

110 E. College St.

The original Donnelly’s Pub was on Dubuque Street, now at 110 East College Street, where Workshop writers Robert Lowell and John Berryman met in the 1950s, followed by John Irving and Kurt Vonnegut in the sixties.


Robert Dana at Donnelly’s Pub

Robert Dana recalls his time in Iowa City, including spending time with other writers in Donnelly’s Pub:

“I remember saying embarrassed and inane things to a nonplussed Steven Spender one night in Donnelly’s basement bar…”

Dinger, Ed, ed. Seems Like Old Times. Iowa City, 1986. Iowa Writers’ Workshop jubilee. Main; Archives.


Robert Lowell and John Berryman at Donnelly’s Bar

Jan Weissmiller, poet and co-owner of Prairie Lights Bookstore, describes a few of the haunts and hangouts in Iowa City where Robert Lowell and John Berryman would meet in the 1950s:

On the way from Prairie Lights to Iowa Book, are two bars and two restaurants that surely contain either writers or ghosts of writers. The first is Micky’s Irish Pub (11 South Dubuque Street). The antique bar at Micky’s was moved from the original Donnelly’s bar on Dubuque Street, now at 110 East College Street, where Workshop writers Robert Lowell and John Berryman met …

Weissmiller, Jan. “Iowa City: City Guides.” Poets & Writers. Poets & Writers, 1 May 2012. Web. 21 May 2016.


Tomaž Šalamun meets Anselm Hollo at Donnelly’s Pub

Tomaž Šalamun recalls visiting Donnelly’s Pub and meeting his future translator, Anselm Hollo, completely by chance:


Maybe I should start with how Iowa is totally magical for me, and why. I was in Ljubljana. Primož Kožak, a playwright, was here, with the IWP, and then, he was also involved in helping to select the next Slovenian person to come. He very decently offered this position to his younger playwright peer, his competitor. He said “no.” Then to the best young fiction writer, and he said “no.” And when I was asked, I said “Yes, of course.” And it had to be done very quickly. Two days later, Michael Scammell —you might know his name — he was then a lecturer in Ljubljana, then he became responsible for writers in prison for the International PEN […] and he said: “If you go to America, you will for sure meet the Finnish poet Anselm Hollo and like his poetry. Anselm Hollo was in Finland—and Finland was too small for him; he went to Germany, married in Germany, then worked for his uncle who was friends of Jung’s, then came to England, then became an English poet, than BBC wanted to promote him to a much higher position, he didn’t like this … he escaped … and he must be somewhere in America.”

I flew to Iowa City (Cedar Rapids), we went to Mayflower, I signed the lease, I went downtown, I went to one bar—I don’t remember its name— and then I went to Donnelly’s, and in Donnelly’s there was an older person and some people around him, and they were laughing and they included me. I realized they were poets, and I said, “I’m a poet, and come from the IWP.” And then the older person said, “Let me drive you to Mayflower.” On the road he had a small accident, and, when he handed his driver’s license to the police officer, I realized that he was Anselm Hollo!

That is how Iowa started for me, and it didn’t stop. Every third year there is some strange connection!

Šalamun, Tomaž. “Paul Engle Memorial Reading, IWP 40th Anniversary, The University of Iowa, October 12, 2007.” Virtual Writing University Archive, Full Archive.