University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival

greenwayseasidesnapshotNow in its 24th year, the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a short-term noncredit creative writing program for adults administered through the University’s Division of Continuing Education. Each summer, we bring approximately 1,500 writers to the University and Iowa City to participate in 130-140 week-long and weekend writers workshops across the genres. These include novel, short fiction, poetry, memoir, essay, screenwriting, playwriting, travel writing, humor, writing for children, mystery, and more.

The writers festival is proud to belong to Iowa City—a UNESCO City of Literature and the first American City of Literature in the Creative Cities Network. Iowa City has long been a haven for writers, and The University of Iowa our ancestral home. For eighty years, Iowa has taught the world to write. The gifts of this rich literary soil continue today in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the International Writing Program, the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Playwrights Workshop, the Translation Program, The Iowa Review, the Iowa Center for the Book, and The University of Iowa Press. In recent years, Iowa City dedicated the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk, which celebrates, in bronze relief panels, some of the singular voices that have come together here, from Flannery O’Connor and Kurt Vonnegut to John Irving and James Tate. Everything here is closely observednow, even the sidewalks.

While we agree in part with the popular maxim that writing cannot be taught, the Festival exists and proceeds on the assumption that it can be learned. Our aim as a program is to provide fertile ground for this work, regardless of the level of literary accomplishment with which participants arrive. As a result, we have no requirements for admission beyond the desire to write. Classes in the Festival are conducted as workshop, where the primary text is participants’ own creative work. Participants in the week-long sessions meet in workshop for three hours each day, Monday through Friday, and have an individual conference with instructors. Weekend sessions meet for eight hours over the two days. Our hope, and our experience, is that in their time here, writers not only devote themselves to their individual projects, but enter into a dialogue with others who are kindred, and who become, for them, a community of peers that thrives beyond the Festival. To that end, we offer several opportunities for writers to commune outside of workshop. These include a daily lecture series on craft and issues of special interest to writers (now podcast on the Virtual Writing University homepage); open mike night, where students read from their own work; and, in collaboration with Prairie Lights Books, readings throughout the summer by Festival faculty, Festival alumni, and other contemporary voices in literature.

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is an opportunity for you to share your work in a community that wishes it well. It’s a long conversation we’ve been having in Iowa City. We invite you to pull up a chair. Visit the Iowa Summer Writing Festival website at

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