The University of Iowa

The Art of Description

Weekend July 25 to July 26 2020

“It sounds like a simple thing to say what you see,” Mark Doty has written. “But try to find the words for the shades of a mottled sassafras leaf or the reflectivity of a bay on an August morning.” In this workshop, we’ll take refuge in the sensory experience found in some contemporary writing, as a way of thinking about a number of questions: How does description contain or convey meaning? What do we do when we describe something? Reproduce, account for, portray, trace, parcel out? How does one take the measure of the external world, and what can it mean for our writing? Writers of all levels and genres are welcome. We will take a craft-based approach to your work and make a thorough investigation into elements of image and description.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments; provide feedback on writing you produce in our weekend.

All Genres