University of Iowa

The Art of Place

Weekend June 23 to June 24 2018

While some writers might aspire to create “timeless” work, you never hear of anyone trying to make their writing “placeless.” Why is that? Without place, are one’s characters and ideas rootless and liable to tip over? What role does setting play beyond mere backdrop or window dressing to truly ground one’s stories or essays or memoir? Is place-based writing regional, or communal?


In this weekend, we’ll carefully look at how the rendering of place is working to help your writing establish narrative voice, credibility and point of view. How might the physical choices you’re making on the surface better encompass your subterranean intentions? And in turn, what might locale reveal about the compass of each writer’s character and orientations? Where are your most resonant places in the world? From where should you be writing?


“When we commit to a particular place,” writes Terry Tempest Williams, “a certain element of choice is removed. We are free to dig in and allow ourselves to be mentored by the life around us. We begin to see the world whole instead of fractured. Long-term strategies replace short-term gains. Routine opens the door to creativity.”


Expect a retreat into what makes for depth and sustainability on the page. Saturday will focus on theory (models and exercises), Sunday on practice (group workshopping). The class is open to all and will prove useful for any prose writer.