University of Iowa

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Kate Aspengren

This workshop is for playwrights who have completed (at least) the first draft of a play. We'll read excerpts aloud from each play and give thoughtful, specific feedback to the playwright. The goal is to hear what you've written and to utilize that for future revision. As time permits, there will also be overnight and in-class writing to help illuminate work-in-progress and/or to generate new writing.

In this workshop, we will critique writing you bring from home.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Timothy Bascom

When we write memoirs or personal essays, we inevitably find ourselves depicting those who have had the most influence in our lives— our family members. To understand the self, we must understand them. Take a look at a shelf of memoirs, and you will see just how vital those relationships are—in Vivian Gornick’s Fierce Attachments or Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or Geoffrey Wolff’s Duke of Deception or Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Linda Bendorf

Our bodies carry the most intimate narratives of our lives. Surgery, elective or otherwise. Transitions. Pregnancy. Aging. Self-Image. Disability. Tattoos. Disease. Disfigurement. Accidents. Oddities, visible or concealed. Some stories are complex and searingly painful; others humorous or tender. We will draw on the invigorating process of writing, the organic flow of storytelling, and the power and energy of words.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Jennifer Colville

“Woman must put herself into the text—as into the world and into history—by her own movement.”

Hélène Cixous

 

Perhaps the biggest anxiety that memoirists have is whether or not readers would be interested in the personal experiences they wish to share. It is true that there are plenty of memoirs out there about extreme events—dramatically tragic or uplifting personal experiences, stories of overcoming major obstacles, wild professional successes and/or failures, thrilling adventures, and so forth. But as I like to say, every memoir doesn’t need to be about wrestling polar bears in the Arctic.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Kelly Dwyer

National Novel Writing Month, move over. June is the new November. While we may not actually write an entire novel in a week, we will create a skeleton of a novel that we can take home to develop and finish. During our week together, we will share plot outlines, write or revise first chapters, write and share climactic scenes, and come up with possible endings.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Vince Gotera

In his poem “A Course in Creative Writing,” William Stafford wrote that students of poetry “want a wilderness with a map.” In this beginning poetry workshop, we will begin to explore the wilderness of poetry writing with three basic elements: image, sound, and form. This class will provide a map for poets who are starting out, as well as those who have written a bit and would like to expand their skills. Before we meet, you will send me five poems—yes, even if they are your first poems ever—and during our week together you will write a poem or two.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Wayne Johnson

All of us encounter dramas in life that seem tailor-made for narrative. But when sitting down to pen such seeming “ready-mades,” we often find that they don’t come to life, drag, or simply seem to lose their once-brilliant shine when committed to paper. So, we ask, how do writers such as Bill Bryson, Jon Krakauer, and Sebastian Junger write such engaging narratives? Or Mary Karr, Jeannette Walls, and Tobias Wolff? This class will examine a variety of non-fiction forms, from the memoir to the specific-subject yarn drawn from a decades-old once-hot news item.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Sabrina Orah Mark

‘“Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.’”

 

—Lewis Carroll (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

 

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Michael Martone

In the traditional creative writing workshop, individual stories and essays are critiqued one at a time. This means in a weeklong session such as ours the writer will be thinking of herself or himself as a writer for one period of, say, 45-60 minutes and the rest of the time will be attending the workshop as a critic of others’ work. In the cross-section workshop, we will look at all our pieces at the same time. We will take “cuts” through each work, beginning with our titles and the theory behind titling. Then we’ll move on to first lines, first paragraphs, first pages, etc.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Paula Morris

This class is for novelists, whatever the genre—realist, comedic, fantasy, historical, crime, or speculative—who have a substantial draft of a book and the desire to make it better.

 

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Michael Morse

The elegy offers one of poetry’s most appealing consolations: it can transform loss—and even the threat of loss—into an artful presence. Our sessions will explore how reading and elegiac writing can help us reflect on the lives we've led (and will lead) as we navigate absence. Expect a moving and invigorating workshop—one that isn’t afraid to laugh, either—as we read a wide range of classic and contemporary elegies as models and write poems that help capture and hold the world and its full range of joys and sorrows.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Lon Otto

Characterization—creating believable and interesting people on the page—is an absolutely essential part of successful fiction writing, and it is equally important in narrative nonfiction forms such as memoir and literary journalism. It is also one of the most complex elements of craft, with many different means of achieving it and quite a few ways in which it can fall short.

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020
Instructor(s): 
Kevin Smith

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” Emily Dickinson wrote. In this workshop, we will take inspiration from Dickinson’s poem and tell it queer, reading examples by writers who illuminate queer experience of all kinds, and writing queer stories of our own. No longer in the shadows or margins, when we enter a safe space of telling it queer, we release our creativity to bend language into a personal and collective instrument of witness and truth—“The Truth’s superb surprise,” as Dickinson says.