The University of Iowa

Writing the Chimera: A Workshop on Hybrid Forms

Weeklong June 14 to June 19 2020

‘“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)


A chimera is a thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve. Beginning with the prose poem, we will study forms that have the head of one animal and the body of another. We will study how form can swell and go frail, grow wooly and then grow smooth. We will study forms who forget themselves midway, who speak multiple languages, and who possess kaleidoscopic vision. Forms we will look at will include the prose poem, flash fiction, the lyric essay, the epistolary, the fragment, and the comic. This generative workshop will provide in-class writing exercises and overnight assignments. Participants will have at least two opportunities to workshop new writing. This workshop invites writers at all levels and anyone who wishes to make the impossible possible.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts; provide feedback on writing you bring from home or produce in our week.

Hybrid Forms
Short Story