The University of Iowa

Writing Travel: Nonfiction, Poetry, & Fiction

Weeklong June 21 to June 26 2020

Just about every writer who travels thinks about using the experience of foreignness in a story or essay or poem, and plenty others feel compelled to at least blog about it. Travel provides us with intense, complex experiences, unfamiliar settings, interesting characters, and the heightened self-awareness that comes from dislocation. But the results are often disappointing, failing to capture the distinctive emotion and vividness of being on that particular street, dealing with this particular conflict and these particular people, much less developing into a compelling, coherent piece of writing. During this week of engaged reading, writing, and discussion, you will explore techniques for using the experience of travel as subject, theme, and structure. You will study examples of great travel writing in published nonfiction, poetry, and fiction, and you will examine your own travel experiences, looking for elements that lead to powerful and original writing. Through exercises drawing on your previous experiences and new observations, you will rummage through the baggage carried along to new places, scrutinize traveling companions and people met on the road, and unfold the maps of memory and imagination. You will share and respond to new writing generated through those exercises, draft at least one new piece aimed at publication, and leave with techniques to make both your writing and your traveling more intensely rewarding. This workshop is designed to be useful to writers with all levels of experience.


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

Short Story