June 2012

Iowa City writing festival draws international crowd

Lawyer by day, 46-year-old Paige Nichols of Lawrence, Kan., has channeled her creative side in the heart of Iowa City for the past three years with the support of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

"There is a combination of inspiration, practical instruction, and camaraderie," she said while sitting with a new friend from Atlanta. "Other people are living these double lives — having a profession and something else they care about."

City of Literature: A Film Screening

Elizabeth Robinson—Giving a Good Reading and Why it Matters

June 27, 2012
Most often we encounter work on the page, but haven’t we all had the experience of being transported by hearing the author give a reading of his or her own work? What happens when we have the opportunity, as listeners, to hear literature presented directly by the author? And what happens, as writer, when we have the opportunity to embody our work before an audience?

Michael Morse—Lost and Found: Reading and Writing the Elegy

June 26, 2012
The elegy offers one of poetry’s most appealing consolations: it can transform loss—and even the threat of loss—into an artful presence. This session will explore how reading contemporary elegies and engaging in elegiac writing can help us reflect on the lives we’ve led (and will lead). Expect a moving and invigorating session—one that isn’t afraid to laugh, either—as we look at some poems that generate presence even in the absence of loss. We’ll also talk about potential exercises for poets and fiction writers that might yield new writing.

Douglas Goetsch—The Three Poisons

June 21, 2012
The Three Poisons is a simple and elegant Tibetan Buddhist teaching that identifies three foundational emotions that underlie all others—passion, aggression, and ignorance—much the way the three primary colors combine to make all others. For writers, awareness of the three poisons, which point to the ultimate equality and emptiness of all emotions, can be as profoundly beneficial as Keats’s idea of Negative Capability. Through discussion, examples, and writing exercises, this lecture will seek to convey those benefits.

Karen Bender—How to Find the Short Story within your Novel

June 20, 2012
In this Eleventh Hour, Karen Bender will address a strategy that she found helpful while writing her first novel—finding a short excerpt within it and polishing it to send out. She will discuss the differences between a story and a novel, what to look for in your novel when trying to shape a good excerpt or story, and how to use the story form to help you revise a nebulous, inchoate novel.

Book Review: Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

2008 Iowa Writer's Workshop graduate Maggie Shipstead's new novel Seating Arrangements isn't a typical wedding novel. A cast of misbehaving and deeply flawed WASPs convene at a beach house to prepare for the wedding of their eldest daughter Daphne to one of the 1 percent's most eligible bachelors. The catch is, she is seven months pregnant with his child. Believe it or not, this less-than-conventional upperclass New England marriage is the least scandalous event in the novel.

Robert Siegel—Flash Fiction

June 18, 2012
What is flash fiction? You’ve read it, perhaps even written it in class: super-short stories, anywhere from a paragraph to a couple of pages in length, sometimes zeroing in on a single moment of experience, sometimes trying to tell a whole life story in a handful of lines. In recent years, flash fiction has moved from the margins to the center, grabbing attention at literary magazines and spawning anthologies. Some of our best contemporary writers do their most challenging work in the form. Nevertheless, flash fiction is hard to define.