July 2012

UI President Sally Mason Visits Shanghai Writers' Group

In a recent interview with the Daily Iowan, University of Iowa president Sally Mason mentioned a recent trip to Asia, where Mason, along with Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member Christopher Merrill met the Shanghai Writers' Group.

"A number of these writers have been in our International Writing Program. These are some of the most prominent and famous writers in China today." Mason described the experience as enlightening: "Chris Merrill was with us for that part of our visit, and it was quite energizing

D.A. Powell

Douglas A. Powell was born in Albany, Georgia, but spent most of his youth in northern California. Powell attended the Sonoma State University, graduating with his bachelor's degree in 1991 and his master's degree in 1993.

United States
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Sands Hall—Into the Woods, Down to the Underworld

July 26, 2012
In the simplest of fairy tales or the grandest of myths—“Snow White,” say, or the Odyssey—both Snow White and Odysseus must spend time in the woods, or the underworld. Those of us writing fiction understand that our protagonists must grapple with darkness in order to rise to light; similarly, a descent into difficulty is a necessary element of memoir. Why is going “into the woods” so important to the weaving of a compelling tale?

Kathryn Rhett & Jessica Handler—The Tough Stuff: Write Well, Feel Better

July 25, 2012
Kathryn Rhett, author of Survival Stories: Memoirs of Crisis, and Jessica Handler, author of the forthcoming Writing Through Grief, talk about how writing the tough stuff well can be good for you, and for a community of like-minded readers. Everyone will experience difficulty at some point in their lives, and, being writers, we may want to write about the tough stuff, either because we need to, or with the notion that getting it down on paper will be cathartic. The strategies we use for strong literary writing dovetail neatly with the strategies for writing therapeutically.

Christine Hemp—Yikes: A Deadline! Limitation as Liberation

July 24, 2012
This talk explores the beauty of limitation, whether it be something as simple as a deadline or a self-imposed structure for a scene, a poem, or an essay. Even the constraints of our lives (time! job! space! family!) can serve the muse. Many Writing Festival participants say, “I write more here in Iowa than I do all year—how can I do this at home?” or “In doing the assignments for this class, I actually found my real story. Why doesn’t this happen more often at my own desk?” Sometimes we forget that pragmatic practices lead to surprising creative leaps.

Book Review: Whale in the Woods by Blueberry Morningsnow

Amber Dermont, Blueberry Morningsnow, Nick Twemlow, & Vinnie Wilhelm—Influence & Inspiration

July 19, 2012
In this panel discussion Dermont, Morningsnow, Twemlow, and Wilhelm will discuss poetry and fiction in conjunction with specific and intimate outside influences, inspirations, imitations, and inquiries. They will present examples of the ideas, authors, forms, and practices which have helped them generate their own most recent work, as well as discuss how writers might discover creative motivation in the world around them. Participants will leave with a list of recommended art, literature, music, film, and other imagination-sparking influences.

Cheryl Fusco Johnson—Shy Writers Do It, Too: Enlivening Writing by Harnessing the Power of Effective Interviewing Techniques

July 18, 2012
Enrich poetry, fiction, nonfiction and blog posts by unleashing people’s innate desire to share what they know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! This presentation will help you identify potential interviewees, pose questions that elicit intriguing responses, assess technological pros and cons, and evaluate the material your interview produces. We’ll also discuss how to recognize and weave the juiciest kernels of information into your writing project, whatever it is. Cheryl Fusco Johnson honed her interviewing skills in courts of law while serving as a public defender in Washington State.