July 2014

Elizabeth Robinson -- You Can Start a Press/Publication

July 24, 2014
One of the best ways to participate in, and help define, contemporary literature is to start your own press or literary publication. This may sound intimidating, but you might be surprised to find that such projects need not be prohibitively expensive or overwhelmingly difficult. This talk will discuss a variety of media (print and electronic) and a variety of projects (magazine, blog-zine, chapbook press, and full-length book publications) and how to make your project sustainable, enjoyable, and meaningful.

Juliet Patterson -- How Poets See the World: The Art of Description

July 23, 2014
“It sounds like a simple thing say what you see,” Mark Doty has written. “But try to find the words for the shades of a mottled sassafras leaf or the reflectivity of a bay on an August morning." In this hour, we’ll take refuge in the sensory experience found in some contemporary poets, as a way of thinking about a number of questions: How does description contain or convey meaning? What do we do when we describe something? Reproduce, account for, portray, trace, parcel out? How does one take the measure of the external world and what can it mean for our writing?

Kelly Dwyer -- Better Talky Talky: The Art and Craft of Strong Dialogue

July 22, 2014
Many book editors say that they read the first paragraph of a manuscript, and if they like it, they skip ahead to read some dialogue. If the dialogue is strong, they go back to page one and keep reading. If the dialogue is weak, the editor sets down the manuscript, and the chances for publication (with that particular house, anyway) end there. Knowing how to write good dialogue, then, is crucial to publication—and readership. In this hour, we’ll explore what makes strong dialogue. Bring your laptops or pencils and notebooks with you, as Kelly will put you to work in responding to an exercise.

New Podcasts from the Iowa Summer Writing Festival

Sarah Saffian -- The Politics of Writing About Loved Ones

July 21, 2014
A novelist has it easy—his characters, sprung from his imagination, don’t talk back when they’re not happy with the way they’re depicted on the page. But what if your character is your ex-husband, your twin brother, your mother? Are familial loyalty and literary integrity necessarily at odds? How can we most effectively navigate this touchy terrain, to maintain our real-life relationships without compromising the stories we need to tell?

Joyelle McSweeney—Contemporary Gothic(s)

July 17, 2014
In an age of technophilic positivism typified by the TED-talk, the smartphone, and the MOOC, why do we still need a shadowy, cobwebby, grave-y form like the Gothic? What darker truths about contemporary life—economic, environmental, political, bodily—can the Gothic mode bring up to the surface? This talk will look at the way authors from around the globe—Korea, Mexico, Chile, Sweden, and the US—make use of Gothic forms and tropes to make literary conventions split apart like the House of Usher and bring other bodies, truths and vistas rushing into view.

Éireann Lorsung -- ‘Productivity’ and ‘Failure’ for Writers

Over and over I hear my students, my peers, and my own interior voice talk about failure as writers. Often this is linked to an idea of ‘productivity’, and in particular to a perception of others as ‘more productive’. As publication online increases the speed at which writing can appear in public, the distance between writing as a process and writing as a product closes.

Lena Dunham: Special Event at the Englert Theater

Dora Malech -- Talking It Out: Writing as Conversation

Although writing is a seemingly solitary and introspective act, this craft talk investigates the myriad ways in which the process of writing is, in fact, always a conversation. This communal take on the writing process can invigorate and sustain writers across genres and at all points in a life of writing, and this talk will provide both inspiration and practical insights. The hour will, of course, include literal conversation.

Hope Edelman -- The Story Behind Your Story

July 10, 2014
When we write narrative, both sides of our brains ideally work together: the left brain controls linear thinking, logic, and language skills, and the right brain creates context and inserts emotion. This Eleventh Hour Lecture will emphasize the importance of using both sides of the brain when writing fiction and nonfiction, to push beyond an episodic recounting of events into territory that reveals your story's deeper truths. Nonfiction author Hope Edelman will give you with tips for identifying universal themes and archetypes in your stories, and methods for articulating them to readers.

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