Student Writers from the U.S. & 17 Countries Come to Iowa City for BTL

The International Writing Program (IWP) welcomes 10 American students and 29 students from along the historic Silk Road to their 2019 Between the Lines (BTL)­: Peace and the Writing Experience session July 13-27, 2019, with public readings July 18 and 19. BTL is a prestigious creative writing and cultural exchange program for participants age 15-18, hosted by the IWP in collaboration with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department, and held at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, a UNESCO City of Literature.

Each year since 2008, following a competitive application process, BTL students come together for two weeks of intensive creative writing workshops, global literature seminars, community building, and cultural exchange. This year, accepted students are travelling from across the U.S. (Iowa, New York, New Mexico, New Jersey, Arizona, California, and Hawaii) and from 17 different countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Georgia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, and Sri Lanka.

BTL instructors will give a reading of their own work Thursday, July 18, 7PM, at Prairie Lights Bookstore (15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City, Iowa). BTL instructors include prize-winning authors Asli Perker (Turkey), one of four members of the peace committee of PEN International; Yuriy Serebriansky (Kazakhstan), editor of the Polish diaspora magazine Ałmatyński Kurier Polonijny andalumnus of the IWP’s Fall Residency; Armen Ohanyan (“Armen of Armenia”) President of PEN Armenia and alumnus of the IWP’s Fall Residency; and Dora Malech (United States), professor of poetry at Johns Hopkins University and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

BTL students from around the world – from Anamosa, Cupertino, Brooklyn, and Honolulu, to Tblisi, Cairo, Ulaanbaatar, and Kathmandu – will give a public reading of their own creative works in a supportive environment at the Between the Lines Open Mic Night Teen Reading Friday, July 19, 7PM, at Iowa City Yacht Club (13 S. Linn St., Iowa City, Iowa). Teens from the broader Iowa City area are also invited to join the open mic night.

During their time in Iowa City BTL students will, in the words of BTL instructor Armen of Armenia, have the chance, “to come across the most important things: new cultures, new environments, new relationships, and a chance to see [themselves] in a new light. We welcome students to the homecoming party far away from home!"


Since 1967, the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa has hosted more than 1,500 writers from more than 150 countries, connecting well-established writers from around the globe, introducing American writers to other cultures through reading tours, publishing books and journals, pursuing cultural diplomacy, and organizing tours, conferences, and other literary and intercultural events around the world. Between the Lines (BTL) is a part of IWP’s programming, and is sponsored through grant funds provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department.


Photo: Caroline Meek/International Writing Program, July, 2018.


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