Guidelines - Iowa Prison Writing Project


Our submission period is currently closed, please check this webpage in June for an update.

Good writing exists everywhere, and that holds true for Iowa’s prisons. The Prison Writing Project, a collaboration between the University of Iowa’s award-winning literary magazine The Iowa Review and the Writing University, was founded on the belief that all writing deserves to be celebrated, honored, and shared. This is why the PWP is hosting a creative writing open reading period, inviting submissions of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from people who are currently incarcerated in the state of Iowa. All submissions will be read by a team of editors and selected pieces will be published online for a wider audience to connect with.

How to Submit Work

  • There is no fee to submit work.
  • Submission period:  September 1 through October 31, 2018
  • Submit a manuscript of up to 6 poems (totaling no more than 10 pages, with each poem presented on a separate page) or up to 15 pages for fiction and creative nonfiction.
  • Submissions accepted for publication will be chosen by The Iowa Review editors. All submissions, regardless of subject matter, will be considered for online publication.
  • To submit, please send to the following address:

[Fiction, Poetry, or Nonfiction] Editor
Prison Writing Project
308 EPB
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242

What Happens if Your Work Is Selected?

Those whose work is selected for publication will receive notice from TIR via paper mail. Selected work will be published and showcased on the University of Iowa’s webpage. Authors will be sent printed out copies of their published work. Some select work may also be published in print anthologies or in the UI Literary Kiosk. Authors will be alerted if their work is selected for publication. Please note that there is no financial payment for published work.

Who Reads the Work?

The team of readers who will consider work include faculty, staff, and students from the University of Iowa’s writing programs and publications. Leading the reading team is the poetry editor for The Iowa Review, a current Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate student.


Anyone who is incarcerated in the state of Iowa is eligible to enter. All submissions should be accompanied by a cover letter with the author’s name, identification number, and complete mailing address. Handwritten submissions are accepted. Authors may not submit more than one entry per reading period. Only unpublished manuscripts will be considered, with the exception of pieces that have appeared in prison-only publications. The Prison Writing Project is unable to return manuscripts back to their respective authors. Send in a copy of your work and keep the original. Please include a return address.

About the University of Iowa Prison Writing Project

The University of Iowa Prison Writing Project connects the writing community on campus with prison writing communities in Iowa and beyond. The project seeks to foster and support the writing and self-expression of incarcerated individuals and is grounded in the belief that these voices offer unique contributions to the literary landscape.

About the Writing University

The Virtual Writing University is a collaborative, interdisciplinary initiative sponsored by the Graduate College and the Office of the Provost at the University of Iowa. The project launched in fall, 2006, with the mandate to create a virtual space for the University of Iowa's writing community. 

About the Literary Kiosk

The University of Iowa Libraries will debut the first Literary Kiosk in Iowa City this fall for the Iowa City Book Festival, held between October 1 and 7, 2018. The literary kiosks offer anyone a free one, three, or five minute reads and will eventually be spread throughout Iowa City, Coralville, and Cedar Rapids, providing writing by the University of Iowa community as well as the general public.

Please contact with any questions.




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