Between the Lines: Peace and the Writing Experience

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud. --Emile Zola

Since 2008, the International Writing Program has hosted Between the Lines (BTL), a program that brings young writers, aged 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural interaction. Summer 2013 marked the second year of running two sessions: the first brought US participants together with Arabic-speaking youth representing ten different countries in the Near East; the second connected young Russian and US writers. In 2014, BTL is going to bring together Americans, Russians and Arabic-speaking youth in one session. 

Participants attend courses designed to both increase awareness of world literatures and improve their writing craft, including an English-language literature seminar and a creative writing workshop in their native language. Classes are led by teachers who are respected, prize-winning poets and writers. Weekend events and nightly activities allow students to deepen their understanding of each other’s cultures through their interactions with each other and with the larger community.


 Students live in a dorm on the University of Iowa campus along with university-trained counselors, who help foster a strong sense of creative community. This is a great chance for youth to get a taste of US campus life while sharing their writing with interested peers and instructors.

What former participants have to say:

"The teachers [poet Marcus Jackson and writer Iman Humaydan] were inspiring. I learned so much from them. I loved how our relationship wasn’t strictly pragmatic. We got to learn so much about them and their journey in writing and they really got to know us. And of course I’m still in touch with my BTL friends. We did everything together, from . . ." Read Ali’s (BTL '12) full interview on the IWP's Shambaugh House blog.


BTL 2014 will be from June 21 - July 5.

International students are nominated by the American embassy in their respective countries. BTL 2014 is open to Russia and all the Near Eastern Affairs Countries and Territories. Please look at the FAQ Sheet for International Students in early 2014 for a list of participating countries. American students are invited to apply via our secure application site.

The application site is now open for US students; it will remain open until April 13. US writers interested in applying should go to the IWP's online portal: On first use of our application site, you will have to create a new account. Once you do this, select "Start a BTL student application." To apply is free.

UPDATE: The IWP is giving $10,000 IN TUITION SCHOLARSHIPS to need-based US applicants selected for the 2014 program! These scholarships will range from full to partial payment for the program, along with the possibility of travel funds. Students will be able to apply for scholarships once they are accepted into the program. Apply for BTL now!

International Student Applications are now closed. Please check our website in January 2015 to apply for next summer. We will be announcing the 2014 chosen participants in late March.

'Like' our facebook page and check back frequently for more updates. 

BTL is sponsored through grant funds provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US State Department.

For more information on BTL, contact:

International Writing Program
Shambaugh House
430 N. Clinton
Iowa City, IA 52242


(Please include "Between the Lines" in the subject line of your e-mail.)