• [Click to Enlarge] Ranzo teaching in Uganda.
    [Click to Enlarge] Ranzo (at center, in red shirt) with family in Uganda.
    The "On Going Home" series offers a glimpse of what returning home means for authors who have spent three months in the U.S. as part of the International Writing Program's Fall Residency. This week's installment comes to us from Oscar Ranzo,...
  • Iraq program cover.JPG
    [Click to Enlarge] TRAIN OF DEATH by Iraqi playwright Hassab Allah Yahya.
    [Click to Enlarge] The Iowa stage (with the Baghdad team on screen) during the talk-back following the performance.
    A special guest post by GWENDOLYN GILLSON, a PhD student in the University of Iowa Department of Religious Studies, who was in the audience during the March 11, 2014 Book Wings theatre exchange with the University of Baghdad.[iae|558|...
  • Whiti reading at Shambaugh House (on the University of Iowa campus) during the 2013 Fall Residency.
    Whiti Hereaka scaled to 600.jpg
    Playwright, novelist, and screenwriter Whiti Hereaka's new book, Bugs, is a 2014 Storylines pick for Notable Young Adult Fiction
    The Shambaugh House blog's annual "On Going Home" series offers a glimpse of what returning home is like for authors who've spent nearly three months writing and researching in the U.S. as part of the International Writing Program's ...
  • Instructors include American poet Kiki Petrosino, who teaches at the University of Louisville.
    Brochure Cover_Girl Writing gimped to 800.jpg
    [iae|548|l] The University of Iowa’s Between the Lines (BTL) creative writing and cultural exchange program, which brings aspiring writers ages 16-19 from around the world together for two weeks of intensive study, has announced that it will be...
  • Sridala Swami in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (where she took part in a Jazz Poetry Festival). Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
    A view from my terrace of the western sky.
    [iae|545|r] Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing several short essays commissioned from writers who participated in the 2013 International Writing Program Fall Residency as part of the Shambaugh House blog's annual "On...
  • IWP Distance Learning offers several free writing-related Open-Application Courses and MOOCs each year.
    Instructor Cutter Wood is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program.
    15 applicants representing a broad geographic range will be selected to participate in the seminar.
    [iae|542|r]The idea of nonfiction is simple: tell the truth. But as anyone who has ever attempted it knows, telling the truth can be a lot more complicated than it looks. How do you write a scene if you can’t remember exactly what everyone said? How...

Distance Learning: A Sneak Peek

Lauren Haldeman of the City of Literature leads an IWP distance learning class.

IWP Distance Learning Coordinator Rebecca Boyle recently sat down to answer questions about the program and share some exciting opportunities on the horizon.

1) What is distance learning at the IWP? 

The International Writing Program's Distance Learning (DL) program is designed to link American and international writers through online creative writing workshops and literature seminars. In collaboration with embassies, universities, and arts organizations, we deliver both introductory and advanced courses to communities with limited access to creative writing programs. Since the inception of the program, we have delivered courses to institutions based in a number of countries worldwide, including Jordan, Somalia, Iraq, New Zealand, Mexico, among others. Although fiction, poetry, and nonfiction workshops are at the core of our program, past course offerings have included topics in contemporary world literature such as immigration narratives, Spanish and American graphic novels, and Maori poetry. Distance Learning programming is most commonly delivered through Direct Video Conference (DVC), Skype, or Elluminate technologies. 

2) What’s been going on in the past few months?

This fall featured an exciting array of creative writing programming, from literary seminars to creative writing workshops to interactive interviews. The DL program partnered with institutions based all across the world, connecting Iowa to students and scholars in Gaza, Iraq, and New Zealand. 

In October, the DL program was delighted to offer a six-session introductory creative writing course in partnership with the American Corner at Al Azhar University in Gaza. Taught by Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate and poet Lauren Haldeman, this course featured weekly live sessions with the instructor, split evenly between poetry and fiction, and concluded with a reading of student work. Sampling writers as diverse as Rumi, Italo Calvino, and Derek Walcott, the course tackled fundamental questions in writing, such as writing about self, image-making, and form. While the class predominantly focused on the practice of writing through in-class writing exercises, readings by key American and international writers were assigned each week and discussed during class. 

Shorter-term programming included a lecture on Maori literature from former IWP resident Hinemoana Baker and a live discussion with Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor Hisham Matar during his visit to Iowa City in September.  

3) What programs are going on currently?

Since September, the DL program has partnered with the American embassy in Baghdad to present an ongoing, multi-genre series on a monthly basis, featuring an American literature session as well as fiction, poetry, and dramatic writing workshops. IWP Director Christopher Merrill kicked off the series with his presentation on American literature, which featured Walt Whitman's “Song of Myself” as a base text for discussing the all-encompassing “I” and the pluralism this implies within the larger context of 19th century American poetry. Upcoming sessions in the series include an introductory fiction session in January, an advanced fiction session in February, and a comparative literature session in March.  

4) What’s in the DL pipeline in terms of future programming? (What are you most excited about?)

This spring, the DL program is thrilled to offer its first open course of the year on poetry writing. Anyone with an internet connection is invited to apply. A full course description as well as instructions on how to apply for the course will be posted on the International Writing Program's Facebook page by the end of this month. The DL program is also proud to offer its first ever LGBT reading group this coming February. For more course offerings this spring, please make sure to check the IWP's website.

5) Who should teachers and students contact if they are interested in getting involved in DL?

Please use the IWP contact form (http://iwp.uiowa.edu/contact) and make sure to specify the category as "Distance Learning Courses." We'd love to hear from you!

To find out what else is happening at the IWP, visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See you soon!