Since 2010, City of Literature (the organization dedicated to stewarding Iowa City’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature, part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network) has been producing a series of short video interviews with writers on the craft of writing called On the Fly.
“Is there a word or phrase you always cut from drafts?” southern American writer Allen Gurganus is asked.
“Adverbs!” Gurganus declares. “Adverbs are toxic! [...] Adverbs are the monosodium glutamate of speech! They’re cheesy […] You don’t need Adolph’s meat tenderizer if you’ve got sirloin from the top!”
So far, more than 60 writers, visiting Iowa City on book tour, as guests of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop or as part of the International Writing Program’s fall residency, have sat down to answer a series of questions about writing and craft ("What question are you most often asked, and how do you respond? Is there something you want to include in your work that you haven’t found a place for yet? How do you recharge your batteries?"). The result is a video gallery of short interviews that offer a rare personal glimpse into the writing life and philosophy of some of today’s most exciting authors, including Roberto Ampuero, Yann Martel, and many others. Whether you’re in need of a dose of inspiration or simply curious about an author’s current influences, the interviews are a fantastic literary resource.
So, in celebration of this ongoing series (which received a 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Chairman’s Grant), every Friday for the next 12 weeks, the International Writing Program will be posting a selected On the Fly interview to our Facebook page for your enjoyment. Can’t wait? The interviews are all archived here, with 50 new interviews to be filmed and released throughout 2013 and 2014. See you Friday!
At the Shambaugh House our colleague Kecia Lynn's main project is coordinating the Between the Lines summer program for young Arabic-language writers. Periodically, though, she leaves the house, changes hats, and becomes a suave talk show host for the UITV series "From the Workshop." Check out her thoughtful interviews with faculty and visitors to the Writers' Workshop -- Marilynne Robinson, Abraham Verghese, Yiyun Li, Michael Cunningham and many others.