Virtual Writing Project (Iowa City, USA | East Jerusalem, Israel)

Exchange Description

Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had" — Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities. What is the oldest object you own? What is the strangest? Is it beautiful? Is it visible? Is there a story behind that picture? In this six-week online course, we shared our cities and pasts by generating writing inspired by the artifacts that construct our present, arriving together at a newly imagined city we’ll call the future. During each week’s hour-and-a-half long meeting, University of Iowa students engaged in creative online mentorship with young writers at the Dar al-Tifl high school in East Jerusalem. They  participated in group-wide discussions and exercises and engaged in one-on-one collaborations and writing exchanges. We experimented with poetry, prose, memoir, drama, interview, and the photo-essay. In between meetings, we shared our writing through Twitter, Tumblr, the University of Iowa digital message boards, and the postal service. The class culminated in a public reading and in the creation of an online literary magazine.


Margaret ROSS is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Boston Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Iowa Review, and Volt. She has taught poetry courses at the University of Iowa as a third-year teaching fellow and most recently at Cornell College.

Happening Now

  • To mark PEN International’s centennial, Words Without Borders has published a sampler of works by writers committed to freedom of expression. Algerian novelist and scholar Med MAGANI is among them.

  • A fall harvest of book reviews coming in: of The Others by Sarah BLAU (translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir); of LO Yi-Chin’s Farewell, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy TIANG; of Véronique TADJO’s In the Company of Men

  • A fascinating interview with IWP’s Senior Advisor, professor Peter Nazareth, retired from UI’s English Department in spring 2021, after nearly five decades of teaching.

  • Word reaches us that poet HU Xudong  胡续冬, who also taught comparative and world literatures at Peking University (Beida), specializing in Latin American literatures, passed away unexpectedly. RIP, Hu Xudong…

  • We note with sadness the passing of Hiroshi SAKAGAMI 坂上 弘, whose long novelistic career garnered him major literary and cultural honors. A former president of the Japan Writers’ Association, he was until his retirement also the director of Keio University Press.

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