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.
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.