WRITING FOR RESILIENCE
3/15/2022 through 4/15/2022 (Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, IST Syria, Yemen)
This creative writing course centered and celebrated female narratives from Middle Eastern and North African perspectives as tools for building resilience at both individual and community levels. The course focused on concepts of identity and home, working towards toward broader issues that included human rights, mental health, diversity, inclusion, equity, and climate awareness. The course worked primarily with creative nonfiction (CNF) but participants were encouraged to also write fiction, poetry, or any blend of CNF, fiction, and/or poetry.
Participant-directed discussions of women’s rights and women’s places in the world also emerged as an ongoing theme in the course. Professionalization sessions allowed participants to exchange strategies of pursuing further education in the arts, specifically in creative writing, and on how, when, and where to pursue publication for their creative work.
Instructor Melody Moezzi used her background not only as a writer and creative writing instructor at University of North Carolina, Wilmington, but as an attorney, public health practitioner, and appointed Global Expert by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations advocacy program to work with the myriad of themes and directions this participant-driven course covered.
EAST-WEST ECOLOGIES AND CREATIVE WRITING
8/1/2022 through 8/30/2022
The short course East-West Ecologies and Creative Writing was a collaboration between the IWP, Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, and Nanjing UNESCO City of Literature (China).
The course involved four workshops, each of which was organized around creative writing assignments called “books”; for example “Book of Nature”, focused on collecting natural images (collected into “seed-books”) with the intent of paying greater attention to local natural ecologies; and “Book of Mind”, focused on connecting natural images to human emotions and ideas, and on the complex relationship between human needs with natural ecologies.
One of the goals of the course was to reflect on how the US and China must be responsible ecological stewards by creating positive “superpositions” (holding two values of “the good” at once).
Below, a link to a video with highlights from the course (put together by Nanjing UNESCO City of Literature) and images from the video.
Instructor Jonathan Stalling is an American poet, scholar, editor, translator, professor, and inventor who works at the intersection of English and Chinese.
TELLING OUR STORIES: CREATIVE WRITING AND HEALTHCARE II
6/15/2022 through 12/15/2022 (Israel, Jordan, Morocco, USA, Yemen)
This project, similar to the earlier version of the project given to participants from sub-Saharan Africa, borrowed from methods used in the interdisciplinary area of narrative and medicine and will focus on the many approaches to creative expression that can enhance both traditional and modern healthcare practices and public understanding.
Participants (which in the interest of true USA-international exchange included a small cohort of US participants in medical programs, medicine and humanities programs, or both) worked with a variety of concepts in narrative theory and public health practice including dual process theory, the socioecological model of health and the role of empathy in storytelling and public health communication. Creative writing exercises were designed to facilitate deep thinking and discussion around perspective-taking and bias. Many of the participants were medical doctors from USAID working daily with refugees, and the project easily accommodated their writing of narratives anchored in their own environment, context, and experience. These narratives were linked to broader stories of public interest through research and reflective writing.
Like the earlier version of this project, each month of the project was led by a different expert writer in narrative and medicine, including Lise Saffran: public health professor/public health Program Director and creative writing instructor at University of Missouri; Tracy Granzyk: adjunct faculty Georgetown Medical School, Writer/screenwriter, editor, filmmaker, producer, healthcare content strategist healthcare; Ann Green: Medicine and Humanities professor and writer; Ted Fristrom: Co-director of Medical Humanities program at Drexel University; Michele M. Desmarais: Founding director of the Medical Humanities Program at University of Nebraska Omaha, Native American poet and scholar.