2020 Outreach Courses

A grid of images suggesting people writing, reading, using laptops to work, and joining a Zoom call for a conversation.


11/5/2020—12/22/2020 (Near East and Northern African regions, though open to all)

This short course series contains six one-hour courses (each with a 30-minute lecture and two 15-minute assignment sections). Courses are captioned/subtitled in Arabic and in English. Each course is taught by a different disabilities writer/activist.

The courses in the series are released on a weekly basis. To view the course series on your own schedule, please click here: bit.ly/DAwritingcourse

Instructors include Sheila Black, a poet, writer, and disabilities activist and currently director of development at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), the main professional organization for creative writing programs; Ron Marz, comic book writer known for the Green Lantern and the Silver Surfer, but also for an international creative collaboration  project in 2012 where he and others, at the invitation of the Syrian government, created the Silver Scorpion, a Syrian-American teenage superhero who is wheelchair-bound; Elsa Sjunesson, Hugo, Aurora, and British Fantasy awards winner, and an activist for disability rights; and Melody Moezzi, writer, lawyer, and disabilities activist, a United Nations Global Expert and an Opinion Leader for the British Council's Our Shared Future initiative, and who, several years back, was part of an ECA program involving young American-Muslim leaders.



6/15/2020 through 8/1/2020   (Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia)

The Movement sessions of this course work with aspects of meaning-making in dance, with establishing context and point-of-view, and with generation of movement and experimentation with structure. These sessions form the starting point of each Word session, which are in creative writing workshop format. Participants experiment with form and with language, fusing responses, insights, and reactions from the Movement sessions into their creative writing.

View text galleries of some of the course projects and assignments submitted by the Russian-speaking and Latvian-speaking participants here:  http://www.distancelearningiwp.org/wordmovementtextgalleries

(AFTERNOTE: This course’s emphases on diverse perspectives and on resiliency, occurring as it did in the midst of an unexpected global pandemic, both echoed and intersected with the myriad types of virtual artistic and issue-oriented collaborations appearing across the United States during this time.)



4/15/2020 through 10/15/2020  (Argentina, Botswana, Colombia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Somalia, South Africa)

This project furthers already-established connections in the IWP's Women's Creative Mentorship (WCM) Project,  broadens international networks and collaborations, and amplifies the many threads of conversation established by the mentor-mentee groups. A series of professional practice seminars anchored and applied these topics.

Participants were invited to create digital collages of their work in this project, and, given the COVID-19 pandemic, their work beyond it.

Click below to view the WCM participants' short videos, their texts and images, and their writing resource lists in response to being asked to describe their past few months, including the balancing/un-balancing of life, COVID-19, writing, and global and local concerns: http://www.distancelearningiwp.org/digitalcollageswmp2020


Russian Nonfiction Writing Program

In a world with seemingly infinite amount of information at our fingertips, how do we distinguish what is real, and what is trustworthy from that which is merely arresting? How do we approach the challenges of research, bias, and, for that matter, the fallibility of memory? What about biographies, history books, propaganda? What counts as nonfiction, and what rules does one follow writing it?

Twenty-three Russian college students grappled with these questions during this class, IWP’s first virtual Russian Nonfiction Writing course. Supported by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the course, which ran from October to December 2020, was designed to increase students’ familiarity with the craft and protocols of non-fiction in a time when journalism and other forms of non-fiction are in danger of being misused, falsified, or censored. It was taught by two expert practitioners: journalist and novelist Alisa Ganieva (Moscow; IWP Between the Lines Instructor, Fall Resident ’12 & ’18) and journalist Jen Percy (New York City; MFA degrees from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, faculty in the Creative Writing MFA Program, Columbia University). Every week they focused on a new subgenre: biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs; experimental forms of nonfiction; travelogues and immersion journalism; published dissent in a range of forms, from humor and satire to essays; and gonzo journalism. Students completed weekly writing assignments; their strongest pieces appear in a digital anthology you can find here:

Alisa GANIEVA (Алиса Ганиева) is a Russian novelist, essayist, and media journalist; she grew up in Dagestan, the setting of most of her fiction. In 2009, her Salaam, Dalgat! won Russia’s prestigious national Debut Prize; it was followed by The Mountain and the Wall (English translation 2015) and The Bride and Bridegroom (shortlisted for the 2015 Russian Booker; published in the US in 2018); the English translation of her most recent novel, Offended Sensibilities, is forthcoming in 2022. She is also literary critic for Nezavisimaya Gazeta. A repeat participant in various IWP residencies and events, she was a juror for the 2018 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Her work has been translated into many languages and praised globally.

Jennifer PERCY, the author of Demon Camp: A Soldier’s Exorcism (2014), is a widely published journalist and magazine writer. Her work has appeared in the Oxford American, Harper’s, The New Republic and the New York Times Magazine, among many other places; her honors include a NEA grant, a Pushcart, the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing and, in 2020, the Dart Award for Excellence in Reporting on Trauma. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she teaches writing at Columbia University.

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