Between the Lines


Between the Lines alumni writing contest

After considering the many wonderful submissions we received, the International Writing Program (IWP) and Between the Lines (BTL) are beyond excited to announce the winners of our first annual BTL Alumni Writing Contest. Read on here >


If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.
--Emile Zola

Since 2008, Between the Lines (BTL) has hosted young writers at the University of Iowa for a cultural exchange program that focuses on the art and craft of creative writing. Participants, aged 15-18, come together for an intensive two-week session, living in campus dorms, and spending their days in creative writing workshops and global literature seminars designed to foster a love of world literatures. While the literature classes are taught in English, the workshops are conducted in the student’s native language—be it Russian, Arabic, English, Turkish, or Armenian. Evenings and weekends are spent on assorted adventures—attending literary and cultural events in Iowa City and nearby towns, touring the caves at Maquoketa Caves State Park, and exploring each other’s cultures through events such as Arabic and Russian 101, Translation a Go-Go, and the BTL Cinematheque. Each session is led by a faculty of prize-winning poets and writers from the U.S. and abroad, who are also experienced creative writing teachers.

Why Between the Lines?

As countless alumni have expressed, “Between the Lines will change your life.” The immersive project of cultural exchange and creative writing leaves an indelible impression on participants.
Hannah (BTL '14) from Arizona writes on the BTL Tumblr:
“These two weeks opened up my eyes to a glimpse of a whole new world – and there’s so much I haven’t even seen yet. From cultural exchange at the Russian and Arabic 101s to learning about Russian hipsters (Stilyagi) and eating dinner at a mosque, I realized that there’s a whole entire universe out there just waiting to be explored. I don’t hope I’ll see these people again; I know I will. And if not in person, then on shelves, because the talent and promise of the writers I’ve encountered here will surely be noticed. This isn’t goodbye. This is just the beginning.”
Ali (BTL ’12) from Bahrain writes on the Shambaugh House blog:
"The teachers [poet Marcus Jackson and writer Iman Humaydan] were inspiring. I learned so much from them. I loved how our relationship wasn’t strictly pragmatic. We got to learn so much about them and their journey in writing and they really got to know us. And of course I’m still in touch with my BTL friends. We did everything together."
Anton (BTL '14) from Russia says:
“Every day at BTL brings more and more information, joy, and friends. This is an overwhelming experience that stops only for a night and starts right again at breakfast.”

Learn More About BTL

Don’t forget to check back with our website, visit our FAQs pages for American applicants and International Students, and follow Between the Lines on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Also, visit our Past Sessions pages to gain a better understanding of Between the Lines and see more photographs.

BTL is sponsored through grant funds provided by the Bureau of Educational
and Cultural Affairs of the US State Department.

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