2016 Between the Lines


Between the Lines conducted two sessions in the summer of 2016, bringing together groups of young artists to focus on creative writing and literature, while exploring their different histories, traditions, languages and cultures.

BTL Russia Arabic hosted 35 young writers from six cities throughout Russia, 10 U.S. states, and nine Arabic-speaking countries including Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, Palestinian Territories, Bahrain, Iraq, Morocco, Lebanon and Algeria. Special evening and weekend workshops included: bookmaking, translation, digital storytelling. Students visited National Mississippi River Museum, wrote alongside the Iowa and Mississippi Rivers, visited the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids EID, and celebrated Independence Day in downtown Iowa City with the annual Jazz Festival and fireworks. Students participated in an open mic night at a local café where they read original work, and a graduation celebration at Shambaugh House. Overlapping Ramadan, this session of BTL enjoyed evening meals and salons at Shambaugh House, lively, dynamic conversations, and late night ice cream. Most evenings turned into impromptu cultural exchange via dance and popular music after busy days filled with literature and writing classes.

In addition to BTL Russia Arabic, a special session of BTL occurred, bringing together 18 young writers, ages 16-19, from Silk Routes countries including Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, and seven states throughout the U.S. Additionally, Additionally, the students were joined by an alumnus of the National Student Poets Program for four days of mentorship. Literature seminars were guided by participant input and instruction, and writing workshops were conducted in English. Special events and workshops included a group cooking session, a slam poetry workshop, and a visit to Lake Macbride State Park. Other events featured a digital storytelling workshop where students made their own short poetic films (check them out on YouTube!), and an open mic night.

BTL Russia Arabic: June 25-July 9, 2016

BTL Silk Routes: July 16-July 30, 2016

Meet the Instructors

Session 1


Session 2


Happening Now

  • Kristian Sendon CORDERO (IWP '17) co-edited a special issue of Words Without Borders on writing in the Philippines. Its range of poetry in the country's many languages includes Filipino work of Genevieve ASENJO (IWP '12).

  • Muhamed "Nabo" ABDELNABI (Egypt, IWP '13) has been awarded France's 2019 Prix de la littérature arabe for his 2016 novel, published last year in the UK as In the Spider's Room .

  • Over on  Asymptote, in English and Cantonese, the long poem " The Man Who Lost HIs Shadow,"  by Hong Kong poet and editor Stuart LAU (IWP '17).

  • On fish-paste English and cheddar-English: a long interview at LARB (Los Angeles Review of Books) about language, politics, and language politics with Burmese poet and worker KO KO THETT (IWP '16).

  • Behind the 2018+ 2019 Nobel Prizes for Literature given to novelists Peter Handke  and Olga Tokarczuk are translators--one key among them Jennifer CROFT, novelist as well as translator from the Polish, Ukrainian, and  Spanish. Congratulations!

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