2017 Between the Lines


Deadline for American applicants has been extended to April 17, 2017!

In the summer of 2017 BTL will once again host its combined session, which unites students from Russia, Arabic-speaking countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and the United States. Focusing on Peace and the Writing Experience, the session will bring together young writers from diverse backgrounds to explore distinct histories, languages, and cultures while also approaching world literatures and writing as a dialogue that leads to empathy and a shared understanding of the human condition.

For two exciting weeks, participants learn from one another through creative writing workshops, global literature seminars, and special events featuring international authors, guest speakers, and cultural exchange activities. BTL is a small, structured program run by experienced staff of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, located in Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature and home to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Participants live in university dorms with trained counselors—themselves writers—and are taught by a faculty of prize-winning poets and writers from the U.S. and abroad. By the end of each session, participants will have grown not only as writers but also as citizens of the world, becoming part of a tight-knit international network.

In a special second session, BTL: Identity & Belonging, US-based Muslim and non-Muslim artists will come together for one week of intensive creative writing workshops, special seminars, and cultural exchange, with the purpose of answering questions essential to this time in the United States: What are the strongest, most central aspects of identity? What does it mean to belong to a particular grpup or place? How can literature address these questions?

2017 Sessions

BTL Russian/Arabic: July 1-15

BTL Identity & Belonging: July 22-29

Meet the Instructors

Karim Alrawi

Karim ALRAWI is an Egyptian novelist and playwright with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. In addition to many plays for stage, radio, and television, he is the author of two children’s books and, more recently, of the novel Book of Sand (2015), which won the HarperCollins/UBC Best New Fiction Prize. His international honors include the John Whiting Award for his stage plays, the Samuel Beckett Award for the Performing Arts and several Canada Council for the Arts awards. A former editor of the magazine Arabica, he has taught creative writing at the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, and the American University in Cairo.

Alisa Ganieva

Alisa GANIEVA is a fiction writer and essayist from Dagestan (southern Russia) now based in Moscow. A graduate of the Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing, she published Salam Dalgat!, her controversial first book, under a male pseudonym, winning the 2009 national Debut Prize. Her next novel, Праздничная гора (2012) was published in the US in 2015 as The Mountain and The Wall. Her most recent novel, Жених и невеста [The Bride and the Bridegroom], shortlisted for the 2015 Russian Booker, will appear in US in 2016. In 2015 The Guardian listed her among the “30 most talented young people living in Moscow.” Her stories, articles, and reviews are widely published, translated, and anthologized.

Mary Hickman

Mary HICKMAN is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she received an Iowa Arts Fellowship. Her poems have been published in Boston Review, Colorado Review, jubilat, the PEN American Poetry Series, and elsewhere. She is the author of This Is the Homeland (Ahsahta Press, 2015) and teaches creative writing at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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