2020 Summer Institute – Application Details

**Applications for the 2020 session will open in November, 2019. Please check back and/or send us your email address through our contact form to join our email list, selecting "Mailing List" from the drop-down menu, to receive notification when applications open.**

Please read the Frequently Asked Questions first – U.S./American here / Pakistani and Indian here.



The Summer Institute (SI) is a new immersive two-week creative writing and cultural exchange program held in Iowa City, Iowa, U.S., a UNESCO City of Literature, for participants age 18-22 from Pakistan, India, and the U.S. Students from all disciplines – the arts, humanities, sciences, and everything in between – are welcome to apply! This program is free for selected participants, and will focus on creative writing and the power of narrative. The Summer Institute’s innovative, inclusive, cross-cultural approach will empower future thought-leaders and help forge new lines of understanding, promote social justice, and foreground diversity, empathy, and community. Participants will come to see writing as a form of action – a personally-empowering skill that can be employed for social change.

10 applicants from each country will be accepted to SI 2020.

NOTE: Possession of a valid passport is a requirement for participation in this program for students from India and Pakistan. However, passports and/or copies of passports should not be included in the materials submitted with your application. We will only require applicants to submit a passport if they have been officially selected to participate in the program. We will notify you if you are selected, and then we require this from those selected applicants.

NOTE: Applicants must be between the ages of 18-22 by the start of the program, 4 July, 2020. Those under or over this age range will not be considered for acceptance.


APPLICATION information

Attachments for Online Application:

Required (see note below #3):

1.  Creative work in English (6-8 pages). Essays and other forms of nonfiction such as school reports, for example, will not be accepted. By creative work, we mean your original writing that is poetry, fiction, nonfiction (again, if it is original and creative), screenplay, stage play, memoir, etc. There are many possibilities. You may submit one piece or several pieces of creative work to make the 6-8-page requirement.

2.  Prompt #1: The 2020 Summer Institute session will include discussion of identity as it relates to creative writing and the life of a writer. Please include 2-3 pages in response to the following:

  • In our daily lives, we navigate many different roles—student, sibling, daughter, son, peer. We negotiate family, friends, religious groups, as well as class, gender, race, country, and so many other groups, adjusting the way we speak or behave to fit the demands of each encounter. As we move through the day, we work through how and why we occupy each particular role. What do you consider to be the strongest, most central aspects of your identity? Or, asked another way, what does it mean to you to be a creative writer and how does your writing influence who you are as person?

3.  Prompt #2: The 2020 Summer Institute session will include discussion of the personal, national, and cultural/social impacts of the India-Pakistan partition and relations between these two nations. Please include 2-3 pages on the following:

  • Conflict is a part of the human condition, and oftentimes is unavoidable. Conflict (interpersonal, generational, national, international, and others) shapes us directly and vicariously. Describe how conflict/s has/have forced or led someone you admire to take a position on a particular issue or topic. First, what was the issue or topic? Second, how were their worldviews impacted, values tested, relations with others challenged, and/or growth as a person shaped by the conflict they experienced? Third, what was the position they took? Finally, what did you find admirable about how they handled/responded to conflict?

  • Separately, in a few sentences, please share how, if at all, the historical and contemporary India-Pakistan conflict affects you and/or your family.

NOTE: For #1, #2, and #3, the following formatting standards are required. If not followed, applications may not be considered.

Format:          Typed (Microsoft Word document preferred but not required)
Font type:      Times New Roman
Font size:       12 point
Spacing:        Double
Margins:         1 inch on all sides
Header:          Includes your name, name of piece (creative work, prompt #1, prompt #2)
Footer:            Includes page numbers
Citations:       If using other people’s words/content, always give them credit


Video Statement of Purpose  (strongly encouraged): this video statement should not be emailed; rather, it should be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, or comparable sites and be shared as a viewable link ​​​on the online application. Please contact iwp-summerinstitute@uiowa.edu if you encounter problems or have questions. 
Please include 2 minutes maximum in English on each of the following:

  • Introduce yourself

  • Describe the moment/event you knew creative writing was important in your life

  • Share what you hope to learn at our program in Iowa


NOTE: once you submit your application, If you receive a message that states, “Successfully Submitted to Workflow,” then we have received your application.


summer institute 2020 – Pakistan / India / U.S.:
Saturday, 4 – Saturday, 18 JULY, 2020

Happening Now

  • Behind the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature, shared by novelists Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke, are translators--one key among them Jennifer CROFT, translator from the Polish, the Ukrainian, and the Spanish. Congratulations!

  • "Resisting English": at NYRB, Adam Kirsch reviews three decades of the translated work of the Japanese novelist and essayist Minae MIZUMURA (IWP '03).

  • Just out in Beirut, the intriguingly titled ['Laughter as Destructive History'] by the Iraqi poet, translator, and editor Soheil NAJM (IWP '07).

  • Death is Hard Work, the fifth title of the Syrian novelist Khaled KHALIFA (IWP '07), published by FSG in Leri Price's translation, is on the long list of the 2019 National Book Awards, in the Translated Literature category.

  • In the travel journal Off Assignment,  journalist and novelist Milagros SOCORRO (Venezuela, IWP '12) recalls a snowy day in Iowa City, and one woman's special gesture.

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