This Year's Program

2021 Fall Residency

Join us online for events in October & November, 2021, here >

Our 2021 Fall Residency is in a hybrid format:

Virtual: Sept. 1-21, 2021
in-person: Oct. 1-Nov. 30, 2021

To be in the loop, please sign up for our email list here, and follow us on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter @UIIWP for more about our incoming residents and  virtual IWP events!


The INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM (IWP) is the oldest and largest multinational writing residency in the world. With a tradition of excellence that has continued for over five decades, the IWP annually brings outstanding authors from every continent to the University of Iowa (UI), a major American research institution internationally renowned for its writing programs.

Since 1967, over 1,500 writers from more than 150 nations have taken part in the IWP’s Fall Residency. The goal of the IWP is to provide authors a one-of-a-kind intercultural opportunity and the time and space to write, read, translate, study, conduct research, travel, give readings, stage work, and become part of the vibrant literary and academic community at the UI and in Iowa City, the first American city designated as a UNESCO City of Literature, in part because of the IWP’s presence.  

Each year the IWP brings together 30-35 of the world’s emerging and established writers to participate in the Fall Residency’s unique intercultural experience. Over the course of 10 weeks, aside from working on their own projects, writers give readings and lectures that share their work and cultures, collaborate with artists from other genres and art forms, and travel and interact with American audiences and literary communities across the United States.

Program Overview

The first days of the Fall Residency are set aside to welcome and orient the writers to life in Iowa City and at the IWP. Weekly events include public readings on Sundays and Fridays, IWP writer-based courses for UI students on Monday and Friday afternoons, panel presentations at the Iowa City Public Library Fridays, and film screenings, field trips, and cultural events typically on weekends.

Some of these activities include:

  • International Literature Today - This upper-level University of Iowa course for undergraduates is largely designed around the work of IWP participants. Each week IWP writers speak to their own writing and to the relationship between their work and the literary scenes in their home countries. The two-hour class is held each Monday afternoon.

  • International Translation Workshop - Graduate-level students of literary translation and creative writing work one-on-one with IWP writers in a workshop format to create polished English translations of Fall Residency participants’ materials. The class meets to discuss the translations in progress on Friday afternoons throughout the semester. 

  • Readings - Because Iowa City is uniquely nurturing of creative writing, readings occur almost every night of the week – in coffeehouses, arts centers, restaurants, and other venues. The IWP sponsors two weekly reading series: Sunday afternoon readings are at Prairie Lights Bookstore, with writers from the University’s MFA programs. Friday afternoon readings take place in the IWP’s own Shambaugh House and is often bilingual in format. In addition, numerous readings are scheduled through the sponsorship of foreign-language departments, civic entities, or other groups.

  • IWP Panel Series - These weekly panels take place each Friday at noon at the Iowa City Public Library, and present discussions on literary issues and on the influences and forces shaping writing around the world. The presentations are streamed live and archived online. Topics in the past have included “Writing Across Languages,” “Teaching Writing,” “The Migrant as Figure in Literature Today,” “What Matters Now: Social Change in the World,” “Spectral Gender,” “Freedom’s Limits,” and many others. These discussions draw audiences from across the University and local community.

  • IWP Cinematheque - IWP writers may be invited to introduce, screen, and lead a discussion of a film of their choice. This series is an opportunity to bring little-known works to the attention of local film audiences, film scholars, and University of Iowa undergraduate students. Screening time is limited.

  • Theatre Collaborations - The IWP arranges opportunities for the works of our writers-in-residence to be read dramatically, and for collaborations between writers and performance artists. One venue for this is Global Express, an evening of dramatic readings of 10-15 minute excerpts and pieces written by IWP writers by actors from the University’s Division of Performing Arts. Other opportunities may arise through the University, local venues, and the Portland Stage Company of Maine.

  • Iowa City Book Festival (ICBF) - Occurring in early October, the ICBF features notable American authors and IWP writers across a week of panels, lectures, readings, and keynote events.

  • Dance Collaborations - A long-standing collaboration similar to Global Express, IWP writers work with choreographers and dancers in the UI Department of Dance, culminating in a public performance that brings the writers' words off the page and onto the stage.

  • Cultural Activities & Field Trips - Participants receive complimentary tickets and entry to occasional cultural events including concerts, performances, and regional activities, which in past years have included a rodeo, nature hikes, and more. Performances and lectures by American and international fine arts performers, academics, writers, and figures of note are held almost nightly at the University of Iowa and in Iowa City.

  • Community Interactions - A particular benefit of the program involves invitations to interact more deeply with a wide range of local community members, including individual and group visits or dinners in the homes of faculty members and IWP supporters; talks given by IWP writers for area groups (including the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council and UI Senior College); classroom visits to local elementary, middle, and high schools and colleges; and trips to speak and/or read across the state of Iowa.

  • Other invitations - Throughout the Residency, writers may also receive invitations to appear at events and in courses hosted by a range of universities, organizations, and institutions across the country.

  • Participation in Other IWP Projects - Residents are encouraged to lend their expertise to the various initiatives at the IWP, including Digital Learning Courses and Between the Lines. Possibilities include: recording interviews or talks about the craft of writing, facilitating creative collaborations and mentoring young writers.

  • Domestic travel - The IWP will arrange group travel periods to cities like Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York City. The purpose of these trips is to introduce IWP writers to different, important, and diverse American literary communities. Activities will include city tours, visits to sites of important cultural or historical significance, public events, community engagement, and educational outreach.

For examples of past, full calendars of events, please see our Annual Reports.

Accommodations for the 2021 Residency are at the Iowa House Hotel, located on the UI campus near downtown Iowa City. Writers will have their own private rooms, which include a private bathroom, a mini-fridge, coffee pot, and microwave. Meals are mostly eaten away from the hotel. The IWP provides once-a-week access to a community kitchen for cooking meals and sharing cultural cuisines. As part of campus life, IWP writers are also given visiting scholar privileges, which provides access to the state-of-the-art University of Iowa library system.

IWP Expectations of Participants

  • The IWP does not require that a literary text or project be completed by the end of the Fall Residency.

  • Writers are expected to participate in: one public reading, one discussion in the IWP Panel Series, the mid-Residency travel period, and the final travel period. Otherwise, the Residents’ calendars are characterized by unstructured time to allow for individual work schedules and goals.

  • Travel away from the program is allowed for professional engagements, such as invitations to lecture, read, or appear in a similar professional capacity. (Because of J-1 regulations, it is best to consult with the IWP about the terms of the engagement. Also, of course, such engagements should not interfere with a writer’s pre-arranged Residency commitments.)

  • The Fall Residency is designed for the writer only and is unable to accommodate spouses, partners, or children. The IWP must ask that visits by family and guests be kept brief—up to seven days, and not during IWP-led travel.

  • Please visit Fall Residency Questions for further information.

Happening Now

  • To mark PEN International’s centennial, Words Without Borders has published a sampler of works by writers committed to freedom of expression. Algerian novelist and scholar Med MAGANI is among them.

  • A fall harvest of book reviews coming in: of The Others by Sarah BLAU (translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir); of LO Yi-Chin’s Farewell, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy TIANG; of Véronique TADJO’s In the Company of Men

  • A fascinating interview with IWP’s Senior Advisor, professor Peter Nazareth, retired from UI’s English Department in spring 2021, after nearly five decades of teaching.

  • Word reaches us that poet HU Xudong  胡续冬, who also taught comparative and world literatures at Peking University (Beida), specializing in Latin American literatures, passed away unexpectedly. RIP, Hu Xudong…

  • We note with sadness the passing of Hiroshi SAKAGAMI 坂上 弘, whose long novelistic career garnered him major literary and cultural honors. A former president of the Japan Writers’ Association, he was until his retirement also the director of Keio University Press.

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