This Year's Program

Program Dates: August 19 - November 7, 2017

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 five decades, the IWP annually brings outstanding authors from around the world to the University of Iowa, a major American research institution internationally renowned for its writing programs. Since 1967, over 1,400 writers from more than 150 nations have taken part in the Fall Residency. The goal of the IWP is to provide authors a one-of-a-kind inter-cultural 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 university and in Iowa City, the only American city designated as a UNESCO City of Literature, in part because of the IWP’s presence.

For 2017, the IWP will bring together 30-35 of the world’s emerging and established writers to participate in the Fall Residency’s unique inter-cultural experience. Over the course of 12 weeks, aside from working on their own projects, writers will 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.

Criteria for Selection

  • The candidate should be primarily a writer of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, drama, or screenplays. Literary translators, journalists, and biographers have also participated, but those candidates must display a comparable track record in one of the creative genres (listed earlier).
  • The candidate should have at least one published book or volume, or a sizable number of works in significant publications (anthologies, journals, literary magazines) over the last two years.
  • The candidate should also have earned national recognition for their literary work.
  • The candidate must have a facility in speaking English sufficient to benefit from a 11-week writing residency where intensive discussion of literary and cultural issues forms a vital part of the experience.
  • The candidate must also be comfortable with cross-cultural dynamics and interested in close interaction with artists from diverse cultures and backgrounds through numerous IWP-led outreach and engagement events.
  • The candidate should not be a resident of, nor currently residing in, the United States. Priority is given to writers who have not had extended periods of time in the U.S.
  • The candidate must provide:
    • 10 to 15 pages of work in both the original language and in an English translation that gives a good sense of the writer’s strengths and style.
    • A literature-based CV or resume.

Program Overview

The Iowa portion of the Fall Residency will run from August 19 to November 1, 2017. The first days are set aside to welcome and orient the writers to life in Iowa City and at the IWP. Weekly calendars include public readings on Sundays and Fridays, film screenings on Tuesday evenings, and IWP writer-based courses for UI students on Monday and Friday afternoons; excursions, field trips, and cultural outings will take place most weekends.

Some of these activities include:

  • International Literature Today - This upper-level university course for undergraduates is largely based on the work of International Writing Program participants. Each week different IWP writers speak to their own writing and to the relationship between their works and the literary scenes in their home countries. The two-hour class is held each Monday afternoon.
  • International Translation Workshop - Graduate-level students of creative writing, translation, and literature work one-on-one with IWP writers in a classroom setting to create polished English translations of participant materials. The class meets to discuss the translations in progress on Friday afternoons throughout the semester.
  • Readings and performances - 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 afternoons at Prairie Lights Bookstore in cooperation with the university’s MFA programs and Friday afternoons in the IWP’s own Shambaugh House, which is often in a bilingual format. In addition, numerous readings are scheduled through the sponsorship of foreign-language departments, civic entities, or other groups.
  • Iowa City Book Festival - Occurring in early October, the ICBF will feature notable American authors and IWP writers across four days of panels, lectures, readings, and other keynote events.
  • Public Lecture Panels - These weekly panels present discussions on literary issues and on the influences and forces shaping writing around the world. 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,” “Writing in a Country at War,” “Spectral Gender,” and “Freedom’s Limits.” These discussions draw audiences from across the university and the local community, and some may take place during the Iowa City Book Festival in early-October.
  • IWP Cinematheque - Writers in residence are 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 students.
  • Theatre Collaborations - The IWP arranges opportunities for the works of its playwrights and performance artists to be read and staged on campus. The main venue for this is “Global Express.” During this evening of staged readings, 10-15 minute excerpts and pieces written by IWP writers are read by actors from the University’s Division of Performing Arts. Other opportunities may arise through such contacts as the Portland Stage Company (ME) and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Theatre Department (MA).
  • Dance Collaborations - Similarly, IWP writers will work with choreographers and dancers at the UI’s Dance Department on a collaboration that will culminate in a public event towards the end of the residency. Opportunities may also arise in Washington D.C. and New York City.
  • Cultural Activities & Field Trips - Participants receive complimentary tickets and entry to occasional cultural events, including concerts, performances, and regional activities like a rodeo, nature hikes, and more. Readings, lectures, and performances by American and international writers and figures of note are held almost nightly at the University of Iowa and in Iowa City. Past notable readers and performers include Wole Soyinka, Seamus Heaney, Maureen Freely, Etgar Keret, Peter Cole, Ben Lerner, Charles D’Ambrosio, James Galvin, Marilynne Robinson, Mattea Harvey, Lan Samantha Chang, Elizabeth Willis, Kiwao Nomura, Margaret Atwood, Junot Diaz, and many others.
  • Community Interactions - A particular benefit of the program involves occasional invitations to more deeply interact with a wide range of local community members, including: individual and group visits and dinners to homes of faculty members and IWP supporters; talks given by IWP writers for area groups (including the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council and Senior College); classroom visits to local elementary and high schools; 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 a number of courses and events hosted by a range of universities, organizations, and institutions across the country.
  • Participation in Other IWP Programs - Writers are encouraged to lend their expertise to the various programs the IWP runs when the residency is not in session, including Distance Learning and the IWP MOOCs, Silk Routes, and Between the Lines. Some of the programming that Fall Residents may participate in includes, but is not limited to: recording craft talks, facilitating creative collaborations, generating creative and critical Web content, and mentoring young writers.
  • Domestic travel - For participants with the appropriate funding, the IWP will arrange group travel periods to cities like Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, 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 scheduled will include city tours, visits to sites of important cultural or historical significance, public events, and community engagement.

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

Accommodations for most IWP writers are at the Iowa House Hotel, which is located directly on campus. Writers will live predominantly on the same floor, which includes a ‘common room’ for group use, and an office for the IWP’s Housing Coordinator. Each room provides a private bathroom, a writing desk, and wireless internet, as well as a mini-fridge, coffee pot, and microwave. Continental breakfast is provided during certain set hours weekday mornings; other meals are mostly eaten away from the hotel. Other amenities include a cafeteria, computer labs, and complimentary access to nearby exercise facilities. As part of campus life, IWP writers are also given visiting scholar privileges, providing access to the state-of-the-art University of Iowa library system.

IWP Expectations of Participants

  • There is no requirement that a literary text must be completed at the end of the Fall Residency.
  • Writers are expected to participate in one public reading, as part of one public panel, and at a small number of receptions and other events, and are encouraged to present in the International Literature Today class. Otherwise, the residents’ calendars are dominated by unstructured time, to allow for individual work schedules and goals.
  • Writers are highly encouraged to bring a personal laptop. Some technological support, such as troubleshooting and software repair, is available through the student-operated University of Iowa’s Information Technology Services Help Desk ( For further support, writers will be encouraged to seek assistance from tech companies in Iowa City.
  • As per standard J-1 visa regulations, travel away from the program is allowed for professional engagements, such as invitations to lecture, read, or appear in another similar capacity. If the writer does receive such an invitation, the program will help coordinate arrangements as much as possible.
  • The Fall Residency is designed for the writer only. Spouses and children are not allowed to accompany a writer, but a visit for up to 10 days may be negotiated.

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