Anthony Hecht at the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1947. Photo by C. Cameron Macauley. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The Program in Creative Writing, more commonly known as the Iowa Writers' Workshop, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, is a highly regarded graduate-level creative writing program in the United States.[1] Writer Lan Samantha Chang is currently the Workshop's director.

About[edit | edit source]

The Workshop began in 1936, with the gathering of poets and fiction writers under the direction of Wilbur Schramm. Graduates earn a Master of Fine Arts in English; Iowa was the first program in the country to offer this degree.[2]

The program's curriculum requires students to take a small number of classes each semester, including the Graduate Fiction Workshop or Graduate Poetry Workshop itself, and one or two additional literature seminars. The modest curricular requirements are intended to prepare the student, in a sense, for the realities of professional writing, where self-discipline is paramount.

The program centers on the Graduate Workshop courses, which meet once a week. Before each three-hour class, a small number of students will have submitted material for critical reading by their peers. The class itself consists of a round-table discussion during which the class and the instructor offer impressions, observations, and analysis about each piece. The specifics of how the class is conducted vary somewhat from teacher to teacher, and between Poetry and Fiction workshops. The ideal result of the process is not only that authors come away with insights into the strength and weaknesses of their own work, but that the class as a whole derives some insight, whether general or specific, about the process of writing.[2]

Iowa Writers' Workshop alumni (most recently Paul Harding in 2010) have won seventeen Pulitzer Prizes, as well as numerous National Book Awards and other major literary honors. Four recent U.S. Poets Laureate have been either graduates or faculty of the Workshop.

In 2003, the Workshop received a National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It was the first Medal awarded to a university, and only the second given to an institution rather than an individual.[3]

Pulitzer Prizes won by graduates and faculty[edit | edit source]

The University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop has 28 affiliated Pulitzer Prizes earned by various faculty and graduates, and over 40 attributed to graduates and faculty of The University of Iowa.[4]

Writers' Workshop graduates have produced 16 Pulitzer Prizes since 1947.

Fiction[edit | edit source]

Journalistic[edit | edit source]

Poetry[edit | edit source]

  • Karl Shapiro, 1945 Pulitzer for V-Letter and Other Poems, former faculty member.
  • Robert Lowell, 1947 Pulitzer for Lord Weary's Castle, 1974 Pulitzer for The Dolphin, former faculty member.
  • Robert Penn Warren, 1958 Pulitzer for Poems 1954-56, Now and Then, 1980 Pulitzer for Poems 1976-78, former faculty member.
  • W.D. Snodgrass, 1960 Pulitzer for Heart's Needle, BA, 1949; MA, 1951; MFA, 1953.
  • John Berryman, 1965 Pulitzer for 77 Dream Songs, former faculty member.
  • Anthony Hecht, 1968 Pulitzer for The Hard Hours, attended Workshop but did not graduate.
  • Donald Justice, 1980 Pulitzer for Selected Poems, alumnus and former faculty member.
  • Carolyn Kizer, 1985 Pulitzer for Yin, former faculty member.
  • Rita Dove, 1987 Pulitzer for Thomas and Beulah, MFA, 1977.
  • Mona Van Duyn, 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Near Changes, MA, English, 1943.
  • James Tate, 1992 Pulitzer for Selected Poems, MFA, 1967.
  • Louise Glück, 1993 Pulitzer for The Wild Iris, former faculty member.
  • Philip Levine, 1995 Pulitzer for The Simple Truth, MFA, 1957; former faculty member.
  • Jorie Graham, 1996 Pulitzer for The Dream of the Unified Field, MFA, English, 1978; former faculty member.
  • Charles Wright, 1998 Pulitzer for Black Zodiac, MFA, 1963.
  • Mark Strand, 1999 Pulitzer for Blizzard of One, MA, 1962; former faculty member.
  • Robert Hass, 2008 Pulitzer for Time and Materials, frequent visiting faculty member.
  • Philip Schultz, 2008 Pulitzer for Failure, MFA, English, 1971.

Alumni and faculty[edit | edit source]

Main article: List of Iowa Writers' Workshop people

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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