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Another Step in a Writer’s Journey
Edit by. Sparky Yoo | Published. 2017.07.28 14:46 | Count : 558
The Iowa Young Writers’ Studio (IYWS) is a two-week creative writing camp modeled after the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, one of the most renown graduate writing programs in the country. IYWS accepts around 70-80 high school students for each of the two sessions it offers every summer at the University of Iowa. In two short weeks, these avid high school writers interact among themselves and with published authors within various settings.
The Dey House (The Building for the Iowa Writer’s Workshop): https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iowa_Writers%27_Workshop.png

After arriving, students are divided into eight separate classes each of which focuses on one specific study. Options include creative writing (a mix of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction), poetry, and fiction. These classes are the main academic writing setting for students. Each class is assigned one instructor. Instructors are typically renown, published authors. For Session 1 of this Summer, the instructors were Andy Axel, Kelsi Vanada, Jamel Brinkley, Amanda Kallis, Claire Lombardo, Riley Johnson, and Tim Taranto.

Every morning from 10:30AM to noon, students participate in seminars in their designated classes. In these seminars, students read a wide variety of genres and discuss the impact and mechanism of each writer’s craft. In Andy Axel’s seminar, the class read pieces by Italo Calvino, David Foster Wallace, and many more authors and poets. Furthermore, during seminars, instructors also teach students about specific writing techniques, such as the appropriate use of the second person in stories.

David Foster Wallace (Left) and Italo Calvino (Right)        
David Foster Wallace:http://www.electriccereal.com/gus-van-sant-interviews-david-foster-wallace/          
Italo Calvino:http://bookhaven.stanford.edu/tag/italo-calvino/

Then, from 2:30PM to 4:30PM, students participate in writing workshops within their designated classes. In each workshop, two students bring in an original piece of writing to share with the class. After reading, the class critiques the pieces and provides suggestions for improving them. Many students believe that this part of the workshop is especially beneficial for them as writers. By receiving in-depth comments from an entire class, students find ways to further hone their craft. For instance, I shared a fictional story about a dystopian town, in which time can be stopped with the snap of a camera. From the workshop, I realized that I needed to more carefully balance fiction with reality to avoid confusing the reader.

A Group of IYWS Writers (I am on the Far Right in the Back Row, Zachary Sclar is in the Middle Row, Center)

Other than seminar and workshop, students spend time writing and exploring the area. IYWS is conveniently situated in Iowa City, which has been dubbed the “Writer’s City” for its enormous population of writers. As a result, on campus or at a nearby bookstore, famous authors often hold readings and signings that students can go to. The city is also clustered with cafes, parks, restaurants, and other amusements.

Sky View of Iowa City 

To provide a more thorough perspective, I interviewed Zachary Sclar, a senior from Massachusetts, who attended IYWS.

Question 1: What do you think made the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio unique?
So I think the most unique part of IYWS was the people. They set out a really big net and caught a really unique school of fish. You know? The people were just awesome; everyone came from different backgrounds and upbringings but we all shared at least one common interest which was writing, and even though we were all really different, everyone was super fun and kind which made the two weeks really special.

I also interviewed Margot Armbruster, a senior from Wisconsin, who also attended IYWS.

Question 1: How did IYWS impact you as a writer and reader?
IYWS helped me dig myself out of a writing slump. Before camp, I'd been a bit burned out and in need of ideas, but after talking to countless writers and reading exciting new material, I found new purpose in my writing life.
Overall, IYWS is a transformative and fun experience for young writers. Those who are interested in attending this camp next Summer should visit http://iowayoungwritersstudio.org for more information.

Sparky Yoo
Phillips Academy

Sparky Yoo  student_reporter@dherald.com

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