Iowa Young Writers' Studio continues educating young writers

BY YUN LIN | JULY 06, 2015 5:00 AM

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While the Iowa Writers’ Workshop might be the best-known writing program in the state (or country), another long-running program has aimed to help younger writers with their craft.

For more than 10 years, the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio has brought high-school students to the University of Iowa to teach them about the art of writing.

This summer, the workshop received more than 600 applications from all over the world, and on Sunday, 66 students came to Iowa City for the two-week program, Young Writers’ Studio Director Stephen Lovely said.

“Every summer, we also have four or five students from overseas,” he said. “We had students from South Korea, India, Hong Kong, England, Greece, Poland, and Colombia. Everyone who is able to write English is eligible to apply.”

Lovely said the students coming to the program are very accomplished and passionate high-school writers. During the two weeks of the program, students will stay in Burge Residence Hall.

At Burge, Lovely said, students can meet other students who are like them.

“They may, in their own schools, feel isolated, and they may think what they do is very important but others do not appreciate it,” he said.

What makes this program special, Lovely said, is the young writers coming to Iowa, a center for creative writing.

“There is really an intense atmosphere in Iowa City and access to all kinds of wonderful writers that is really hard to get anywhere else in the country,” he said.

The program is run by Writers’ Workshop graduates and overseen by Lovely.

“Students are able to have teachers and counselors who are students that graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, which is such a well-known program,” Lovely said. “Their teachers are some of the best young writers in the country.”

Margaret Reges, a graduate of the Writer’s Workshop and one of the studio’s counselors, said she sees the program as beneficial because it brings young writers together to meet others with similar interests.

“Kids are meeting people who are in their tribe here,” she said. “They are meeting people who are as passionate as they are.”

“It is a good opportunity for me to be a young writer,” said Greta Wilensky, who is from Massachusetts and a student in the program. “The campus is really big, nice and gives us a lot of freedom.”

Lovely said he believes the program is a place in which young students can find communal support and validation, reinforcement, and time to focus on their writing.

“Here I can write as much as I can within the studio and be surrounded by other people who write; whatever you write that is really good,” Wilensky said.

The program offers three core courses of study: poetry, fiction, or creative writing, and students are allowed to choose one as their focus for the two weeks. Courses are also divided into seminar and workshop components taught by the same instructor.

Lovely said although the camp is currently only a summer program, officials are considering offering online writing courses during the academic year.

“This is a place in which we appreciate creative writing, and we want those students to be successful in the future,” he said.

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