Frank Conroy

Frank Conroy

GENRE
Fiction
AFFILIATION
Faculty
TIME IN IOWA CITY
1987 - 2005
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Place

Frank Conroy at the English Philosophy Building


Location

Frank Conroy held classes in the English Philosophy Building (EPB) during his time as faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The Workshop moved from the EPB to its current home in the Dey House in 1997.


“Dey House.” Dey House | Campus Maps & Tours, maps.uiowa.edu/dh.

Place

Frank Conroy at the Foxhead


Location
Fox Head Tavern
402 E Market St

In a dark wooden booth at the Foxhead one night, the air blue with cigarette smoke and the clatter of pool balls, Frank confided to me that he had just gotten an advance for the novel he was then writing, $250,000. Suddenly I could see that he was no ordinary academic. We sat drinking with Joseph Brodsky another night, the jukebox playing and a bell at the bar being rung every time someone ordered a local beer called Dubuque Star. Brodsky had come to Iowa City to read. He was not the only Nobel laureate to do so. Derek Walcott came and Seamus Heaney, who read to a crowd that overflowed onto half the stage. While it did not rival Stockholm, the invitation to Iowa City was a distinction. Almost every week someone of interest arrived to read, and there were dinners with them beforehand.


Salter, James. “The Writing Teacher.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 May 2005, www.nytimes.com/2005/05/08/books/review/the-writing-teacher.html.

Place

Frank Conroy at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop


Location
Iowa Writers' Workshop (Dey House)
507 North Clinton Street, Iowa City, Iowa

Frank Conroy acted as the director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for 18 years, from 1987 until 2005. In 1997, Conroy oversaw the Writers’ Workshop relocation, from the English-Philosophy building to this nineteenth-century house on Clinton Street. Prior to that, the Workshop occupied many settings, finding its first home in a barracks on the banks of the Iowa River in 1936. The Frank Conroy Reading Room, which was completed in 2006, has vaulted ceilings and a magnificent library.


“Dey House.” Dey House | Campus Maps & Tours, maps.uiowa.edu/dh.

Place

What We Learned from Frank Conroy


Location

In the first panel, “What we learned from Frank Conroy,” the reason for the attendance at the morning session became clear. Conroy, who passed away in 2005, was one of the most beloved faculty members of the Workshop, and as director from 1987-2005, he shaped a lot of what the Workshop has done over the past few decades. Three presenters—Charles D’Ambrosio, Curtis Sittenfeld, and Abraham Verghese—relayed their favorite tales about the man whom Sittenfeld described as “funny, candid, and unflappable.” With each speaker, the affection and appreciation for their mentor was apparent. All three shared bits of wisdom they’d gleaned from Conroy on how to read, write, teach, and live. D’Ambrosio spoke of how Conroy’s influence on him extended beyond his writing, admitting “I didn’t have a model for thinking differently about my life until I met Frank.” Verghese noted that Conroy’s class gave him as close to dogma of writing as he found anywhere else: “The writer exists as a collaborative venture between writer and reader.”


Doyle, Shawn Patrick. “Why Iowa? Because…” Rain Taxi, Fall 2011. 

Frank Conroy was the director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for an impressive eighteen years: 1987 to 2005. He is the author of five books: Stop-Time (1967) a memoir published when Conroy was only twenty-nine, Midair (1985) a collection of short stories, Body and Soul (1993) his only novel, The Dogs Bark, But the Caravan Rolls On (2002) a collection of essays, and Time and Tide (2004) a travelogue of Nantucket Island. In addition of authoring these texts, Conroy edited numerous anthologies, including The Iowa Award: The Best Stories 1991-2000 and The Eleventh Draft: Craft and the Writing LIfe from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Before becoming director of the Writers’ Workshop, Conroy was the director of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1982 to 1987. He died in Iowa City in 2005. The Frank Conroy Reading Room is dedicated in his honor.

 

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