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Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Dey House)

Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Dey House)

ADDRESS
507 North Clinton Street, Iowa City, Iowa

The Dey House is the home of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Stories
Place

Abraham Verghese’s first class at the Workshop

When he and his family arrived in Iowa City, Verghese worked part-time in an AIDS clinic, but the real reason for his move was to enroll in the prestigious University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Verghese dressed for class in doctor’s corduroys and tweeds and worried that he hadn’t read enough to write well; other students sauntered into class in jeans and T-shirts, spouting their knowledge of postmodernism and other critical theories.

Reid, Jan. “The Good Doctor.” Texas Monthly, Dec 2004.


Place

Anselm Hollo meets Alice Notley

Alice Notley and Anselm Hollo had a close teacher-mentor relationship while Hollo was teaching at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. This mentorship led Notley to leave Iowa City for Morocco in 1968. When Notley returned to Iowa City, she met the poet Ted Berrigan, who had begun teaching as an instructor at the school that fall. She later married Berrigan and moved to Southampton, New York, where they lived in the garage of painter Larry Rivers.

Anselm Hollo remembered meeting Alice as a student in his class, in this interview:

I knew Alice before I ever met Ted, in person. I’d met him in New York, but like partying, and I only really met Ted and talked to him when he came to Iowa to teach for a year. But Alice had at that time been a student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for two years.

Hollo, Anselm. “Anselm Hollo on Alice Notley’s Magazine Chicago.” i Said Ok Wow, 18 Nov. 2015, isaidokwow.tumblr.com/post/133474895859/anselm-hollo-on-alice-notleys-magazine-chicago.


Video

Conversations: Interview with Abraham Verghese

Abraham Verghese discusses his newest novel “Cutting for Stone” and the impact the writing has on his life as both an author and physician.

 

 

“Conversations: Abraham Verghese.” YouTube, uploaded by University of Iowa, 23 April 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP24LGj8WGw.


Video

Conversations: Yiyun Li

Kecia Lynn speaks with author Yiyun Li, author of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and The Vagrants, on this episode of “Conversations” recorded at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop’s Dey House, on the University of Iowa campus.



The University of Iowa. “Conversations: Yiyun Li.” YouTube. YouTube, 08 Oct. 2009. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.


Place

Flannery O’Connor Meets Paul Engle

Flannery O’Connor was accepted to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1945 and obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1947. She was then offered a post-doctoral fellowship at the Workshop and spent another year in Iowa City.

The story of her arrival at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, situated at the beginning of theComplete Stories, is many readers’ first image of the eccentrically named author: a woman, plainspoken, charming, shy and yet sure of her self, and with good reason, the story suggests, for she had been exceptional all along.

Her scholarship was is journalism, but she called on the director of the Writers’ Workshop, named Paul Engle, and made a special request in her best Deep South voice. He asked her to say it again. She did so. He looked at her as if she had spoken in tongues. The he gave her pad and pencil and asked her to write it down. In her schoolteacherly script, she explained herself: My name is Flannery O’Connor. I am not a journalist. Can I come to the Writers’ Workshop? 

 

Elie, Paul. The Life You save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. 145.


Place

Flannery O’Connor: Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Flannery O’Connor 1925-1964 was accepted to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1945 and obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1947. She was then offered a post-doctoral fellowship at the Workshop and spent another year in Iowa City.

The story of her arrival at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, situated at the beginning of the Complete Stories, is many readers’ first image of the eccentrically named author: a woman, plainspoken, charming, shy and yet sure of her self, and with good reason, the story suggests, for she had been exceptional all along.

 

Her scholarship was is journalism, but she called on the director of the Writers’ Workshop, named Paul Engle, and made a special request in her best Deep South voice. He asked her to say it again. She did so. He looked at her as if she had spoken in tongues. The he gave her pad and pencil and asked her to write it down. In her schoolteacherly script, she explained herself: My name is Flannery O’Connor. I am not a journalist. Can I come to the Writers’ Workshop? 

 

Elie, Paul. The Life You save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. 145.


Place

Frank Conroy at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop

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

Gail Godwin studied with Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving and others at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Godwin arrives in Iowa City to study at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. There, taught by Kurt Vonnegut and José Donoso, building friendships with Jane Barnes, John Casey, David Plimpton, and John Irving, Gail Godwin finally achieves her dream—and a published novelist is born.

Godwin describes class with Vonnegut in her memoir Publishing: A Writers Memoir.:

“In [Vonnegut’s] workshop sessions, things always seemed a little looser, a little kinder, a little funnier. In May 1967 he would leave Iowa on a Guggenheim grant to do research in Dresden for Slaughterhouse-Five, his novel in progress, but all that spring I chugged along in creative bliss. A writer I had admired had given me the go-ahead. I wrote into the late night and early morning in my Iowa City rooms across the street from the jail…”

Godwin, Gail, and Rob Neufeld. The Making of a Writer. New York: Random House, 2011. Print.

Godwin, Gail. Publishing: A Writers Memoir. NY, NY: Bloomsbury, 2016. Print.


Place

John Berryman at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop

While John Berryman was on the faculty of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, W. D. Snodgrass, the original confessional poet, was one of the members of his class.

I have been very fortunate twice in my career as a student of poetry,” William Dickey wrote in Ed Dinger’s Seems Like Old Times, “first to have been at Reed College as an undergraduate with Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Lew Welch, second to have been in John Berryman’s extraordinary and intense poetry workshop with W. D. Snodgrass, Donald Justice, Philip Levine, Paul Petrie, Robert Dana, Constance Urdang, Jane Cooper, Donald Finkel, Henri Coulette.

Dinger, Edward Henry. Seems like Old Times. Iowa City, IA: n.p., 1986. Print.


Place

John Cheever’s Class at the Workshop

In one class at Iowa in the early 70’s, there was T.C. Boyle, Allan Gurganus, Ron Hansen, Jane Smiley, Richard Bausch, all of them taught by John Cheever. And they couldn’t be more different in style.

Smith, Dinitia. “Director of a Noted Writers’ Workshop Is Stepping Down.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Aug. 2004, www.nytimes.com/2004/08/30/arts/director-of-a-noted-writers-workshop-is-stepping-down.html.


Video

John Irving on His Writing Method (read by Glenn Schaeffer)

In this video, Glenn Schaeffer reads an excerpt for the book “We Wanted to be Writers” in which John Irving discusses his writing method.



Olsen, Eric, and Glenn Schaeffer. We Wanted to Be Writers: Lfe, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Skyhorse Publishing, A Herman Graf Book, 2011.


Video

John Irving on the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (read by Glenn Schaeffer)

In this video, Glenn Schaeffer reads an excerpt for the book “We Wanted to be Writers” in which John Irving discusses his time in Iowa City.



Olsen, Eric, and Glenn Schaeffer. We Wanted to Be Writers: Lfe, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Skyhorse Publishing, A Herman Graf Book, 2011.


Place

Juan Philipe Herrera in the Workshop

Herrera describes himself in the Workshop as being “thirsty and hungry, without knowing it.”

“I picked up so many ways of writing,” says Herrera, 68, who was named the country’s 21st poet laureate in 2015 and passed the title to Tracy K. Smith in June 2017. “All the books I’ve written after 1990, all of them used what I learned in the workshop.”


Place

Juan Philipe Herrera on studying with Marvin Bell

He refers to three of his instructors—Marvin Bell, Gerald Stern, and Jorie Graham—as “a triad of magnificence that I hugely learned from,” and says the Workshop gave him time to “focus on the page” and develop a new aesthetic, or “tool kit,” to complement the one he’d developed through years as an activist poet.

“When I walked out of there, I had this new tool kit that I didn’t have before,” he says. “When you put both tool kits together, for me, that was the greatest joy—it’s like you have two secret formulas all of a sudden.


Place

Kurt Vonnegut’s Class

Kurt Vonnegut’s workshop was very popular and well attended. From it, many notable authors emerged such as John Irving (‘The World According to Garp’), Gail Godwin (‘The Old Woman’), John Casey (‘An American Romance’), Nick Meyer (‘The Seven Percent Solution’).

Seems Like Old Times. Iowa Writers’ Workshop Golden Jubilee, editor Ed Dinger, U of Iowa Press: Iowa City, 1986.