Meet the Writers

Iowa City is the home to Poets, Novelists, Playwrights, Essayists, Translators, Journalists, Screenwriters and more …

Full Collection of Writers


Abraham Verghese

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Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, is a professor at the School of Medicine at Stanford University. He graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1991. His work includes the award-winning novel Cutting for Stone. [more]

Alice Notley

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Notley attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, first for fiction and then for poetry. She is the author of over 25 books of poetry, including ‘Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems’, which received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. [more]

Andre Dubus

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Andre Dubus, an American short-story writer and novelist, was the author of several books, including Broken Vessels (a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.) He received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he studied under under Richard Yates. [more]

Carolyn Kizer

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Carolyn Kizer was the author of eight books of poetry, including Yin, which won the Pulitzer Prize. She taught at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, served as the Director of the Literature Program at the NEA, and won numerous awards. [more]

Cathy Park Hong

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Cathy Park Hong, author of Translating Mo’um, (Hanging Loose Press, 2002); Dance Dance Revolution (W.W. Norton, 2007) and Engine Empire (W.W. Norton, 2012), earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2003. [more]

Charles Wright

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Charles Wright is an American poet. His work has been awarded the National Book Award in 1983 for Country Music: Selected Early Poems and the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for Black Zodiac. From 2014 to 2015, he served as the 50th Poet Laureate of the United States. [more]

Donald Justice

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Donald Justice was born in 1925, and died in Iowa City, Iowa, on August 6, 2004. In 1952, he studied at the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, and later taught poetry at the Workshop from 1957 to 1967. He was awarded the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for his Selected Poems. [more]

Flannery O’Connor

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Flannery O’Connor (1925 – 1964) was an American writer and essayist. In 1946, she was accepted into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Her posthumously-compiled Complete Stories won the 1972 U.S. National Book Award. [more]

Frank Conroy

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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, including Stop-Time (1967) and Body and Soul (1993) [more]

Gail Godwin

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Gail Godwin is an American novelist and short story writer. Her work has included five best-sellers and three finalists for the National Book Award. [more]

Haki R. Madhubuti

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Haki R. Madhubuti, a renowned poet and activist, is the author of Don’t Cry, Scream (1969) and Groundwork: Selected Poems (1996). He received an MFA from the University of Iowa at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1984. [more]

James Alan McPherson

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James Alan McPherson taught as a professor of creative writing at the University of Iowa. McPherson came to the University of Iowa as a student in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1969, returning in 1979 to join the permanent faculty in the Workshop. [more]

James Tate

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James Tate, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and received his M.F.A in 1967. In his first year at Iowa, his collection of poems “The Lost Pilot” won the Yale Younger Poets Award. [more]

Jane Smiley

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Jane Smiley (1949) was born in Los Angeles, California. She came to Iowa City 1972, and subsequently earned an MA (1975), MFA (1976), and Ph.D. (1978) at the University of Iowa. In 1981, she went to work at Iowa State University, in Ames, where she taught until 1996. [more]

John Berryman

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John Berryman (born John Allyn Smith, Jr.) was a major figure in American poetry. He taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop from 1950 – 1953. His best-known work is a series of poems entitled ‘The Dream Songs.’ [more]

John Cheever

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John William Cheever (1912 – 1982) was an American novelist and short story writer. In the fall of 1973, Cheever taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where his students included T. C. Boyle, Allan Gurganus, and Jane Smiley. [more]

John D’Agata

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John D’Agata is the author of Halls of Fame, About a Mountain, and The Lifespan of a Fact. He holds two M.F.A.s from the University of Iowa, and is a faculty member in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. [more]

John Irving

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John Irving attended the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop from 1965-1967, where he studied with Kurt Vonnegut. At Iowa, he wrote an MFA thesis that became his first novel, ‘Setting Free the Bears’ (1968). Irving later taught at the Workshop from 1972 to 1975. [more]

Jorie Graham

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Jorie Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the Pulitzer Prize. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and later returned to teach for the program. [more]

Juan Felipe Herrera

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Juan Felipe Herrera earned his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1990. In 2015 he was named U.S. Poet Laureate. [more]

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American author of Cat’s Cradle (1963) and Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), among others. He taught at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop from 1965 to 1967. [more]

Louise Glück

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Louise Glück is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet. She was appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress in 2003, and won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2014. She was a member of the faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. [more]

Margaret Walker

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Margaret Walker, acclaimed poet and author, was at the forefront of Chicago’s African American literary movement. She received an MA in 1940 from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a PhD in 1965 from the University of Iowa. [more]

Marilynne Robinson

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Marilynne Robinson is the author of many prize-winning novels, including Housekeeping (1981), Gilead (2004), Home (2008). In 1991, Robinson became a professor at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She retired from her position in 2016. [more]

Marquis Childs

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Marquis Childs (March 17, 1903 – June 30, 1990) was a 20th-century American journalist, columnist, and author. He attended the University of Iowa for his Masters, and later returned to teach English composition. [more]

Marvin Bell

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Marvin Bell received his MFA at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and taught at the Workshop for forty years, as the Flannery O’Connor Professor of Letters. He was elected as Iowa’s first Poet Laureate in 2000. [more]

Mildred Wirt Benson

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Mildred Wirt Benson wrote and published the first 23 Nancy Drew stories, under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. She attended undergraduate and graduate school at the University of Iowa from 1920 – 1927. [more]

Mo Yan

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Guan Moye (better known by the pen name Mo Yan) is a Chinese novelist and short story writer. He won the Nobel Prize for his work in 2012. He was a participant in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. [more]

Orhan Pamuk

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Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for literature, took part in the International Writing Program (IWP) in the fall of 1985. He is one of Turkey’s most prominent novelists; his work has sold over seven million books. [more]

Paul Engle

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Paul Engle (October 12, 1908 – March 22, 1991) was a poet, literary critic, novelist, and playwright. He acted as the long-time director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was the founder of the International Writing Program, both at the University of Iowa. [more]

Philip Levine

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Philip Levine is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet best known for his poems about working-class Detroit. Levine taught at the University of Iowa from 1955 and 1957.  [more]

Ray Young Bear

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Ray Young Bear is the author of several award-winning books of poetry and fiction, including Black Eagle Child. He grew up on the Meskwaki (Red Earth People) Settlement in central Iowa and attended the University of Iowa. [more]

Raymond Carver

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Raymond Carver was a fiction writer and poet, author of several award-winning collections of short stories. He attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop from 1963 – 1964, and returned to teach at the Workshop in 1973.  [more]

Rita Dove

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Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1977. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for her collection ‘Thomas and Beulah’. [more]

Robert Dana

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Robert Dana was an American poet, and author of many collections of poetry including. He attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, taught at Cornell College, and edited The North American Review. Dana was the Iowa poet laureate from 2004 – 2006. [more]

Robert Lowell

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Robert Lowell, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and U.S. Poet Laureate, taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop from 1950 to 1953. His many collections include Lord Weary’s Castle, The Dolphin, and others.  [more]

Robert Penn Warren

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Robert Penn Warren was an American poet and novelist. He taught as a faculty member at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He received the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1958 and 1979. [more]

Sheba Wheeler

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Sheba R. Wheeler won the Pulitzer for her story in the Denver Post about the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. She also was named Print Journalist of the Year by the Colorado Association of Black Journalists in 2000 [more]

T.C. Boyle

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T.C. Boyle (or Tom Coraghessan Boyle) is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Boyle grew up in Peekskill, NY and completed his M.F.A. at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1974 as well as a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 19th Century British Literature. [more]

Tennessee Williams

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Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), was born as Thomas Lanier Williams in Columbus, Mississippi. He attended the University of Iowa from 1937 until 1938. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. [more]

Tomaž Šalamun

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Tomaž Šalamun was a participant in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program in 1971. He has published 38 volumes of poems in his native Slovenia and has been translated into nearly two dozen languages. [more]

W.S. Merwin

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W. S. Merwin was an American poet and translator. His work received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1971 and 2009; the National Book Award for Poetry in 2005, and the Tanning Prize. He was a visiting reader and professor at the University of Iowa. [more]

Wallace Stegner

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Wallace Stegner was born in Lake Mills, Iowa. He came to Iowa City in the fall of 1930 for his graduate studies in creative writing, and he left Iowa in 1934 with a Ph.D. in English.  [more]

Yaa Gyasi

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Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing, won the National Book Critics Circle award, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the American Book Award. Gyasi received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. [more]

Yiyun Li

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Yiyun Li has received numerous awards, including Whiting Award and the MacArthur Foundation fellow. She has an MS in immunology from the UI, as well as MFA degrees in nonfiction and fiction from both the Nonfiction Writing Program and the Workshop. [more]