Meet the Writers

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

Full Collection of Writers

Alumnus

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]

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]

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]

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 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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]