Two students posing for a group photo during the Summer Residential Program

After considerable thought, we have decided to offer our 2021 Summer Residential Program completely online. Given the intensity of the pandemic, the unlikelihood of vaccines being available in time to provide sufficient protection for staff and for students 16 and older, and the absence of a plan to vaccinate younger students, we do not feel we can expect to host a safe residential program in late June or early July. We have reached this decision independently of the University of Iowa, though we expect the university to cancel all summer residential programs for youth for similar reasons.

The challenge of offering last summer's residential program online, as an "Online Camp," and the feedback we received from participating students, left us with a number of great ideas to make Online Camp 2021 even more engaging and fulfilling. During each of two, 2-week sessions, June 13-26 and July 11-24, 2021, we'll be offering an intense, immersive writing experience that will include: core courses in poetry writing, fiction writing, and creative writing (fiction, poetry, and personal essay), and--new this year--playwriting and TV writing taught by Iowa Writers' Workshop graduates; exclusive readings by exciting published writers; workshops and discussions on writing-related subjects taught by expert staff; as well as open mics, talent shows, social gatherings, icebreakers, and other events that are typically a part of our Summer Residential Program, and that will be specifically designed to allow students to connect with other young writers like themselves.

During normal, non-pandemic times, students at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio's Summer Residential Program spend two weeks living the writing life in Iowa City, Iowa, a mecca for creative writers. Students take core courses in fiction writing, poetry writing, or creative writing (which includes some combination of fiction, poetry, and personal essay) with teachers who are students or graduates of the renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop. We also offer courses in TV writing and playwriting. Students in the Summer Residential Program share their writing with teachers and peers, receive constructive critique, participate in writing exercises and activities, and attend readings and literary events. We believe that cultivating and protecting one's writing life—the artistic practice, the inner journey of exploration and discovery—should take precedence over pursuing a writing career, though certainly the former can lead to the latter. A key goal of the Summer Residential Program is to bring adolescent writers together to appreciate and celebrate all that they have in common, and to welcome them into the larger community of writers in Iowa City and beyond.

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