The Iowa Summer Writing Festival returns to Iowa City in July

The popular writing festival has continued online but is offering in-person workshops for the first time since 2019.
Thursday, June 15, 2023

By Charlotte Brookins 

Writers will descend on Iowa City for the beloved Iowa Summer Writing Festival in July.  

Workshops will be held in person for the first time since they moved to online-only during the height of COVID-19. Iowa Summer Writing Festival Director Amy Margolis says staff and instructors are thrilled to bring the festival back to campus and the Iowa City community.  


Downtown Iowa City in the summer


“When the pandemic shut us down, we lost the electricity. We lost that singular, wild energy you get when 100+ writers, many of us introverts, gather for the first time that Sunday night,” Margolis says. “We can't wait to welcome you, whether you're returning to the Festival or joining us for the first time. We pine for our people.” 

Amy Margolis
Amy Margolis

The Festival will be held July 9-28 in Iowa City and offers 66 weeklong and weekend workshops across the genres for writers at all skill levels, beginning and experienced alike. The instructors are practiced teachers that include authors of New York Times best sellers, Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Award finalists, and more.  

Since 1987, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival has welcomed writers from 18 to 98 years of age, from all 50 states, from every continent— and from every experience level.  

“The Festival gives writers access to one another,” Margolis describes. “It gives us an opportunity to commune with others who are kindred, with those who share our strange compulsion to write things down. Writing is solitary, but reading—a story, a room, a person—is an act of conversation.” 

It also provides participants with an opportunity to focus strictly on their writing. Many of the participants have other jobs or obligations outside of their writing — the Festival offers a dedicated space for their written work.  

“One of the most valuable aspects of the experience is the gift of protected time and protected space to commit to writing,” adds Margolis. “It feels like a time out of time. Time out of time is roomy! It’s astonishing how much you can accomplish in a week, even a weekend, when life’s have-tos are taken off your plate.” 


A shopper at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City


Registrations are still being accepted for the 2023 Festival. Class sizes are limited to 12. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register as soon as possible to secure their space.  

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival, part of the Magid Center for Writing, is one of the University of Iowa’s many destination writing programs. More than 40 Pulitzer Prize winners, seven U.S. Poets Laureates, and countless award-winning playwrights, screenwriters, journalists, translators, novelists and poets have come from or have connections to Iowa and its primer offerings for writers, making it The Writing University.  

To learn more about the festival, visit iowasummerwritingfestival.uiowa.edu.  


The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.