Imagine spending your summer in a UNESCO City of Literature - one of only two in the United States - learning from world-class faculty on one of the premier arts campuses in the country, home to the famed Iowa Writers Workshop. Envision spending your time participating in classes, workshops, evening tours, lectures, and events that excite and stretch you as a writer. Picture investing three full weeks in your passion, living and learning with other high school students from all over the world who are as obsessed with writing as you, and finishing off the summer by showcasing your work to your peers, teachers, and the public. This dream is reality at the Summer Writing Residency (SWR), an immersive 3–week residency at the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center.

About the Program

The Summer Writing Residency (SWR) is a unique opportunity to work with world-class faculty in The Writing University. SWR consists of reading and writing fiction, poetry, and personal narrative in an intensive multi-genre seminar workshop. The art of creative writing will be taught through a combination of seminar discussions and critiques of class members' work. The creative writing produced by the students will be in response to the literature and techniques discussed in class. You may choose from poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction.

The Undergraduate Creative Writing Program, under the Direction of Robyn Schiff, is partnering with the Belin-Blank Center to provide an exciting program designed for talented high school writers from across the country. Instructors include University of Iowa faculty, graduates, and graduate students from the English Department, the Writers Workshop, and special visiting authors.

Monica Bergers, Fiction Instructor

Monica Bergers graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop with an MFA in Fiction, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow and awarded a Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship. She also studied at the University of Missouri-Columbia and earned an MA in English Literature. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and two Best New American Voices prizes and has been published in New South, Five Chapters, and The Chariton Review, among others. She has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and currently teaches fiction workshops at the Indiana Writers Center.

Mary Hickman, Poetry Instructor

Mary Hickman is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the author of two books of poetry, This Is the Homeland (Ahsahta Press, 2015) and Rayfish (Omnidawn Publications, 2017), which won the 2016 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and two chapbooks, Ecce Animot (Projective Industries, 2012) and How to Be Healthy and Heal (Cosa Nostra Editions, 2011). Her work has been featured as a Boston Review Poet's Sampler and in the PEN America Poetry Series. Her poems and essays have also appeared in numerous journals, including Colorado Review, Fourteen Hills, jubilat, and Sonora Review. She recently read in Turkey and Armenia with the US Department of State's American Writers on Tour program. A recipient of the Elizabeth Dietz Best Essay Prize, an Iowa Arts Fellowship, and two Iowa Arts Council Awards, she is currently finishing a dissertation on 20th century US poetry and the artist's book.

Isabel Henderson, Fiction Instructor

Isabel Henderson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, where she received Truman Capote and Rydson fellowships. She earned a BA at Princeton University, where her creative thesis was advised by Joyce Carol Oates and Darcey Steinke. She has worked for The Atlantic, Granta, and The American Reader; her work has appeared in The Atlantic and is upcoming in Prairie Schooner.

David Ehmcke, Teaching Assistant

David Ehmcke was born in Sioux City, Iowa. The recipient of the 2018 Van Rensselaer Prize from Columbia University and a Gold Medal for Essay from the American Council for Teachers of Russian, his poetry, short stories, and essays have been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and are published or forthcoming in Euphony Journal, 4x4 Magazine, and Tabula Rasa Magazine, among others. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of The Columbia Review. David lives in New York and studies English and Slavic Studies at Columbia University.

SWR takes place July 7–26, 2019.

Application Timeline:

  • November 1, 2018 (5:00 pm CST): Information and application forms available online to students. Applications will continue to be accepted until all classes are filled.
  • April 1, 2019 (by 5:00 CST): Students receive notification of acceptance status
  • April 9, 2019: Accepted students secure their seat in the program and submit the first payment
  • July 7, 2019: Payment due in full

Program Events:

  • July 7, 2019: Student Arrival & Check-in
  • July 25, 2019: Art & Writing Showcase
  • July 26, 2019: Closing Session and Student Departure
Quote Author

I really enjoyed looking at the world with new perspectives and considering other opinions over my own. At my school I don't have access to the kind of advanced thinking apparent in my other classmates. It was so fun to hear other legitimate and complex point of views

How to Apply

While the application process is straightforward, planning ahead is essential. Here's all the information you'll need in order to submit your application.

Application Process

Students in grades 9-12 (current academic year) may apply. Preference will be given to application materials submitted online by March 22, 2019.

Here’s what you'll need to submit in your application:

  • A non-refundable application fee of $50 (applied toward program fees if you are accepted)
  • Enter your demographic information
  • E-mail addresses from an art teacher who knows your abilities as an artist and another mentor that can speak to your character (this must not be a family member or friend). Each reference will be sent an electronic recommendation form which must be completed and submitted to the Belin-Blank Center.
  • Two essays:
    • Essay 1: Tell us about your work. What inspires you? (750 words max)
    • Essay 2: Recognizing that we will receive many high-level writing applicants, what makes you uniquely and exceptionally qualified to participate in this program? On a personal, intrinsic level, what do you hope to gain from this summer residency? (750 words max)
  • Two samples of your work (pdf)
  • Have you participated in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards? 


Completed applications will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of faculty and staff from The University of Iowa. The selection committee will evaluate applications based on the following criteria:

  • Content of essays and supporting materials
  • Letters of recommendation, both content area and character
  • Participation in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Priority will be given to students who have participated in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. You may only attend SAR once.

After You're Accepted

You can look forward to a fun and enriching summer! Here you can find answers to all the pressing questions you may have while making your plans to join us.

Cost & Financial Aid


The total program fee for SAR is $4,025 if you are from the U.S. and $4,575 if you are an international student. The fee covers your room, board, materials, admission to all regularly scheduled activities, and 2 semester hours of undergraduate credit from the University of Iowa.

The program fee does not include transportation to and from the University of Iowa or incidental expenses, such as souvenirs and snacks. You and your family are responsible for these expenses.

If you are an international student, the additional program fee covers insurance, two additional days of room and board, pick-up and drop-off at Eastern Iowa Airport (CID), and filing documents to secure your visa.

Payment Deadlines

You must meet these payment deadlines to participate in SAR. All fees are payable to the Belin-Blank Center.

  • February 1, 2019: Nonrefundable application fee of $50
  • June 19, 2019: Remaining program fee of $3,975
  • June 19, 2019: International student fee of $550 (if applicable)

Payment Options

There are three options to payment program fees:

  1. Pay the entire amount on a credit card.
  2. Pay in four equal monthly installments using a credit card.
  3. Set up an individualized payment plan.

Financial Aid

You may be awarded financial aid for up to half the cost of the program. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come-first-served basis, while funds are available. Eligibility is typically determined by qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunch. After your information is reviewed, a decision will be made, and you will receive an email regarding the amount of your award. Awards will be applied directly to your program fees. Additional scholarships may be available.

International students are not eligible for scholarships or financial aid for SAR.

Daily Schedule

You will attend classes from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The typical schedule for each day looks like:

  • 7:30—8:30 Breakfast
  • 9:00—12:00 Class / Lecture / Workshops / Special Guests
  • 12:00—1:00 Lunch
  • 1:00—4:00 Writing Time / Critique 
  • 4:00—5:30 Free time
  • 5:30—6:30 Dinner
  • 6:30—10:30 Author Talks / Tours / Evening activities
  • 11:00 Lights out

Evening and weekend activities include special seminars, off-campus field trips, and cultural and recreational activities. We carefully select activities to complement the program. For this reason, all activities, including the weekend activities are required.


You will be supervised at all regularly scheduled events and activities. Supervision at the residence halls will be provided by a Belin-Blank Program Coordinator and a residence hall staff specially selected and trained to work with and supervise students. There is approximately one resident advisor for every ten students. You are expected to live within the policies of the residence halls, the university, and the program.

Living on Campus

You will be housed in a residence hall located near the Blank Honors Center on the University of Iowa campus. Most program activities will take place within brief walking distance of the residence hall. Male and female students will be assigned to separate floors and all students will share a room with at least one other student.

In addition to academic programming, you will be able to participate in a variety of scheduled recreational activities selected by the staff, especially on the weekends. You will also have access to the University of Iowa libraries, studio facilities, and creative spaces.

Family Visits

We ask that your family inform staff of their plans so that arrangements can be made to facilitate any family visits. Because the program is dedicated to the development of a cohesive community, you may not have non-family visitors during the program.

Check-in / Check-out

Check-in for the program will be held from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm on the first day of the program if you are from the United States. and the day before the program officially begins if you live outside of the United States. The check-in process will begin at the residence hall front desk. If you are unable to check in during these times, please contact the Belin-Blank Center. A brief student orientation will begin at 4:00 pm.

Check-out for the program will be held after the public poster session on the last day of the program. You should pack all of your belongings prior to the poster session.

Cancellation Policy

If you must cancel, please call the Belin-Blank Center at 800-336-6463 as soon as possible to decline the acceptance so that a student on the waiting list may attend. Your non-refundable down payment will be retained for all cancellations. Cancellations after June 1st may not be refunded.


You may request a roommate once you have been accepted to the program and are asked to fill out enrollment forms. If you do not have a specific request for a roommate, you will be matched with another student from the program. Students who identify as transgender, have medical conditions or other unique circumstances, may request a single room.

Arrival / Departure

If you need to arrive a day early or depart a day late, you will have an opportunity to make these arrangements once you have been accepted to the program and are asked to fill out enrollment forms. You will also have an opportunity to request the Belin-Blank Center to provide your transportation to campus and back to the airport when you fly into the Eastern Iowa Airport (CID).

Contact Us

Ready to Apply?