Amy Margolis, Director, Iowa Summer Writing Festival

Amy Margolis

Director, Iowa Summer Writing Festival
Amy L. Margolis, Director, started her career with the Festival as a graduate assistant in 1990. She's directed the program since 2001. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow in fiction. She’s taught fiction and nonfiction writing in the Festival, at the University of Iowa, and as a visiting writer in programs nationwide. Her fiction appears in The Iowa Review; her nonfiction is forthcoming there, too. Amy is currently at work on a memoir-in-shards about her life as a dancer in the late seventies, at the onset of the AIDS crisis.
Susan Aizenberg's photo

Susan Aizenberg

Susan Aizenberg is the author of three full-length poetry collections: A Walk with Frank O’Hara and Other Poems (forthcoming from University of New Mexico Press in the Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series) Quiet City (BkMk Press 2015) and Muse (Crab Orchard Poetry Series 2002). Her most recent collection, First Light, is a fine arts letterpress collection of 11 poems with original linocuts by artist Kevin Bowman (Gibraltar Editions 2020). Aizenberg is also the author of Peru in Take Three: 2/AGNI New Poets Series (Graywolf Press 1997), and co-editor, with Erin Belieu, of The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women (Columbia University Press 2001). Her awards include a Crab Orchard Poetry Series Award, the Levis Reading Prize, a Distinguished Artist Fellowship from the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Book Award, and the Mari Sandoz Award from the Nebraska Library Association. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals, among them On the Seawall, Plume, The Summerset Review, Nine Mile, Cultural Daily, Hole in the Head Review, Blackbird, The Night Heron Barks, Bosque, The North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, and The Journal, and have been reprinted or are forthcoming in several anthologies, most recently, A Constellation of Kisses (Terrapin Press 2019). Aizenberg is Professor Emerita of Creative Writing and English at Creighton University and now lives and writes in Iowa City.
Mary Allen photo

Mary Allen

Mary Allen is the author of The Deep Limitless Air: A Memoir in Pieces, published by Blue Light Press, and The Rooms of Heaven, published by Alfred A. Knopf and Vintage Books. She has received an NEA creative-writing grant, and her work has appeared in Poets & Writers, Real Simple, Library Journal, CNN On-line, Shenandoah, Tiferet Journal, The Chaos, and Beloit Fiction Journal, and in the anthology If I Don’t Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings. She won Tiferet Journal’s yearly spiritual writing contest in 2013 and received an honorable mention in that contest in 2019. She received an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has taught in the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa. She is a full-time writing coach and lives in Iowa City.
Kate Aspengren photo

Kate Aspengren

Playwright Kate Aspengren’s work has been produced throughout North America, including at The Loft Theatre at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The New American Comedy Festival, and in New York at the West End Theatre and the Bank Street Theatre. A graduate of the University of Iowa’s Playwrights Workshop, Kate teaches playwriting at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Nancy Barry

Nancy K. Barry

Nancy K. Barry (Ph.D., University of Illinois) has taught for the Festival for 25+ years. She was an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Iowa and, until her recent retirement, a Professor of English at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Luther's collegiate writing resource center, The Nancy K. Barry Writing Center, honors Nancy's 30 years working with students as writers. Her numerous essays have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, Agora, and elsewhere. Her radio essays have been featured on WOI, WSUI, and "The Best of Our Knowledge." Nancy is the author of a one-woman play about surviving breast cancer, Lessons from Cancer College. 
Bascom photo

Timothy Bascom

Tim Bascom’s newest book, CLIMBING LESSONS, is a collection of brief playful essays about the father-son bond in his Kansas-based clan.  Bascom is the author of four other books, including two prize-winning memoirs about coming of age in Ethiopia: CHAMELEON DAYS and RUNNING TO THE FIRE.  His essays and stories have been published in Best Creative Nonfiction and Best American Travel Writing, also receiving editor’s prizes at the Missouri Review, Florida Review, and Briar Cliff Review.  Today, he directs the Kansas Book Festival.   
Linda Bendorf photo

Linda Bendorf

Linda M. Bendorf (M.A.T., J.D., University of Iowa) is an award-winning instructor and writing coach who has inspired both novice and seasoned writers in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival for nearly three decades! Linda's recent essay, Quest for the Rufous-Capped Warbler, appeared in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of Bird Watcher's Digest. The essay reveals how intuition and hard work help us to find the birding and writing! Linda is director of Blue Sage Writing, which offers one-on-one coaching, manuscript editing, workshops and private writing retreats. Linda’s essays, features, and poetry have also appeared in The Sun Magazine, the Chicago Tribune Media Group’s Triblocal, The University of Iowa’s The Daily Palette, USA Today, Gannett News Service Wire, Des Moines Register, Instructor, The Iowan, and Gather Magazine. Linda and her husband, Carl, live on Colorado’s Front Range where they hike, bird, bike, garden and marvel at the ever-changing sunsets over the Rockies.
Venise Berry photo

Venise Berry

Venise Berry is the author of three national bestselling novels: So Good, An African American Love Story (1996); All of Me, A Voluptuous Tale (2000); and Colored Sugar Water (2002). Her memoir Driven: love, career and the pursuit of happiness recently released in 2018. She is currently finishing her fourth novel, Pockets of Sanity. Berry has co-edited two anthologies, Black Culture & Experience: Contemporary Issues (2015) and Mediated Messages and African American Culture: Contemporary Issues (1996). She is also the co-author of two nonfiction film books, The Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema (Scarecrow Press, 2015 & 2007) and The 50 Most Influential Black Films (Citadel 2001). Her numerous short stories, journal articles, and book chapters appear widely in creative and academic circles. Berry is an associate professor of Journalism and African American Studies at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She is also a fiction faculty member in the Solstice Low-Residency Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA. Visit Venise online at
Anna Bruno photo

Anna Bruno

Anna Bruno is the author of Ordinary Hazards (Atria), her debut novel released in 2020. She teaches at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business and coaches professionals in creative business communication. Previously, Anna managed public relations and marketing for technology and financial services companies in Silicon Valley. She holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an MBA from Cornell University, and a BA from Stanford University. She lives in Iowa City with her husband, two sons, and blue heeler.
Kelly Dwyer photo

Kelly Dwyer

Kelly Dwyer's third novel, Ghost Mother, will be published by Union Square & Company in Fall 2024. Kelly taught in the University of Wisconsin system for fifteen years and has taught at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival for over twenty-five years. Whether working with authors in person or online, Kelly is passionate about helping other writers achieve success. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Oberlin College, Kelly grew up in San Pedro, California, and now divides her time between Madison, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. Kelly also writes flash fiction and plays, which have been performed in New York City, Boston, and Glasgow. Feel free to visit
Hope Edelman photo

Hope Edelman

As the "mother" of motherless daughters, Hope Edelman is the author of eight nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers, and her most recent book, The AfterGrief. Her books have been published in 17 countries and 11 languages and have sold more than 1 million copies. Motherless Daughters, often considered required reading for any woman who has lost a mother, is now in its third edition and has been in print for nearly 30 years. Hope speaks at venues and conferences all over the world and has appeared frequently on television, including Today, Good Morning America, CNN, KTLA, CBC, and Good Morning Australia. Trained as a life coach by Martha Beck International and with additional training in narrative therapy, she also does one-on-one work to help individuals explore loss as a means of personal growth. Hope has two daughters and lives outside of Los Angeles (with summers in Iowa City).
Mieke Eerkens photo

Mieke Eerkens

Mieke Eerkens is a Dutch-American writer who grew up in Los Angeles. She earned a BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, an MA in English from the University of Leiden in The Netherlands, and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She has been an instructor in the Magid Center Undergraduate Writing Program at the University of Iowa, UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program in Los Angeles, and at Amsterdam University College and Leiden University College in The Netherlands, among others. Her writing has appeared in outlets such as The Atlantic, The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of Books, Pen America, Pank, Guernica, and Creative Nonfiction. Her work has further been anthologized in Best Travel Writing 2011; Norton’s Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts; and A Book of Uncommon Prayer, selected as a “notable essay” in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015, and has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. All Ships Follow Me (Picador), a book about her parents’ respective experiences in WWII and the inheritance of war trauma, was published in 2019. She is currently working on a memoir about her younger years travelling with the circus. She lives in Amsterdam.
Jennifer Fawcett photo

Jennifer Fawcett

Jennifer Fawcett grew up in rural Ontario and spent many years in Canada making theatre before coming to the United States. Her debut novel, Beneath the Stairs, was published by Atria Books and has been optioned for television by Black Bear Pictures. Her short story, Reasons Not to Have Children, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her plays have been produced in theatres across the country and Off West End in London, England. She lives in the Hudson Valley, where she teaches writing and is working on her second book which will be published by Atria Books in Summer 2025.
georgie's photo

Georgie Fehringer

Georgie Fehringer is a writer. They are the TU Dortmund Post-MFA Teaching Fellow for 2023-2024 and a reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly. Their writing has appeared in Black Warrior Review, The Chicago Review of Books, and The Rumpus, among others. They received an MFA from the University of Iowa. Depending on the season you can find them in Dortmund, Germany or Seattle, WA.
Hugh Ferrer photo

Hugh Ferrer

Hugh Ferrer (M.F.A. in fiction, The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop) is the associate director of The University of Iowa International Writing Program. For more than fifteen years, he was an editor at The Iowa Review, and over the last two decades, he has taught a variety of courses at The University of Iowa, introducing undergraduates to fiction writing, international literature, journal publishing, and Iowa City’s literary culture.
Max Garland photo

Max Garland

Max Garland's newest book of poems is Into the Good World Again (2023). Previous books include The Word We Used for It, winner of the Brittingham Poetry Prize, The Postal Confessions, winner of the Juniper Prize, and Hunger Wide as Heaven, winner of the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. He has received an NEA Poetry Fellowship, Michener Fiction fellowship, Bush Artist Fellowship, inclusion in Best American Short Stories, and fellowships in poetry and fiction from the Wisconsin Arts Board. Born and raised in Kentucky, where he worked for many years as a rural letter carrier on the route where he was born, he is Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and was the first Writer-in-Residence for the city of Eau Claire. He's also a songwriter and musician, and the former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin.
Cecile Goding photo

Cecile Goding

Cecile Goding is from a small county in South Carolina, where she coordinated adult literacy efforts before moving to Iowa City. She is also from New England, Saudi Arabia, and the Silicon Valley. For her poems, she has won the Theodore Roethke and Richard Hugo prizes, a fellowship from the SC Academy of Poets, and a Bread Loaf scholarship. Her poetry, essays and short fiction have appeared in anthologies, journals, newspapers, and on small screens. Recent projects involve a memoir, a collaboration with an Arabic writer on a fiction collection, and a sci-fi opera.
Diana Goetsch photo

Diana Goetsch

Diana Goetsch is the author of eight collections of poems and the acclaimed memoir This Body I Wore. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, The American Scholar, The LA Times, The Washington Post and The Pushcart Prize anthology. She has taught in public schools, prisons, MFA programs and, for twenty-one years, at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Her website is
Gotera photo

Vince Gotera

Vince Gotera teaches at the University of Northern Iowa, where he was Editor of the North American Review (2000-2016). He is also former Editor of Star*Line, the print journal of the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (2017-2020). His poetry collections include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, The Coolest Month, and the upcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems in Dreams & Nightmares, The Ekphrastic Review, failed haiku, The MacGuffin, Philippines Graphic (Philippines), Rosebud, The Wild Word (Germany), Yellow Medicine Review, and the anthologies Multiverse (UK), Dear America, and Hay(na)ku 15. He blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar ( 
Robin Hemley photo

Robin Hemley

Robin Hemley has published fifteen books of fiction and nonfiction. His most recent books are the autofiction, Oblivion, An After-Autobiography (Gold Wake, 2022), The Art and Craft of Asian Stories: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology, co-authored with Xu Xi (Bloomsbury, 2021) and Borderline Citizen: Dispatches from the Outskirts of Nationhood (Nebraska, 2020, Penguin SE Asia, 2021).  He has previously published four collections of short stories, and his stories have been widely anthologized.  His widely-used writing text, Turning Life into Fiction, has sold over a hundred thousand copies. His short stories have been featured on NPR’s “Selected Shorts” and his essays and short stories have appeared in such journals as Creative Nonfiction, Conjunctions, Guernica, The Iowa Review, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Chicago Tribune, and many others. He is the Founder of the international nonfiction conference, NonfictioNOW and was the director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa for nine years, inaugural director of The Writers’ Centre at Yale-NUS, Singapore, and is a graduate of The Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His websites are and
Charles Holdefer photo

Charles Holdefer

Charles Holdefer (M.F.A., The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop; Ph.D., Sorbonne) is the author of six novels, including Don’t Look at Me (2022), Bring Me the Head of Mr. Boots (2019) and The Contractor (2012), which was an American Booksellers Association “Book Sense Pick” and was translated into several languages. His short fiction has won a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in the New England Review, North American Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Litro and elsewhere. His other books include George Saunders’ Pastoralia: Bookmarked (nonfiction) and Magic Even You Can Do (fiction hybrid). He also writes essays and reviews for various magazines and taught for many years at the University of Poitiers, France. Visit Charles at
Wayne Johnson photo

Wayne Johnson

Wayne Johnson (M.F.A. The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop) is the author of, among other books, six novels, a collection of stories, a memoir, and two nonfiction works. Three of his books have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, two were New York Times Notable Books of the Year, one was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers series and finalist for book of the year, and another a Kansas City Star Book of the Year. His awards include a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford, inclusions in O. Henry and Best American Short Stories collections, and a Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project Fellowship in L.A., sponsored by Steven Spielberg. As a ghostwriter/editor he has seen tens of books to completion, and as a script doctor has worked on over forty films. Wayne has a new novel, The Witch Tree, forthcoming in June, 2023, and full length features in development with movie companies and streaming television.
Jared Joseph photo

Jared Joseph

Jared Joseph’s most recent writing has been published in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Iowa Review, and Action. His book Drowsy. Drowsy Baby is available from Civil Coping Mechanisms Press, and A Book About Myself Called Hell was published by Kernpunkt Press in February 2022. Jared holds a PhD in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Los Angeles where he writes, plays music, and drinks coffee like it's a hot dog eating contest.
Malinda McCollum photo

Malinda McCollum

Malinda McCollum is the author of The Surprising Place, winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction. Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review––which awarded her the Plimpton Prize––McSweeney's. ZYZZYVA, Epoch, and elsewhere. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has taught at the University of Iowa, Johns Hopkins University, and Stanford University. She's currently an assistant professor at the College of Charleston, where she teaches in the MFA and undergraduate creative writing programs.
James McKean photo

James McKean

James McKean writes poetry and non-fiction. He’s published three books of poems, Headlong, Tree of Heaven, and We Are the Bus, and two books of essays, Home Stand: Growing Up in Sports, and Bound. His work has appeared in magazines and collections such as The Atlantic, Poetry, The Iowa Review, Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, Best American Sports Writing 2003, and Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game. His awards include the 1987 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writer Award in Poetry, the 1994 Iowa Poetry Prize, the 2011 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press, and a Pushcart Prize. McKean lives in Edmonds, WA, and teaches for the Queens University M.F.A. Creative Writing Program, the Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop, and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.
June Melby snorkel photo

June Melby

June Melby is the author of My Family and Other Hazards (Holt, 2014), a memoir about her family’s retro 1950s miniature golf course in Wisconsin. It won the Midwest Connections award, as well as being a New York Times Bestseller. As a spoken word artist she has performed at literary festivals, national poetry slams, and on many European tours. She recorded several cds of poetry and original music with her band June Melby and Her Future Enemies. Her work has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio; Ilanot Review; Muse/A Journal; Forklift Ohio; Fugue; McSweeney’s Internet Tendency; Versal; Utne Reader; Water~Stone; LAWEEKLY; and Kaffee.Satz.Lesen v.2, out of Hamburg, Germany. She received an MFA from the University of Iowa and currently lives in a log cabin in the woods with her husband.
Michael Morse photo

Michael Morse

Michael Morse teaches at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York and has taught at The University of Iowa and The New School. His first book, Void and Compensation, was a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He has published poems in various journals—including A Public Space, The American Poetry Review, Field, The Iowa Review, and Ploughshares—and in anthologies that include The Best American Poetry 2012 and Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days. Honors include fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. He received his M.F.A. in Poetry from The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is a poetry editor for The Literary Review.
Beau O'Reilly photo

Beau O'Reilly

Beau O'Reilly is a Chicago playwright, a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Writing Program, a frequent teacher at the Iowa Summer Writing Program, and a working artist with more than 40 years of experience. Beau’s past work includes stories on “This American Life,” performance events at the Poetry Foundation and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and as front man for the rock n’ roll cabaret band Maestro Subgum and the Whole. Beau is a co-founder of the Curious Theatre Branch, a curator of the Rhinoceros Theater Festival, and a member of the folk-cabaret band The Crooked Mouth. Beau’s play, “One Boppa; Two Acts” appears in the anthology Curious Plays (2022), and a volume of his own work is forthcoming from JackLeg Press.
Lon Otto photo

Lon Otto

Lon Otto’s most recent book is The Flower Trade, a novel published last year by Brighthorse Books. He has three collections of stories—A Man in Trouble (Brighthorse Books), Cover Me (Coffee Hours Press), and A Nest of Hooks (U. of Iowa Press), winner of the Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction, and the craft ebook Grit: Bringing Physical Reality into Imaginative Writing (Writers Workshop Press). His writing in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry is in many anthologies, including The Pushcart Prize, American Fiction, Flash Fiction and Flash Fiction Forward, Townships, and Not Normal, Illinois (Indiana U. Press), and in the craft text Best Words, Best Order (St. Martin’s Press). Several of his stories have been broadcast on NPR’s Selected Shorts. He has a Ph.D from Indiana University and is professor emeritus at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he taught literature and writing for many years.