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Feb 19–March 19, 2022. The Art and Craft of the Song Lyric with Jennie Litt is a Course

Feb 19–March 19, 2022. The Art and Craft of the Song Lyric with Jennie Litt

Time limit: 100 days

Spots remaining: 5

$500 Enroll

Full course description




The Art and Craft of the Song Lyric (Five-Week Workshop)

Jennie Litt, Instructor


Saturdays on Zoom, February 19–March 19, 2022

10:00 a.m.–12:00 noon Iowa/Central Time (11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Eastern; 8:00–10:00 a.m. Pacific; 9:00–11:00 a.m. Mountain)

Fee: $500

Course Description

A lyric is not a poem, though it may rhyme or use poetic language or imagery. A lyric is not a story, though it may tell one. A lyric is a message written in invisible ink, which can only be revealed in its true richness and specificity by music.

This is a workshop for lyricist/composers, serial collaborators, and those who’ve never written a song but have always wanted to. The class will consist of an hour-long lecture/discussion, followed by an hour-long workshop session during which we’ll respond constructively to our fellow participants’ original work. Every participant will have at least two original lyrics (with or without music) workshopped over the course of the five weeks.

During the lecture portion of the class, we’ll be listening to and analyzing songs in a wide range of genres. We’ll explore lyric-writing as an art and a craft: What is there to sing about? Where do spoken, written, and sung language intersect and diverge—and why? What are the purposes, advantages, and pitfalls of rhyming—and what constitutes a rhyme? How does the context in which listeners will encounter a song affect the choices we make as songwriters—do we write differently for the stage vs. the studio, YouTube vs. the radio, a cabaret club vs. a stadium? What are “song forms,” and how do they function; how can you turn the restrictions these forms impose to your advantage?

Participants can present brand-new work, old work, or class homework in the workshop portion of the class. Participants will be writing a new lyric or revising a existing one every week. Assignments will include writing to a pre-existing melody, writing within the confines of a strict form, writing for a specific audience, generating new work, and revising.

We will share lyrics in the form of text documents, but participants are welcome to share their work by singing live or playing a recording as well.

During our five weeks together, each participant will meet with me for a 30-minute, individual Zoom conference.


Jennie Litt is a lyricist, fiction writer, recording artist, cabaret performer, audiobook narrator, and educator. Her first play, Epiphany, was one of ten winners of the first-ever Young Playwrights Festival, and received staged readings at Circle Rep (NYC) and The American Repertory Theatre (Cambridge, MA). Jennie received her undergraduate degree from Harvard, and her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has been published in The Sun: A Magazine of IdeasColumbiaIndiana Review, among other journals.

Jennie writes, performs, and records songs with her husband David Alpher, a composer. With David, she has performed cabaret shows all over the tristate area and at most of the major New York City clubs; their cabaret songs have been performed all over the world. In 2019, Jennie and David began work on The Mitfords At War, their first musical. Their recorded collections of original songs—Two Apples (2014) and Songs for Sapiosexuals (2019)—are available on Spotify. 

Registration & Fees

The fee for this course is $500. Payment in full is required to register.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 10.

Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.”

Refund & Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your enrollment in a Festival class, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel two weeks prior to the start of class. After that, before the start date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund tuition once the class has begun.

Terms & Community Policy

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person.




Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.

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