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May 15–June 12, 2021. Your Actual Voice: A Generative Workshop for All Genres with Diana Goetsch is a Course

May 15–June 12, 2021. Your Actual Voice: A Generative Workshop for All Genres with Diana Goetsch

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Full course description


Your Actual Voice: A Generative Workshop for All Genres with Diana Goetsch (Five-Week Workshop)


Saturdays on Zoom, May 15–June 12, 2021

11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time (12:00–2:00 p.m. Eastern; 9:00–11:00 a.m. Pacific; 10:00 a.m.–12:00 noon Mountain)

Fee: $500

Course Description

“Voice” in writing is elusive to define, yet we all know it when we hear it. And we know when writing lacks voice, or is derivative of another’s voice, or otherwise fails to be as singular as a writer’s fingerprint. It is understandable that new and emerging writers go in search of their voice. But what if, as the poet William Stafford suggested, “You already have a voice, and don’t need to find it”? Instead of searching for your voice, what if you trained it?

This will be a practical and generative workshop in what voice is and isn’t, and how you can train yours. We will learn how “voice” is a composite of many things: sensibilities and capacities inborn and acquired, worldview, history, lexical and syntactic inclinations, the pageant of other voices we have heard, the voices we are hearing now, voices we don’t know are in us. We will learn that the emerging of our voice has as much to do with dismantling, as it does with acquisition, and we can be confident that our voice will continue to emerge and evolve organically as we train in our craft.

Class structure and objectives:

Each session will feature a writing technique that bears on “voice.” While voice can’t be explained all at once, the particular technique will be made absolutely clear and available through models and teachings. Then we will train in the technique together. The environment will be supportive and relaxed; the emphasis will not be on polish or achievement, but rather on understanding and assimilation. There will be discussion, Q&A, and opportunities to read. We will have homework assignments to help train and further assimilate each aspect of voice. The course will have a strong cumulative quality—more and more about voice will seem “unveiled” in the later weeks.

Each writer will have the option of a 30-minute Zoom conference with Diana toward the end of the course to discuss their writing and their progress.


Diana Goetsch is the author of eight collections of poems and the memoir This Body I Wore forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Her writing has appeared in leading journals, anthologies and newspapers including The New Yorker, Poetry, Gettysburg Review, The American Scholar, the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune, Best American Poetry, and the Pushcart Prize. Diana’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Grace Paley Teaching Fellowship at The New School, and the Donald Murray prize for writing pedagogy. She has taught for nineteen years at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Currently she teaches a weekly Zoom webinar called Actually Writing, which has been attended by hundreds of people on multiple continents. Her website is

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.

Enrollment for this class opens at 11:00 a.m. Central Time, Monday, April 26.

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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