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The Enigma of Home (Session 1, Creative Writing with Jane Huffman) is a Course

The Enigma of Home (Session 1, Creative Writing with Jane Huffman)

Time limit: 56 days

$575 Enroll

Full course description

This 2-week online course is part of the Iowa Young Writers' Studio Online Camp, Session 1, June 13-26, 2021. There is a separate application process for this course. If you have not been accepted into Session 1 of the Iowa Young Writers' Studio Online Camp you are not eligible to enroll.


Since we first put pencil to paper, writers have attempted to capture the enigma of “home.” Home can be a space, a place, a feeling, an attitude. It can be longitude or latitude. Linear or winding. Home is Odysseus returning from sea to a changed world and dead dog in The Odyssey (Homer). It’s Dorothy clicking together her ruby slippers in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, (L. Frank Baum). Home is the resilient Tree of Heaven that grows through cracked concrete in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith). Home is Jamaal May’s poem “There Are Birds Here,” dedicated to the city of Detroit: “There are birds here, / so many birds here / is what I was trying to say.”

Over the two-week IYWS session, you will engage in substantial reading and writing assignments, discussions and workshops, and other methods of inquiry to produce a work of nontraditional, cross-genre, out-of-the-box “lyric essay.” Together, we will study essay, fiction, and poetry and even invent forms of our own to blend, weave, and overlap multiple genre traditions.


We will focus on the notion of “home” — what it means, how it means, what it is, and what it isn’t. I assume that all of you have been spending an unprecedented amount of time at home, so I hope you can use this as an opportunity to see it in new ways.


As you prepare for the course to begin, start looking at your environs — your home, your homeland, your homestead, your home base — more carefully than you ever have before. For me, that means conjuring the collection of sewing zippers I kept as a kid; my first apartment in Iowa — the attic of an old Victorian house where I’d often come home to find my landlord digging through my trashcans; the boundless fear, anxiety, and reconciliation that surrounds my brother’s struggle with drug addiction; my dad zapping Japanese beetles off his tomato vines in the backyard with a crème brûlée torch.


That’s just one iota of where I’m from, and throughout your two weeks at the IYWS, I encourage you to explore the strange and shifting spaces where you live or have lived. These can be physical, emotional, or spiritual places. They can be places of collective memory or projected future. They can be intangible spaces or spaces between things.

Start keeping a list of what you notice, remember, sense, and imagine. See using all five senses: what does home look like — smell like — feel like — taste like — sound like? Your list doesn’t have to be coherent or comprehensive, but it should have some heft to it. It should carry meaning for you, and perhaps more questions than it does answers.


Jane Huffman’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere, and she is a 2019 recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Jane has a BA in theatre arts and creative writing from Kalamazoo College and an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She currently works for the Iowa Youth Writing Project and teaches in the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing at the University of Iowa. Jane serves as editor-in-chief of Guesthouse (, an online literary journal. She absolutely wants to pet your dog.




The fee for this course is $575. Payment in full is required to enroll in the course.


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."


Cancellation Policy: A $100 cancellation fee will be applied to refunds for cancellations received by Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Thereafter, no refunds will be available. 



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