iowa writers workshop writing university wave

Featured Work


Experiencing Covid-19 in Prison
Matt H., IA


No more community, no more lofty discussions. No more feeling like we were a part of something good.
We All Perform hancher mural

A Specific Gravity
Christian M., Texas


Anthropomorphic deity / the whimsy of a juvenile humanity, / Like talking to my cereal / because the last Cheerio might be lonely ...

Michael W., IA


I was adopted. Before my birth, the adoption agency had to tell potential parents that I would have lung problems. I was in the hospital for six weeks after birth. I wrote this for my mother
iowa writers workshop writing university wave

Full Collection

In This Issue

painting of a blue landscape at night

The Fox and The Chicken Wire Fence

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Leigh Laz L., IA: To De ...

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Sean W., WI: displacement

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A. Rhodd, I Became Native

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Matthew F., MN: Never ... Yet

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

JACK L, IA: Easement

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Michael W., IA: God?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Jack L., IA: Rose Bee

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Jason R., Iowa: Three Boxes

Tuesday, April 9, 2019
black and white photo of wet river rock and peebles

A. Hudson, IOWA: Pebbles

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A. Hudson, Iowa: ANTZ

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Rodney B., Iowa: The Seed

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Robert L. N., Iowa: Apologies

Monday, March 25, 2019

Daniel H., Iowa: Birthday Star

Monday, March 25, 2019

David W. M., Iowa: The Maker

Monday, March 25, 2019

Clifford A. J., Iowa: Squeal

Monday, March 25, 2019

More Info


The University of Iowa Prison Writing Project connects the writing community on campus with prison writing communities in Iowa and beyond. We seek to foster and support writing and self-expression by the imprisoned and believe that these voices offer unique contributions to the literary landscape. We believe that when the work of inside writers is championed, both inside and outside populations benefit.

About the University of Iowa Prison Writing Project

The University of Iowa Prison Writing Project is a collaboration between the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing, The Transform(ED) Justice Collaboratory, The Writing University, and The Iowa Review.


Good writing exists everywhere, and that holds true for Iowa’s prisons. The Prison Writing Project was founded on the belief that all writing deserves to be celebrated, honored, and shared. This is why the PWP is hosting a creative writing open reading period, inviting submissions of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from people who are currently incarcerated in the state of Iowa. All submissions will be read by a team of editors and selected pieces will be published online for a wider audience to connect with.

How to Submit Work

- There is no fee to submit work.

- Submission period: September 1 through November 15, 2020

- Submit a manuscript of up to 6 poems (totaling no more than 10 pages, with each poem presented on a separate page) or up to 15 pages for fiction and creative nonfiction.

- All submissions will be considered for online publication.

- Accepted submissions will be chosen by an editor of The Iowa Review and the PWP reading team.

- To submit, please send to the following address:

[Fiction, Poetry, or Nonfiction] Editor
Prison Writing Project
24 Phillips Hall
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242

The Reading Process It will take our readers 4 to 6 months to select work and respond to those whose pieces are accepted. At this time, we are unable to send notices to those whose work we aren’t able to publish, unless you include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your submission. While we understand your interest in and commitment to your writing, please do not have friends and family call or contact the PWP regarding work under consideration; administrators within the prison are welcome to contact the PWP if there are questions, or you can send a note by paper mail. Who Reads the Work? The team of volunteer readers who will consider work include students, staff, and faculty from the University of Iowa’s writing programs and publications.

What Happens if Your Work Is Selected? Those whose work is selected for publication will receive notice via paper mail. Selected work will be published and showcased on the University of Iowa’s webpage. Authors will be sent printed copies of their published work. Some select work may also be published in print anthologies or in the UI Literary Kiosks. Authors will be alerted if their work is selected for publication in an anthology. Please note that there is no financial payment for published work.

Eligibility Anyone who is incarcerated in the state of Iowa is eligible to enter. All submissions should be accompanied by a cover letter with the author’s name, identification number, and complete mailing address. Handwritten submissions are accepted. Authors may not submit more than one entry per reading period. Only unpublished manuscripts will be considered, with the exception of pieces that have appeared in prison-only publications. At the present time, the Prison Writing Project is unable to return manuscripts back to their respective authors. Send in a copy of your work and keep the original. Please include a return address.

About the University of Iowa Prison Writing Project The University of Iowa Prison Writing Project is a collaboration between the University of Iowa’s award-winning literary magazine The Iowa Review, the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing, and the UI Writing University. The PWP connects the writing community on campus with prison writing communities in Iowa and beyond. The project seeks to foster and support the writing and self-expression of incarcerated individuals and is grounded in the belief that these voices offer unique contributions to the literary landscape.

About the Writing University

The Virtual Writing University is a collaborative, interdisciplinary initiative sponsored by the Graduate College and the Office of the Provost at the University of Iowa. The project launched in fall, 2006, with the mandate to create a virtual space for the University of Iowa’s writing community.

About the Literary Kiosk

The University of Iowa Libraries Literary Kiosks offer anyone a free one-, three-, or five-minute piece of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction to read. Cosponsored by Iowa City, UNESCO City of Literature, the kiosks are set up at the Iowa City Public Library, University of Iowa Main Library, Stead Children’s Hospital, Coralville, the Eastern Iowa Airport, and throughout the state of Iowa.

UI Non-Discrimination Statement

The University of Iowa prohibits discrimination in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, service in the U.S. military, sexual orientation, gender identity, associational preferences, or any other classification that deprives the person of consideration as an individual. The University also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to University facilities.


Please contact with any questions.

Managing Editors

Olivia Parkes is an MFA candidate in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Zyzzyva, American Short Fiction, and Electric Literature, among other publications.

Timmy Straw is a writer, translator, and pianist from Oregon, at present in the MFA poetry program at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Thanks to a research Fulbright in Moscow, they spent last year working on translations of the contemporary Russian poet Grigori Dashevsky. Their poems and essays have been published in Tin House, Jacket2, Volta, Spork, and elsewhere.


Editorial Assistants

Joshua Balicki is a graduate of the University of Iowa and an incoming Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at UT-Austin.

Michael Westphal is a recent, human physiology graduate from the University of Iowa. During undergrad, he investigated aspects of type II diabetes in the E. Dale Abel Lab. In his free time he loves to read, play board games, and watch movies.

Marcus Brown is a writer and University of Iowa graduate currently working for the Iowa City Downtown District. An avid participant in the Iowa City Literary Community, Marcus has served on the editorial boards for numerous local publications such as Earthwords and the Daily Iowan in addition to performing poetry around town.

Izzy Casey's poems have been published in or are forthcoming from Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, BOAAT, Bennington Review, Prelude, The Volta, New York Tyrant, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is the current recipient of a fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

Kelsey Kerin is an MFA candidate in poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Rauni Overstreet is a cinema student at the University of Iowa with focuses in creative writing and Korean language. Outside of academia, she is vice president of the University of Iowa's organization Media Entertainment lifeStyle (MES), which focuses on the production of digital art and media.


Copy Editor

Kathleen Cole is an MFA candidate in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa and will serve as the nonfiction editor of The Iowa Review beginning in Fall 2020.


Founding Editor

Kate Conlow serves as deputy managing editor at The Iowa Review, the University of Iowa’s literary magazine. She has served as coordinator for the Oakdale Prison newspaper The Oakdale Voice since 2015 and has been involved with prison arts and writing since 2005.


The PWP connects University of Iowa faculty, staff, and students with imprisoned writers, creating a positive environment for learning and growth. Please feel free to contact us with any questions!

Phone: (319) 335-0462


Mailing Address:

[Fiction, Poetry, or Nonfiction] Editor
Prison Writing Project
305N CC
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242