Iowa City, IOWA-The University of Iowa's Between the Lines (BTL) creative writing and cultural exchange program, which brings aspiring writers ages 16-19 from around the world together for two weeks of intensive study, has announced that it will be administering $10,000 in need-based scholarships for the summer 2014 session, to be held on the University of Iowa Campus June 21st July 5th, 2014. BTL is organized by the University of Iowa's International Writing Program (IWP) in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
"I came to BTL because I loved to write," says BTL alumnus Amr Bennis of Tripoli, Libya, now a senior at Harvard. "At BTL I found a group that was warm and welcoming and that provided me with the motivation to keep writing and with skills I still use today in my writing."
APPLICATIONS DUE APRIL 13, 2014
The 2014 session will bring together twelve students from across Russia, twelve from Arabic-speaking countries across the Near East and North Africa, and twelve U.S. students. International applicants had to first be nominated by their respective embassies, with dozens of students competing for the coveted slots, but U.S. students can apply directly to the program through the IWP's online portal: tps://iwp.grad.uiowa.edu/. Applications are due from U.S. students by April 13, 2014. Tuition for accepted American students is $1,800, including room and board, materials, instructor fees, printing and photocopying, and transportation during the program. The $10,000 in need-based scholarships will include both full and partial awards, along with the possibility of travel funds. Students will be able to apply for scholarships once they are accepted into the program.
"We're thrilled to be able to offer these scholarships," says BTL Program Coordinator Kelly Morse, herself an accomplished writer and translator. "This will help ensure that talent and interest in creative writing remain the primary criteria in selecting young writers for the program."
INTENSIVE CREATIVE WRITING MENTORSHIP
Students accepted to BTL will spend two weeks on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature and home of the world-renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop. They will participate in intensive writing workshops and seminars about their respective literatures (Arabic and Russian-speaking students divide their time between craft study in their native language and in English), attend literary events, and even give public readings at local book stores.
The students, who will room together in dorms on the University of Iowa campus, forge friendships that endure even after they return home. "I wish we could all come back to live the experience together again," says 2012 alumna Laura Abaza, who fled her native Syria for the relative safety of Jordan and remains in contact with BTL friends through Facebook and email.
"BTL opens a door to the world for many students," Morse says. "It's a kind of cultural diplomacy in miniature; BTLers find common ground and gain greater understanding of each other's' cultures and literatures. Part of what makes BTL unique is that is encourages students to discover and interact with other cultures around a shared interest-writing," Morse says.
2014 BTL students will hone their craft by working closely with authors. Instructors include poet Kiki Petrosino who teaches at the University of Louisville, and acclaimed Russian novelist Alan Cherchesov, an alumnus of IWP's prestigious Fall Residency.
"Having passionate instructors who are successful writers themselves is part of what makes BTL a formative experience for students," Morse says. "They encourage students to consider writing and literature from new angles and help students bring their own writing to the next level."
The online application portal will remain open to U.S. applicants until midnight central time on April 13, 2014.