Partner News

The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program Launches the Women’s Creative Mentorship Project

By April 10, 2019 No Comments

The International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa is proud to launch the Women’s Creative Mentorship Project (WCM Project), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This project focuses on mentorship between emerging female writers and female IWP Fall Residency alumni.

The IWP’s Women’s Creative Mentorship Project brought writers from Mauritius, Colombia, Somalia, Botswana, Italy, Kenya, South Africa, Argentina, and Mexico together in Portland, Oregon, to kick off the six month project.

The inaugural Women’s Creative Mentorship Project began with a 4-day in-person IWP conference at the 2019 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference (AWP) in Portland, Oregon. The WCM Project conference included master classes, manuscript consultations, one-on-one meetings between mentors and mentees, as well as special seminars with visiting authors and other creative professionals, both U.S.- and overseas-based. Mentees worked with mentors from their home-country and IWP staff to develop personalized plans that provide structure for the six-month distance portion of the project, ending in September 2019.

WCM Project participants were thrilled with the outcome of this first meeting, and excited to continue with their mentors:

“I came back feeling like my life has just been divided between before WCM and after WCM. And it is only starting… to think this is only the start.” – Paula Silva, Colombia

WCM Project mentor TJ Dema, right, working with mentee Mandisa Mabuthoe, left, in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Dema’s other mentee, Mmakgosi Anita Tau, posted by her to Facebook here – an excerpt of her caption: “We rarely get given the opportunity to learn from the people we look up to for inspiration… Fifteen years ago [I] declared [TJ Dema] my Poetic inspiration. She is one of those forces to reckon with that passionately and consistently built the foundations of Spoken Word Poetry in Botswana… Fifteen years later I find myself in Portland, Oregon, under her wings and I know my flight plan just made a turn to Wonderland.” All three writers are from Botswana.

“I cannot begin to tell you just how much this program means to me. The time spent in Portland was an incredibly rich and inspiring experience. What an amazing adventure!

It is not easy being a writer, let alone an emerging writer, and to have the support of the International Writing Program, the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Dept. of State, and Shenaz Patel as mentor is an absolute honour and privilege for which I am immensely grateful!” – Priya Hein, Mauritius

“This has been a truly enriching experience. What an absolute honour to be in the company of so many experts in the literary field. I gained a wealth of knowledge. I was especially moved by strides being made by women in the industry. The connections we made as mentors, mentees, and as women during the conference in just those few days were deep and meaningful and I know that it will be lasting. I look forward to creating in the next 6 months!” – Firdous Hendricks, South Africa

With funding from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, this project will continue until September 2019, as emerging writers work with their mentors to workshop, edit, and polish their creative writing. At the project’s conclusion, an anthology of WCM Project creative writing will be published in print and online.


Of the International Writing Program’s many programs, applications are currently open for the IWP’s Between the Lines two-week creative writing and cultural exchange summer camp for students age 15-18 from the U.S. and 21 countries. Americans may apply through April 26, and scholarship are available. Application info:

Since 1967, the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa has hosted more than 1,500 writers from more than 150 countries, connecting well-established writers from around the globe, introducing American writers to other cultures through reading tours, publishing books and journals, pursuing cultural diplomacy, and organizing tours, conferences, and other literary and intercultural events around the world. Major support for IWP programming is provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and the University of Iowa.

Press Contact: Allison Gnade
Communications Coordinator
International Writing Program
The University of Iowa
(319) 335-0128