Writer to Writer: The Women’s Creative Mentorship Project
Intending to capitalize on our worldwide network of alumni and our long experience of international youth programming at the University of Iowa, the International Writing Program (@UIIWP) is this year launching a Women’s Creative Mentorship Project (WCMP). Supported by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the project aims to build strong and lasting mentorships between emerging female writers and IWP fall residency alumnae. While the eight mentors were recruited by the IWP, each of them in turn could propose candidates for the mentee positions; searches and recruitment also happened through US embassies in the relevant country. In the end, the countries represented in the program numbered nine: Mauritius, Colombia, Somalia, Botswana, Italy, Kenya, South Africa, Argentina, and Mexico
“There is also a lot to be said about the international aspect of the project: by getting women from different corners of the world to meet and work together is fantastically relevant for establishing deep, insightful international dialogue across cultures about the roles of women.”—Paula Silva
Paula Silva, a mentee from Colombia, said of the project: “This is a historical time for women, and for a project to exist that specifically empowers talented women from all over the world to use their voices and speak their minds is of pivotal importance. There is also a lot to be said about the international aspect of the project: by getting women from different corners of the world to meet and work together is fantastically relevant for establishing deep, insightful international dialogue across cultures about the roles of women. Now, more than ever, I know that the experiences of women all over the world can be carried across languages and borders through the particularities of individual histories. That is exactly what this project does: it brings us together as women as much as it brings us together as writers. It creates a space where our stories can help us carry more women with us.”
The inaugural meeting of the group was at the 2019 AWP conference in Portland, Oregon. During the four days together, the emerging and accomplished writers attended master classes, received and gave manuscript consultations, and spent time in one-on-one meetings as well as in special seminars with visiting authors and other creative professionals, both US- and overseas-based. Most importantly, mentees worked with their home-country mentors and IWP staff to develop personalized plans that would provide structure for the next phase of their collaboration—namely, workshopping, editing, and polishing their writing project. The results will yield an anthology, to be published at the project’s conclusion, in fall 2019.
University of Iowa