Will Iowa’s workshop embrace the experimental?

As the University of Iowa auditions candidates to direct its prestigious writing program, students consider whether one of the four contenders, Ben Marcus, might reshape the program to favor the “avant-garde writing style” of his own fiction. The Des Moines Register reports that:

Marcus, 37, the director of the fiction-writing program at Columbia University, said he doesn’t mold students’ writing after his own.

“I would never attempt to change individual writers,” Marcus said. “I’m interested in helping students become what they want to be.”

Marcus gave a public reading of “The Father Costume,” a short story he collaborated on with artist Matthew Ritchie. Marcus, who read to about 100 people Monday evening, is the last finalist to visit the University of Iowa campus as part of the process to choose a successor for Frank Conroy, who will step down as director in May after leading the program for 18 years.

Background reading: Nathalie Chicha of Galleycat, an Iowa grad, has unearthed a bunch of interviews with, and comments on, the four candidates.


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