Since the 1800s, all students at the University of Iowa (regardless of major) have taken creative writing classes. Nicknamed The Writing University, the Iowa City institution counts among its alumni writers Kurt Vonnegut, Ann Patchett, and six U.S. poet laureates.
So, connecting alumni and friends with a writing contest made sense, says Kate Sojka, director of educational programs, alumni engagement at the university’s Center for Advancement.
Since 2019, Iowa has hosted the Write Now flash fiction challenge, inviting alumni and friends to submit 1,000-word stories on specific prompts. There are both kid and adult divisions, and over the years, stories have poured in from writers in more than two dozen countries.
“These contests have allowed alumni and friends to connect with the University of Iowa no matter where they live in the world,” Sojka says. “It’s also been fun to see family members challenge each other to compete in the contests.”