Talk of Iowa
12:14 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Controversy Sparked by Critique of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop

Iowa Writer's Workshop alumnus Eric Bennett's article, "How Iowa Flattened Literature" in the Chronicle of Higher Education has ruffled feathers—especially in Iowa's writing community.  The first paragraph of the article reads: 

"Did the CIA fund creative writing in America? The idea seems like the invention of a creative writer. Yet once upon a time (1967, to be exact), Paul Engle, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, received money from the Farfield Foundation to support international writing at the University of Iowa. The Farfield Foundation was not really a foundation; it was a CIA front that supported cultural operations, mostly in Europe, through an organization called the Congress for Cultural Freedom."

Host Charity Nebbe talks with Bennett as well as Christopher Merrill, the director of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, to get his take on the writer's workshop and Bennett's claims.  Writers Edward J. Delaney and workshop grad Seth Abramson also join the conversation.