THE STORY OF THE WRITERS' HOUSE 

 

The Missing Piece in Iowa's Lit World 

Thanks to years of statewide educational excellence, legendary alumni graduating from the top-ranked Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Iowa City being named a UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa has gained a global reputation as a destination for writers. But up until 2014, Iowa City didn't have a literary center. Writers not in a full-time MFA program had limited opportunities to engage, learn, or even meet other writers. Stories of writers who moved to the area only to move away again weren't uncommon, and MFA grads seeking industry work left in droves. Most of all, local writers had no central place to commune, connect, and collaborate, leaving a void where a rich nucleus seemed to naturally belong.

The Dream of 'A Place'

In 2014, native Iowan, marketing exec, and independent writer Andrea Wilson moved back to her home state, setting up residence in Iowa City and seeking all that the Midwestern literary mecca had to offer. Wilson, like many others, wished for a 'place' for writers and when she didn't find it, took on the challenge of creating what she hoped could be a beautiful addition to Iowa City's literary community. 

Writing a New Future

After researching successful literary centers and having over '100 coffees' with Iowa writers and literary experts, Wilson created a community organizational concept whose mission was to centralize access to Iowa's literary resources in a single organization that would provide programming, workshops, and a welcoming community for all. Since its founding in 2015, the Writers' House has built a community of over 3000 writers and delivered cross genre programs to writers of every age, race, and life situation. Today it's become an integral part of the beautiful ecosystem of Iowa lit.  

 

Our Team

 

IMG_1811 copy 2.jpg

Andrea Wilson | Founder & Executive Director

A visual artist, writer, and storyteller, Andrea believes that creativity and expression define the beauty of the human experience.  In early 2014, she moved back to the UNESCO City of Literature to passionately pursue writing, only to feel disconnected from the very literary community that brought her home. The Iowa Writers' House started as an altruistic dream to create a springboard for all of those involved in using art and literature to connect themselves with the world. Today the organization reaches over 3000 writers, offers workshops and programs in both Iowa City and Des Moines, and has created strategic relationships connecting Iowa with festivals in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and other Cities of Literature across the globe. 


 

Erin Casey | Communications & Student Relationships Manager

Erin Casey graduated from Cornell College with degrees in English and Secondary Education. While there she was published in Cornell’s literary magazine, Open Field, and later became its Art Editor. She also helped start the first creative writing club, Wordsmiths. Immediately after school, she attended the Denver Publishing Institute to study a graduate course focused on the publishing industry. Since then, she has recruited for DPI for the past 7 years. She is one of the first volunteers to work with the Iowa Writers’ House and has been an integral part of our success.  Erin recently attended the Pikes Peak Writing Convention and was asked to submit her first novel to an acquiring editor.

 

Rachel Jepsen | Marketing & Programming Manager

Rachel is a graduate of Smith College and holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana, where she taught classes in poetry and essay-writing. Before graduate school, Rachel worked in publishing in New York, where she is from. Her poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in The Bennington Review, the Chicago Review of Books' ArcturusStoryscapeEsquire, Gone Lawn, and elsewhere, with work forthcoming from Sequestrum and ELLE. In addition to her duties at Writers' House, Rachel works for the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, and as a freelance editor. She lives in Iowa City with her husband and their dog, Bird.

IMG_4286.JPG

Alex Penland | Special Programs 

A child of the Washington, DC museums, Alex’s passion for humanity and literature led her to Iowa City in 2015.  She uses her degree in English and Anthropology to write silly books about alien geologists and magic letters in her spare time.  When not working with the Iowa Writer’s House, she is a substitute teacher with Iowa City Community School District and a freelance writer.





 


Alisha Jeddeloh | Editor 

Alisha Jeddeloh has been a farmer and a teacher, a traveler and an editor, and through it all, a reader and a writer. As a child, she wrote plays and forced her cousins and siblings to perform them; as a teenager, she wrote angsty poems; and as an adult, she writes fiction. She currently edits for various book publishers, independent authors, and The Iowa Review. She believes that everyone has a story to tell, and she's excited to be part of an organization that helps people do just that.

 

 

 


Lauren Katalinich | Marketing & Technology 

Lauren is a native Texan but converted Midwesterner with a love of nature, travel and the written word (with a soft spot for the classics). She is notorious for never wearing shoes and her insatiable penchant for beef jerky. Lauren works in communications & relations for International Programs at the University of Iowa where she is lucky enough to get to combine her passions for creative communication and international affairs.

 

 

 

 

Dylan Larino | Digital and Social Media Intern

Raised smack dab in the middle of Tobacco Road, Dylan moved to Iowa City from Cary, North Carolina because of a passion for storytelling and the allure of gratuitous amounts of scholarship money. He can be frequently seen wearing combat boots and black, graphic tees while browsing for cryptozoology articles or pictures of turtles online. Dylan currently studies English at the University of Iowa and is a part of its Undergraduate Creative Writing Track.