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Iowa History Daily: October 12 - Paul Engle & the Iowa Writers' Workshop

Iowa History Daily: On October 12, 1908, long-time director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa Paul Engle was born in Cedar Rapids. A notable poet, playwright, novelist, and editor, Engle’s life helped shape Iowa’s reputation for award-winning writing.

Born to a livery stable owner, Engle grew up in the Wellington Heights area of Cedar Rapids. An alumni of Cedar Rapids Washington High School and the city’s Coe College, Engle went on to additional studies at the University of Iowa, Columbia University, and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. His early collection of poetry, “Worn Earth” won the Yale Series of Younger Poets, while his second book, “American Song” won high critical acclaim.

In 1941, Engle started his tenure as the director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Serving in the role until 1965, Engle’s guidance helped to shape the program into one of the finest in the world. Bringing in writers to serve as faculty including Kurt Vonnegut, Robie Macauley, and John Berryman, the workshop thrived under Engle’s leadership.

When Engle left his role leading the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1967, he and Nieh Hauling co-founded the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. A platform for dozens of published authors to spend time collaborating in Iowa City each year, the program continued to build the Johnson County town’s reputation as one of the best literary cities in the world. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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