Art Sparks: A Night to Inspire

By Madison Offenburger

On September 25th, The Iowa Youth Writing Project and Prompt Press came together at Iowa City’s Goosetown Cafe to celebrate the collaboration between Iowa artists and young writers from The Iowa Youth Writing Project.

Over the spring and summer, 17 Iowa artists donated their works of art to The Iowa Youth Writing Project and Prompt Press. Throughout the summer months, K-12 students participating in the IYWP’s week-long writing camps responded to the art, cultivating articulate, reflective, witty, and genuine responses.


The evening commenced with a delicious reception provided by Goosetown Cafe and a silent auction where IYWP volunteers, interns, and educators mingled with students, parents, and artists. Those in attendance were able to admire the art and written responses that hung together in the cafe as well as a booth displaying some of the beautiful work from Prompt Press.


Following the reception and silent auction, students bravely read their responses to an encouraging crowd. Bidders who won the silent auction were able to take with them the written responses that were read that evening.


Overall, the proceeds from the art auction were estimated to be at a whopping $2,700. This money will directly benefit the IYWP’s weekly and summer writing workshops, their Junior High Writing Conference, and purchase supplies for over 400-plus student writing kits for over 400-plus aspiring student writers.

Photos by Madison Offenburger


July Summer Writing BINGO!

This Summer is sure to be full of “aha!” moments, but if you’re on the lookout for more, then search no further. The IYWP is proud to present: Summer BINGO! The program involves picking up your BINGO sheet at any of IYWP’s sites (or downloading and printing the file here). On it, we’ve included a list of summer prompts. Your goal is to write the prompts in any way that gets you BINGO, whether that’s up or down, side to side, it’s all up to you!

With all games comes prizes! When you reach BINGO be sure to drop your BINGO sheet attached to your writing at any of the IYWP’s sites (including the Antelope Lending Library’s Bookmobile) or E-mail the sheet and your work to us at! This will give your work a chance to be entered in our digital literary magazine, YouthQuake, AND win exclusive prizes at the Haunted Bookshop OR free ice cream at Yootopia!

BINGO sheets can be picked up at any of the IYWP’s sites, or downloaded to print at the bottom of this post.

Rev up your pens and pencils, Writers, and may the odds be ever in your favor!


Download your BINGO Sheets to print: IYWP summer writing bingo FINAL

Volunteer Experiences: A conversation with Zion

These Aren’t Trick Questions

Zion wasn’t writing. Our other kids were working on their writing assignment more or less diligently, but Zion was just silently staring at a blank sheet of notebook paper, looking lost. So I decided to talk to him.

      Hey, Zion, I said. Are you having fun? In retrospect, I don’t know why I said this. Obviously, he was not having fun.

      No, Zion quipped.

      Is there something you’d rather be doing? I asked. He continued to stare at the paper blankly. Is there a game you’d like to play? Silence. Come on, these aren’t trick questions.

      He looked up at me. They’re not?

      Something I try to give the kids I teach with my lesson plans is the ability to alter my lesson plans. There are different ways to teach everyone, but most kids will always assume that the way you’ve decided to teach them that day is the best way, by default. And most kids are willing to go along with any activity you decide to throw at them, as long as you can keep all of your plates spinning. But there are some activities that just don’t work for certain kids.

      Take Zion, for example. The writing activity in question, he felt, was geared toward girls, ultimately telling me flat-out, I don’t like that I’m the only boy here. Pointing out that I too was a guy didn’t seem to get me much headway, so I started to ask him what he wanted to write about. Eventually he suggested ghosts.

      I love ghost stories, I said.

      His eyes widened. Are ghosts real? he asked.

      My friend saw a ghost once, I said. Have you ever seen one? He shook his head. Do you wanna make up a ghost story?

      Yeah, he said. I could tell his creative waves were finally spiking. Unfortunately, our time was up. I promised him we’d make time for ghost stories next week. If I had stuck rigidly to the activities outlined in our lesson plan for that day, would I have made what I felt was a real connection with Zion? I don’t think so. Flexibility, I’m learning, is a key skill to have in order to reach even a small group of curious kids and unlock their creative spirits.

      Plus, I really like ghost stories. Can’t wait for next week!

~By Dan DeMarco