Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Poetry and Plays MOOC-Pack


This MOOC-Pack provides the core content of our MOOC Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Poetry and Plays. You can use this MOOC-Pack on your own, or you can use it to lead a writing class or a study group. 

Start by clicking on the Welcome Class in the Poetry and Plays Page Menu at the left. You will find directions for the welcome video, audio file, and transcript. Then, click on Class 1. You will find directions for the class 1 video, transcript, writing assignment, and readings.

If you have any trouble navigating this MOOC-Pack, visit our HOW TO USE page for instructions on using this website. If you need to contact us with any questions or concerns, please visit the CONTACT | HELP | FEEDBACK page.

Centered on the exploration of individual, community, and global identities—as well as the effect of social issues on those identities—this MOOC-Pack offers a progressive study through the principles of writing poetry and plays. This MOOC-Pack has a welcome class, six classes, and a farewell class. You can access each class by clicking the appropriate link on the navigation menu to the left. You can begin with the welcome class and continue in order through classes 1-6 and then to the farewell class. 



Christopher Merrill, IWP Director and University of Iowa Professor of English, has published six collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many works of translation and edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O'Keeffe as Icon; and five books of nonfiction, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, and The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War. His work has been translated into nearly forty languages, his honors include a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government, and his journalism appears in many publications. As director of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, he has undertaken cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries. His new work Still Life with Dogwood has just been published.

Lisa Schlesinger's plays include Celestial Bodies, Wal-martyrs, Same Egg, Manny and Chicken, Rock Ends Ahead, The Bones of Danny Winston, and Twenty-One Positions  (with Naomi Wallace and Abdel AbuSrour). She is currently writing the libretto, Harmonicus Mundi, the second piece in the Celestial Bodies Trilogy and In the Wake of the Graybow Riots, for her Slow Theatre Project. She has received commissions from the Guthrie Theatre, the BBC, Upstart Crow Project, the International Writing Program, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and fellowships from the NEA, CEC International, the Sloan Foundation, among others. She is recipient of the NEA/TCG Playwrights Residency Award and winner of the BBC International Playwriting Competition and was nominated for a USA Artist Fellowship. She has been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook and the Hermitage Artists Retreat. Her work has been published in American Theatre Magazine, Performing Arts Journal, Theater Magazine, Best Monologues for Women by Women II, Out of Silence, and The American Theatre Reader, the best writing of 25 years of American Theatre Magazine, the New York Times and her plays are forthcoming with NoPassport Press.

Featured Authors


Susannah Shive, IWP Distance Learning & Instructional Administrator
Benjamin Schmidt, IWP Graduate Research Assistant for MOOCs
Emily Vaughan, IWP Distance Learning Undergraduate Research Fellow