Iowa Writers' Workshop

In 2015, Buckley partnered with the prestigious non-fiction Iowa Writers’ Workshop at Iowa University, led by English teacher Mitch Kohn. “I asked John [D’Agata, head of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop Non-Fiction Program and author of The Next American Essay and other critically acclaimed books] if he would come to speak to Buckley kids," says Kohn. "He responded, ‘Why don’t you come here?’” 

The first year was a huge success, and every March since then, during Buckley’s pupil-free days for prose writing, Kohn takes a group of about 20 Upper School students to cozy, snowy, collegiate Iowa City for two days of non-fiction writing workshops.

All Buckley Fellows are second-year graduate students in the Non-Fiction Writers’ Workshop, a three-year program. Of the 10 graduate students in Iowa’s Non-Fiction Writing program, four are selected to lead “Buckley Master Classes,” based on ideas they pitch to Bonnie Sunstein, the current head of the Nonfiction Writing Program.

2023 Workshops

  • "Anti-Hero: The Essayist & The Pop Song" by Spencer Jones
  • "Alternate Universes: The Art of Speculation in Nonfiction Writing" by Sarah Khatry
  • "How to Ask a Question" by Wyatt Williams
  • "Writing from the Head & the Heart: Emotion and Memory in Creative Nonfiction" by Fi Okupe
  • "B(l)ack Down South: How Writing Can Transform Perception" by Grace Morse
  • "Ekphrastic Writing" by Jessie Kraemer
“The Iowa program allowed for me to further explore a genre of writing that had never before been of interest to me. Before the program, I was under the impression that nonfiction writing could never be fun. However, this experience has opened my eyes to a whole world of creative writing, for which I am incredibly grateful.”
-Caitlin K. '24
Buckley Upper School English teacher Mitch Kohn and director of the Iowa’s Non-Fiction Writers’ Workshop John D’Agata piloted the partnership in 2016

Iowa Trip Itinerary


  • Fly to Iowa City
  • Buckley Fellows, Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate students selected to lead Buckley’s master classes, along with author/playwright and Non-Fiction Writers Program head John D’Agata, arrive at hotel to greet students at the Iowa House Hotel.
  • Dinner locally.


  • 8:30 a.m.: Fellows meet Buckley students at hotel and walk them over to the English/Philosophy Building, where they break into groups for their first session
  • 11:00 a.m.: Lunch in the town of Iowa City
  • 1:00 p.m.:  Workshops continue with writing and sharing
  • 4:00 p.m.: Walking tour of Iowa City, including former residence of Kurt Vonnegut and the renowned Prairie Lights bookstore
  • 7:00 p.m.: Buckley Fellows give readings of their own work at Gerber Hall. 
  • 9:00 p.m.: Dinner/dessert in town


  • Students check out of hotel and meet Fellows again to walk over for Day 2 of workshops
  • 9:00 a.m.: First session of Workshop 2 begins, with readings and discussion
  • 10:45 a.m.: Lunch in town
  • 12:30 p.m.: Second session of Workshop 2, writing and sharing 
  • 2:00 p.m.: Reception in Non-Fiction Writing Program office, with Fellows. Buckley students receive notebooks with inscriptions from Fellows
  • 6:00 p.m.:  Flight back to Los Angeles!