For more than 70 years, the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop has been one of the most prestigious programs of its kind in the United States. Celebrated writers and poets such as Michael Cunningham, Jane Smiley and Rita Dove are among the long list of the workshop's esteemed alumni.
Ayana Mathis, author of Oprah's Book Club 2.0's second selection The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, attended the workshop in 2009 and began to work on a fictionalized memoir. But after getting a reality check on a story she wrote -- a critique from her instructor, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson -- Ayana decided to work on some short stories instead... not knowing that they would become the beginnings of the The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.
Click through the slideshow to see some of the literary luminaries -- both faculty and graduates -- who have been a part of the Iowa Writers' Workshop over the years.