Laura Sweeney, MS/MPA/MFA, facilitates Writers for Life in Iowa and Illinois. She represented the Iowa Arts Council at the First International Teaching Artist's Conference in Oslo, Norway. Her poems and prose appear in sixty plus journals and ten anthologies in the States, Canada, Britain, Indonesia, and China. Her recent awards include a scholarship to the Sewanee Writer's Conference.  In 2021, she received an Editor's Prize in Flash Discourse from Open: Journal of Arts & Letters; Poetry Society of Michigan's Barbara Sykes Memorial Humor Award; and two of her poems appear in the anthology Impact: Personal Portraits of Activism, winner of the American Book Fest Best Book Award, Current Events, 2021 .  She is a PhD candidate, English/Creative Writing, at Illinois State University. 

RESEARCH-BASED THEATRE - choose an image & read about the play Farmscape

Farmscape, a play about the challenges of farming

Big shout out to Mary Swander, Iowa poet laureate and English prof at Iowa State University, and her students, who in 2007 created “Farmscape: The Changing Rural Landscape.” “Farmscape” is a grassroots documentary play based on Swander’s students’ own extensive interviews with Iowa farmers, big and small, conventional and organic, young and old. Those farmer voices are embodied on stage from the opening farm auction scene, and the play is built on their own words and dramatizes their own experie

Drama for your farmer: A play captures the demise of the small farm

In late 2007, Mary Swander, Iowa’s poet laureate and a professor at Iowa State University, assigned her students a verbatim play about the challenges farmers face. “I wanted them to learn the complexity of the farming issue, how political, how contentious it is,” she recalls. Fanning out across the state, the students, many of whom had never set foot on a farm, conducted lengthy interviews with farmers big and small, and immersed themselves, literally, in the agrarian world of livestock, slaug