Love Letters: What Matters Most

In his book The Four Things that Matter Most: A Book about Living, Dr. Ira Byock invites us all to incorporate the themes of love, forgiveness, and gratitude into our daily lives.

Writing Opportunity

Inspired by the themes of love, forgiveness, and gratitude, please select one of the following:

  1. Write a letter to an individual who has taught you something about these themes.
  2. Write a reflection/story about a person who taught you to love, forgive, or express gratitude.
  3. Write about how incorporating these themes allowed you to be able to say goodbye to a significant person in your life.

You may send your writings to, by fax at 319-351-5729, or by U.S. mail to Jane Dohrmann, Honoring Your Wishes, Iowa City Hospice, 1025 Wade Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240. Please include your name, email address, and phone number. Submissions may be shared by Honoring Your Wishes™ to promote the themes of love, forgiveness, and gratitude within our community. Writings may be publicly displayed as part of exhibits or used in media.

Writing Prizes

Submissions must be limited to 1000 words and received between February 1 and July 31, 2018 to be considered for prizes. The first prize winner will be invited to read her or his submission on Sunday evening, October 7, 2018, as a part of the UNESCO City of Literature’s Iowa City Book Festival. The winning entry will be printed in Little Village magazine, and the second and third prize winners will be published in the online magazine. The top two winners will be invited to have lunch with Dr. Byock on Monday, October 8. The top three winners will receive a signed copy of one of Dr. Byock’s books.

Writing Circles

You may choose to share your writing in a writing circle. This is an opportunity to share your work and receive support and feedback from others.


Judges for Writing Submissions

Inara Verzemnieks has written for The New York Times Magazine, Tin House, The Atlantic, The Iowa Review, and Creative Nonfiction. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award and was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing. After working for thirteen years as a newspaper journalist, she received her MFA from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, where she now teaches as an assistant professor.


Matthew Steele is publisher of Little Village, YogaIowa, Bread & Butter, and the new magazine for skilled workers, Iowa Blueprint. He received a BA in Anthropology and an MFA in Media, Social Practice & Design from the University of Iowa.



After completing her Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Iowa, Syndy Conger taught a variety of literature courses for 30 years in the Department of English at Western Illinois University. She published two books, edited others, and wrote many articles, primarily about 18th and 19th century novels and novelists. She now lives in retirement with her husband in Iowa City, where she occasionally offers courses at the Senior Center.




Love Letters: What Matters Most toolkit

Please click on the following link for more information about the Iowa City Book Festival and Professional Conference.