In an international program like the IWP, no matter how literary, America's political character is almost inevitably a shadow sparring partner. Man-sik Lee glosses this condition in his (flatteringly-titled) 'Why is everybody happy with the IWP?,' as does Gordon McLaughlan, on the occasion of reviewing 9/12, a new book by the caustic New York essayist Eliot Weinberger. A wider variety of views on 'America Abroad' emerges from the panel presentations made here during the fall residency.
But where exactly are we 'here'? Borrowing the title of this year's IWP-organized conference, 'Landscape and Literature,' this section leads off with Winston Barclay's assessment of the havoc intercourse with literature has wreaked on Iowa's landscape. A somewhat more benign view is heard from two samples of the many voices of Paul Engle, the program's co-founder and an early Iowa cosmopolite : his epic 1939 poem entitled, regionally, 'Corn,' and a mid-1960ies rumination on the work of writing going on within the street grid of our town. Earlier this year the Chinese writer Jiang Yun sent us a letter in which her image of Iowa/City is read, in part, against Paul and Hualing Engle's wooded back yard. Finally, 'Wheat Cakes' sketches the Mongolian plain poised, a few decades ago, between permanence and modernity. It was written by L Dashnyam (IWP '03) , and is introduced by its translator Katherine Ives.
Via his PC in Bahia Narlan Matos-Teixera interviews his favorite American poet Charles Simic . A fraction of the huge body of work of Brazilian poet Ferreira Gullar in the translation of Leland Guyer. And the persistent and inimitable voice of Aida NasrAllah, here to remind us that the geopolitics of the Middle East obscures the very corporeal life of the women and men who live there. Aida's story resonates from its proximity to the brief note she sent us after the recent death of the Palestinian-born American scholar and activist Edward Said.