Life of Discovery 2012 文化探寻

Currently in its fourth year, the Life of Discovery exchange program beween the International Writing Program (IWP) and the China Writers' Association (CWA) brings together young American and Chinese poets, fiction writers, and playwrights to discuss literature, translation, and culture, and to engage in mutual creative writing projects. Through exchange and dialogue, IWP and CWA writers learn something of the each country's literature, form friendships, and mutually create new work. Sponsored through grant funds provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the first half of this year's Life of Discovery exchange program brought a delegation of American writers to China from June 26th to July 7th and will continue in the United States from Oct. 27th - Nov. 3rd, when the Chinese delegation visits Chicago and Iowa City. 

The theme for this year's LOD exchange is "Reading the City." The American writers visiting China will spent the bulk of their time in Beijing and Shanghai, enormous urban areas with populations of over 19 and 23 million, respectively, with day trips to the Juyongguang section of China's Great Wall and the water village of Zhouzhuang. For our creative sessions, we've asked the writers to consider how they "read" space physically, creatively, intellectually, and emotionally. Whether it's the Tokyo of Murakami's Wind Up Bird Chronicle or Alice Munro's Toronto, the city has long been of interest to writers and this year, we've asked our writers to consider the cities they'll visit together (Beijing, Shanghai, Zhouzhuang, Chicago, and Iowa City) and how they might respond to them in their creative work.

American Participants

Amelia Gray

Amelia Gray is the author of AM/PM (Featherproof Books) and Museum of the Weird (FC2), for which she won the 2008 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize. Her first novel, THREATS, was published this spring by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, American Short Fiction, McSweeney's, and DIAGRAM, among others.

Dora Malech

Dora Malech was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1981 and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. She earned a BA in Fine Arts from Yale College in 2003 and an MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2005. She has been the recipient of a Frederick M. Clapp Poetry Writing Fellowship from Yale, a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching-Writing Fellowship from the Writers’ Workshop, a Glenn Schaeffer Poetry Award, a Writer’s Fellowship at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Italy, and a 2010 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. The Waywiser Press published her first full-length collection of poems, Shore Ordered Ocean, in 2009 and the Cleveland State University Poetry Center published her second collection, Say So, in 2011. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including The New YorkerPoetryBest New PoetsAmerican Letters & CommentaryPoetry London, and The Yale Review. She was recently commissioned by the International Writing Program, in partnership with the Moscow Art Theatre, to create new work for the collaborative, bilingual “Book Wings” project. She has taught writing at institutions that include the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop; Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington, New Zealand; and Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, California, where she served as Distinguished Poet-in-Residence in 2010. She lives in Iowa City, where she writes, creates visual art, teaches, and directs the Iowa Youth Writing Project, an arts outreach program for children and teens.

Kaui Hart Hemmings

Kaui Hart Hemmings was born and raised in Hawaii. She has degrees from Colorado College and Sarah Lawrence and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She is the author of the story collection House of Thieves and of the novel The Descendants, which has been published in fifteen countries and adapted for the screen by director by Alexander Payne in 2011.

Dan O'Brien

Dan O’Brien’s current projects include The Body of an American, winner of the 2011 L. Arnold Weissberger Award, set to premiere at Portland Center Stage in 2012, and Theotokia / The War Reporter, an opera premiering at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University in 2013. Previous productions include The Cherry Sisters Revisited (Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival), The House in Hydesville (Geva Theatre Center), The Voyage of the Carcass (SoHo Playhouse; Page 73 Productions), The Dear Boy (Second Stage Theatre), and Moving Picture (Williamstown Theatre Festival). He has served as a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, the inaugural Djerassi Fellow in Playwriting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and twice the Tennessee Williams Fellow at The University of the South (Sewanee). Residencies include the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Yaddo, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. O’Brien’s poetry has appeared recently in Missouri Review, Malahat Review, Poetry Review, North American Review, and elsewhere. This summer he will teach playwriting at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Originally from New York, O’Brien lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actor and writer Jessica St. Clair.

Program Coordinator - Nate Brown 

Chinese Participants

Liu Yewei

Liu Yewei (刘业伟), a Chinese author whose pen name is Yewei, was born in Zaozhuang, Shandong province in 1977. He studied at Qufu Normal University, Nanjing Normal University and Lu Xun Academy of Literature. He is currently a member of the China Writers Association, director of the Jiangsu Provincial Painting and Calligraphy Association, vice chairman of the Writers Association of Xuzhou City, and head of the editorial department of Jiangsu Normal University News. Liu started writing literary works in 1990 and has published over three million characters in the form of medium-length and short stories in various literary periodicals such as Fiction Monthly. He has published a novel, Rich Mine, and a series. He is also the author of several academic works, including “Analyzing Four Generations of Ye Shengtao Family in the View of Editing” and “Observing the Literary Circle from the Sidelines: between Universities and Media”. Liu was awarded the Jiangsu Purple Mountain Literary Award, and received a top ten Young Poets Award of “Times Literature” among many other literary awards. He was also honored for his acheivements in the categories of Drama, TV Soap Opera, Books, Songs and Criticism for Xu Zhou city, and his calligraphy has been featured in the Chinese Writer Calligraphy and Painting Exhibition, where he received the “Wen Xin Mo Yu” Prize (for the expression of one’s literal thought with Chinese calligraphy). Liu’s masterpiece, Rich Mine, is widely acclaimed and was a finalist in the 8th Mao Dun Literature Prize. Currently, Liu Yewei works for Jiangsu Normal University.

Sun Wei

Sun Wei is a Chinese novelist, short-story writer, and essayist. She was born in 1973 in Shanghai and grew up in a family of intellectuals. She received her B.A. in journalism from Fudan University in 1996 and her master's in International Business Administration from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2001. She started writing fairy tales and novels in her teenage years. She is interested in exploring the theme of ‘malaise’ in an increasingly materialistic world, with a fickle and fast-developing economy in China as the social background. She has published 13 books and over 20 novels and novelettes.

Mao Juzhen

Mao Juzhen (毛菊珍), whose pen name is A Mao, is a poet and author born in Xiantao, Hubei Province, China. A Mao now lives in Wuhan. She is the member of China Writers Association, Hubei Provincial Writers Association, and the Wuhan Academy of Literature. She graduated with a degree in philosophy from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in 1989, and began writing poetry in the late 1980s. She has published more than ten literary works, including five collections of poems: Injured by Water (1992), Supreme Stars (1999), The song of my Time (1999), Rotating Mirror (2006), Variation (2010); and three collections of prose: The Train of Images (1998), Stone's passion (2009), Apple's rule (2011); and the short story collections Apple on the Cup (1996), Desire (1999), Who Takes Me Home (2005), and The Eternal life in Love (2011). She has won several poetry awards including the Annual Poet Prize from Poetry Monthly in 2007, the 7th Chinese National Youth Poet Award from Poetry Periodical, the Best Love Poems for the Year 2009 in China, and from Aug 2009-Aug 2010, she served as the poet-in-residence at Capital Normal University in Beijing.

Zhang Yuntao

Zhang Yuntao(张运涛)was born in Zhengyang County, Henan province in February 1968 and is one of the most popular young writers in China. After graduating from Huanghuai University, Zhang went on to study further at Henan University and at Lu Xun Academy of Literature. In 1988, he made his debut in Poetry News. He has written nearly a hundred essays for Youth Digest, Lover, Life and Companion, Shenzhen Youth, Marriage And Family, and other fashion journals from 2004 to 2007. In 2008, he started writing fiction, and since then his stories have appeared in numerous belles-lettres periodicals, including Mountain Flowers, Lotus, Clear-and-Bright, Apsaras, Literatures, Sichuan Literature Monthly, The Yalu River, Guangxi Literature Monthly, Tianjin Literature Monthly, The Yellow River Literature, Special Zone Literature, Novel Monthly, Contemporary Fiction, River, Anhui Literature Monthly, and others. Several stories have also been anthologized by Selected Stories Monthly, Works and Comment and elsewhere. His short story collection Warm Cotton was published by Modern Publishing House in 2011. His awards include the 20th Liang Bin Award for fiction from Tianjin, the First and Second Renaissance Literary Award, his city government award for literature and more. Until 2009, Zhang Yuntao taught at No. 2 Senior High School in Zhengyang County. Since 2009, he has worked in the County Federation of Literary and Art Circles.

Wu Xinwei

Wu Xinwei (吴欣蔚), Program Coordinator - China Writers Association

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