In April 2011, the International Writing Program launched Writers in Motion, a study tour of the Mid-Atlantic and the American South, where eight international writers explored the theme of "Fall and Recovery." The writers traveled to Gettysburg, New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, Birmingham, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. to examine the different challenges presented by historical crises and upheavals, both natural and social.
There is a notion of creative destruction and self-determination at the heart of one vision of America: people are infinitely capable of rising from the ashes, and are actually strengthened by it. Not all recovery is speedy—wounds to the social fabric and the environment heal slowly—but disasters reveal how communities and countries approach the complicated issue of regeneration.
Writers in Motion introduced writers to such crucial historical events as the Civil War, Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and the Civil Rights movement, through all of which the writers will engage issues of race, class, and federal (versus local) governance. The visiting writers met with local writers, scientists, historians, and citizens, visited creative writing departments, and toured local landmarks, museums and civic gathering places in an effort to deepen their understanding of both the complexity of United States history and the challenges of writing cohesively and comprehensively about disaster worldwide. A filmmaker accompanied the delegation. Throughout, the tour was also documented on a daily blog In addition to the documentary film covering the group's experiences (below), an e-volume of the participants' essays is forthcoming.
Writers in Motion was sponsored through grant funds provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State.
IWP reading tour participant Chinelo OKPARANTA shortlisted for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing.