On Going Home is the name we've given to a short series of essays by our fall residents. We commissioned the pieces because we wanted to keep in touch and were curious about what the process of returning home was like for authors who'd spent nearly 3 months in the U.S. writing, researching, traveling, and interacting with Americans. We also asked the authors to send us a photograph that represented "home" in some fundamental way. Our second installment comes from poet and blogger Pandora, whose transition home coincided with a larger transition currently budding in Burma/Myanmar.
It is no longer the delightful rays of light through the window that start my day. It is the vibration of the water pump that serves as my wake-up alarm. When I open my eyes, the walls, the ceiling, the curtains, the wardrobe, the washing machine at the corner of the room and most evidently, a mosquito net covering me and my hubby sleeping next to me…. all these confirm that I am home.
I spent almost three months in Iowa City and other cities in America. What is specific about Iowa City, to me, is “tranquility” though the same might not necessarily be true in all parts of America. Most days I encountered in the fall season were cool enough to create a fresh atmosphere and warm enough to keep an Asian visitor like me comfortable. Most Iowans use their own legs to get around town yet they don’t look tired. They seem relaxed yet active. They don’t have to be in a hurry yet still are on time. I lost a few kilos walking around town during my residency. The changing colors of beautiful leaves enchanted me, being a person who has never experienced a four-season country. New Orleans’ crazy nights raised my spirits. Art museums were my favorite places to visit in Chicago, Washington DC, and New York.
Back in Yangon, I miss the opportunity to walk naturally from place to place. I find myself in a vehicle most of the time but I usually have to be in a rush. The increasing import of cars is making driving inconvenient, even for those who own cars, not to mention those who take public transport. Going downtown during the daytime is a sweaty journey in heavy traffic. I miss the breeze blowing across the bridge over the Iowa River. Nevertheless, what is a relief to me is the momentum of the “transition” in my country. Finally we’re starting to see a faint light at the other end of the tunnel.
I arrived back home from the States in mid-November last year, which is considered the cold season in my country. Hence, after witnessing the prettiest fall in the States, excepting Sandy hurricane, I was back home to enjoy the best season in my country. For most IWP writers, the day after they landed might have been hectic, with piles of tasks on their desks. I am fortunate enough to still be on a long leave from my job in Singapore (since late 2011) in order to enjoy the sense of home and plan for my family. Fortunately again, the timing also coincides with significant changes in my country, the so-called transition period.
Transition brings us a more open outlook of the world toward a closed country. We are receiving global attention to literature and culture along with political changes. After the gradual easing of censorship to some extent, literary and artistic events can be held without needing to pass through a strict process, unlike in previous times. Among them are the Blue Wind Multimedia International Art Festival, the Irrawaddy International Literary Festival, and several other art exhibitions and literary events.
The voice of the people is also heard louder in the transition although whether that voice can carry the expected changes is another story. Such a voice is also reflected in literary and artistic work. Messages are clearer and styles are more direct as compared to the past, when we had to be very cautious about each and every word we expressed. Applause for such writings is also heard from the audience. Some poets express their excitement at the shifting trends in poetics and at witnessing the new challenges of writing in the process of openness.
I remember the students I met in Iowa City, Des Moines, Spirit Lake and News Orleans. I was so envious that regardless of their ages, from primary school to seniors in college, they had opportunities to learn about contemporary international literature and hear updates from international writers. Such opportunities might not come quickly to Myanmar, but I was so glad when an IWP team visited universities in Yangon and gave lectures this year [poets Christopher Merrill, Robert Hass, and Brenda Hillman, and fiction writer Zuwena Packer visited Burma/Myanmar on an IWP reading tour January 11 - 17, 2013]. I hope that this will pave the way for future long term collaborations in creative writing between universities in the States and Myanmar.
Transition is not a perfect process. Despite some improvements, we are still hearing the ugly roar of civil war in the north and the noise of ethnic conflicts in the western part of the country. Farmers are still struggling for their land rights against big industrial projects. Factory workers are fighting for a better quality of work-life. We hope that democracy, still in its infancy, is not overwhelmed by the feeble educational system and the fundamental inequalities that have existed since the time of the tough ruling regime. Don’t these poor, long-suffering people deserve a pleasant future ahead?
Now, many streets all over the country are decorated with yellowish Ngu and reddish Sein Pan: the local seasonal flowers. People are waiting for Padauk, the national flower, which is supposed to blossom only once in a year right at the time of the Water Festival. The Water Festival is also called “Thingyan”, which comes from a Pali word meaning “transition”. During the “transition”, people wish for bad deeds to be cleansed by cool water and replaced with a genuinely clean body and mind in order to welcome a better New Year. Despite some still unclean dirt, I believe that the brighter and cleaner days are on their way, seen or unseen.
Maybe it’s also the time when the IWP is preparing for the upcoming fall residency. Perhaps the sweet memories of IWP’s fall 2012 residents will be replaced with those of the new batch soon. But I believe that my little footprints will remain indelible in Iowa City, whether visible or invisible.
For more from Pandora, watch her On the Map interview.
“Writers in Burma have to find a way to penetrate censorship; we have to be more innovative in terms of techniques, style, technology…more creative” –Pandora (Burma/Myanmar)
This month, the International Writing Program (IWP) released the 2012 edition of "On the Map," a series of video interviews recorded with international writers in Iowa City last fall to participate in the IWP's 2012 fall residency. The series, made possible by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, includes interviews with 14 writers discussing everything from their favorite books to the state of current affairs in their home countries. The interviews, ranging from 5 to 30 minutes in length, offer a frank and intimate glimpse into the creative lives of these authors as well as a valuable portal into the countries they hail from and what it means to be a writer there.
Certain universalities emerge from the interviews, among them, the personal satisfaction the writers derive from their writing. “Being a writer, it gives many gifts,” says Genevieve Asenjo (Philippines).
“I’m a civil engineer, but writing gives me things that engineering couldn’t,” observes Taleb Alrefai (Kuwait). “It lets me be very close to people, lets me enter their houses, enter their hearts.”
“[Writing is] a passport,” echoes Rodrigo Garcia Lopes (Brazil), “[offering access to] new experiences and new insights into human life.”
But in talking about writing, stark differences in political realities also surface. When asked about the happiest moment in the writing process: Alina Dadaeva (Uzbekistan) muses: “the beginning, when you try to go through the fog using only your senses.”
“When I write the last sentence of my novel” quips Yaghoub Yadali (Iran), in answer to the same question, “and the pain of writing ends.” He pauses for a moment: “Another happy moment is when I hear that my novel has been approved for publication by the government,” he adds.
Yadali is not the only writer to have faced more than a bad review. Nay Phone Latt (Burma/Myanmar) spent 4 years in jail for his activities as a blogger; he read 20-30 books a month and wrote a collection of short stories while in prison. “No matter where you are, what you are doing there is more important,” Latt says.
Many of the authors broach the question of censorship in their interviews. Government intrusion “restrains the creative spirit of writers” sums up Alisa Ganieva (Russia), whose native Dagestan has been mired by political and religious tensions.
Still, the need to write subsists. "When I read something beautiful in Russian, English, Arabic, or Kurdish, I want people to know," says Gulala Nouri (Iraq), who, like many if the writers profiled in On the Map, is also a translator. “Being a writer or a poet is a destiny,” says Luis Bravo (Uruguay) fondly. “I don't think it's a job."
Watch the full interview with Iranian writer and filmmaker Yaghoub Yadali below.
For more videos in the On the Map series, including interviews with Khaled Alberry (Egypt), TJ Dema (Botswana), Bilal Tanweer (Pakistan), and Mohib Zegham (Afghanistan) visit IWP’s Shambaugh House YouTube channel.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a short series of essays commissioned from writers who participated in the 2012 fall residency. We began the series, “On Going Home,” last year as a way to keep in touch and get a glimpse of what the process of returning home was like for authors who'd spent nearly three months in the U.S. writing, researching, travelling, and interacting with Americans. We asked the authors to include a photograph that represented "home" in some fundamental way. This year’s first installment comes from Genevieve L. Asenjo, a fiction writer, poet, and translator who lives in Manila, in the Philippines; the photograph is the view from the terrace of the author's condo.
America was an introduction to vastness. I returned to my one-bedroom condominium unit in Manila last November feeling suffocated. I wondered how to best fit and display those shipped boxes of books from Prairie Lights, The Haunted Bookshop, Faulkner, The Strand on my already cramped shelves.
Space! This is one thing that awed me about America. Its big open skies and long stretch of land brought me not to seas and beaches comparable to the Philippines but to equally amazing bodies of water: Lake MacBride, The Mississippi River, Barataria Swamps and Wetlands. The 4-hour ride from Iowa City to Chicago was considered near; I relished the 9-hour road trip to Michigan State University the last week of October with two Filipino-American graduate students for a Philippine Studies Conference. And oh, how I wanted to dance either in my long skirt or peasant dress in the middle of cornfields and prairies in that autumn breeze and burst of colors! The closest thing I got, of course, was a portrait by Tom Langdon shot inside the Iowa House Hotel on an October afternoon.
By then, the autumn chill made me fret for home, or somewhere Southwest. I consoled myself that I still needed to see my ‘first real snow.’ A fellow writer with a good view of the Iowa River promised to summon me on the first instance of flurry. No luck, even to the moment the airport-bound limousine collected us from the Broadway-street hotel of our post-Sandy New York trip. Could the regret and relief in my sighs be assuaged by the Kronos Quartet that astonished us all at The Englert Theatre when news of a snowstorm all over the Midwest reached me last December by smartphone in the sunny comfort of my parents’ farm? The farm is on an island in the heart of the archipelago, an hour by plane from Manila and 2-hour land ride boasting an Instagram-worthy seascape. I thought of Scarlet O’Hara’s Tara and Marilyn Robinson’s Gilead. I stayed there throughout Christmas with a heightened valuation of things rural and agricultural as they have become synonymous to slow, organic, well-being. There’s nothing romantic about Philippine poverty; I deeply appreciated the farm trips to Erem Acreage and Solstead. It affirmed for me the possibility of a writing life nourished by my own share of land in a community capable of growing its own produce. And you bet, it become closer and nearer to any point I could find myself using Google maps.
But coming home was really about hard-boiled eggs for breakfast and all-time favorite Filipino dishes like sinigang, adobo, lechon. Never mind rice, I had it from the New Pioneer Co-op. My hunger and sadness in Iowa rested on pizza, bagels, microwave meals, paper cups and plastic utensils yet I was glad to be introduced to the Cajun and Creole cuisine of New Orleans.
“How was Iowa? How much have you written?” Friends asked. To the young ones, I told them about meeting Hualing Nieh Engle in person and giggled with them about Paul’s line for her, “In terrible haste, in full love,” as she told us in the documentary One Tree Three Lives. To colleagues, of how witty Elaine Showalter was, and to many other fellow writers, the thought after listening to Junot Diaz: that we should be writing about our Filipino doctors and nurses and seafarers, so maybe our writing in English will also be read, primarily, by our countrymen and women in diaspora.
More than newly-acquired books, Facebook updates on meaningful moments and photos of places traveled to, collaboration with New York Battery Dance Company, friendship with the staff and fellow international writers, some of whom I introduced in an elective course titled Contemporary World Fiction when I resumed teaching last January, the International Writing Program (IWP) gifted me with empathy for America and the Americans. The rodeo trip, barn dance with the seniors, and farm visits unveiled to me the rural side of America; “the other side,” maybe even “the real America” beyond Hollywood and foreign policy. Engagements toward the reelection of Barack Obama attuned me to America’s share of miseries and burdens. It was made believable by sights of many homeless people in parks and streets, stories of unemployment and that of veterans and families of American troops, and the tug of tax and tipping.
Every time I go out to my terrace and am confronted by a dense cityscape, my mind zooms out and settles in a vast void. A horizon. There, a lingering – the delight I knew well, for instance, when I read Clarice Lispector for the first time, in translation, from the University of Iowa Library, or when I rediscovered Robert Hass, skipping a grocery trip with Mary. Here, I hunger for more words like I desire an oyster. Clear, simple words for those intimate gestures of the mind and heart one keeps in different time zones, thousands of miles above sea level. At times I am startled, as if a squirrel passed by. Mostly, I feel light; glad to have walked Iowa’s ground and made peace with history.
“I will take Iowa with me in my heart to my country…The most important thing about America is the freedom it gives to everybody”—Taleb Al Refai (Kuwait)
On Friday, November 2nd, writers and community members assembled in the Iowa City Public Library for “Images of America,” the final panel discussion of the fall 2012 residency. IWP director Christopher Merrill offered opening remarks and invited the writers to come up to the podium to share experiences, anecdotes, and memories they would take with them back to their countries. In the course of the hour-long panel, fifteen writers offered extemporaneous remarks. “Images of America” prompted both laughter and tears from the audience. Since there were no papers written for this panel, we’d like to take this opportunity to give you a taste of what was said there.
Jeffrey Paparoa Holman (New Zealand) spoke first, thanking his fellow writers and offering a Maori blessing (many of the writers left Iowa City knowing basic Maori greetings, thanks to Jeffrey's s bilingual interventions). He read two poems about America, one written from outside and another, “The Birds of Pittsburg,” written during the residency, which touched on what emerged as a common theme: that the 10-week residency had reshaped the image of America many writers had prior to their arrival in Iowa.
By popular demand, Taleb Al Refai (Kuwait), came to the podium next and spoke to another common theme: the diversity of the residency cohort. “I will go back to Kuwait full of lovely stories about the many different IWP characters,” Al Refai said. “When I got to Iowa, I wrote a sentence about [each of the writers], a first impression. Day by day, my impression versus the reality of the person changed. I’m sure I will miss Iowa… the capital of literature… I have great memories of Iowa City and [the] IWP.”
Rodrigo Lopes (Brazil) spoke of “How much we have to learn from America [regarding] the importance of education to give perspective on the world” and of how enriching it was for him to meet writers from so many different countries. “A program like this: where else could I find a crazy Belorussian?” Lopes joked, referring to fellow writer, Andrei Khadanovich. “We are spoiled here,” Lopes went on, turning serious again. “I don’t know when I’ll see you,” he said, addressing his fellow writers, “but I hope we’ll meet again in our lives.”
Mohib Zegham spoke of the newspaper articles he had written during the residency: “Now my readers in Afghanistan know a lot about the US and Iowa.” Many of the writers published articles abroad and blogged about the residency experience during their time in the US, giving readers in their home countries a chance to see and learn about America through their eyes.
Milagros Socorro (Venezuela) explained how the residency broadened her perspective on the world: “Before I came here, there was only one country, Venezuela—I am in love with my country. [Being at IWP] I have discovered Venezuela is not alone in the world.”
Andrei Khadanovich (Belarus) fondly recalled driving a tractor during a visit to Solstead earlier that week and expressed the hope that “together we will labor [to forge] a big international web of writers."
Chris Mlalazi (Zimbabwe) recalled “Two and a half months in beautiful Iowa, all four seasons, a source of healing for my heart.”
Lin Chun Ying (Taiwan) spoke of the furtive raccoon he saw on Madison Avenue during his early days in Iowa City. “Sometimes I think I am like that raccoon,” he said, “always hiding. But not here.”
The audience alternated between raucous laughter and pensive reflection when Jana Beňová (Slovakia) read an original work, “Footnote to Iowa City,” in which each phrase, echoing her key influence, Alan Ginsburg, began with “holy”. Here’s a snippet: “Holy the smoke alarms. Holy the gossip. Holy the election. Holy the time. Holy the end. Holy the road.”
Luis Bravo (Uruguay) spoke about feeling nurtured and encouraged as a writer in Iowa City, joking that “What we call reality…Iowa City calls nonfiction.”
Federico Falco (Argentina) spoke of the silence behind the writers’ doors in Iowa House in the computer age. “In the past there were typewriters…[but it was] very quiet—what are these people doing?” Of Iowa City, Falco said: “there is a place, a whole city of writers writing together. I want to read what was written behind those closed doors.” Take a peek behind those doors by exploring his project: 26 Writers’ Rooms.
Nay Phone Latt (Burma) touched on the common theme of solidarity among writers, regardless of national origin: “In a global age, we are all connected […] we have to think as a global people.”
Genevieve Asenjo (Philippines) explained how the residency served its personal and professional purpose for her, a theme echoed by Pandora (Burma) who called the residency “one of the best experiences of my life” allowing her to share her own culture and to learn about others.
Stephanie Ye (Singapore) spoke to the IWP’s role in “expanding [her] knowledge of the world” in a way she would never forget and to the collaboration that would grow out of the residency, saying she looked forward to translating the works of her fellow writers.
Though there was much more to be said, the hour was over. Christopher Merrill returned to the podium to conclude the panel. “It’s hard to stay in touch; now you have friends in 28 countries,” Merrill said. “But if experience serves, many of these friendships will endure.”
To the writers of the 2012 residency and others, past and future: as challenging as it may be, please do keep in touch. Share good news for inclusion in quarterly Shambaugh House Roundups by sending it to ashley-r-davidson[at]uiowa.edu and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date on what is happening at the IWP and with your fellow writers.
If you had stopped by the lobby of the Iowa House Hotel this morning shortly before 7am, you would have found two dozen writers exchanging last minute hugs, goodbyes, and promises to keep in touch with Iowa City friends and IWP staffers, including Housing Coordinator Mary Nazareth and her husband, Program Advisor Peter Nazareth. Last night, Peter and Mary could be found tearing up the dance floor at the Clinton Street Social Club where IWP writer Rodrigo Lopes (Brazil) performed after the IWP 2012 Farewell Reception, held in honor of the writers at the historic Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City yesterday evening.
The writers first had a chance to reflect on Iowa and on the residency experience at last Friday’s “Images of America” panel at the Iowa City Public Library. Pandora (Burma) called the residency “One of the best experiences of my life” and explained it had given her a chance to share the culture, landscape, and literature of her own country while learning about those of her fellow writers. Andrei Khadanovich (Belarus) addressed the shared hope that friendships and creative bonds forged during the residency will endure, saying “Together we will labor [to create] a big international web of IWP writers.”
In the final days, as the writers prepared to leave Iowa, their creative home for the past ten weeks, Federico Falco (Argentina) took it upon himself to photograph the spaces in which the writers lived and worked during the residency. His project, “26 Writers’ Rooms” offers a rare glimpse into how each of them configured and transformed these small and seemingly identical spaces into personal havens for writing.
At last night’s farewell reception, IWP director Chris Merrill offered closing remarks and presented each writer with a certificate along with a residency group photo as a way to help writers remember their time in Iowa. Sitting in the audience at the Englert, watching party-goers mingle onstage before the ceremony, Yaghoub Yadali (Iran) reflected on his time in the residency as “the most productive period of my life” in terms of writing.
Outside Iowa House today, under an early morning drizzle, the writers climbed into waiting vans and headed for the airport, embarking on the end of residency travel period, which will take them first to Washington DC, where they will arrive in time to watch the election results roll in tonight, and later to New York City.
While in Washington, writers will join high school students for the D.C. Youth Poetry Slam at the Martin Luther King Library and participate in discussions and reading groups at DC area schools.
On Thursday, November 8, at 4pm, IWP writers will read at Politics & Prose Book Store, where they will be joined by Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock. A recording of the event in downloadable MP3 format will be made available by Politics & Prose here.
The writers will then travel to New York City, where on Sunday, November 11, new works commissioned from IWP writers on the theme of freedom will be brought to life in a performance by the Battery Dance Company.
While in New York, writers will also meet with literary agents and attend an issue release party for Granta 121: Best of Young Brazilian Novelists at McNally Jackson Books, before heading home to their respective countries next Tuesday.
Shambaugh House feels pretty quiet and empty without the writers around, but we look forward to hearing about their travels and to reading their new writing. And we hope you will let us hear from you too. Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check back here soon for more on IWP programming.
It’s hard to believe that the residency is almost over, but it is, and the writers are preparing for one last week of events before heading off to Washington DC and New York City early next week.
This Tuesday, catch the last installment of IWP Cinemathèque with Stephanie Ye (Singapore) presenting the 2006 film Singapore Dreaming, about a family with big dreams living on a small island and the struggles brought on by an unexpected lottery win. E105 Adler Journalism Building, 7:30pm.
Then on Wednesday, join us at the Shambaugh House for a reading by Chilean writer, journalist, film critic, and film director Alberto Fuguet (IWP ’03), 5-6pm. On Thursday at 3:30pm, Fuguet’s film, Country Music, will be showing at the Bijou Theater in the Iowa Memorial Union.
On Friday, join us for a special “Images of America” panel; IWP writers will give their impressions of Iowa and other places they’ve travelled during the residency. Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A, noon-1pm.
Later Friday afternoon, join us in honoring writer and IWP co-founder Hualing Nieh Engle at her IMPACT Award Ceremony, which will be held in conjunction with a WorldCanvass broadcast titled: “IWP: Writing the Stories of the World.” Stephanie Ye (Singapore), Lin Chun Ying (Taiwan), Alina Dadaeva (Uzbekistan), Rodrigo Garcia Lopes (Brazil), and Life of Discovery writer Sun Wei (China) will participate in the broadcast, to be held in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum.
Finally, on Sunday, Alisa Ganieva (Russia) and Bilal Tanweer (Pakistan) will read at Prairie Lights, 4-5pm. If you’re not in Iowa City, you can always stream it live.
After a weekend in Chicago, which included visits to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home, the Ernest Hemingway Museum, the Poetry Foundation, and the Field Museum of Natural History, as well as forays into Chinatown and Little India, the writers returned to Iowa City late Sunday evening. They now have only 15 days left in Iowa before finishing off the 2012 residency with readings and other events in Washington DC and New York City!
This week, we start out with IWP Cinemathèque, Tuesday night, with Alina Dadaeva (Uzbekistan) presenting Ivan Vassilievich Changes Profession. In this film, a man builds a time machine and, along with an apartment complex manager and a petty burglar, is accidently transported to 16th century Moscow, while Tsar Ivan the Terrible travels to the year 1973. E105 Adler Journalism Building, 7:30pm.
Friday’s panel, “At Language’s Edge,” will be held in the Gerber Lounge (English Philosophy Building, room 304) with Genevieve Asenjo (Philippines), Rodrigo Garcia Lopes (Brazil), and Taleb Al Refai (Kuwait). Noon-1, pizza provided.
Then Friday at 5pm, join the IWP in welcoming Chinese writers Liu Yewei, Mao Juzhen, Sun Wei, and Zhang Yuntao to Iowa City. IWP Director Chris Merrill will officially welcome the writers and Zhang Yuntao and Mao Juzhen will give a reading. The writers are part of the Life of Discovery creative exchange project, a collaboration between IWP and the China Writers’ Association which puts writers from People's Republic of China in direct contact with American writers with the goal of fostering creative and academic exchange.The writers will be in Iowa from Oct. 26th through Nov 2nd. Join our Life of Discovery Facebook Event for more details about free public events during their visit.
On Sunday, Life of Discovery writers Sun Wei and Liu Yewei will read with poet Dora Malech, who traveled to China last June as part of Life of Discovery 2012. 4-5pm at Prairie Lights.
With only two weeks left in the 2012 residency, we hope you will join us in Iowa City this week or visit The Writing University to hear many of these events streamed live.
We’re overdue for a Shambaugh House Roundup, in which we share good news from our associates, friends, and alumni, as well as a few choice bits from within the walls of Shambaugh House, home of the International Writing Program. As always, if you have news to share, send it our way and we'll include it in an upcoming post.
To begin, of course huge congratulations are in order for Mo Yan (IWP ’04, China) who has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. Mo Yan was praised by the Swedish Academy for merging "folk tales, history and the contemporary" with "hallucinatory realism." Mo Yan is the second IWP alumnus to win the Nobel Prize in Literature; Orhan Pamuk (IWP ’85) won the Prize in 2006.
This summer, IWP friend and colleague Natasha Trethewey was named the new Poet Laureate of the United States. Trethewey accompanied IWP on a reading tour of Cyprus in 2008 and joined us that same year in Paros, Greece for the IWP's New Symposium exploring the theme "Home/Land."
Lília Maria Clara Momplé (IWP ’97 Mozambique) was recently announced the winner of the 2011 José Craveirinha Literary Prize. The prize, established in 2003, recognizes distinguished Mozambican authors. Here's an article about her win (in Portuguese).
Current IWP resident Jana Beňová (Slovakia) was here in Iowa City when she learned that she had won a European Union Prize for Literature for her book Café Hyena (Plán odprevádzania) (Café Hyena (Seeing People Off)). You can read a sample of the book here. The prize aims to bring the work of winning writers from a dozen EU countries to a wider international audience, and touch readers beyond national and linguistic borders.
Eavan Boland (IWP’79, Ireland), won a PEN Center USA 2012 Literary Award for A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet.
Andrea Hirata (IWP ’10, Indonesia) was profiled in The Wall Street Journal in anticipation of the release of his autobiographical novel, The Rainbow Troops, in the U.S. in January 2013. The book, which describes the hardships endured by a group of impoverished children on the remote Belitung Island, off the southern tip of Sumatra, sold over a million copies in Indonesia.
The Words Without Borders “Oil” issue features three IWP alumni: Maria Sonia Cristoff (IWP ’11, Argentina), Anja Kampmann (IWP ’10, Germany), and Etienne van Heerden (IWP ’90, South Africa) as well as several translators from the University of Iowa MFA in Translation program.
Poet Jan-Willem Anker (IWP ’09, Netherlands) has a debut novel coming out, A Civilised Man, based on the looting of the Acropolis by Lord Elgin.
IWP Between the Lines Instructor Camille T. Dungy (who also travelled with the IWP in Africa) co-edited Passageways, the first book out from Two Lines Press, through the The Center for the Art of Translation.
Alex Epstein (IWP ’07, Israel) is publishing seven micro stories in Electric Literature's Recommended Reading. Once all are published, the entire set will be available for free download in Kindle and EPub formats.
Meena Kandasamy (IWP '09, India) was featured in DNA’s: The great Indian rewrite, which took a look at contemporary Indian writers writing in English.
Congratulations to all these fine IWP writers!If you have news or information you'd like to share, please send it along to: ashley-r-davidson[at]uiowa.edu.
It was an exciting week at the IWP with the announcement Friday that Mo Yan (IWP ’04, China) had been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. Mo Yan is the second IWP alumnus to win the prize, after Orhan Pamuk in 2006. Check back here soon for a Shambaugh House Quarterly Roundup with other good news from IWP alumni. If you have news or information you’d like to be included, please send it along to ashley-r-davidson [at] uiowa.edu.
Last week, current IWP writers also got a chance to talk with WW Norton editors Robert Shapard and James Thomas during a special question and answer session. Shapard and Thomas, who edited the anthologies Sudden Fiction and Flash Fiction Forward, were in Iowa City in part to talk about their new anthology, Flash Fiction International, for which they are currently accepting submissions.
The schedule of upcoming events is slightly different than usual this week, so here’s the rundown of what you have to look forward to:
On Tuesday, at IWP Cinemathèque, Rodrigo Garcia Lopes (Brazil) presents the short film Satori Uso and Milagros Socorro (Venezuela) presents the feature film Hermano. E105 Adler Journalism Building. 7:30pm
On Wednesday, tune in at 3pm to hear Genevieve Asenjo (Philippines), Alisa Ganieva (Russia), Jeffrey Paparoa Holman (New Zealand), Christopher Mlalazi (Zimbabwe), Pandora (Burma), and Stephanie Ye (Singapore) on KRUI-FM’s The Lit Show, which streams live.
On Wednesday, we have the Shambaugh House reading with Jeffrey Paparoa Holman (New Zealand), and Dimitris Lyacos (Greece/Italy), 5-6pm. For those of you outside Iowa City, don’t worry, if you can’t join us, you can always stream it live.
On Thursday night, Luis Bravo (Uruguay) and Federico Falco (Argentina) participate in the latest installment of the Anthology reading series, in conjunction with the Works in Progress Festival, at PSZ, 120 N. Dubuque St., 9pm.
No Friday Iowa City Public Library or Sunday Prairie Lights reading this week, as the writers travel to Chicago to soak up the literary culture of the windy city.
Having passed the halfway point, there are still more than sixty events scheduled for the 2012 residency! In addition to regular IWP events, this week includes a joint reading by former Iowa Poet Laureate Marvin Bell and IWP director and poet Christopher Merrill as well as a celebration of Paul Engle Day, which honors the IWP’s co-founder who was also a long-time director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
The proclamation, signed by former Governor Tom Vilsack in 2000, recognizes Engle for having “brought the literary world to Iowa” and commends him and his wife, Hauling Nieh Engle (who will be honored later this month with an International Impact Award) for founding the IWP, which “each year creates a world-wide community of writers.”
This year, the annual Paul Engle Literary Festival, which coincides with the celebration of Paul Engle Day, (October 12th, Engle’s birthday), includes a screening of the documentary film “City of Literature” at the Englert Theatre this Sunday, October 14th at 2pm. This will be followed by a panel discussion featuring UI professor of English Loren Glass, Marvin Bell, and Jim Harris, the founder of one of Iowa City’s most beloved independent bookstores, Prairie Lights.
On Monday, 7-8pm at Prairie Lights, Bell and Merrill will read from their new book of prose poems, Everything at Once, written collaboratively by email. Bell, one of America’s leading poets and an emeritus faculty member at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, has been described by The Harvard Review as having "the largest heart since Walt Whitman." Merrill, who led the initiative to have Iowa City designated a UNESCO City of Literature, has published four collections of poetry, translations, several edited volumes and five books of nonfiction, and his work has been translated into 25 languages. If you’re outside Iowa City, you can stream the reading live.
On Tuesday, IWP Cinemathèque returns with Jeffrey Paparoa Holman (New Zealand) presenting When A City Falls (New Zealand, dir. Gerard Smyth), a documentary about how earthquake survivors struggle to recover and rebuild. E105 Adler Journalism Building. 7:30pm
On Friday, we’re back at the Iowa City Public Library with a “Works in Progress” panel featuring Christopher Mlalazi (Zimbabwe), Barlen Pyamootoo (Mauritius), Luis Bravo (Uruguay), and Milagros Socorro (Venezuela). Meeting Room A, noon-1pm. Panels stream live, and the papers presented can be found in the IWP Archives. This week’s panel is also the first event of the 2012 Works in Progress Festival.
After the panel, head over to the Shambaugh House for our Friday reading with Choi Myoung Sook and Hae Yisoo (both of South Korea). 5-6pm. For those of you outside Iowa City, don’t worry, you can stream it live.
Then Sunday, we’re back at Prairie Lights for a reading with Lin Chun Ying (Taiwan), Pandora (Burma), and Writers’ Workshop student James Molloy, 4-5pm, also streamed live.