Writers and Cultural Diplomacy: A Core Mission of the IWP

Cultural diplomacy, formal and informal, has been among the core missions of the IWP since the program's founding in 1967. The U.S Department of State has been a supporter of this mission alongside the University of Iowa and many private arts foundations, both state-side and overseas.

Cultural Diplomacy on the Ground

  • IWP Director Christopher Merrill writes“Dividing Lines”: On Poetry and Diplomacy, 2021
  • A systemic analysis can be found in the 2005 report Cultural Diplomacy: A Linchpin of Public Policy.
  • How should the U.S. government participate in international cultural exchangesif at all? A note on Huffington Post.
  • "What role should the state have with respect to culture and the arts?" we ask a number of our alumni, under the rubric Periscope, along with a few other questions.
  • In this brief promo from 2012, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock explains the interest of the U.S. Department of State in the IWP.
  • Collaborations can be an ideal form of cultural diplomacy. In a work session with a group of young people in eastern Iowa, organized in the fall of 2012 by the Iowa Youth Writing Project, IWP writers both taught and learned from young writers as part of a project titled "Iowa: Face to Face." The project, funded by grant through the University of Iowa's Provost Office and the Office of the Vice President for Research, is highlighted in the following video, courtesy of the Creative Corridor.
  • Building a literary bridge across a cultural chasm: IWP commissioned the first-ever translation of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself," one of modern America's  foundational  texts,  into Persian. Framed by a historical and a literary commentary, it was  published on the digital platform WhitmanWeb,  the first of a dozen more translations into other languages.
  • In Tangiers (Morocco), a border zone between Africa and Europe, ten writers from vastly different backgrounds and places, probed the pervasive, ubiquitous, unmooring of identities.

Happening Now

  • Ranjit Hoskote’s speech at the 2024 Goa Literary Festival addresses the current situation in Gaza.

  • In NY Times, Bina Shah worries about the state of Pakistani—and American—democracy.

  • “I went to [Ayodhya] to think about what it means to be an Indian and a Hindu... ”  A new essay by critic and novelist Chandrahas Choudhury.

  • In the January 2024 iteration of the French/English non-fiction site Frictions, T J Benson writes about “Riding Afrobeats Across the World.” Also new, a next installment in the bilingual series featuring work by students from Paris VIII’s Creative Writing program and the University of Iowa’s NFW program.

  • in NYTimes, Sanam Maher examines a new book about women defending themselves when the justice system in their country won’t.

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