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

  • 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 exchanges--if 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 forms 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.
  • In Iraq, two American poets teach, conduct workshops, share resources, and offer support as Baghdad prepares its candidacy to become the next UNESCO City of Literature.
  • Christopher Merrill gives a talk about cultural diplomacy at the 2015 Karachi Literature Festival:

Happening Now

  • Behind the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature, shared by novelists Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke, are translators--one key among them Jennifer CROFT, translator from the Polish, the Ukrainian, and the Spanish. Congratulations!

  • "Resisting English": at NYRB, Adam Kirsch reviews three decades of the translated work of the Japanese novelist and essayist Minae MIZUMURA (IWP '03).

  • Just out in Beirut, the intriguingly titled ['Laughter as Destructive History'] by the Iraqi poet, translator, and editor Soheil NAJM (IWP '07).

  • Death is Hard Work, the fifth title of the Syrian novelist Khaled KHALIFA (IWP '07), published by FSG in Leri Price's translation, is on the long list of the 2019 National Book Awards, in the Translated Literature category.

  • In the travel journal Off Assignment,  journalist and novelist Milagros SOCORRO (Venezuela, IWP '12) recalls a snowy day in Iowa City, and one woman's special gesture.

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