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

  • To mark PEN International’s centennial, Words Without Borders has published a sampler of works by writers committed to freedom of expression. Algerian novelist and scholar Med MAGANI is among them.

  • A fall harvest of book reviews coming in: of The Others by Sarah BLAU (translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir); of LO Yi-Chin’s Farewell, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy TIANG; of Véronique TADJO’s In the Company of Men

  • A fascinating interview with IWP’s Senior Advisor, professor Peter Nazareth, retired from UI’s English Department in spring 2021, after nearly five decades of teaching.

  • Word reaches us that poet HU Xudong  胡续冬, who also taught comparative and world literatures at Peking University (Beida), specializing in Latin American literatures, passed away unexpectedly. RIP, Hu Xudong…

  • We note with sadness the passing of Hiroshi SAKAGAMI 坂上 弘, whose long novelistic career garnered him major literary and cultural honors. A former president of the Japan Writers’ Association, he was until his retirement also the director of Keio University Press.

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