Christopher Merrill has published six collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many edited volumes and translations; and six books of nonfiction, among them, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War, and Self-Portrait with Dogwood. His writings have been translated into nearly forty languages; his journalism appears widely; his honors include a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French government, numerous translation awards, and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial and Ingram Merrill Foundations. As director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa since 2000, Merrill has conducted cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries. He served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO from 2011-2018, and in April 2012 President Barack Obama appointed him to the National Council on the Humanities. www.christophermerrillbooks.com
Left to Right: Emmy Perez, José A. Rodriguez, Wendy S. Walters, Christopher Merrill
Ecuador/colombia, may 28-june 6, 2018
Lines & Spaces: American Writers on Tour
A delegation of American authors José Antonio Rodriguez, Wendy S. Walters, Emmy Perez, and Christopher Merrill traveled to Ecuador and Colombia from May 28th to June 6th, 2018. In Ecuador, workshops and readings took place in Guayaquil, Cuenca, and Puerto Ayora in the Galapagos, and included local writers, journalism students, English language learners, and high schoolers with disabilities.
Wendy Walters speaks about being an author to English language learners at the Bi-National Center in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Emmy Perez and José Rodriguez live on Voz del Tomebamba Radio in Cuenca, Ecuador
In Cartagena, Colombia, joining a delegation from DanceMotion USA, the group met with dance students, primarily of Afro-Colombian origin, to explore the possibilities of blending text and movement. The workshop culminated in a showcase featuring text and choreography created jointly by the writers, the dancers, and the students.
Chris Merrill introduces the writers to the group of dance students in Cartagena, Colombia.
Emmy Perez takes notes during a generative word exercise with the dancers in Cartagena, Colombia.
José Antonio Rodríguez, born in Mexico and raised in south Texas, is the author of the memoir House Built on Ashes and the poetry collections The Shallow End of Sleep and Backlit Hour. His awards and honors include the Bob Bush Memorial Award from the Texas Institute of Letters; a finalist citation for the 2014 Paterson Poetry Prize, a finalist citation for a 2017 International Latino Book Award, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award from the Paterson Literary Review, the Founders’ Prize from RHINO, multiple nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and the Clifford D. Clark Doctoral Fellowship from Binghamton University, where he earned a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing. He is also a member of the writers’ collectives Macondo Writers’ Workshop and CantoMundo. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, POETRY, The Texas Observer, the Poetry Society of America online, and elsewhere. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
Wendy S. Walters (MFA/PhD, Cornell) is the author of a book of prose, Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal (Sarabande Books, 2015), named a best book of the year by Buzzfeed, Flavorwire, Literary Hub, The Root, and Huffington Post. She is also the author of two books of poems, Troy, Michigan (Futurepoem, 2014) and Longer I Wait, More You Love Me. Walters has been awarded fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow (in Poetry), The Ford Foundation, MacDowell, Yaddo, The Smithsonian Institution, and Bread Loaf. She is a founding director of Essay in Public | A Humanities Project, a Contributing Editor at The Iowa Review and serves on the board of the international writers’ conference NonfictioNOW most recently held in Reykjavík. Her lyric and personal essays have been published in The Normal School, Flavorwire, and Harper’s. Walters’s lyrical work with composer Derek Bermel has been performed widely, at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and Joe’s Pub in New York, to the Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst in Denmark. In 2008, along with Bermel, she was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony to write the libretto for The Good Life, an oratorio celebrating the first 250 years of Pittsburgh’s history. She has held appointments at Rhode Island School of Design and Columbia University and currently serves The New School and Parsons School of Design as Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Art and Design History and Theory.
Emmy Pérez is the author of the poetry collections With the River on Our Face and Solstice. Her work also appears in the anthologies Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line, and others. She is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship and past fellowships/awards from CantoMundo, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the San Francisco Foundation/James D. Phelan Award. Since 2008, she has been a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop founded by Sandra Cisneros for socially engaged writers. A graduate of Columbia University and the University of Southern California, currently, she is an associate professor of creative writing and affiliate faculty in Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley near the US/México border.
Lines & Spaces Coordinator:
Kelly Bedeian received a degree in Linguistics from the University of Iowa, after which she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Ukraine. She went on to work on a variety of professional development and exchange programs, first for CONNECT/US-RUSSIA, then for IREX as the Country Manager for the IREX/Armenia office, and as the Regional Manager for the Internet Access and Training Program in the Caucasus Region. Kelly joined the IWP staff in 2004.