2019 Colombia Reading Tour & and Women’s Creative Mentorship Colombia Summit


colombia, november 10-16, 2019

Lines & Spaces: American Writers on Tour

The six-month Women’s Creative Mentorship (WCM) Pilot Project came to a close in Fall 2019, drawing on the talents of IWP alumni to mentor emerging female writers from their home countries. The IWP coordinated a hybrid Lines & Spaces tour and gathering of the Western Hemisphere WCM participants with the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá in Bogotá, Colombia, November 10-16, 2019.


Maria Melendez Kelson writes poetry, magazine features, literary essays, and fiction. Her mystery novel-in-progress won the inaugural Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award from Sisters in Crime. Her poetry and prose appear in Poetry magazine, Orion, Ms. magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, and numerous anthologies. Author of two poetry collections (as Maria Melendez) published by University of Arizona Press, her books have been finalists for the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the Colorado Book Award, and both received Honorable Mention at the International Latino Book Awards. The Santa Fe Art Institute selected her for a sponsored residency in July 2018 to create work on the theme of Equal Justice. A past editor of Pilgrimage magazine, a literary journal focused on themes of story, spirit, witness, and place, she is currently Professor of English and Literature at Dodge City Community College in southwest Kansas.

Carina del Valle Schorske is a writer and translator living between New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Lit Hub, Longreads, the New Yorker online,  small axe, and Bookforum, among many other venues. She won Gulf Coast's 2016 Prize for her translations of the poet Marigloria Palma, and collaborated with Erica Mena, Ricardo Maldonado, and Raquel Salas Rivera on the bilingual poetry anthology Puerto Rico en mi corazón, with proceeds going to hurricane relief. She is the happy recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo, the MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Bread Loaf, Yaddo, the Blue Mountain Center, and the Banff Center for Literary Translation. Carina is ABD in Columbia University's doctoral program in English, focusing on women's performance and multimedia practice in the Americas, and is part of the Women & Performance editorial collective and the Digital Black Atlantic Project working group.

WCM Mentors:

Maria Sonia Cristoff (novelist, nonfiction writer; Argentina) is the author of two non-fiction narratives and three novels, exploring intermingling between fiction and non-fiction in literary pieces, and is editor of three collections that have close links to her own narrative. Her work and criticism have been published in newspapers and magazines such as La Nación, Clarín, Página 12, Perfil, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Noticias, Siwa, Anfibia, and Letras Libres. An alumna of the 2011 IWP Fall Residency, Cristoff teaches creative writing at Universidad Nacional de las Artes (UNA) and Universidad Nacional Tres de Febrero (Untref). Her work has been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Arabic, and Swedish.

Pilar Quintana (novelist, fiction writer; Colombia) has published four novels including La perra (2017; winner of Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana, shortlisted for Premio Nacional de Novela) and a short story collection. In 2007 she was selected by Hay Festival as one of Latin America’s “39 under 39” young writers. In 2010 she received Spain’s Premio de Novela La Mar de Letras for Coleccionistas de polvos raros; in 2016 she received a grant from the Ministry of Culture for La isla cuenta, a series of writing workshops in the Island of Old Providence. Her screenplay Lavaperros (with A. García Ángel), won grants from Fondo para el Desarrollo Cinematográfico and Proimágenes, and was produced in 2018. Her stories have been published in Latin America, Spain, Italy, Germany, the US and China. She is an alumna of the 2011 IWP Fall Residency and of the International Writers Workshop of the Baptist University of Hong Kong (2012).

Karen Villeda (poet, translator, fiction writer; Mexico) has published two children's books, four collections of poetry, and a book of essays. Villeda has received grants from the Open Society Foundations, Ragdale Foundation, and Young Creators Program of the National Fund for Culture and Arts (FONCA); among her many awards are the Fine Arts Prize for Literary Essay 2017, "Clemencia Isaura" National Award of Poetry in 2016, Youth Prize of Mexico City 2014, and Fine Arts Prize for Children's Fiction 2014. Villeda explores poetry and multimedia on her website poetronica.net; her digital work can also be found in MIT’s Electronic Literature Collection. Her poems have been translated into Arabic, French, English, and Portuguese, and published widely in the Americas; she has translated English poetry into Spanish. Her next book, Visegrado, will be published by the National Institute of Fine Arts.

WCM Mentees:

Ivania Cox (Argentina)

Ghada E. Martinez (Mexico)

Yijhan Rentería (Colombia)

Jimena Repetto (Argentina)

Paula Silva (Colombia)

Donají Zavaleta (Mexico)

Organized and led by:

Christopher Merrill has published seven 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

Josie Neumann, Associate Director of the International Writing Program, received her bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Business from the University of Iowa. She has completed coursework towards an advanced degree in Educational Measurement and Statistics. During her ten years working in the education industry, she organized three international education conferences, helped launch three classroom assessment products, transitioned a college entrance exam to computer-based delivery in 200+ countries, and won several high-stakes, multi-million dollar contracts with school districts, state boards of education, and international ministries of labor and education.

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