2008: Home/Land

Paros, May 16-20, 2008

Like “love,”  “home” is above all tested in the terrain of emotion.  In order to be the real thing, “home” must make itself known viscerally.

Yet this time-tested core is at odds with the most pervasive social rearrangement of our era, that of globalization.  The right to leave one’s home/land when it has become a trap, a dead-end, or a prison is matched by the right to have one’s home/land sheltered from a free-for-all.  Emigrants abandon their home/land; immigrants enter another country’s household. What if they later wish to return?  Is there such a thing as not wishing to have a home, to remain homeless?  And must departure always be rooted in despair?  What are the membranes, gateways, border fences, smokescreens, and bureaucratic protocols through which the shape-shifting inherent to migration happens?

In this new mobile world, perhaps there can be a home different from that which shelters --an @home site of some virtual sort…..

Ancient traditions of hospitality and universal human rights abut against the equally fundamental rights of private property as well as against the leveling force of Law that regulates belonging without undue sentiment.

Our conversation might start from such questions and interrogate or refine some of these ground rules for uprootedness or transplantation.


A stretch of road going uphill surrounded by buildings

Home/Land: a film by Nigol Bezjian

Paros 2008 Biographies

Jeffrey Carson (poet, USA) was born in New York in 1944, and graduated from NYU. Since 1970 he has lived with his wife, the photographer Elizabeth Carson, on the island of Paros, where he teaches at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts. Among his books are Poems 1974-1996 (Salzburg UP, 1997), Collected Poems of Odysseus Elytis (Johns Hopkins UP, 1997), The Temple and the Dolphin (Lycabettus Press, 1995), 49 Scholia on the Poems of Odysseus Elytis (Ypsilon, 1983), and Paros (Lycabettus Press, 1977). His poems also appeared in the anthology Kindled Terraces: American Poets in Greece (ed. Don Schofield; Truman UP, 2004).

Amma Darko (fiction writer; Ghana) is the author of the critically acclaimed Beyond the Horizon (1995) and the story collection The Housemaid (1998), which was published in Heinemann’s African Writers Series. Her early work appeared first in Germany. Her 2003 novel Faceless was the first to come out in Ghana—both it and her latest novel, Not Without Flowers (2007), were published by Sub-Saharan Publishers. She received the Ghana Book Award in 1998. A critical introductions to her work, Broadening the Horizon, appeared in 2007. An agent with the Internal Revenue Service in Accra, Ghana, where she lives with her family, she has been a fellow of the Cambridge Seminars (U.K.) and the Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany), among others. She completed a residency at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program in 2002.

Nirwan Dewanto (essayist, poet, editor; Indonesia) is widely published in Indonesian journals, magazines, anthologies and newspapers. A founder of the cultural journal Kalam, he has a collection of essays Sanjakala Kebudayaan ('Twilight of Culture') and a volume of poems, Buku Cacing ('Book of Worms'); the poetry collection Perenang Buta ('Blind Swimmer') is appearing in 2008. He has founded the arts space Komunitas Utan Kayu in Jakarta, and curates literary arts festivals, most recently the 4th Utan Kayu International Literary Biennale. In 2007 he completed a residency at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs (poet; USA) is an assistant professor of creative writing at St. Olaf College. Her poems have been published in MiPoesias, Cimarron Review, Tulane Review, Poetry NZ, Crazyhorse, Cream City Review, and 5 AM. and anthologized in Language for a New Century (2008) and Echoes Upon Echoes (2003). The volume of her poems Paper Pavilion (2007) won the Poetry Prize from White Wine Press.

Debra Marquart (poet, essayist, novelist; USA) is a professor of English at Iowa State University and at the Stonecoast Low-Residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a 2008 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship. She is the author of two poetry collections: Everything's a Verb and From Sweetness. Her memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, was published, received the "Elle Lettres" award from Elle Magazine and the 2007 PEN USA Creative Nonfiction Award.

Kei Miller (poet, fiction writer; Jamaica) won the Jamaica Observer Literary Prizes for both fiction and poetry in 2002. His first collection of poetry, Kingdom of Empty Bellies, came out in 2005, the year he attended the Yaddo artist colony; another volume, There Is An Anger That Moves, appeared in 2007. His 2006 short story collection, The Fear of Stones and Other Stories, was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize. Miller is also the editor of New Caribbean Poetry (2007). He was part of the 2007 residency at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

Kavery Nambisan (novelist, fiction writer, essayist; India) has worked as a surgeon in rural areas throughout India. She currently runs a medical centre for workers in Maharashtra, and a Learning Centre for their children. She has authored five novels, most recently The Hills of Angheri (2005) and several children’s books. She also writes on healthcare issues for Indian press. Among her honors is a UNICEF-CBT Award for her children’s novel Once Upon a Forest. In 2007 she completed a residency at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (poet; Ireland) is a founding editor of the literary review Cyphers. Her collections of poetry are Acts and Monuments (1972), The Second Voyage (1977, 1986), The Rose Geranium (1981) The Magdalene Sermon (1989), The Brazen Serpent (1994), and The Girl who married the Reindeer (2001). She has also translated poems from their original Irish, Italian, and Romanian. Her awards include the Patrick Kavanagh Prize and a membership in Aosdána, the Irish Arts Council's affiliation recognizing outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland. Educated at Cork and Oxford, she has since 1966 taught at Trinity College Dublin, serving as Dean of the Faculty of Arts 2001 -2005.

Nikos Papandreou (novelist, fiction writer, essayist; Greece) was a nominee for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction award for his first novel, A Crowded Heart (1999). His most recent title is Andreas Papandreou: Life in the First Person and the Art of Political Narrative. In 2000 he won the Greek Science Fiction award. Short stories and essays of his have appeared in American and Canadian journals such as Antioch Review, The Literary Review, Threepenny Review, AGNI, Quarterly West, Harvard Review, Quarry, Wascana Review, The Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora, Indiana Review, and in Greek literary journals such as LEXI and Entefktirion.

David St. John (poet; USA) is a professor of English at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1974. He is the author of six books of poetry, including Prism (2002), Study for the World’s Body: New and Selected Poems (1994), No Heaven (1985), and Hush (1976). His work has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Harper’s, Antaeus, and The New Republic, among others. His awards include the Discover/The Nation prize, the James D. Phelan Prize, and a Prix de Rome fellowship. He as also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and several National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.

Stephanos Stephanides (scholar, poet, essayist, translator; Cyprus). His work includes Translating Kali’s Feast: the Goddess in Indo-Caribbean Ritual and Fiction (2000), Beyond the Floating Islands (2002), Blue Moon in Rajasthan and other poems (2005), Cultures of Memory/Memories of Culture (2007), two documentary films, Hail Mother Kali (1988) and Kali in the Americas (2003). He is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Cyprus. In 1989 he won first prize in the poetry competition of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology (American Anthropological Association). His creative work has been published in several languages. He has served as a judge for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (2000).

Natasha Trethewey (poet; USA) is a professor of poetry at Emory University. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry 2003 and 2000, Agni, American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and The Southern Review, among others.She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her most recent collection Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin 2006), won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

Anastassis Vistonitis (poet, essayist, journalist, translator; Greece) has published ten books of poetry, three volumes of essays, three travelogues, a book of short stories, and a book of translations of the Chinese poet Li He. He has served as Vice-President of Greek Collecting Society of Literary Works (OSDEL) and, from 1996 to 2001, as a board member of the European Writers' Congress; in 2003 he became the Vice President of its administrative board. He was also the General Editor of the candidature file of Athens for the Olympic Games of 2004. His creative work has been translated into 15 languages.

Macdara Woods (poet, translator; Ireland) has published ten books of poems, including Decimal D. Sec Drinks in a Bar in Marrakesh (1970), Early Morning Matins (1973), Stopping the Lights in Ranelagh (1987), The Hanged Man Was Not Surrendering (1989), and Notes From the Countries of Blood-Red Flowers (1994). His work has been translated into a dozen languages. A founding editor of the literary review Cyphers.,he has edited the Kilkenny Anthology, and is a member of Aosdána, the Irish Arts Council's affiliation recognizing outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland.

Xi Chuan (poet; China) is a Professor of English literature and Dean of Arts of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, as well as a member of the board of directors of the Chinese Poets’ Association. Considered one of the most well-known poets of the avant-garde literary scene in China, he has published four collections of poems, most recently Water Stains (2001), in addition to a play and translations. His poetry has been widely anthologized, and is translated into more than ten languages. Among his many prizes is the prestigious Lu Xun Prize for literature in 2001.

Directing the New Symposium

Christopher Merrill is the Director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Merrill’s books include four collections of poetry, Brilliant Water, Workbook, Fevers & Tides, and Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Aleš Debeljak’s Anxious Moments and The City and the Child; several edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe as Icon; and four books of nonfiction, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, and Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, which won the 2005 Kostas Kyriazis Award. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages.

Artemis A. Zenetou is the Executive Director of the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, the first Greek citizen and woman to head the Foundation. She has worked for national and international organizations in the US and Greece, including the Federal Reserve Bank- Cultural Affairs, the Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Presidential Inaugural Committee for Art and Cultural Initiatives, and the World Bank where she established the first Art and Cultural Program. She has published extensively on museology, arts administration and contemporary art, and has co-authored Museums: a Place to Work (Routledge Press, 1996) and Gender Perspectives: Essays on Women in Museums, (Smithsonian Press 1991). She served on the Board of the Cultural Olympiad, Ministry of Cultural Affairs and on the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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