Lanterns of Hope

Lanterns of Hope: A Poetry Project for Iraqi Youth, launched in March of 2015, was a program designed to encourage Iraqi youth, ages 16 to 23, to creatively communicate their visions for the future of Iraq. It sought to make their voices heard, to allow them a say in the way the world sees Iraq, and to help give them confidence and mentorship as emerging writers.

In order to meet this goal, the IWP engaged six distinguished poets—five Iraqis writing in Arabic and Kurdish, and one American writing in English and translating from the Kurdish—to act as mentors and advisers throughout the process. This local team of advisers, along with a number of literary organizations in Iraq, assisted in promoting the program and selecting entries for publication.

A selection of poems was chosen to be anthologized in an e-book and printed in a limited soft-cover edition. All work was translated into English, Arabic, and Kurdish, to further highlight the value of the diversity of languages and cultures within Iraq. The project culminated in a recognition ceremony honoring all the participants and celebrating the anthology’s publication in 2016.

This project is sponsored by the Baghdad City of Literature Steering Committee in collaboration with the Iraqi House of Poetry, the Union of Iraqi Writers, the Iraq Literary Review, the US Embassy in Baghdad and the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

You can visit the project's Facebook page here.

Happening Now

  • We regret the passing, on April 11, 2024, of the distinguished Romanian author and critic Dan Cristea, who served as the editor in chief of the Luceafărul de Dimineață cultural monthly. In addition to being an alum of the 1985 Fall Residency, Cristea received his PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa.

  • Our congratulations to 1986 Fall Residency writer Kwame Dawes, who has been named the new poet laureate of Jamaica.

  • Congratulations to our colleagues Jennifer Croft and Aron Aji, who are among those serving as judges for the National Book Awards this year, in their case in the category of translated literature.

  • Ranjit Hoskote’s speech at the 2024 Goa Literary Festival addresses the current situation in Gaza.

  • In NY Times, Bina Shah worries about the state of Pakistani—and American—democracy.

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