The 2008 Reading and Lecture Series: Cyprus

May 11—15, 2008

This Reading and Lecture Tour took a delegation of American writers to Cyprus from May 11th to May 15th. The tour was made possible by a grant from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The tour—a mix of literary and cultural events— introduced the delegation to audiences on both sides of the UN buffer zone. The tour was an opportunity for American writers to deepen their understanding of the country’s unique landscape, its political and cultural tensions, and its literary traditions. The literary events included encounters (readings, talks, class visits, teas, etc.) with English language and literature students and faculties, meetings with literary groups, and exchanges/mutual interviews with publishers and journalists. The IWP provided short translations, and interpreters at all events, so that the delegation could share their work with local audiences in Greek or Turkish, as appropriate, as well as in English. We also encouraged future collaborations between the delegation and their counterparts in the region.

The IWP worked with the US Embassy in Nicosia and a local coordinator to arrange visas, lodging, drivers, interpreters, and a balance of readings, meetings, and cultural programming/excursions in each location. As we made our way through the country, local points of interest generated for the delegates a sense of the broader context—cultural, historical, and geographical—in which their Cypriot counterparts live and work; and also informed how delegates discuss the topic of “Home/Land” in the New Symposium in Paros, Greece, to which the delegation subsequently traveled.

2008 Cyprus Reading and Lecture Tour Participants

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs (poet; USA) is a Ph.D. candidate in Literature and Creative Writing, and currently the Edwin Mem fellow in literature and creative writing, at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Her poems have been published in Contemporary Voices From The Eastern World, MiPoesias, Cimarron Review, Tulane Review, Poetry NZ, Crazyhorse, Cream City Review, and 5 AM. Her book, Paper Pavilion (2007), won the Poetry Prize from White Pine Press.

Deb Marquart (poet, essayist, novelist; USA) is a professor of English at Iowa State University. She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University and the Stonecoast Low-Residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She has received 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. Marquart is currently at work on a novel, set in Greece, titled The Olive Harvest, and a roots memoir about emigration, geographical flight, and cultural amnesia titled Somewhere Else this Time Tomorrow.

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 numerous literary magazines, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Harper’s, Antaeus, and The New Republic. His awards include the Discover/The Nation prize, the James D. Phelan Prize, and the Prix de Rome fellowship in literature. He as also received several National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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 received her B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A in poetry from the University of Massachusetts. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her most recent collection Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin 2006), won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

Christopher Merrill. 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, Greece’s most prestigious journalism award. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages.

Happening Now

Find Us Online