2012 Brazil Tour

The 2012 Brazil Reading and Lecture Tour

May 15th – 25th, 2012

In May 2012, the IWP brought a delegation of renowned American writers (bios below) on a reading tour of Brazil. From May 15th to 25th, the writers traveled to Fortaleza, Brasilia, and São Paolo, engaging in literary exchange along the way with Brazilian writers and artists, cultural ambassadors, and students of all ages. The schedule was intense. Workshops, readings, and lectures at more than 12 universities and institutions, in both English and Portuguese, fostered engagement and discussion on creative writing techniques, contemporary literature, storytelling, art’s ability to bring down walls and borders, and more. As participant Alan Heathcock stated on tour: “We’re here to talk about what it is to be a human being. What better mission is there than that?”


Overall, more than 20 events brought the writers in contact with audiences totaling well over 1,000 Brazilians in these three cities; a truly expansive ground for international literary exchange. The writers also collaborated with choreographers from Battery Dance Company, the jazz musician Di Stéffano, and met with the members of the Academia Paulista de Letras. Other hosts and partners included:


  • Alumni, São Paulo
  • American Corner/Biblioteca Pública Menezes Pimentel, Fortaleza
  • Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos No Ceará (IBEU-CE), Fortaleza
  • Centro Cultural dos Cordelistas do Nordeste, Fortaleza
  • Centro Interescolar de Línguas (CIL), Brasília
  • Dragão do Mar Cultural Center, Fortaleza
  • Information Resource Center (IRC), Brasília
  • Museu Afro Brasil, São Paulo
  • Museu da Língua Portuguesa, São Paulo
  • Universidade de Brasília
  • Universidade Católica, Brasília
  • Universidade Estadual do Ceará, Fortaleza
  • Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza
  • Universidade de Fortaleza (UNIFOR)
  • Universidade de São Paulo


The tour, made possible through funding from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Embassies in Recife, Brasilia, and Sao Paulo, was also documented online at the following links:


Jazz/Poetry Event:




Alison Deming’s Blog Entries:


Incomprehensible Ocean


Vaqueros Cordelistas Repentistas

Future Beach

Where the Streets Have No Names

A Very Mystic City

Sao Paulo

The Tree of Words


Battery Dance Company video:





Maria José Barbosa is from Minas Gerais, Brazil. She received and M.A and Ph.D from UNC, Chapel Hill. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and Co-director of the Latin-American Studies Program at the University of Iowa where she teaches Brazilian literature, culture, and the Portuguese language. Her book-length publications include literary analysis of Brazilian prose and poetry, such as Recitação da Passagem: A Obra Poética de Edimilson de Almeida Pereira (December 2009) which examines language performativity, rites of passage, and the intersections where poetry, history, popular culture, and African diaspora meet. She is also a contributing editor to a book on representations of age/aging in literature and culture of the Portuguese-speaking countries (Passo e Compasso: Nos Ritmos do Envelhecer/ [Steps and Tempo: On the Rhythms of Growing Old], 2003). In addition, she also has a book on the works of the distinguished Brazilian novelist and short story writer, Clarice Lispector (Spinning the Webs of Passion, 2006; the Portuguese version is titled Des/fiando as Teias da Paixão, 2001). She is currently working on a book that analyzes Brazilian women in/at play in many segments of popular culture, and organizing a large conference on language, literature, and cultural studies, encompassing all Portuguese-speaking countries, for the American Portuguese Studies Association, of which she was President (2002-2004).  


Alison Deming is the author of Science and Other Poems (1994), selected by Gerald Stern for the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, three additional poetry books, and three books of nonfiction. Her fourth book of nonfiction, Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit, is forthcoming. Her poems and essays have been widely published and anthologized, including in The Georgia Review, Orion, Verse and Universe: Poems on Science and Mathematics, The Norton Book of Nature Writing, and Best American Science and Nature Writing. Deming has also edited two books, Poetry of the American West: A Columbia Anthology (1996) and co-edited The Colors of Nature: Essays on Culture, Identity, and the Natural World (2002; 2011). Deming is the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards, including two poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Prize, and the Bayer Award in Science Writing from Creative Nonfiction. Former Director of the University of Arizona Poetry (1990-2002), she currently is Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona and also serves as Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Orion magazine.


Cornelius Eady is the author of several books of poetry, the most recent being the critically acclaimed Hardheaded Weather (Penguin, 2008), which has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award. His other titles include: Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (1986), winner of the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets; The Gathering of My Name (1991), nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; and many more. His work appears in many journals, magazines, and anthologies. Eady is cofounder of Cave Canem, a national organization for African American poetry and poets. He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature (1985); a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, (1993); and a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (1993). His work has been adapted for the stage, and in 1999, Running Man, a music-theatre piece co-written with jazz musican Diedre Murray, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and awarded a 1999 Obie for best musical score and lead actor in a musical. Currently, Eady is Professor of English and the Miller Family Endowed Chair in Literature and Writing at the University of Missouri-Columbia.


Alan Heathcock’s fiction has been published in many of America’s top magazines and journals, including Zoetrope: All-Story, Kenyon Review,VQR, Five Chapters, Storyville, and The Harvard Review. His stories have won the National Magazine Award in fiction, and have been selected for inclusion in The Best American Mystery Stories anthology. VOLT, a collection of stories published by Graywolf Press, received starred reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, was named by Publishers Weekly as a debut to watch for 2011, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, featured as one of three notable debuts to watch on The Huffington Post, selected as a Barnes and Noble Best Book of the Month, as well as for inclusion in the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers series. Heathcock has been awarded fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and is currently a Literature Fellow for the state of Idaho. A Native of Chicago, he teaches fiction writing at Boise State University.


Christopher 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 Ales 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 five books of nonfiction, The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, 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, and Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and now directs the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa.



IWP Staff Coordinator:

Joseph Tiefenthaler

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