2013 United Arab Emirates

April 21st – 27th, 2013, the IWP brought current U.S. poet laureate Natasha Tretheway and Civil Rights scholar and writer Brett Gadsden to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a reading tour organized in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. The reading and lecture tour was designed to foster greater understanding and stronger creative ties between our nations. Participating writers gave readings, took part in panel discussions and question and answer sessions, led master classes and engaged with local writers, journalists, cultural ambassadors, and with students at the American University of Sharjah and NYU Abu Dhabi as well as with members of community organizations such as the UAE Women Writers Association. While in the UAE, they also participated in the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Participating Writers:

Natasha TRETHEWEY was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. She is the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States and the author of four collections of poetry, Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), Native Guard (2006)—for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize—and, most recently, Thrall, (2012). Her book of non-fiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, appeared in 2010. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. At Emory University she is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing.

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

Brett GADSDEN is Associate Professor of African American Studies at Emory University and a historian of twentieth century United States and African American history. His first book, Between North and South: Delaware, Desegregation, and the Myth of American Sectionalism, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) chronicles the three-decades-long struggle over segregated schooling in Delaware, a key border state and important site of civil rights activism, education reform, and white reaction. His manuscript-in-progress, titled From “Protest to Politics: The Making of a ‘Second Black Cabinet,’” explores the set of historical circumstances that brought African Americans into consultative relationships with presidential candidates and later into key cabinet, sub-cabinet, and other important positions in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations and opened to them unprecedented access to centers of power in the federal government. His work has appeared in the Journal of African American History and the Journal of Urban History. He is also the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Academy of Education, Spencer Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, American Historical Association, Hagley Museum and Library, and Delaware Heritage Commission.

IWP Staff Coordinator: Kelly Bedeian

In Their Own Words:

  • Trethewey and Merrill gave a reading and answered questions at the American University of Sharjah

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