Silk Routes

Silk Routes: Heritage, Trade, Practice is a three-year project (2014-2016) designed to foster long-term region-wide networks of younger writers in South and Central Asia working in their own traditions yet united by a common engagement with the craft and art of writing; showcase the influences of creative writing traditions and literature on the economic development in the Silk Road countries; build constructive person-to-person links between teachers and writing students multi-nationally; and use virtual exchange and the power of the Internet to assemble a core online resource available to students, teachers, and others interested in creative writing, both within the region and globally. Silk Routes is made possible by a grant from the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. 

Twelve writers, teachers, literary organizers, and cultural entrepreneurs from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the United States convened for a week-long Symposium in the Maldives in March 2014 for a series of lectures and discussions on the writing traditions, pedagogies, and practices in their respective countries. Building upon shared heritages, participants are collaborating to propose, develop, and implement bi-lateral and multi-lateral Local Projects centered on writing. In parallel with these projects, to support them and expand their reach, the IWP will assemble an Online Resource of essays, video-talks from participants, and pedagogical materials.

Finally, to encourage cultural and creative exchange, twelve students from the Silk Routes region will travel to Iowa City to participate in Between the Lines (Silk Routes) a dynamic two-week creative writing and cultural exchange program for young international and American writers ages 16-19.

The virtual Silk Routes website is now live!

Explore this interactive website that maps creative media from contributors along the Silk Routes and its maritime paths. If you would like to join the project as a contributor, please email

Happening Now

  • Kristian Sendon CORDERO (IWP '17) co-edited a special issue of Words Without Borders on writing in the Philippines. Its range of poetry in the country's many languages includes Filipino work of Genevieve ASENJO (IWP '12).

  • Muhamed "Nabo" ABDELNABI (Egypt, IWP '13) has been awarded France's 2019 Prix de la littérature arabe for his 2016 novel, published last year in the UK as In the Spider's Room .

  • Over on  Asymptote, in English and Cantonese, the long poem " The Man Who Lost HIs Shadow,"  by Hong Kong poet and editor Stuart LAU (IWP '17).

  • On fish-paste English and cheddar-English: a long interview at LARB (Los Angeles Review of Books) about language, politics, and language politics with Burmese poet and worker KO KO THETT (IWP '16).

  • Behind the 2018+ 2019 Nobel Prizes for Literature given to novelists Peter Handke  and Olga Tokarczuk are translators--one key among them Jennifer CROFT, novelist as well as translator from the Polish, Ukrainian, and  Spanish. Congratulations!

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