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Life of Discovery 2012: Reading the City

Currently in its fourth year, the Life of Discovery exchange program beween the International Writing Program (IWP) and the China Writers' Association (CWA) brings together young American and Chinese poets, fiction writers, and playwrights to discuss literature, translation, and culture, and to engage in mutual creative writing projects. Through exchange and dialogue, IWP and CWA writers learn something of the each country's literature, form friendships, and mutually create new work. Sponsored through grant funds provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the first half of this year's Life of Discovery exchange program is currently being held in China (through July 7th) and will continue in the United States from Oct. 27th - Nov. 3rd, when the Chinese delegation visits Chicago and Iowa City. 

The delegations have already visited a number of significant historical, literary, and artisitc sites in Beijing and Shanghai, including the 798 Art Zone and the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai's Pudon district, and the hisotric town of Zhouzhuang in Jiangsu Province. This week, the writers will engage in creative meeting sessions during which they will address a number of topics relevant to writers, including issues of genre, translation, pedagogy, and publishing. 

Here's a look at the two delegations of writers: 

Life of Discovery 2012: The American Writers 

Amelia Gray is the author of AM/PM (Featherproof Books) and Museum of the Weird (FC2), for which she won the 2008 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize. Her first novel, THREATS, was published this spring by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, American Short Fiction, McSweeney's, and DIAGRAM, among others.

Dora Malech was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1981 and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. She earned a BA in Fine Arts from Yale College in 2003 and an MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2005. She has been the recipient of a Frederick M. Clapp Poetry Writing Fellowship from Yale, a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching-Writing Fellowship from the Writers’ Workshop, a Glenn Schaeffer Poetry Award, a Writer’s Fellowship at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Italy, and a 2010 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. The Waywiser Press published her first full-length collection of poems, Shore Ordered Ocean, in 2009 and the Cleveland State University Poetry Center published her second collection, Say So, in 2011. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Poetry, Best New Poets, American Letters & Commentary, Poetry London, and The Yale Review. She was recently commissioned by the International Writing Program, in partnership with the Moscow Art Theatre, to create new work for the collaborative, bilingual “Book Wings” project. She has taught writing at institutions that include the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop; Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington, New Zealand; and Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, California, where she served as Distinguished Poet-in-Residence in 2010. She lives in Iowa City, where she writes, creates visual art, teaches, and directs the Iowa Youth Writing Project, an arts outreach program for children and teens.

Kaui Hart Hemmings was born and raised in Hawaii. She has degrees from Colorado College and Sarah Lawrence and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She is the author of the story collection House of Thieves and of the novel The Descendants, which has been published in fifteen countries and adapted for the screen by director by Alexander Payne in 2011.

Dan O’Brien’s current projects include The Body of an American, winner of the 2011 L. Arnold Weissberger Award, set to premiere at Portland Center Stage in 2012, and Theotokia / The War Reporter, an opera premiering at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University in 2013. Previous productions include The Cherry Sisters Revisited (Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival), The House in Hydesville (Geva Theatre Center), The Voyage of the Carcass (SoHo Playhouse; Page 73 Productions), The Dear Boy (Second Stage Theatre), and Moving Picture (Williamstown Theatre Festival). He has served as a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, the inaugural Djerassi Fellow in Playwriting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and twice the Tennessee Williams Fellow at The University of the South (Sewanee). Residencies include the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Yaddo, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. O’Brien’s poetry has appeared recently in Missouri Review, Malahat Review, Poetry Review, North American Review, and elsewhere. This summer he will teach playwriting at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Originally from New York, O’Brien lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actor and writer Jessica St. Clair. 

Program Coordinator - Nate Brown 


Life of Discovery 2012: The Chinese Writers 

Liu Yewei(刘业伟), a Chinese author whose pen name is yewei, was born in Zaozhuang, Shandong province in 1977. He has studied in Qufu Normal University, Nanjing Normal University and Lu Xun Academy of Literature. He is currently a member of China Writers Association, is the director of Jiangsu provincial painting and Calligraphy Association, the vice chairman of Writers Association of Xuzhou City, as well as the head of editing department of Jiangsu Normal University News. Liu started writing literary works in 1990 and has published over three million characters in the form of medium-length and short stories in various literary periodicals such as Fiction Monthly. He has published a novel Rich Mine and a series. Also, he has written several academic monographs such as “Analyzing Four Generations of Ye Shengtao Family in the View of Editing” and “Observing the Literary Circle from the Sidelines: between Universities and Media” etc. Liu has awarded Jiangsu Purple Mountain Literary Award, the top ten young poets Award of “Times Literature” among many other literary awards. Moreover, he has also awarded the best five achievements in the works of Drama, TV Soap Opera, Books, Songs and Critics of Xu Zhou city, and his calligraphy has been invited to the Chinese Writer calligraphy and painting exhibition and won the prize of honor named “Wen Xin Mo Yu”(which connotes the expression of one’s literal thought with Chinese calligraphy). Liu’s masterpiece, Rich Mine is widely acclaimed upon being published and has promoted the finalist in the 8th Mao Dun Literature Prize. Currently, Liu Yewei works for Jiangsu Normal University.


Zhang Yuntao(张运涛)was born in Zhengyang County, Henan province in February, 1968 and is one of the most popular young writers currently in China. After graduating from Huanghuai University, Zhang went to study further in Henan University. Last year, he attended the English class of Lu Xun Academy of Literature. In 1988, he made his debut in Poetry News. He had written almost one hundred essays for Youth Digest, Lover, Life and Companion, Shenzhen Youth, Marriage And Family, and other fashion journals from 2004 to 2007. In 2008, he started writing fiction, and since then his stories have appeared in numerous belles-lettres periodicals, including Mountain FlowersLotus, Clear-and-Bright, Apsaras, Literatures, Sichuan Literature Monthly, The Yalu River, Guangxi Literature Monthly, Tianjin Literature Monthly, The Yellow River Literature, Special Zone Literature, Novel Monthly, Contemporary Fiction, River, Anhui Literature Monthly, and others. Several stories have also been anthologized by Selected Stories Monthly, Works and Comment and elsewhere. His short story collection Warm Cotton was published by Modern Publishing House in 2011. His awards include the 20th Liang Bin Award for fiction by Tianjin, the First and Second Renaissance Literary Award, his city government award for literature and more. Zhang Yuntao had taught till 2009 at No. 2 Senior High School of Zhengyang County. And thanks to his achievements, he has worked in the County Federation of literary and art circles since 2009.

Sun Wei is a Chinese novelist, short-story writer and essayist. She was born in 1973 in Shanghai and grew up in a family of intellectuals. She received her B.A. in journalism from Fudan University in 1996 and her master in International Business Administration from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2001. She started writing fairy tales and novels in her teenage years. The theme of her examination is the ‘malaise’ in an increasingly materialistic world, with a fickle and fast-developing economy in China as the social background. She has published 13 books and over 20 novels and novelettes.


Mao Juzhen (毛菊珍), whose pen name is A Mao, is a poet, author, born in Xiantao, Hubei Province, China. A Mao lives in Wuhan now. She is the member of China Writers Association, Hubei Provincial Writers Association, and writer of Wuhan Academy of Literature. She is considered as one of the most influential poet in China. She graduated from the philosophy Department of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in 1989, and began writing poetry in the late 1980s. She has published more than ten literary works, including five collections of poems, such as Injured by Water (1992), Supreme Stars (1999), The song of my Time (1999), Rotating Mirror (2006), Variation (2010); three collections of prose: The Train of Images (1998), Stone's passion (2009),  Apple's rule (2011); and the short story collections Apple on the Cup (1996), Desire (1999),  Who Takes Me Home(2005), and The Eternal life in Love(2011). She has won several poetry awards including the Annual Poet Prize by Poetry Monthly in 2007, The 7th Chinese National Youth Poet Award by Poetry Periodical, The Best Love Poems for the Year 2009 in China, and from Aug 2009-Aug 2010,she was the poet-in-residence in Capital Normal University in Beijing. 

Program Coordinator - Wu Xinwei(吴欣蔚)



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