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The World Comes to Iowa

The 2013 cohort includes the 1st-ever fall residents from Bahrain, Burundi, and Yemen.
The 2013 cohort includes the 1st-ever fall residents from Bahrain, Burundi, and Yemen.
Later this week, 34 writers arrive in Iowa City to participate in the 47th annual International Writing Program (IWP) Fall Residency. The 2013 fall residents hail from 31 countries and territories and every continent except Antarctica. They include the program’s first-ever participants from three nations: poet and filmmaker Sawsan Al-Areeqe of Yemen, fiction writer Roland Rugero of Burundi, and poet, fiction writer, and performer Ali Al Saeed of Bahrain.

“It’s always eye-opening to host writers from countries that have been historically underrepresented,” says IWP fall residency coordinator Joe Tiefenthaler. “This is a chance to hear from regions we don’t read much about, which really adds to the around-the-the-world-in-10-weeks effect of the residency.” 

Portela will serve as the 1st-ever IWP Community Engagement Fellow.
Portela will serve as the 1st-ever IWP Community Engagement Fellow.
Also for the first time in 2013, the fall residency welcomes a Community Engagement Fellow, playwright and multimedia artist Patrícia Portela of Portugal, who will be blogging about the residency experience and reaching out to the Iowa community. Portela is also first Portuguese writer to participate in the fall residency since 1968.

The weekly schedule of free public events includes 4pm CST Sunday readings at landmark independent bookseller Prairie Lights, 5 PM CST Friday readings at the Shambaugh House, plus the Wednesday night Cinématheque, an international film screening and discussion series. Besides participating in the UNESCO Iowa City Book Festival (Oct 11-13th) and Global Express, a black-box theatre showcase of IWP playwrights’ work (Oct. 13th), writers will get a chance to explore Iowa with a trip to the rodeo, hayrides, and Hawkeye football, participate extensively in classes (including a University of Iowa translation workshop), and engage with community groups. Many of the public readings and events are live streamed for internet viewing. A calendar of upcoming events will be posted on the IWP website.

At 25, Singaporian fiction writer Amanda Lee Koe is the youngest participant.
At 25, Singaporian fiction writer Amanda Lee Koe is the youngest participant.
The average age of a 2013 fall resident is thirty-seven, about two and a half years younger than in 2012. At twenty-five, Singaporian fiction writer Amanda Lee Koe is the youngest participant this year.

Collectively, the works of 2013 residents have been translated into more than 22 languages; two books by participants have been published in the U.S.: Irish poet and playwright Martin Dyar’s Maiden Names  (Syracuse University Press) and Russian poet and critic Dmitry Golynko’s As It Turned Out  (Ugly Duckling Press). In addition to writing, the 2013 residents have worn a wide variety of other hats, from editor and journalist to human rights worker, teacher, actor, dancer, comic, pianist, physicist, blogger, film subtitler, software engineer, and pastry chef.

During their time in the United States, writers will also travel to New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York City and other cities around the U.S. to give readings, participate in festivals, and engage with readers and students of all ages.

Poet, fiction writer, and performer Ali Al Saeed is IWP's first fall resident from Bahrain.
Poet, fiction writer, and performer Ali Al Saeed is IWP's first fall resident from Bahrain.
  “The seeds of many lifelong literary friendships are planted during these ten weeks. Even when their countries don’t see eye to eye, writers always find ways to share stories and ideas,” says IWP director Christopher Merrill. “The creative and cultural exchange that takes place here in Iowa is a reminder that as writers they are also citizens of the world.”

The fall residency is organized by the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State, with support from the Arts Council of Ireland, Arts Council Korea, Canada Council for the Arts, Creative New Zealand, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Hong Kong National Arts Council Singapore, the Japan Foundation, Korea Literature Translation Institute, Kuwait Ministry of Youth, the Max Kade Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation, Taiwan Ministry of Culture, UNESCO Dublin, United States-Israel Educational Foundation, and American embassies in Iraq, the Philippines, Cote D’Ivoire, and Uganda.

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