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Fall Residency 2013: over, already?

(Click to Enlarge) Corinne N’Guessan (far left) on stage in Ali Al Saeed's “A Sheep Called Marlon.”
(Click to Enlarge) Corinne N’Guessan (far left) on stage in Ali Al Saeed's “A Sheep Called Marlon.”
We admit, there’s a little bit of empty nest syndrome going around Shambaugh House now that the 2013 Fall Residency is over. The last weeks were packed with activity, including the annual Harvest Dinner hosted by the Dane family at their farm in honor of IWP writers, bringing together 150 local farmers and Iowa City area community members.  Writers also saw their works brought to life on stage by University of Iowa and community actors as part of the Global Express marathon of dramatic readings. A few of the writers even took to the stage themselves, including Lili Mendoza (Panama), who appeared in the performance of her dramatic piece, “All of Us Your Voices,” and Corinne N’Guessan (Cote d'Ivoire), who took on a small role in Ali Al Saeed’s fanciful and humorous play, “A Sheep Called Marlon.”

(Click to Enlarge) Oscar Ranzo (Uganda), at left, takes part in the UI Dance Collaboration. Photo credit Greg Bal.
(Click to Enlarge) Oscar Ranzo (Uganda), at left, takes part in the UI Dance Collaboration. Photo credit Greg Bal.
One major highlight of the last weekend in Iowa City was the November 2nd collaboration with the University of Iowa Department of Dance, during which dance students worked with writers to choreograph new dances inspired by the writers’ works. “Ten” by Muhamed Abdelnabi (Egypt), "My Voice, I Do Not Hear," by Sawsan Al-Areeqe (Yemen), "Ejagham," by Corinne N'Guessan, and "Tangerines," by Wang Jiaxin (China) were among the works featured.

(Click to Enlarge) 2013 IWP Fall Residents on the steps of the Old Capital Building in Iowa City.
(Click to Enlarge) 2013 IWP Fall Residents on the steps of the Old Capital Building in Iowa City.
On Sunday, November 3rd, colleagues and community members who had befriended the writers during the residency gathered at the Clinton Street Social Club for a send-off, including a short ceremony during which each writer was presented with a certificate, a copy of the group photo taken on the steps of the University of Iowa Old Capitol Building, and a small leather IWP notebook. “We look forward to reading your words for years to come,” IWP director Chris Merrill said.

(Click to Enlage) IWP Fall Residents in front of the White House in Washington D.C. Photo credit: Asma Nadia.
(Click to Enlage) IWP Fall Residents in front of the White House in Washington D.C. Photo credit: Asma Nadia.
The next morning, fall residents boarded the Megabus to Chicago to begin the end of residency travel period. After touring Chicago’s Poetry Foundation, exploring the Miracle Mile, the Field Museum, the Bean and many other sights, the writers headed east to Washington D.C. where they worked with students in the D.C. Youth Slam, and met with representatives from homeless advocacy newspaper StreetSense. Despite a full schedule, Kuwaiti performance poet Nada Faris still found time to rock the house as a featured poet at a Busboys and Poets open mic.

(Click to Enlarge) Zeyar Lynn (Burma/Myanmar) takes advantage of a quiet moment at Poets House.
(Click to Enlarge) Zeyar Lynn (Burma/Myanmar) takes advantage of a quiet moment at Poets House.
The writers then boarded the train to New York City, their final stop in the U.S.. In New York, they explored Poets House literary center and poetry archive, where Dmitry Golynko, Wang Jiaxin, Dénes Krusovszky, Zeyar Lynn, Teemu Manninen and Sridala Swami gave a reading and took questions from the audience and each other. Several of the IWP poets also donated copies of their books to the Poets House library, whose collection includes more than 50,000 volumes of poetry and criticism. While in New York, writers also explored some of the city’s lesser known destinations, including the High Line, a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.

“I walked around until 4 a.m,” said Sawsan Al-Areeqe, in sandals despite the wintery weather. “In this city there are always people, no matter the time.”

(Click to Enlarge) Key components of Erez Volk’s Iowa City diet. Photo credit: Rachel Jessen.
(Click to Enlarge) Key components of Erez Volk’s Iowa City diet. Photo credit: Rachel Jessen.
As the writers said their goodbyes and went their separate ways, there were promises to stay in touch, and to continue reading and translating each other's works, many leaving with tall stacks of their colleagues' books. Community Engagement Fellow Patrícia Portela (Portugal), whose fellowship will keep her in Iowa City until December (lucky us!), will be using her blog, Seeds of Culture: field notes from the IWP and other tools to help the writers stay connected to each other and to Iowa. Just a few days ago, local magazine Little Village featured a piece about cooking in the Iowa House Hotel with 2013 IWP residents Mark Angeles (Philippines) and Erez Volk (Israel), full of useful tips for incoming residents—the writers of IWP Fall Residency 2014 will certainly be very grateful!

Iowa City feels a little empty with the writers gone, but IWP looks forward to seeing the many literary friendships forged during these ten weeks continue to blossom and grow, and to reading the many fine literary works the writers of IWP 2013 will author in years to come.

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