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Silk Routes Symposium: Creative Minds Meeting in the Maldives

Silk Routes is a new 3-year project designed to stregthen creative and cultural ties along the ancient Silk Road
Silk Routes is a new 3-year project designed to stregthen creative and cultural ties along the ancient Silk Road
March 16th-22nd, 2014 twelve writers, teachers, literary organizers, and cultural entrepreneurs from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the United States will meet in the Maldives for a symposium focused on the heritage, tradition, and practice of creative writing in their respective countries. The symposium will mark the beginning of the first major phase of Silk Routes: Heritage, Trade, Practice, a new three-year program designed to strengthen cultural and economic ties among countries located along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road through creative-writing and cultural exchange. Silk Routes is organized by the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa and funded by a grant from the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

SHARED TRADITIONS, LOCAL PROJECTS

[Click to Enlarge] Suvani Singh will travel from Nepal, where she publishes La.Lit magazine.
[Click to Enlarge] Suvani Singh will travel from Nepal, where she publishes La.Lit magazine.
The symposium will begin with a series of lectures and discussions on the writing traditions, pedagogies, and practices in the participants’ respective countries. Silk Routes participants will bring a variety of cultural experiences and areas of expertise to the table. Participants include humor writer Shandana Minhas of Pakistan, Indian poet Sridala Swami, literary organizer Suvani Singh of Nepal, and Sri Lankan writer and publisher Ameena Hussein, who also brings extensive experience in community organizing. Building upon shared heritages, participants will collaborate to design and propose culturally-relevant bi-lateral and multi-national educational initiatives centered on creative writing, with an emphasis on engaging youth and empowering women. Two subsequent online symposia will allow participants to further develop and refine their proposals.

Bilal Tanweer will travel from Pakistan where he teaches creative writing and contemporary literature at LUMS, Lahore.
Bilal Tanweer will travel from Pakistan where he teaches creative writing and contemporary literature at LUMS, Lahore.
Successful local project proposals will receive funding to allow Silk Routes participants to implement them at the local level. American novelist and teacher Ron Carlson and poet and editor Barbara Ras will also be on hand to observe and participate in the knowledge-sharing and will undertake site visits to observe the projects once they are underway.

In parallel with these projects, to support them and expand their reach, the IWP will assemble a Gallery of essays, video-talks from participants, and pedagogical materials, to serve as a resource for educators.

THE NEXT GENERATION

In 2016, twelve students from the Silk Routes region, identified by Silk Routes participants through their local projects, will travel to Iowa City, Iowa 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. This meeting of young people, made possible by the creative and cultural exchange that will begin in the Maldives in March 2014, will demonstrate the effectiveness of artistic collaboration in strengthening the cultural linkages along the ancient Silk Road.

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