• The "On Going Home" series offers a glimpse of what returning home means for authors who have spent three months in the U.S. as part of the International Writing Program's Fall Residency. This installment comes to us from Samuel Kolawole:

    On the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Abuja, two Nigerian men argued over where to put what in the overhead luggage compartment....

  • The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa will offer the #Flashwrite Teen Poetry MOOC, its first open online course designed exclusively for teenage students, from March 30-May 3, 2016. Students 13-19 years old are invited to write, share, and discuss poetry with Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduates and fellow teenage writers...

  • Narrative Witness: Indigenous Peoples, Australia-United States, a publication from the International Writing Program, is now available.

    The collection features work created during an online exchange that brought together 32 indigenous writers and photographers living in Australia and the United States in fall 2015. During the two-month exchange, the artists created...

  • By Laura Wang, a current student at the University of Iowa, originally published on laurayingwang.wordpress.comThe Shambaugh House in Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. It was originally the home of Professor Benjamin F. Shambaugh. After passing away in 1940, he gave his home to the University of Iowa, and the Honors Program moved in....

  • By Alyssa Cokinis, Between the Lines ICRU Fellow

    Between the Lines: Peace and the Writing Experience (BTL) is the International Writing Program’s creative writing and cultural exchange program for teenage writers between the ages of 16 and 19. This summer, two sessions will convene in Iowa City, IA for BTL’s ninth year: Russian/Arabic, which will bring together 32 students from...

  • Written by Karen Villeda, 2015 Fall Residency Outreach Fellow, in November, 2015

    “He always thought of the sea, as ”la mar,” which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her. Sometimes those who love her say bad things of her but they are always said as though she were a woman. Some of the younger fishermen, those who used buoys as floats for their lines and had... more
  • The "On Going Home" series offers a glimpse of what returning home means for authors who have spent three months in the U.S. as part of the International Writing Program's Fall Residency. This installment comes to us from Rochelle Potkar:

    Iowa is affixed in my mind as this cool place of beauty, sprawling gold fields, the rippling river blue, the talcum sky above, the bridges...

  • On Thursday January 14th, 2016, IWP joined dozens of literary organizations and hundreds of writers in a Worldwide Reading event, coordinated by the Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin to draw attention to the dire situation of the Palestinian-born poet and curator Ashraf Fayadh.  A long-time resident of Saudi-Arabia, Fayadh was arrested in 2014 for “spreading blasphemous ideas among...

  • The "On Going Home" series offers a glimpse of what returning home means for authors who have spent three months in the U.S. as part of the International Writing Program's Fall Residency. This week's installment comes to us from Raed Anis Al-Jishi:

    I lived in Iowa for more than 12 weeks. It felt like home—a dream home for a writer.

    Libraries with enormous resources. An...

  • By Karen Villeda, 2015 Fall Residency Outreach Fellow

    In the course of the fall 2015 semester, in my role as the International Writing Program’s Outreach Fellow, I developed a web-based project, titled INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM: WRITING LIVES!

    First off, the site is a documentary combining text with multimedia (images, videos) generated by some of the IWP 2015...


Book hunting in the Balkans

By Tim Shipe, Arts & Literature Bibliographer, UI Libraries

Earlier this year I was in the Balkans, traveling on behalf of the University of Iowa Libraries; the trip was made possible by funds generously provided by International Programs for this purpose. The main goals of the trip were to establish mutually beneficial relationships with booksellers, cultural institutions, and individual writers in the region, and to acquire books for the University Libraries through purchase and donation. The chief focus was on authors who had participated in the International Writing Program throughout its history; a secondary focus was material pertaining to Dada and related avant-garde movements.  The countries I visited were Albania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia, with a final stop in Vienna to ship books back to Iowa City.  On my first stop in Tirana, Albania, my chief contact was Tim Shipe and Gentian Çoçoli, the most recent Albanian writer to take part in the IWP, in 2006. Gent was immensely helpful in orienting me to the city and to the publishing and bookselling situation in Albania. He also donated a number of his own works to the library. Virtually all of my purchases were from Tirana’s only antiquarian bookstore, Epër7shme [sic], whose owner Arlind Novi is also a publisher, and is extremely knowledgeable about the history of Albanian literature and publishing. Arlind was able to find over fifty volumes by former IWP participants, including nearly complete runs of three journals edited by those writers. When he learned of the connection of Kurt Vonnegut with Iowa, he donated a copy of one of his own publications, an Albanian translation of Slaughterhouse Five.

I met several times with Elvis Plaku, owner of the book-vending service and bookshop Shtepia e Librit. We made arrangements for his company to supply new publications by the Albanian writers with connections to Iowa; he will also work with Arlind to locate additional out of print publications of interest. Most fortunately, Elvis was able to ship the books I had purchased in Tirana. Having carried hundreds of books on trains across Romania on trains in 2008, I was very grateful for this service. A brief tour of the National Library of Albania provided an opportunity to donate several publications of Iowa’s International Dada Archive.

Air fares to Belgrade being prohibitively expensive, my first weekend was devoted to the three-day overland journey via Montenegro to Serbia. The only notable incident on this journey was a thumb injury received on the notoriously decrepit train from Tirana to Shkodra (fare: $1.45); eventually, however, this mishap led, by a circuitous route, to one of the most important contacts on my trip. In Belgrade I visited about ten bookstores, including three antiquarian dealers, and purchased some fifty books by authors connected with the IWP, as well as an English translation series of Serbian fiction that, strangely, is marketed only in Serbia. The novelist Branko Dimitrijević (IWP ’85) donated copies of all of his books, and was most helpful in helping me to identify promising bookstores.

A flare-up of my thumb injury led me to seek medical assistance. Not only did the doctor arranged by my hotel make house calls; upon learning that I am a librarian, he insisted on setting up p a tour of the National Library of Serbia.  There I eventually also met with Ivana Nikolić, head of the Acquisitions Department. It was Ms. Nikolić who introduced me to Bojan Vukmirica, the manager of Bookbridge, a book vendor little known in North America, but providing excellent, economical service. We are already working with Bookbridge to obtain titles that we would have otherwise been unable to acquire.  Furthermore, Bojan helped to ship the books I had already purchased in Belgrade back to Iowa at cost, again saving considerable money, not to mention the effort of carrying an extra suitcase of books on the final legs of my journey.

Zagreb, up next, was the best city on my itinerary for bookstores, having about ten antiquarian dealers. I was able to fill many of the gaps in our collection of works by Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian authors connected with the IWP, and found one dealer, Jesinski i Turk, which will be able to search and ship additional titles in the future. I met extensively with Miloš Ɖurdević, the most recent of the Croatians in the IWP; through him, I also met the ingoing and outgoing presidents of the Croatian Writers’ Society, who expressed interest in establishing relationships with the University of Iowa and its literary programs.

I also met with several individuals involved in the book arts and the visual arts in Croatia. Darko Simičić, former archivist of the Museum of Contemporary Art, arranged a tour of that museum’s library, where I met several curators and the head of the Documentation and Information Department, Jadranka Vinterhalter. The museum staff was familiar with, and enthusiastic about our International Dada Archive and our Alternative Traditions in the Contemporary Arts collection; we exchanged publications and discussed possible collaborations, especially with regard to digitization. As it happened, on my last evening in Zagreb I was able to attend the opening of an exhibition at the museum on digitization and contemporary art in Central Europe; I met several of the exhibited artists who considered Iowa’s holdings of their works to be extremely significant; they mentioned the possibility of sending additional work for our collection. In addition, I met Dražen Dabić, a publisher of fine press books and a collector and dealer specializing in ex-Yugoslav avant-garde publications. He donated one of his illustrated poetry editions.

From 18 through 21 April I was in Ljubljana. This coincided with a book festival during which virtually all of Slovenia’s publishers were offering their current editions at a considerable discount. This allowed me to obtain practically all in-print publications by Slovenian IWP participants at a discount ranging from 20 to 50 percent—a considerable saving in a Eurozone country with quite high book prices.

I met several times with Tomaž Šalamun, one of l Europe’s most prominent poets and a 1971/72 IWP participant (with whom, as it happened, I had shared an office in EPB during my first year in Iowa). He assisted me in finding a large number of his published volumes, several of which he donated. Another significant batch of donated books was waiting for me upon arrival at my hotel; these were kindly left by the Macedonian poet Lidija Dimkovska, now living in Ljubljana, just before she left for a reading in Graz.

The antiquarian book situation was less favorable than in the other cities; the four stores held very few of the items I was seeking. The bookstore of the Gallery of Modern Art, on the other hand, provided a number of important publications on Dada and the interwar avant-garde that were quite relevant to Iowa’s programs. Since there were no reasonable options in Zagreb or Ljubljana for shipping, I carried the 100 books acquired in those two cities to Vienna by train.

This was the third major trip I have been able to take on behalf of the library using the funds provided by International Programs (including Hungary, Romania, and Moldova in 2008 and Poland in 2009), in addition to a two-day side trip to Slovakia in 2011. In every case, the relationships established have continued to benefit the libraries and the University at large, and the books acquired during these trips have significantly enhanced our support of Iowa’s various international programs.


Introducing Our 2012 Fall Residents, Round 4: Khadanovich, Mlalazi, Lopes, Dadaeva, and Alberry

Round IV of the IWP's introduction to our 2012 Fall Residents includes writers from Belarus, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Uzbekistan, and Egypt. More announcements will be made this Wednesday and Friday!

Andrei KHADANOVICH (poet, translator; Belarus) is the author of eight collections of poetry, including Лісты з-пад коўдры [Letters from under the Blanket] (2004), Несымэтрычныя сны [Nonsymmetrical Dreams] (2010), and a poetry book for children Нататкі таткі [Father’s Notes].  A translator of English, French, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian poetry, he has had his work translated into 14 languages. He is the president of PEN Belarus. He teaches literature at Belarusian State University and Belarusian National Jakub Kolas Lyceum of Liberal Arts, and translation at the Belarusian Collegium. His participation is provided for courtesy of the William B. Quarton Foundation.





Christopher MLALAZI (fiction writer, playwright; Zimbabwe) is the author of the novels Many Rivers (2009) and Running With Mother (2012), and the short story collection Dancing With Life: Tales From the Township (2008), which won the Best First Book award at the National Arts Merit Awards. Mlalazi’s eight plays, including the 2008 Oxfam/Novib PEN Freedom of Expression Award winner “The Crocodile Of Zambezi” have all been staged. His poems and stories are online and in print, including in the Caine Prize’s anthology The Obituary Tango (2006) and in The Literary Review. He participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.








Rodrigo Garcia LOPES (poet, translator; Brazil) has published five collections of poetry, including Solarium (1994), Polivox (2001) and Nômada (2004). His poems, essays and interviews have been widely published and anthologized, including in Os Cem Melhores Poemas Brasileiros do Século 20 [The Best 100 Brazilian Poems of the Twentieth Century]. His second CD, Canções do Estúdio Realidade [Songs from Reality Studio), a new book of poems and his first novel, the detective story O Trovador [The Troubadour] are forthcoming in 2012. He translates from the English (Whitman, Laura Riding, Plath) and from the French (Rimbaud, Apollinaire). Currently he is a freelance journalist and translator, performing his poems and songs regularly around Brazil. Since 2002 he co-edits the arts and literary magazine Coyote. His participation is provided for courtesy the William B. Quarton Foundation.







Alina DADAEVA (poet, fiction writer; Uzbekistan) has worked as a reporter and correspondent for Зеркало XXI [Mirror XXI], Бизнес-вестникВостока [Business Report of the East], Новый век [The New Century] and Леди [The Lady]. Her poetry has appeared in Вдохновение[The Inspiration], an almanac of young Uzbek poets, and in the literary journals День и ночь [Day and Night], Звезда [The Star], Новая Юность [The New Youth], and Звезда Востока [The Star of the East]. Dadaeva’s first collection of poetry, Предчувствие [The Presentiment], was published in 2010. She participates thanks to a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.



Khaled ALBERRY (novelist; Egypt) is the author of Life is More Beautiful Than Paradise (2001) an autobiographical account his life with a radical Islamist group. His 2010 novel [An Oriental Dance] was shortlisted for the Arabic Booker Prize; other novels include [Negative] (2004) and [The New Testament] (2011). Alberry has worked for the BBC as a journalist, correspondent and producer, and is currently a columnist for the Tahrir Newspaper. He participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.








Introducing Our 2012 Fall Residents, Round 3: Zegham, Asenjo, Chan, Pyamootoo, Beňová

Round III of the IWP's introduction to our 2012 Fall Residents includes writers from Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Maruitius, the Philippines, and Slovakia. More announcements will be made on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week!

Mohibullah Zegham (fiction writer, translator; Afghanistan) is a cardiologist practicing in Kabul, and the author of two short story collections, three children’s books, and the novels [The Suicide Bomber (Zanmargai ځانمرګی), 2009] and [The Order of the President (Da Olasmesher Farman د ولسمشر فرمان), 2012].  He regularly translates medical articles, children’s literature, and works of psychology into Pashto; he also directs the children’s-book publishing house Mosawer, and is the editor of the cultural magazine Sapida.  He participates courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.


Genevieve L. ASENJO (fiction writer, poet, translator; Philippines) is the author of four books including Lumbay ng Dila (The Melancholy of the Tongue), winner of the country’s 2011 National Book Award. Her short stories and poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies. She translates into the Philippine languages Kinaray-a, Hiligaynon, and Filipino, and is the founder-director of Balay Sugidanun (Storytelling House). She is Associate Professor of literature and creative writing at De La Salle University-Manila.  Her participation is made possible by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

External Links:



CHAN Chi Tak 陳智德 (pen name:CHAN Mit陳滅.poet, essayist; Hong Kong) is an assistant professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, and co-founder of poetry journals《呼吸詩刊》 [Huxi Poetry](1996-2001) and《詩潮》 [Poetry Waves](2001-2003). He has three books of poetry, 《單聲道》[Life in Mono] (2002), 《低保真》[Lo-fi Sound] (2004), and 《市場, 去死吧》[To Hell With the Market] (2008), three essay collections, and edited three anthologies of Hong Kong literature. His work has twice won the Recommendation Prize for Chinese Literature at Hong Kong Biennial Awards and four times the Award for Creative Writing in Chinese. English translations of Chan’s poems have been featured in The Literary Review, West Coast Line, Renditions, and To Pierce the Material Screen: an Anthology 20th-century Hong Kong Literature. His participation is made possible by a grant from The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation in Hong Kong.

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Barlen PYAMOOTOO (fiction writer; Mauritius) is the founder/director of publishing houses  Alma and L’Atelier d’écriture, and leads the creative writing workshop at the Institut Français de Maurice. He has published three novels, including Le tour de Babylone (2002) and Salogi’s (2008). In 2006, Pyamootoo wrote the screenplay for and directed the feature film adapted from his novel Bénarès. He participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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Jana BEŇOVÁ (poet, fiction writer; Slovakia) has written three books of poetry: Svetloplachý (1993), Lonochod (1997) and Nehota (1997). Beňová has also published the short story collection Dvanásť poviedok a Ján Med (2003), an essay collection, and the novels Parker (2000) and Plán odprevádzania (Café Hyena) [Seeing People Off] (2008); her most recent novel, Preč! Preč! [Away! Away!] was published earlier this year. Beňová currently works as an editor at the Slovak Theatre Institute. Her participation is made possible by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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Introducing our Fall 2012 Residents, Round II: Al Refai, Choi, Fricke, Lin, & Lyacos

It's Wednesday and, as promised, here's Round II of our 2012 Fall Residency Announcements!

Today's installment features writers from Kuwait, South Korea, Germany, Taiwan, and Greece. To learn when and where you can see these writers share their work, participate in panel discussions, and screen films, be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter (@UIIWP), and, of course, feel free to visit us at the IWP's Homepage.


Taleb Al Refai

Taleb AL REFAI (fiction writer; Kuwait) has published seven collections of short stories, a play, a number of critical works, and four novels, including the controversial [The Shadow of the Sun] ( ظل الشمس ( in 1998. His 2002 [The Scent of the Sea] ) ( رائحة البحر won the Kuwait National Award for Arts & Literature. Trained as an engineer, Al-Refai has since joined the staff of the National Council for Culture, Art and Literature, where he manages the Culture and Arts Department. His articles appear regularly in the Al-Hayat and Al-Jarida Kuwaiti newspapers; in 2009 he chaired the Arabic Booker Prize for Fiction. He participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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Choi Myung sook

CHOI Myung sook (playwright; South Korea) is a lecturer of drama and modern culture at Soonchunhyang and Baeksuk Universities. She has written six staged plays, including 모텔 피아노 [Motel Piano] (2007), 두 아이 [Two Daughters](2011) and directed the [Actors Read Novels] series in Seoul from 2008 to 2012. The title play for her published collection, 그리고 또 하루 [And Again, Another Day] (2009), was staged at the 33rd Seoul Theatre Festival in 2012 and won the prize for drama. Her participation is funded by Arts Council Korea.



Lucy Fricke

Lucy FRICKE (fiction writer; Germany) worked extensively in film and television before studying literature at the Deutsches Literaturinstitut in Leipzig.  Fricke has gone on to publish the novels Durst ist schlimmer als Heimweh [Thirst is Worse Than Homesickness] (2007) and Ich habe Freunde mitgebracht [I Brought Friends] (2010). She has organized literary events for the Berlin International Poetry Festival, the Leipzig Book Fair, and currently directs the HAM.LIT festival in Hamburg. She participates courtesy the Max Kade Foundation.

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Lin Chun Ying

LIN Chun Ying 林俊頴 (fiction writer; Taiwan) is the author of an essay collection and seven short story collections, including  大暑 [The Longest Summer] (1991), 焚燒創世紀 [A Burning Notebook] (1997), and 鏡花園 [The Garden of Mirrors] (2006). His novel 我不可告人的鄉愁[The Nostalgia That Dare Not Speak Its Name] (2011) received the 2012 Taipei International Book Exhibition Prize. Lin has worked as a copywriter, newspaper editor, and in television. His participation is made possible by the Council for Cultural Affairs in Taiwan.

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Dimitrios Lyacos (photo by Eli Ligyrou)

Dimitris LYACOS (poet, playwright; Greece/Italy) is the author of the cross- genre trilogy Poena Damni, which includes Z213: ΕΞΟΔΟΣ  [Z213: EXIT] (published in English in 2010), ΜΕ ΤΟΥΣ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΥΣ ΑΠΟ ΤΗ ΓΕΦΥΡΑ [With the People From the Bridge], and Ο ΠΡΩΤΟΣ ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ [The First Death]. The trilogy has been translated into six languages, and staged in theatres across Europe and the U.S., inspiring works in various media including a sound and sculpture installation, paintings, and a dance adaptation. Lyacos’ participation is made possible by a grant from the Counting Art non profit organization and Athens-based ABOUT Cultural Venue.

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Introducing Our 2012 Fall Residents, Round 1: Nouri, Tanweer, Falco, Dema, & Ganieva

In three weeks, the IWP's 46th annual Fall Residency will bring 32 writers from 29 countries to Iowa City where they will have time, space, and freedom to write. As ever, they'll also have ample opportunitiy to engage with the public, to travel to other cities and states, to give public readings of their work, and to immerse themselves in the writing life in North America's only UNESCO-designated City of Literature.

In anticipation of their arrival, we'll be posting information about this year's cohort of writers here at the Shambaugh House blog every other weekday for the next two weeks, roughly five writers at a time. Without further ado, here's a look at just a few of our 2012 Fall Residents:


Gulala NOURI (poet, fiction writer, translator; Iraq) has worked as a Kurdish-language teacher and in women’s issues and human rights. Currently, she is in charge of public relations and media for the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization. Nouri has published four collections of poetry, لحظة ينام الدولفين [While the Dolphin is Sleeping] (1999), لن يخصك هذا الضجيج [This Crowd is Not Up To You] (2001), تقاويم الوحشة [Calendars of Loneliness] (2005), and حطب [Firewood] (2009). Her translations of Vladimir Vysostky’s poetry into Kurdish and Arabic came out in 2011. Nouri has two books forthcoming, a translation of stories on the Halabja massacre, and her first story collection.  Her participation was funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.


Bilal TANWEER (fiction writer, poet, translator; Pakistan) teaches creative writing at Lahore University of Management Sciences. His short stories, essays, and poetry have been published by Granta, Critical Muslim, Life’s Too Short Literary Review: New Writing From Pakistan, Vallum, Dawn, The Express Tribune, The News on Sunday, and The Caravan (India); his translations from the Urdu have appeared in Words Without Borders and The Annual of Urdu Studies. In 2010 he received the PEN Translation Fund Grant for Chakiwara Chronicles by Muhammad Khalid Akhtar;  in 2011 he was selected as a Granta New Voice. He participates thanks to a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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Federico FALCO (fiction writer, poet; Argentina) is the author of three short story collections, two poetry collections, and the 2011 novel Cielos de Córdoba.  His La hora de los monos was chosen as one of the best Argentine books of 2010 by the magazine Revista Ñ. His stories are widely published and anthologized, including Open Letter’s 2012 The Future is Not Ours: New Latin American Fiction. In 2010, Falco was among Granta magazine’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists. Currently he teaches in the Department of Cinema, Literature and Contemporary Art History at the Universidad Blas Pascal. He participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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TJ Dema

TJ DEMA (poet; Botswana), a founding member of her country’s spoken word movement and a member of Sonic Slam Chorus, former chair of the Writers Association of Botswana, and runs Sauti Arts and Performance Management. An editor and anthologized poet, she has produced a multilingual CD, “Dreaming Is A Gift For Me,” featuring twelve Batswana poets. This summer she took part in the Cultural Olympiad’s Poetry Parnassus. She participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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Alisa GANIEVA (fiction writer, children’s writer, critic; Russia) edits NezavisimayaGazeta‘s weekly supplement ExLibris. Her stories, articles, and reviews have been widely published and anthologized. In 2009 Ganieva won the Debut Prize for her novel Салам тебе, Далгат! [Salam, Dalgat!] written under the pseudonym Gulla Khirachev. She is also the winner of the Gorky Literary Prize (2008), October magazine’s award for literary criticism (2009) and Triumph Prize for fiction. Her second novel Праздничная гора [Holiday Mountain] is due out later this year. She participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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Stay tuned because on Wednesday, we'll introduce you to five more writers!

BTL Arabic: A look at week one

IWP intern extraordinnaire Emily Seiple has spent most of July assisting Between the Lines Coordinator Kecia Lynn, and boy have the two of them been busy. From June 30th through July 14th, the IWP hosted a wonderful group of Russian and American students who together participated in creative writing workshops, attended literary salons, film screenings, and readings, and who, when all was said and done, left Iowa City knowing something more of themselves as writers and of each other's cultures.

Last weekend, BTL Russia participants celebrated the end of their two weeks in Iowa City just as students for our BTL Arabic program hit town. We've got a wonderful wrap-up of BTL Russia to post soon, but first, here's Emily's day-to-day account of our current BTL program.


July 14: Goodbye BTL Russia, Hello BTL Arabic 2012!

By the time Kecia and I greeted the new class of Between the Lines Arabic at 9:00 a.m., we had already been awake for six hours. Exhausted from a late-night graduation celebration for the first-ever BTL Russia program and their early morning goodbye, we managed to lead the new students around Iowa City. The few minutes before the walk were the only moments the students seemed like strangers. Almost immediately, friendships formed across language lines, and the 18 representatives from Algeria, Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, the U.S., and Tunisia became a unified group. After a trip to Coralridge Mall, the students met Marcus Jackson and Iman Humaydan, both of whom refused the title “instructor.” The night ended with getting-to-know you games. Isobel McHattie gave a memorable and convincing 1-minute history of Canada in a game called “One Minute, Please!” As a result, some students may truly believe that the rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens began with an argument over whether the tail on a fur cap should be worn in the front or the back…


July 15: Class Begins

The group split for the first time into their separate Arabic and English writing workshops. The American (and Canadian) students have little choice about their workshop placement, but several of the others were torn over which to attend. Kecia, Marcus, and Iman devised a flexible schedule in order to offer multi-lingual students the chance to attend equal numbers of workshops in each language. They also added a once-weekly workshop for all students.

After five hours of class, the students retreated to the Coralville Reservoir. At the beach, forgotten swimsuits and towels became a non-issue. Innocent splashing progressed into an all-out water fight which ended in swimming with shorts and T-shirts... It was a welcome break from Iowa’s relentless heat and humidity.


July 16: A BTL Birthday

With a cake, candles, and a card filled with poetic birthday messages in English, Arabic, and French, the group celebrated Ali Kadhem of Bahrain’s 17th birthday. Once the cake was gone, students pushed chairs out of the way and began to dance. Students taught and learned a wide range of moves—from salsa steps to traditional Palestinian and Tunisian dances. The party ended only when curfew arrived.


July 17: A Typical Enlightening Weekday

Each day during the week, students attend a literature seminar in the morning and a writing workshop in the afternoon. Iman’s lectures encourage sociological analysis of the world surrounding the day’s text. Opinions and viewpoints clashed in discussions about women in Islam, as students from different countries and points of view read and responded to the same reading. Despite disagreements, the students have expressed enthusiasm over this opportunity to hear from others and share their own perspective. In the evening, students explored campus facilities and summertime Iowa City attractions, like salsa dancing in the Ped Mall and cold pie shakes from Hamburg Inn.


July 18: Bina Shah visits BTL

In the morning, students listened to the first of two online guest lecturers. Today’s guest was 2011 IWP resident, Bina Shah from Pakistan, who joined us via Skype. After discussing where writers find ideas and inspiration, students shared ideas they’d like to develop into prose or poetry pieces, inspired by their experience traveling to Iowa for Between the Lines. While receiving feedback from Shah, students discussed culture shock, the symbolism of airports, and how they have experienced times of belonging or not belonging in a culture, family, or group.




Between the Lines: A Reflection by Maïsa Farid

As our current cohort of Between the Lines students continue to live, write, study, and engage one another in Iowa City, we thought it was a great time to share this guest blog post from one of last year's BTL students, Maïsa Farid, who came to Iowa last summer from Morocco. 


BTL changed me; I feel I've become another person. I've gained so much confidence in myself and become brave enough to call myself a writer. Indeed, I am a writer now; I gave myself a new definition of pen, blank paper, and written lines.

The pen is my sword, I control it, I can use it as a weapon, I can do whatever I want with it.

It's true I was afraid of a blank page of paper, thinking it meant failure, but in Iowa City, I learned that sometimes a blank paper reflects our thoughts for the moment. That blank white colour is not shameful; maybe our brain is blank, too. A blank paper also means freedom, of speech and thoughts.

Written lines are an achievement, a success. They show us that what we can do is limitless, that we have power over words.

Since I’ve been home, people have asked, “What did you learn during your ‘journey’?” Lost in the American dream, my answer is, "Well, many things!" Probably because I feel lazy speaking about the many things I've actually learned about writing, writers, the U.S., friends, living on my own, being independent and responsible for myself.

Returning to my motherland, I still feel so empty. I miss the friends I had, they were true friends, and I’m thankful I can find them by my side when I need them. Even though we’re miles apart, they can comfort me with words, and words have a magic effect that only writers can find. Although some of them are older than me, we’ve found a way to have a beautiful friendship. Writers have a beautiful liaison between themselves.

To be truthful, I was scared at first. It was my first time being away from my parents for such a long time. I also thought I'd not be taken seriously, but I was truly surprised: The staff was amazing, my teacher was awesome, and my fellow writers were young but experienced, pushing me to think I was experienced too. Eventually, words became a game for me, a serious game with no rules except the ones I make.

No matter what I write, I will never be able to describe my feelings, then and now. I'll always remember BTL as a program that helped me meet life outside. I'll also remember that BTL came at a time when I thought I was the least fortunate girl on the planet, drowning in my own problems.

If I could go back to Iowa City and Between the Lines, I would definitely book the first flight I could find. That’s going to be after graduation, God willing!


Maïsa Farid (BTL 2011) is from Morocco, where she is a student at the Faculty of Science and Technology in Tangier. She intends to study chemical engineering and is working on a novel she plans to title A Million Pictures of Love.

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 university.com 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)



Khaled Kahlifa in the middle of Syria's struggle

Our Syrian friend, colleague, and alum Khaled KHALIFA (IWP 2007) has a record of writing eloquently about contemporary Syria’s complex political landscape. While much of his work has been in TV drama, a massive novel about an Aleppo family caught in the Alaouite-Islamist conflict appeared a few years ago; it was next translated in France as Éloge de la haine, and is now about to appear in English  under the title In Praise of Hatred.   

As the insurgency against the Assad regime has grown in scope and strength, Khaled's voice has been among those heard more and more prominently in international media;  in February of this year, with violence reaching new heights, especially in Homs, Khaled circulated first a protest note to writer colleagues worldwide, then a piece highlighting the bloodshed’s historical parallels.  Last Friday, in the wake of a funeral of a musician friend found dead under unclear circumstances,  Khaled was amongst those beaten by plainclothes militia on a Damascus street.  The book he is now working on, a diary-style account of the Syrian revolution, will have to be written with his right, unbroken, hand…..

Spectacle and Pigsty sweeps the Best Translated Book of Poetry 2012 Award

We're so very pleased!   The 2012 Best Translated Book Award for poetry, given annually by the indispensable  journal and site Three Percent  has just been announced at the PEN New Voices festival, and it goes to a title featuring not one but two IWP alumni: Spectacle and Pigsty is a selection from two decades of  work of  the Japanese avant-gardist  Kiwao Nomura (IWP '05) selected, edited and co-translated by Kyoko Yoshida (IWP '05), with Forrest Gander.

In fact, Nomura and Yoshida first met and began collaborating while in residency at the IWP, in the fall of 2005, so it was a triple pleasure to be able to welcome them back to Iowa City on their reading tour last fall.  In addition to a fantastic, and packed, bilingual reading at Prairie Lights Books Kiwao and Kyoko also visited their old stomping grounds, the second-floor library of the Shambaugh House, to teach an hour-long seminar on their translation process.  With Kiwao at her side Kyoko, herself virtually bilingual, a writer, and a professor of English and American literature at Keyo U in Tokyo  walked the seminar through a close reading, and older stranslation (by Angus Turvill)  and then the several drafts of the opening poem as shuffled between her and  her colleague Forrest Gander, unpacking some of its literary antecedents (say, the tanka) , the philosophical landscape of abjection (by way, especially, of Pasolini’s  Accattone ) and the performative/acoustic/phonic work the original  poem was doing, and needed to do again, in English.  To say that the publisher of the collection, Omnidawn, took a risk on work this far from the going poetic parameters (especially in print—when read out loud the poems' incantatory quality has an energy all its own) would be an easy understatement.  Good for Omnidawn,  thank you Three Percent, and congratulations Nomura-san, Yoshida-san and Forrest-san.






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