• 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...


Tonight: IWP Resident Nell Regan Reads Alongside Musician Guy Drollinger

October 25, 2011 - 7:00pm

Prairie Lights

15 S. Dubuque Street / Iowa City, IA


Please join us for a special night of Irish music and poetry with Nell Regan and Guy Drollinger. Nell Regan is currently in residence with The University of Iowa's International Writing Program. Her collections of poetry include Preparing for Spring which was shortlisted for the Glen Dimplex New Writing, Strong, and Patrick Kavanagh Awards, and Bound for Home which has just been released in Ireland. Bound for Home is a sequence of poems based on an old coastal fort in County Cork which was commissioned by Cork County Council who also commissioned visual artist Monica Boyle. Irish poet Thomas McCarthy says of the work ”Through these poems the incidences of Camden life become art, the stones stand up and speak to us”.

Guy Drollinger is one of Iowa's premier folk artists and a leading exponent of the distinctive fiddle playing style of Eastern Iowa. Combining traditional Anglo-Scots-Irish dance tunes with influences from bluegrass, Nashville, the folk song revivals from the 50's on as well as Blues, he was named twice as a Master Fiddler for the Iowa Arts Council’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program and with his daughter Hannah has represented the State of Iowa at the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife in Washington D.C. Guy plays with many groups including the Drollinger Family Band, as well touring nationally, and internationally with Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre.

The International Writing Program to Bring Special Guest & Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka to Iowa City

The IWP is delighted to announce a special visitor to our program, and to our town. On Sunday, November 6th, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka will take part in two public events.

1) At 3:00 pm in Shambaugh Auditorium (Main Library), Soyinka will be presented with the Rex Honey African Studies Program Lectureship Award at a ceremony in which he will lecture and sign books.

2) At 7:30 pm, he will give a reading at the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Wole Soyinka (Playwright, Poet, Novelist, and Essayist ): Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, Wole Soyinka has published more than thirty works, and continues to be active on various international artistic and Human Rights organizations. A Yoruba born in Western Nigeria and educated in Ibadan, Wole Soyinka continued his studies at the University of Leeds, England, earning an Honours degree in English, then joined the Royal Court Theatre, London, as a play-reader. In 1960, he was awarded a Rockefeller grant and returned to Nigeria, where he researched theatre, and founded two theatre companies. 

Soyinka’s plays include The Swamp Dwellers; The Lion and the Jewel; The Trials of Brother Jero; Jero’s Metamorphosis; A Dance of the Forests; Kongi’s Harvest; Madmen and Specialists; The Strong Breed; The Road; Death and the King's Horseman; A Play of Giants; Requiem for a Futurologist

Soyinka has written two novels, The Interpreters and Season of Anomy. Autobiographical works include The Man Died: Prison Notes; AKE, The Years of Childhood; IBADAN, The Penkelemes Years and You Must Set Forth at Dawn. Literary essays are collected in, among others, Myth, Literature and the African World and Art, Dialogue and Outrage while his political and other thematic writings appear in The Open Sore of a Continent; The Burden of Memory, Muse of Forgiveness and his BBC Reith Lectures published as The Climate of Fear. His poems are collected in Idanre and Other Poems; Poems from Prison; A Shuttle in the Crypt; Ogun Abibiman; Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems; SAMARKAND and Other Markets I have Known

Wole Soyinka has won numerous civic and professional awards, held several university positions, and still lectures extensively. He is currently Professor Emeritus in Comparative Literature, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, and President’s Professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

Tonight! Shadow Tibet: A Conversation with Jamyang Norbu & Tenzing Rigdol

Tonight at 7 p.m. in EPB 107 (251 West Iowa Avenue) the International Writing Program and the University of Iowa Museum of Art will host Shadow Tibet: A Conversation with Jamyang Norbu & Tenzing Rigdol. This unique opportunity to hear from and engage with Tibetan writer Jamyang Norbu and Tibetan visual artist Tenzing Rigdol will include a reading by Norbu, commentary by Rigdol about his recent projects. Both artists will address questions specific to their artistic practice and, more broadly, about the role of Tibetan artists in exile.

Jamyang Norbu is an accomplished novelist, playwright, nonfiction writer, and activist. He blogs for Shadow Tibet, Rangzen.net and Huffington Post. He is also the author of three essay collections on Tibetan politics and culture, Illusion and Reality, Shadow Tibet, and Buying the Dragon's Teeth. While directing the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamshala, Norbu wrote plays as well as a traditional Tibetan opera libretto; he is the editor of, and contributor to, the volume Performing Traditions of Tibet. A founding director of the Tibetan Centre for Advanced Studies (the Amnye Machen Institute), Norbu has edited the Institute's journal of history and culture, Lungta, and its newspaper Mangtso.

Tenzing Rigdol's artistic practices include painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, digital media, video installations, and site-specific performance pieces. He has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, as well as in London, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Israel, Tokyo, Madrid and Mumbai; his artwork is held in museums and collections worldwide. He is also the author of the poetry volumes “R”—the Frozen Ink, Anatomy of Nights, and Butterfly’s Wings.

The residencies of both artists are sponsored by The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and the event is free and open to the public. As ever, Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the International Writing Program in advance at (319) 335-2817.



Creative Writing, Virtually

The IWP is taking creative writing abroad, virtually. For the past few years we’ve been developing a distance learning program in order to better and more continually reach the international community. The program utilizes the latest hardware and software in information technology to host events and classes that are delivered free of charge to international locations ranging from Haiti and Scotland to New Zealand and Iraq. All are based in Iowa City, and local writers lead each class in conjunction with an international instructor, usually a former IWP resident. Full courses are available to University of Iowa students either as credit or non-credit. This semester the IWP has offered creative writing seminars to students in the Gaza Strip via direct video conference and full classes on Young Adult Fiction and Graphic Novels to students in Egypt and Spain. Those who might be interested in Young Adult Fiction should note that the class is still enrolling for free, and that all are invited to take part. Direct questions to Jimmy O’Brien at james-obrien@uiowa.edu.  In the upcoming months the IWP will offer additional courses and events centered on the relationship between creative writing international trans-cultural issues with the intent of fostering a deeper dialogue between nations.


With web-enabled video chat systems like Elluminate Live! at our disposal, the IWP is able to recreate the community found in traditional workshop settings. Students and instructors can see each other face to face in real-time, and engage in the same rapid-fire conversation that creates constructive seminars and a sense of community. Most full courses are additionally supported by ICON, The University of Iowa’s learning management system. Often used in traditional classroom settings as a repository for course documents and assignment drop-off, ICON’s potential as a full-scale classroom becomes realized when employed in distance learning—students interact regularly via message boards, instructors post videos that students respond to, and other multimedia, movie trailers to PowerPoint’s, are continually accessible. The result is a learning environment that mirrors the traditional in-person format in terms of its sense of community, but allows for additional points of reference and resources to engage students who may live thousands of miles apart.


In much the same manner, the IWP’s more condensed programs provide short-term learning opportunities to those interested in the creative arts. These take the form of Direct Video Conferences (DVCs) that are hosted by University of Iowa’s IT services in a specially designed multimedia room. Using the highest speed internet connection available, IT is able to transfer high definition video and sound from Iowa City to any technologically capable location in the world. The IWP has delivered one-time literary readings to several locations and, in the near future, will connect acclaimed American writers and universities in The United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, and Iraq for individual virtual readings.

 Each semester, we offer five week intro to creative writing seminars, often to young adults, in partnership with regional NGOs and nonprofits such as AmidEast. These are designed to give young people who have expressed an interest in creative writing the opportunity to experience workshop and exchange ideas with peer writers and experienced instructors on a weekly basis. Recently, the IWP has partnered with institutions in Jordan and the Gaza Strip to run such courses.


As the IWP’s distance learning program continues to broaden its reach and expand its offerings we hope to involve as many residents, writers, and community members as possible. To stay informed of our events and plans make sure to watch this blog and our website, or contact the DL coordinator, Jimmy O’Brien, at james-obrien@uiowa.edu for more information about classes and events both this and coming semesters.

The International Writing Program & The University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts Presents Global Express


This Saturday, Oct. 15th, the University of Iowa's Department of Theatre Arts presents an evening of staged readings of works by current residents of the International Writing Program. From non-fiction pieces to scenes written for the stage, this year’s Global Express will present a dynamic sampling of work from accomplished international writers hailing from places as disparate as Scotland, Nigeria, Singapore, the Philippines, India, and Australia.

 Directed by Saffron Henke with dramaturgy by Maggie Conroy, the evening will feature the work of Jeremy Tiang (Singapore), Zoë Strachan (Scotland), Louise Welsh (Scotland), Lynley Hood (New Zealand) Josephine Rowe (Australia), Usha K.R. (India), Ogochukwu Promise (Nigeria), & Joel Toledo (Philippines).

(Full writer biographies and samples of the wrtiers' work are available at the IWP's website)

Held in Theatre B in the University of Iowa Theatre Building, the evening will begin at 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

As ever, Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the International Writing Program in advance at (319) 335-2817.


Between the Lines from a student's perspective

This film, produced by the American Embassy in Beirut and aired a few years ago, features Between the Lines 2008 student Ali Awarke and contains pictures of the BTL 2008 participants. (Arabic audio, no subtitles)


Ivory Coast, unfolding....

A billboard in Abidjan (as borrowed from Carol's blog)
A billboard in Abidjan (as borrowed from Carol's blog)

IWP friend and past-participant Carol Spindel (Souk Ukaz/PeaceWork, 2010) , who has spent time in and written about her stay in Cote d'Ivoire, has been finding ways to keep track of the mounting crisis there. With hotter news happening now daily in the north of the continent, the Ivory Coast post-election crisis, quickly turning into a brutal civil war, has receded from the US media's headlines. Carol's citizen-journalism, conducted in part by phone calls to her friends describing the situation in and in the countryside, is an ongoing headliner at the Open Salon blog.

A Nazareth Roundup.


Our very own Peter Nazareth signals the near-future arrival of the 3-volume Ugandan Asians: Then and Now, Here and There, We Contributed, We Contribute, by Vali Jamal—a survey of and a rich anthology documenting generations of Ugandans of South Asian origins, in their homeland and in diaspora. Mary and Peter Nazareth were among them, leaving Kampala for the UK with their two kids in 1972, then finding their way to the IWP and the University of Iowa ...where they have been a mainstay of the IWP ever since, leaving behind a legacy of work, memoirs and memories. So, a backhanded thanks to Idi Amin after all?

Lives of others.....

Kecia Lynn
Kecia Lynn

At the Shambaugh House our colleague Kecia Lynn's main project is coordinating the Between the Lines summer program for young  Arabic-language writers.  Periodically, though, she leaves the house, changes hats, and becomes a suave talk show host for the UITV series  "From the Workshop."   Check out her thoughtful interviews with faculty and visitors to the Writers' Workshop -- Marilynne Robinson, Abraham Verghese, Yiyun Li, Michael Cunningham and many others.

Great Minds Collide

Video has surfaced of the 2011 Jaipur Literary Festival, including the discussion, "Pamuk and the Art of the Novel," between IWP alumni Chandrahas Choudhury and Orhan Pamuk.  Check it out here!


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