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  • Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a short series of essays commissioned from writers who participated in the 2012 fall residency. We began the series, “On Going Home,” last year as a way to keep in touch and get a glimpse of what the process of returning home was like for authors who'd spent nearly three months in the U.S. writing, researching, travelling, and interacting with Americans. We asked the authors to include a photograph that represented "home" in some fundamental way. This year’s first installment comes from Genevieve L. Asenjo, a fiction writer, poet, and translator who lives in Manila, in the Philippines; the photograph is the view from the terrace of the author's condo.

               America was an introduction to vastness. I returned to my one-bedroom condominium unit in Manila last November feeling suffocated. I wondered how to best fit and display those shipped boxes of books from Prairie Lights, The Haunted Bookshop, Faulkner, The Strand on my already cramped shelves.

               Space! This is one thing that awed me about America. Its big open skies and long stretch of land brought me not to seas and beaches comparable to the Philippines but to equally amazing bodies of water: Lake MacBride, The Mississippi River, Barataria Swamps and Wetlands. The 4-hour ride from Iowa City to Chicago was considered near; I relished the 9-hour road trip to Michigan State University the last week of October with two Filipino-American graduate students for a Philippine Studies Conference. And oh, how I wanted to dance either in my long skirt or peasant dress in the middle of cornfields and prairies in that autumn breeze and burst of colors!  The closest thing I got, of course, was a portrait by Tom Langdon shot inside the Iowa House Hotel on an October afternoon.

                By then, the autumn chill made me fret for home, or somewhere Southwest. I consoled myself that I still needed to see my ‘first real snow.’ A fellow writer with a good view of the Iowa River promised to summon me on the first instance of flurry. No luck, even to the moment the airport-bound limousine collected us from the Broadway-street hotel of our post-Sandy New York trip. Could the regret and relief in my sighs be assuaged by the Kronos Quartet that astonished us all at The Englert Theatre when news of a snowstorm all over the Midwest reached me last December by smartphone in the sunny comfort of my parents’ farm? The farm is on an island in the heart of the archipelago, an hour by plane from Manila and 2-hour land ride boasting an Instagram-worthy seascape. I thought of Scarlet O’Hara’s Tara and Marilyn Robinson’s Gilead. I stayed there throughout Christmas with a heightened valuation of things rural and agricultural as they have become synonymous to slow, organic, well-being. There’s nothing romantic about Philippine poverty; I deeply appreciated the farm trips to Erem Acreage and Solstead. It affirmed for me the possibility of a writing life nourished by my own share of land in a community capable of growing its own produce. And you bet, it become closer and nearer to any point I could find myself using Google maps.  

                But coming home was really about hard-boiled eggs for breakfast and all-time favorite Filipino dishes like sinigang, adobo, lechon. Never mind rice, I had it from the New Pioneer Co-op. My hunger and sadness in Iowa rested on pizza, bagels, microwave meals, paper cups and plastic utensils yet I was glad to be introduced to the Cajun and Creole cuisine of New Orleans.

                 “How was Iowa? How much have you written?” Friends asked. To the young ones, I told them about meeting Hualing Nieh Engle in person and giggled with them about Paul’s line for her, “In terrible haste, in full love,” as she told us in the documentary One Tree Three Lives. To colleagues, of how witty Elaine Showalter was, and to many other fellow writers, the thought after listening to Junot Diaz: that we should be writing about our Filipino doctors and nurses and seafarers, so maybe our writing in English will also be read, primarily, by our countrymen and women in diaspora.

                More than newly-acquired books, Facebook updates on meaningful moments and photos of places traveled to, collaboration with New York Battery Dance Company, friendship with the staff and fellow international writers, some of whom I introduced in an elective course titled Contemporary World Fiction when I resumed teaching last January, the International Writing Program (IWP) gifted me with empathy for America and the Americans. The rodeo trip, barn dance with the seniors, and farm visits unveiled to me the rural side of America; “the other side,” maybe even “the real America” beyond Hollywood and foreign policy. Engagements toward the reelection of Barack Obama attuned me to America’s share of miseries and burdens. It was made believable by sights of many homeless people in parks and streets, stories of unemployment and that of veterans and families of American troops, and the tug of tax and tipping.

                Every time I go out to my terrace and am confronted by a dense cityscape, my mind zooms out and settles in a vast void. A horizon. There, a lingering – the delight I knew well, for instance, when I read Clarice Lispector for the first time, in translation, from the University of Iowa Library, or when I rediscovered Robert Hass, skipping a grocery trip with Mary. Here, I hunger for more words like I desire an oyster. Clear, simple words for those intimate gestures of the mind and heart one keeps in different time zones, thousands of miles above sea level. At times I am startled, as if a squirrel passed by. Mostly, I feel light; glad to have walked Iowa’s ground and made peace with history.

    Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a short series of essays commissioned from writers who participated in the 2012 fall residency. We began the series, “On Going Home,” last year as a way to keep in touch and get a glimpse of what the process of returning home was like for authors who'd spent nearly three months in the U.S. writing, researching, travelling, and interacting with...
  • Since 2008, the International Writing Program has hosted Between the Lines (BTL), a program that brings young writers, ages 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. We’ve been checking in with BTL alumni for our blog series, Where Are They Now? This week we catch up with BTL alumnus Johnny Yaacoub of Tourza, Lebanon, who participated...
  • The Between the Lines (BTL) program brings young writers ages 16-19 to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. As young people from the U.S., Russia, and 17 Arabic-speaking countries prepare to apply for BTL 2013, we are profiling past BTL alumni in a blog series, Where Are They Now? 

    This week, we feature Amr Bennis of Tripoli, Libya, who participated in BTL Arabic 2010, when he was 18-years-old.

    IWP: What was your BTL experience like?

    Amr: I had a wonderful time at BTL and in Iowa City. It was really great to be a part of the Young Writers’ Workshop and BTL at the same time. I learned different things at both workshops and I feel that they really complimented each other and helped me become a better writer. I was quite fond of attending readings and just walking around the university campus.

    IWP: Had you been to Iowa before?

    Amr: No. I had been to Huntsville, Alabama, in the summer of 2009 for a trip to Space Camp organized by the State Department. In Iowa City, there were a couple of cafes (Java House, Times Café (inside Prairie Lights Bookstore), Teaspoons) where I just practiced sitting and writing everything that was going on around me (that really helped me with paying more attention to detail in writing). Also, if I remember correctly, there was a mural that was very inspirational and definitely helped with creativity during my stay in Iowa City as well as a cigar shop that I loved writing at. Behind the dorm (where BTL students live in Iowa City), there are some basketball courts where I played 5-a-side street football (soccer!) which was really fun. Also, weather permitting, there's a huge grass field that would be on your right if you're walking towards the city hall. It was always nice to just sit underneath some shade and write or play full-team football. 

    IWP:  How would you describe your BTL cohort?

    Amr: I am still in touch with most of my friends from BTL. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to attend BTL with. They really made my experience at Iowa wonderful.

    IWP:  Why did you come to BTL? What were your expectations?

    Amr: I didn’t have any real expectations (I guess that’s what made it such a thrilling adventure!) I came to BTL because I loved to write. Writing was the one thing that I was serious about outside of school at the time and I saw BTL as an opportunity not only to become a better writer, but as a way to interact with other writers my age. It was difficult for me to find someone to read what I wrote at 17 or 18 years of age and provide constructive feedback. However, at BTL I found a group that was warm and welcoming and that provided me with the motivation to keep writing and with skills I still use today in my writing.

    IWP:  How have your goals/your writing/your writing life changed since BTL?

    Amr: My writing life changed dramatically since BTL. Immediately after attending the workshop I started attending college and I was writing more academically than I was creatively. Perhaps that is why over these past couple of years I slowly transitioned from fiction writing to journalism, creative non-fiction, and blogging. However, whenever I feel the need to take a break from all the serious writing I would write a short story and it would be the perfect writer’s pick-me-up! From BTL, I learned that I had to write some things in Arabic, or else I wouldn't be able to create them at all. Since BTL, I have kept a separate journal of my writings in Arabic. Language is a funny thing. I thought that I was very close to having native command of English, but after BTL I learned that some things can only be expressed in my mother tongue. 

    IWP:  What are you up to now?

    Amr: I’m currently a junior at Harvard where I’m studying Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Over the next couple of months I will be starting to conduct research on the revolution in Libya and its aftermath. My long-term project is to use my research to write and publish a book that examines the political sphere in Libya post-revolution.

    IWP:  What advice would you offer young people applying to BTL?

    Amr: Iowa City is a magical place, and you will be surrounded by people who share your passion for writing. Simply walking around the city will flood your head with all sorts of crazy ideas. So my advice is this: let yourself go and use that creative energy to write whatever you like. Don’t limit yourself to anything. Learn from the work your peers give you to read and offer them constructive advice. Don’t shy away from sharing your work; the feedback you’ll get will be phenomenal. BTL is an opportunity to become a better writer and help others be better writers as well.

    And, more importantly, have fun!

    This summer, IWP hosts BTL Arabic and BTL Russia. Click here to learn more. In other news, BTL is now on Facebook. We hope you’ll visit us there soon.

    The Between the Lines (BTL) program brings young writers ages 16-19 to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. As young people from the U.S., Russia, and 17 Arabic-speaking countries prepare to apply for BTL 2013, we are profiling past BTL alumni in a blog series, Where Are They Now? 

    ...

  • Well, it’s officially Spring, and that means time for another Shambaugh House Quarterly Roundup, in which we share good news from our associates, friends, and alumni of the International Writing Program. Have news to share? Send it our way and we'll include it in an upcoming post.

    Many members of the IWP community were honored for their achievements this spring. They include U.R. Ananthamurthy (IWP '74, India) who was named a finalist for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, Lin-Hwai-min (IWP '70, Taiwan) who received the 2013 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for his lifetime contribution to modern dance (see the video at the end of this post), and Book Wings China playwright Dan O’ Brien who was named one of two inaugural winners of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. Dan’s 10-minute play, Kandahar to Canada, commissioned by Book Wings, will be produced by Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City as part of the their Marathon of One-Acts. Chandrahas Choudhury (IWP '10, India) and Anisul Hoque (IWP '10, Bangladesh) were featured in the 2013 Jaipur Literature Festival. And right here in Iowa City, Suddenly, A Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret (IWP '01, Israel) was recommended as a pleasure-read by Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Bookstore and featured in the The Iowa City Press-Citizen.  

    IWP alumni also spoke out about writing, literature, and events in their home countries. Fiction writer, physician, and activist Ma Thida (IWP ’05, Burma) was profiled in The Irrawaddy Magazine (“I Write Just to Be ‘A Good Citizen'”). “As a doctor I do scientific work, but as a writer and editor I do an artist’s work,” she says. “I feel I’m useful to the Burmese people by using two different professional skills.” Poet Jayanta Mahapatra (IWP ’76, India) was interviewed at length on reading, writing, and what keeps him going (“Something in me refuses to die”) in Live Mint & The Wall Street Journal. Ogochukwu Promise (IWP '09), novelist, cultural entrepreneur, painter, and social activist, spoke about literary affairs in Nigeria in an interview with Vanguard. Taleb Al Refai (IWP ’12) was interviewed at length on trends in creative writing in his native Kuwait (“New Generation Creating Own Path in Creative Writing”) in the Arab Times. And poet Maung Swan Li (IWP ’03, Burma) was profiled in Sampsonia Way (“Maung Swan Yi: A Burmese Encyclopedia”) about his hope of returning from exile.

    IWP alumni continue to publish widely. Poet and musician Rodrigo Garcia Lopes (IWP ’12, Brazil) had poems in Machado de Assis magazine and also released a new CD. Mani Rao (IWP ’05, India) had poems in Omniverse, Mascara, Muse India, and elsewhere and is translating the works of Kalidasa for publication in 2014.

    Also in the news, IWP director Chris Merrill emphasized the importance of supporting the arts through cultural diplomacy in a recent edition of The Huffington Post.

    And that's just a small sampling of the many achievements within the IWP community over the past three months!

     Have good news to share? Send it to ashley-r-davidson[at]uiowa.edu and we’ll include it in the next Shambaugh House Roundup.

     

    Well, it’s officially Spring, and that means time for another Shambaugh House Quarterly Roundup, in which we share good news from our associates, friends, and alumni of the International Writing Program. Have news to share? Send it our way and we'll include it in an upcoming post.

    Many members of the IWP community were honored for their achievements...

  • On Thursday, March 14th, audiences in the University of Iowa Theatre Building in Iowa City, IA and at the Moscow Art Theatre in Moscow, Russia were joined by viewing parties at institutions around the world, including Bennington College in Bennington, VT, California State University in Long Beach, CA, The Women's Cultural Society in Kuwait City, Kuwait and at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State in Washington DC to experience the collaborative bilingual theatre initiative known as Book Wings. These real and virtual audiences gathered in theatres, auditoriums, and meeting rooms to take in six innovative 10-minute plays from accomplished young playwrights in the United States and Russia, commissioned by Book Wings on the central theme of contact. The plays were staged collaboratively, using digital videoconferencing technology to link twin stages in Iowa City and Moscow.

    Complete video of the performance is now available online, so grab some popcorn, sit back, and allow yourself to be teleported 5,000 miles from Iowa City to Moscow and back again, as you experience these emotionally complex, darkly humorous, and moving works brought to life by the phenomenal artistic and production teams of the Moscow Art Theatre and the University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts.

    Book Wings 2013, the second installment of the 3-year collaborative theatre initiative, is a testament to the willingness of actors, directors, writers, translators, and their audiences to go beyond the confines of traditional artistic performance space and explore the innovation made possible by digital media. A PDF containing the complete texts of the plays in English and Russian along with information about the project and bios of the playwrights is available here. Paper copies of the program are available for educational use. Educators interested in obtaining paper copes of the program should contact Ashley Davidson, Program Coordinator for Book Wings, at ashley-r-davidson[at]uiowa.edu.

    On Thursday, March 14th, audiences in the University of Iowa Theatre Building in Iowa City, IA and at the Moscow Art Theatre in Moscow, Russia were joined by viewing parties at institutions around the world, including Bennington College in Bennington, VT, California State University in Long Beach, CA, The Women's Cultural Society in Kuwait City, Kuwait and at the Bureau of Educational and...

  • From April 2nd to April 7th, writers, musicians, entertainers, and foodies from around the United States will descend on Iowa City for the 8th annual Mission Creek Festival.  The Festival, whose literary line-up alone includes more than 18 events, will feature a poetry rock show,  a spoken word performance, a lit crawl, two writers-in-residence, and a small press and literary magazine book fair that includes top shelf publications such as Granta and N+1 as well as prominent literary presses Sarabande Books, Dzanc Books, and  others.

    As the countdown to the Festival begins, here’s a peek at singer and song-writer Joe Pug, who will perform on April 5th:

    “The Festival is truly a time to be more on-on-one with leading American musicians, writers, and publishers, in Iowa City than any other,” says IWP's fall residency coordinator, Joe Tiefenthaler, the festival's literary director.  “Besides performing, these visiting musicians, comedians, and authors will give lectures, visit classrooms, teach youth, and collaborate with the community on a variety of stages—from traditional concert venues, to restaurants, bars and locally-owned stores, and many of these events are free.”

    Authors including Aleksandar Hemon, Roxane Gay, Mary Jo Bang, Amelia Gray, Matt Bell, Aase Berg, Johannes Göransson, Janaka Stucky, Feng Sun Chen, Rauan Klassnik, Susanne Scanlon, Jac Jemc, Jensen Beach, Eleni Sikelianos, and Eileen Pollack will be joined by  writers and festival-goers from Iowa City, the Midwest, and across the country for a series of free public readings. A complete list of literary events is available here. For those who can’t make it to Iowa City for the Festival, many of the literary events will be streamed live by The Writing University, available for listening wherever there’s an internet connection.

    The Festival will also feature performances by Iris Dement, Janeane Garofalo, Grizzly Bear, Divine Fits, Tig Notaro, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, White Lung, Mister Lies, Ital, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Julianna Barwick, and many others. A full line-up and ticket information is found here.

    From April 2nd to April 7th, writers, musicians, entertainers, and foodies from around the United States will descend on Iowa City for the 8th annual Mission Creek Festival.  The Festival, whose literary line-up alone includes more than 18 events, will feature a poetry rock show,  a spoken word performance, a lit crawl, two writers-in-residence, and a small press and literary magazine book...

  • "We blunder into wars we can’t get out of...is it so inconceivable that the government might not be telling us everything?"--excerpt of Victoria Stewart's new play, PLANET X, to premiere at Book Wings Russia 2013.

    Building on the successful partnership that led to the inaugural production of Book Wings in 2012, the International Writing Program (IWP) and the Moscow Art Theatre are linking up again (on March 14th 2013, 10:30am Iowa time, 7:30pm Moscow time) to present the second year of the three-year collaborative theatre initiative. The 2012 edition featured poetry; now, in 2013, Book Wings Russia presents six new 10-minute plays by young and distinguished playwrights in the U.S. and Russia. In collaboration with the University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts, the Virtual Writing University, Information Technology Services, and UITV, Book Wings will use the latest high definition videoconferencing technology to link twin stages—one in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building and another at the revered Moscow Art Theatre—to produce one unified dramatic performance.

    Playwrights, translators, actors, directors, and new media specialists have come together across more than 5,000 miles to produce Book Wings Russia, a free evening of collaborative bilingual theatre, in English and Russian. The six never-before-seen plays were commissioned for Book Wings, with grant support from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Dept of State. The playwrights, who include National Endowment for the Arts Fellow Sherry Kramer, Ofner Prize winner Carlos Murillo (who heads the Playwriting Program at DePaul University in Chicago), and Francesca Primus Award winner Victoria Stewart, created 10-minute plays on the central theme of “contact.” Their counterparts in Russia—Marina Krapivina, Maksym Kurochkin, and Natalya Moshina—did the same. The plays then went to the Book Wings translators and playwrights in both countries worked to refine the translations of their counterpart’s work for the stage.

    Today’s performance will teleport the live audiences in Iowa City and Moscow back and forth between the two stages as artistic and production teams use videoconferencing technology to produce (in real time, across 10 time zones) a collaborative performance that strengthens creative and cultural ties between the two nations.

    The complete scripts of the plays—complex, moving, and darkly funny—are printed in the program in both English and Russian, available on the Book Wings website. English supertitling will allow the Iowa City audience and live stream viewers to follow the Russian sections of the performance. The live audiences will be joined by viewing parties at the Women’s Cultural Center in Kuwait City, Bennington College, California State University—Long Beach and others around the world, all tuning in to watch the performance via the free live internet stream hosted by the Virtual Writing University. Audience members and viewers can tweet their questions for the live talk-back session to follow the performance using the hashtag #bookw.

    The live stream will be archived online for later viewing and paper copies of the program containing the full texts of the plays are available to educators free of charge. Contact Book Wings Program Coordinator Ashley Davidson at ashley-r-davidson[at]uiowa.edu for more information.

    "We blunder into wars we can’t get out of...is it so inconceivable that the government might not be telling us everything?"--excerpt of Victoria Stewart's new play, PLANET X, to premiere at Book Wings Russia 2013.

    Building on the successful partnership that led to the inaugural production of Book Wings in 2012, the International Writing Program (IWP) and the Moscow Art...

  • “Tell them you claimed his body off the mosque floor. Tell them you hear voices hissing in your cell phone accusing you of defiling young women by teaching them the Internet." –Excerpt from American playwright Dan O’Brien’s new 10-minute play, KANDAHAR TO CANADA, commissioned by Book Wings China.

    Six new plays, two stages, and playwrights, translators, actors, directors, and new media specialists 7,000 miles apart come together Tuesday, March 12th at 9pm (10am Wednesday, March 13th in Shanghai) to present Book Wings China, a free evening of collaborative bilingual theatre.

    The International Writing Program (IWP) and the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre(SDAC), working in partnership with the University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts, the Virtual Writing University, Information Technology Services, and UITV will use the latest high definition videoconferencing technology to link the twin stages—one in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building and another at SDAC in Shanghai. Together, they’ll present—in English and in Chinese—six never-before-seen plays by distinguished young playwrights in the U.S. and China. The plays were all specially commissioned by Book Wings, a 3-year collaborative theatre initiative funded by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Dept of State.

    In September 2012, the playwrights, who include recent Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History winner Dan O’Brien, Whiting Award winner Naomi Iizuka (who also a heads the MFA in Playwriting at the University of California, San Diego), and Chay Yew, Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, were asked to write 10-minute plays on the central theme of “migration.” Their counterparts in China—Qian Jue, Wang Haoran, and Xu Yaqun—did the same and, in December, the newly written plays went to the Book Wings translators. Once translated, playwrights in both countries worked to refine the translations of their counterpart’s work for the stage.

    In the meantime, new media specialists in both countries began conducting test calls and experimenting with software to ensure a high quality connection, with two-way talk back ability between the two stages, allowing Iowa City and Shanghai to switch back and forth between their respective live streams and converse with each other seamlessly in real time, producing one unified performance.

    Actors and directors in Shanghai and Iowa City then began rehearsing the plays and working with production teams to develop lighting and set designs that will translate to the live stream.

    When the house lights go down Tuesday night, from the comfort of their theatre seats, audiences in Iowa City and Shanghai will experience a kind of teleportation, bouncing back and forth across 8 time zones, experiencing plays that explore what IWP Director Christopher Merrill refers to as “the many dimensions of migration—discovery, flux, hope, nostalgia, and reinvention.”  The scripts, in Chinese and English, are printed in the program, now available on the Book Wings website, and English supertitling will allow the Iowa City audience and live stream viewers to follow the Chinese sections of the performance.

    The live audiences will be joined by viewing parties around the world who will tune in to watch the performance live via the free live internet stream hosted by the Virtual Writing University. In the U.S., viewing parties are scheduled at Bennington College, Pacific Lutheran University, The University of Hawaii—Honolulu and elsewhere.

    During the live talk-back session to follow the performance, audience members and viewers can tweet their questions for the actors, directors, and new media specialists who make Book Wings a reality by using the hashtag #bookw.

    The live stream will be archived online for later viewing (available beginning March 19th, 2013) and paper copies of the program containing the full texts of the plays are available to educators by emailing a request to ashley-r-davidson[at]uiowa.edu.

    “Tell them you claimed his body off the mosque floor. Tell them you hear voices hissing in your cell phone accusing you of defiling young women by teaching them the Internet." –Excerpt from American playwright Dan O’Brien’s new 10-minute play, KANDAHAR TO CANADA, commissioned by Book Wings China.

    Six new plays, two stages, and playwrights, translators, actors, directors, and new...

  • The Between the Lines (BTL) program brings young writers, ages 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. As young people from the U.S., Russia, and 17 Arabic-speaking countries prepare to apply for BTL 2013, we are profiling past BTL alumni in a blog series, Where Are They Now? 

    This week, we feature Irene Ghattas of Bethlehem, Palestine. A university graduate and mother, Irene participated in BTL Arabic 2009, when she was 19-years-old and in her second year of university.

    IWP: What was your BTL experience like?

    Irene: The BTL experience was a unique one. I loved the way the instructors taught their students; it’s completely different from our ways of teaching. For example, my style of writing wasn’t accepted by many teachers in my country because I write what my heart tells me to write, I hold the pen in my hand and start writing without thinking about whether it’s true or not true.  For me writing is about feelings, emotions, passion; it’s not about rules or strike-through lines in red marker. In BTL, I was accepted as I am without rules or restrictions. The best memory I have of the experience is getting to know my friend Laura; she was my roommate. I will never forget meeting my best friend outside my country.

    IWP: Had you visited the United States before?

    Irene: The BTL experience was my first trip to the United States. I was shocked (in a good way) by the people I met. They were all good readers and they read everywhere. For me it’s different. In our society most people don’t read books, only newspapers. My favorite activity was walking in the street, observing the culture, people, and even nature: trees and squirrels.

    IWP: How would you describe your BTL cohort?

    I met some of my best friends at BTL.  I still stay in touch with Laura and with Hussein; we all share the same mentality and ideas about the meaning of life. Hussein is from Lebanon, but he is studying in Italy and his continuing his life in a great way. Unfortunately, Laura, who is from Syria, because of the war is now in Jordan searching for a job. I call her from time to time and I tell her to come to my house but she can’t because she is a Syrian and can’t enter Israel. We share the same grief and  the same difficulties in life.

    IWP: How have your goals/your writing/your writing life changed since BTL?

    My goal when I joined the BTL program was to find a fulfilling way to express my feelings, because every time I write I feel the emptiness of words, no word can voice my own sense of life, which I feel in my heart. After BTL I began to read more than before and now I have my own library in the house where I collect my favorite books. I used to write more, but I don’t have much time now with the baby and housework. I finished university two years ago and am searching for a job, but the economic situation in Bethlehem is poor. I want to work for many reasons: to help my husband and to develop my personality. Sometimes I feel that my dream of life is no more than a lie, all my life I dreamt of being a successful woman in every way, and I was raised to be one. But because of the economic and political situation, and all the pressure on us from the Israeli occupation, our dreams melt a little more every day.

    IWP: What advice would you offer to other young people applying to BTL?

    I advise the BTL students, once admitted, to invest every minute they have in the program to improving their writing by listening to the instructors’ advice. And I encourage every young student to apply to BTL. It is a great experience that can change your views of life.

    This summer, IWP hosts BTL Arabic and BTL Russia. Click here to learn more. BTL is now on Facebook. Visit us!

     

    The Between the Lines (BTL) program brings young writers, ages 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. As young people from the U.S., Russia, and 17 Arabic-speaking countries prepare to apply for BTL 2013, we are profiling past BTL alumni in a blog series, Where Are They Now? 

    ...

  • The Between the Lines (BTL) program brings young writers, ages 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. As young people from the U.S., Russia, and 17 Arabic-speaking countries prepare to apply for BTL 2013,  we are profiling past BTL alumni in a blog series, Where Are They Now? 

    This week, we feature 21-year-old Ghenim Houda, who lives in Oran, Algeria, where she is her 5th year of studying medicine. Ghenim participated in BTL Arabic 2010, when she was 18-years-old.

    IWP: What was your BTL experience like?

    Ghenim:  My BTL experience was awesome. Two years have passed and I’m still talking about Iowa as if I have just come back from the trip. I met a lot of admirable people, writers and poets.  I made new friends who share my passion. I still talk to them sometimes, even now.  I learned a lot in only two weeks. My favorite BTL memory is of when we went with Tarek El Tayeb to see a mural in Iowa and everyone had to write a story about it. I found all the stories beautiful and original, each one its own indelible print of this wall, each of us hoping that the mural itself would never forget us.

    IWP: Had you visited the United States before?

    Ghenim:  I’ve been to the U.S. before, but it was my first time visiting Iowa and I was really surprised by the people of Iowa. I think of all the chairs and all the green grass shaded by trees blessed to provide seats to such a huge number of writers.  I don’t remember a day that went by in Iowa without seeing people sitting and writing or sitting and reading.  I was really impressed.

    My favorite activity in Iowa was a translation workshop. We (BTLers) translated English poems into Arabic or French while Iowa Young Writers’ Studio students translated ours into English.  Then we went to a park in Iowa and read the poems to park-goers. It was so great to hear a mosaic of different languages and cultures.

    IWP: Why did you come to BTL?

    Ghenim:   My objective was to improve my writing as well as my style. I also wanted to perfect my English. I was lucky; I surpassed my own expectations for myself. Algeria is francophone country, so French is my daily language, as well as Arabic. Throughout the BTL experience, I had the pleasure of writing long stories in English. Those two weeks were extraordinary. I learned a lot through our daily reading and also through all the [workshop] critiques that followed our lessons. Listening to the critiques is very useful and constructive. We had the great luck and the great opportunity to meet wonderful writers who were our professors. Weren’t we lucky? Yes, I think BTL is a great chance that comes only once in a person’s lifetime.

    IWP: How have your goals/your writing/your writing life changed since BTL?

    Ghenim:  My goals didn’t change. I still want to be a brilliant doctor a fabulous writer and a great painter. I’m trying my best to divide my time between these pursuits even if it’s not easy with my medical studies. Since the BTL experience, I am reading more. I read a lot of plays to improve my own work. I completely revised and changed the beginning of the novel I worked on at BTL and I used some of the advice and things I learned from BTL to improve it; I think the novel is better now.  I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve written a few of poems in the past two years and I also want to write stories. This is a new goal that I’ve had in mind since my BTL trip.

    IWP: What advice would you offer to young people applying to BTL?

    Ghenim:  I have only two pieces of advice for future BTLers: don’t hesitate to participate and prepare yourself for the best experience ever!!!

    Ghenim Houda is a 5th year medical student at the Faculté de Médecine d'Oran in Oran, Algeria.

    This summer, IWP hosts BTL Arabic and BTL Russia. Click here to learn more. In other news, BTL is now on Facebook. We hope you’ll visit us there soon.

    The Between the Lines (BTL) program brings young writers, ages 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. As young people from the U.S., Russia, and 17 Arabic-speaking countries prepare to apply for BTL 2013,  we are profiling past BTL alumni in a blog series, Where Are They Now? 

    ...

  • What is Book Wings?

    Collaborative bilingual digitally-connected theatre that brings specially commissioned literary works by young, distinguished authors to the stage and to internet viewers around the world. This March, the IWP links up with the Moscow Art Theatre (established by Stanislavsky, home stage of Chekhov) and with the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre for two separate collaborative theatre performances. Using the latest videoconferencing technology, we’ll bring together actors, playwrights, directors, dramaturges, and stages thousands of miles apart to produce two unified performances known as Book Wings China and Book Wings Russia.

    Building on the success of the Book Wings model pioneered in 2012 by IWP and the Moscow Art Theatre, which featured poetry, Book Wings 2013 commissioned 10-minute plays from twelve distinguished young playwrights (six English-language, three Chinese, and three Russian) who collaborated with translators to refine translations of their counterparts’ work. Student actors in Iowa City, Moscow, and Shanghai will perform the plays.

    Attend in Person, Watch via Live Stream

    Book Wings China: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 (9pm CST | 10am Wednesday, March 13, 2013 Shanghai time) in Theatre B, Univ. of Iowa Theatre Building & at Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, central theme: Migration.

    Book Wings Russia: Thursday, March 14, 2013 (10am CST | 7pm Moscow time) in Theatre B, Univ. of Iowa Theatre Building & at Moscow Art Theatre, central theme: Contact.

    Both performances are free, open to the public, bilingual (translation provided), and accessible worldwide via live internet stream at www.writinguniversity.org.

    Videoconferencing technology will enable the audience in Iowa City to see and hear the Moscow and Shanghai stages, and the Moscow and Shanghai audiences to see and hear the Iowa City stage. Audience members and internet viewers may Tweet comments and questions for the live talk-back sessions following the events using the hashtag #bookw.

    Working in conjunction with the UI Department of Theatre Arts, the Virtual Writing University, Information Technology Services, and UITV, these ambitious literary and theatrical events will connect stages 5,000 (Moscow) and 7,000 (Shanghai) miles apart.

    Host a Viewing Party

    The IWP is actively forming partnerships with arts institutions, theatres, literary organizations, high schools, colleges, and universities to arrange live viewings of the Book Wings 2013 performances. What better way to take in an evening (or morning) of theatre than in the company of other literature-lovers? Interested in hosting a viewing party or know someone who might be? Contact Book Wings Program Coordinator Ashley Davidson at ashley-r-davidson@uiowa.edu. IWP is happy to provide tech support, if needed.

    Made possible by grant funds from the U.S. Department of State, Book Wings is a three-year collaborative exchange and performance initiative designed to bring together writers, actors, directors, and new media professionals in a virtual environment to foster cross-cultural conversation, spark new literary and dramatic ideas, and create an enduring body of work . In 2014, Book Wings will feature Russian, American, and Iraqi prose writers. Stay tuned for more on Book Wings in coming weeks.

    What is Book Wings?

    Collaborative bilingual digitally-connected theatre that brings specially commissioned literary works by young, distinguished authors to the stage and to internet viewers around the world. This March, the IWP links up with the Moscow Art Theatre (established by Stanislavsky, home stage of Chekhov) and with the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre for...

  • Since 2008, the International Writing Program has hosted Between the Lines (BTL), a program that brings young writers, ages 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. As young people from the U.S., Russia, and 17 Arabic-speaking countries prepare to apply for BTL 2013, we’ll be profiling BTL alumni in a new blog series, Where Are They Now?

    We begin this week with Colgate University-bound Ali Alawi of Bahrain, who participated in BTL Arabic 2012. Ali was 16 when he entered the program, and celebrated his 17th birthday (party and all) with BTL friends in Iowa City.

    IWP: What was your BTL experience like?

    ALI: It was honestly life-changing. I learned so much and got to meet so many amazing people who offered me so many different perspectives on life generally and writing specifically. One of my favorite BTL memories is of visiting the Black Angel sculpture in Oakland Cemetery. I remember being so obsessed with this urban myth that I even went to the public library and did some research about it. And on the last day of the program, a bunch of my close friends and I went there early in the morning, to pay tribute and say our farewell. It felt cinematic—the kind of memory that beckons to be turned into a piece of writing.

    IWP: Had you visited the United States before?

    ALI: No. This was my first time. When I first learned that I’ll be staying at Iowa, I was a little disappointed. I mean, when you hear the USA, you think about New York City or Chicago, these major cities. But when I got to Iowa, it amazed me how different it is from the way the media depicts it. It’s a beautiful place and the people are the nicest. And no they don’t have that hardcore accent! My favorite place in Iowa City was the Java House. An Iowan School of Athens, it’s where writers and artists gather to drink coffee and share their musings. 

    IWP: How would you describe your BTL cohort?

    ALI: The teachers [Marcus Jackson and Iman Humaydan] were inspiring. I learned so much from them. I loved how our relationship wasn’t strictly pragmatic. We got to learn so much about them and their journey in writing and they really got to know us. And of course I’m still in touch with my BTL friends. We did everything together, from a failed fossil hunt to a shopping spree. We shared our writings and maybe, indirectly, wrote about each other.

    IWP: Why did you come to BTL?

    ALI: I came to hone my writing ability and to become more confident about my craftsmanship. But I got so much more. I met friends who I’ll never forget and it changed my perspective on the purpose of writing.

    IWP: How have your goals/your writing/your writing life changed since BTL?

    ALI: It’s funny how, before this program, I’d never dared call myself a writer. Even though I started writing at an early age, it just intimidated me. This word. But now, not only do I call myself a writer, I’m even considering majoring in English literature with an emphasis on creative writing.

    IWP: What are you doing now? Any writing projects?

    ALI: I’m still a senior in high school. I have numerous writing projects, but they’re still too premature to talk about.

    IWP: What advice would you offer to young people applying to BTL?

    ALI: Don’t procrastinate about writing and editing your writing samples. Please. I was unfortunate. I only learned about the program two day before the deadline. Guess who didn’t sleep for two days? Guess who started mildly hallucinating?

    Ali Alawi will enter Colgate University in the fall of 2013.

    This summer, IWP will host two sessions of BTL:  BTL Arabic, which brings U.S. participants together with Arabic-speaking youth representing up to 17 different countries in the Near East; and BTL Russia. For more information, please visit: http://iwp.uiowa.edu/programs/between-the-lines

    Since 2008, the International Writing Program has hosted Between the Lines (BTL), a program that brings young writers, ages 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. As young people from the U.S., Russia, and 17 Arabic-speaking countries prepare to apply for BTL 2013, we’ll be profiling BTL alumni in a new blog series,...

  • A guest post from Lisa Gardinier.

    At 5am on the day after Thanksgiving, when most of Iowa City was either soundly asleep for the holiday weekend or wide awake for Black Friday sales, I was somewhere in between and on my way to the airport and headed to Mexico. This was no holiday getaway, but a working trip. I attended the 26th “edition” of the Guadalajara International Book Fair (Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara, FIL) as the University of Iowa’s new Latin American & Iberian Studies Librarian.

    The FIL is the Spanish-language publishing industry’s largest trade fair and is held annually from the last weekend in November to the first weekend in December in the Expo Guadalajara, the largest convention center in Latin America, in Mexico’s second largest city. During nine days, over 700,000 people attend the FIL, which probably becomes the largest bookstore in the world in that given week, with over 1,000 stands representing publishers, bookstores, and national publishing associations, as well as a very full schedule of panel talks, book presentations, and even a free concert series. The FIL has a special invited country of honor every year and this year was Chile. Over 100 librarians from the United States and all types of libraries – public, academic, and school libraries – attend with support from the FIL and the American Library Association.

    IWP was well-represented by its alumni, with 13 on the schedule from throughout the history of the program, though I didn’t get to see nearly as many as I would have liked. Leopoldo Brizuela (Argentina, ’03) presented Una misma noche, his latest novel and the book for which he received the Premio Alfaguara de Novela 2012. Alberto Fuguet (Chile, ’94) presented the 20th-anniversary edition of his early novel, Mala onda [Bad vibes], alongside his latest book, Cinépata (una bitácora), a collection of writing on film. He also participated in two panels, including one on adapting literature to film. Luisa Valenzuela (Argentina, ’69) presented her own new novel, La máscara sarda: El profundo secreto de Perón, as well as participated in panels honoring the late Carlos Fuentes and presenting his posthumously published novel, Federico en su balcón. The Fuentes panel was briefly upstaged when a fellow participant pointed out former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos in the audience.  Even Etgar Keret (Israel, ’01) attended the FIL, as the Spanish translations of his works have been very popular and Israel is next year’s invited country.

    As a new librarian at UI, I try to meet the faculty in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese when possible. Of course, Roberto Ampuero (Chile, ’96), University of Iowa assistant professor of Spanish and current Chilean ambassador to Mexico, was at the FIL, both in his official capacity as ambassador and in his more familiar role as a writer. He was gracious enough to find time in his very busy schedule to meet with me for a few moments. As the ambassador of the invited country of honor to the host country of the FIL, Ampuero led a delegation of over 300 professionals from the Chilean publishing industry, including editors, translators, agents, over 100 authors, and even a chef. In his literary role, Ampuero presented his latest novel, El último tango de Salvador Allende, with premier Mexican historian Enrique Krauze. Needless to say, the experience of meeting a faculty member currently serving as an ambassador in the middle of a large international book fair is a professional experience that won’t be forgotten.

    The general public – who pay only 20 Mexican pesos, or about US$1.50, for a day pass – not only see the exhibit hall and official panels and presentations, but have the opportunity to run into the chance encounters that happen when hundreds of authors and intellectuals are brought together. Jorge Edwards, Chilean writer and ambassador to France, attended Ampuero’s presentation and then spent a few minutes afterward chatting with Krauze in the hallway, and thankfully no one seemed to mind that they were blocking most of it. Or, on Friday when thousands of schoolchildren attended the FIL – best field trip ever? – and I got stuck in the middle of a crowd of teenagers screaming over an actor or singer walking by. I asked a dozen people and never got an answer on who that might have been. The invited country coordinates the free concert series which included Los Jaivas, Javiera Mena, and Los Bunkers. While Los Bunkers attracted seemingly every teenager in Guadalajara, I’d wager Los Jaivas brought in every expatriate Chilean within a day’s drive of the city.

    Professionally, my purpose at the FIL was to buy books, learn about the Spanish-language publishing industry, and, maybe, make a few connections. Buying books is the easy part. (Shipping them, however, is another story and would be a dull blog post.) Among the 133kg of books to be added to the University of Iowa Libraries’ collection, are several new IWP alumni publications, including Alberto Fuguet, Pilar Quintana, and Fabián Casas. Just as Tim Shipe’s IWP connections were important to the success of his trip through the Balkans in early 2012, IWP was crucial to meeting publishers and writers at the FIL. Matías Correa (Chile, ’12) introduced me to his publisher, Diego Álamos of Chancacazo Publicaciones, through e-mail and we set up a meeting for early in the week of the book fair. Álamos in turn introduced me to a few other publishers, which eventually snowballed into meeting six independent Chilean publishers, many of them writers themselves.

    Of course an event as large as the FIL impacts the city of Guadalajara, and more than just snarling traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods. Many local groups take advantage of the influx of literary-minded visitors to stage their own parallel events and festivals. Two that came to my attention, especially as opportunities to buy interesting and unique materials for the UI Libraries collections, were La Otra FIL and Noches Cartoneras. La Otra FIL [The Other FIL] organized small independent publishers and authors in cultural centers around Guadalajara each night for the duration of the FIL. Noches Cartoneras [Cardboard Nights] was hosted by a small cultural center on the edge of downtown and focused on the cartonera format, books that are published with hand-decorated recycled cardboard covers. The FIL also organizes events curated by the host country. This year included a Chilean film series at the Universidad de Guadalajara and an exhibit of Mapuche silver at the Museo Regional de Guadalajara, among others.

    All in all, it was one of the busiest work weeks I’ve had as a librarian – this was not the beach-and-margarita trip to Mexico – but one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in professional travel. It was made possible by the American Library Association and the Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara through the ALA-FIL Free Pass Program, with additional support from the University of Iowa Libraries.

    A guest post from Lisa Gardinier.

    At 5am on the day after Thanksgiving, when most of Iowa City was either soundly asleep for the holiday weekend or wide awake for Black Friday sales, I was somewhere in between and on my way to the airport and headed to Mexico. This was no holiday getaway, but a working trip. I attended the 26th “edition” of the Guadalajara International Book...

  • Since 2008, the International Writing Program has hosted Between the Lines (BTL), a program that brings young writers, ages 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the International Writing Program (IWP), and the University of Iowa,  Between the Lines is a unique summer writing program. It offers students the opportunity to interact with young writers from other cultures, receive writing instruction from distinguished professionals, and experience the literary life of Iowa City (the only UNESCO-designated City of Literature in the United States),

    Between the Lines 2013 is now accepting applications:

    • BTL Russia (June 22-July 6): 10 students from across Russia will be invited to join 10 American      students.
    • BTL Arabic (July 13-July 27): 12 students from selected Arabic-speaking countries will be invited      to join 12 American students.

    Both sessions will include a literature seminar and a language-specific creative writing workshop taught by faculty who are renowned writers in their own right. Students will live in a dorm on the University of Iowa campus along with university-trained counselors, who help foster a strong sense of creative community.

    International students must be nominated by the US embassy in their respective countries; American students are invited to apply directly for either session. Application details and a link to the online application are available here. Completed applications are due by April 8, 2013 for American students.

    Answers to Frequently Asked Questions are available here for American students and here for international students.

    Visit the Shambaugh House blog again in the coming weeks for profiles and interviews with former BTL students speaking about their experiences and what they’ve gone on to achieve.

    Want to keep up to date with what’s going on at the IWP? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

    Since 2008, the International Writing Program has hosted Between the Lines (BTL), a program that brings young writers, ages 16-19, to the University of Iowa for creative writing study and cultural exchange. Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the International Writing Program (IWP), and the University of Iowa,  Between the Lines is a...

  • Since 2010, City of Literature (the organization dedicated to stewarding Iowa City’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature, part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network) has been producing a series of short video interviews with writers on the craft of writing called On the Fly.

    “Is there a word or phrase you always cut from drafts?” southern American writer Allen Gurganus is asked.

    “Adverbs!” Gurganus declares. “Adverbs are toxic! [...] Adverbs are the monosodium glutamate of speech! They’re cheesy […] You don’t need Adolph’s meat tenderizer if you’ve got sirloin from the top!”

    So far, more than 60 writers, visiting Iowa City on book tour, as guests of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop or as part of the International Writing Program’s fall residency, have sat down to answer a series of questions about writing and craft ("What question are you most often asked, and how do you respond? Is there something you want to include in your work that you haven’t found a place for yet? How do you recharge your batteries?"). The result is a video gallery of short interviews that offer a rare personal glimpse into the writing life and philosophy of some of today’s most exciting authors, including Roberto Ampuero, Yann Martel, and many others. Whether you’re in need of a dose of inspiration or simply curious about an author’s current influences, the interviews are a fantastic literary resource.

    So, in celebration of this ongoing series (which received a 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Chairman’s Grant), every Friday for the next 12 weeks, the International Writing Program will be posting a selected On the Fly interview to our Facebook page for your enjoyment. Can’t wait? The interviews are all archived here, with 50 new interviews to be filmed and released throughout 2013 and 2014. See you Friday!

     Want to keep up to date on what's happening at the IWP? "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

    Since 2010, City of Literature (the organization dedicated to stewarding Iowa City’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature, part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network) has been producing a series of short video interviews with writers on the craft of writing called On the Fly.

    “Is there a word or phrase you always cut from drafts?” southern American...

  • What’s your New Year’s resolution? Why not start 2013 off with a free poetry writing course?

    What is it? When can I start?

    From February 18th to April 1st, IWP Distance Learning will offer a free 7-week Virtual Poetry Seminar. Poet Margaret Ross will lead the weekly live online sessions and offer students regular feedback on their writing.

    In the seminar (taught in English), students will read and discuss modern and contemporary poems that convey complex experience through a wide range of formal strategies. Readings will include poems by Francis Ponge, Gertrude Stein, Elizabeth Bishop, Michael Palmer, and others. Students will also complete writing exercises designed to broaden the scope of their own poetry and generate vivid new work through formal, rhythmic, and imagistic discovery. [Work will not be graded, and is not eligible for University of Iowa credit.]

    Who is eligible?

    Since this course is offered entirely online, anyone with an internet connection is encouraged to apply. The course is designed for advanced writers with an active commitment to reading poetry and refining their craft, though no previous experience is required. The course will be limited to fifteen writers by application only. International writers are encouraged to apply.

    Who is the instructor?

    Margaret Ross is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and author of the recent poetry chapbook Decay Constant. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Iowa Review, and Volt. She has taught poetry courses at the University of Iowa and at Cornell College.

    How do I apply?

    Submit a resume, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample (in English, no more than 5 pages of poems) to iwpapplications@gmail.com. The deadline for submitting an application is January 28th, 2013. Questions? Email them to iwpapplications@gmail.com. For more information about IWP Distance Learning, see our December 20thblog interview with distance learning coordinator Rebecca Boyle.

    What’s your New Year’s resolution? Why not start 2013 off with a free poetry writing course?

    What is it? When can I start?

    From February 18th to April 1st, IWP Distance Learning will offer a free 7-week Virtual Poetry Seminar. Poet Margaret Ross will lead the weekly live online sessions and offer students regular feedback on their...

  • 2012 wouldn’t be complete without the October-December Shambaugh House Roundup, in which we share good news from our associates, friends, and alumni, as well as a few choice bits from within the walls of Shambaugh House, home of the International Writing Program. As always, if you have news to share, send it our way and we'll include it in an upcoming post.

    IWP co-founder Hualing Nieh Engle was honored with a 2012 University of Iowa Impact Award. The award, which recognized Hualing both for her writing and for her role in creating and stewarding the IWP, was presented during a 2-hour live radio broadcast celebration. One Tree Three Lives, a film about Hualing’s life and work by Hong Kong Director Angie Chen, was also screened at the event.                          

    Orhan Pamuk (IWP ‘85, Turkey) and Kim Young-ha (IWP ‘03, South Korea) have both been long-listed for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize. Kim Young-ha also has a non-fiction essay, “Marilyn Monroe and Lady Gaga’s Korea, and Korean Literature” in the December 2012 issue of Words Without Borders, where he selects and introduces works from Korea.

    Maria Galina (IWP Visitor ’07, Russia) was named a finalist for the Big Book Awards for her novel Медведки (Mole-Crickets), and received a readers’ choice award.

    Nihad Sirees (IWP ’05, Syria) has an English translation of his 2004 novel “الصمت والصخب” — The Silence and the Roar —due out from Pushkin Press in January 2013. The English translation is by Max Weiss.

    New York-based filmmaker Ram Devineni’s short film Postcards from the Earth’s Whisper, chronicling IWP’s 2011 Nepal/Pakistan/UAE/Afghanistan Reading Tour and Sahar Sarshar’s film, Writing in Motion: A Nation Divided, documenting an IWP study tour of the Mid-Atlantic and the American South, were official selections at the 2012 Landlocked Film Festival.

    Poet, essayist, and activist Meena Kandasamy (IWP '09, India) was featured in a recent Atlantic piece about the complexity of gender politics in India's social media.

    Xi Chuan (IWP ’02, China), Etger Keret (IWP ’01, Israel), Roberto Ampuero (IWP ’96, Chile), and the Bones Will Crow anthology featuring Pandora (IWP ’12, Burma) were included in World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations 2012.

    Poet, fiction writer, blogger, activist, and former political prisoner Nay Phone Latt (IWP ’12, Burma) was profiled in Sampsonia Way.

    Jenny Zhang, who taught at IYWS in 2011, spoke with Between the Lines alum Roula Seghaier (Tunisia) for “Notes From a Revolution: An Interview With Roula Seghaier,” published in Rookie, a web magazine for teenage girls.

    Milagros Socorro (IWP ’12, Venezuala) wrote about her experience of the 2012 US presidential Election for the Iowa City Press Citizen.

    Dina Nayeri’s book, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, will be released by Riverhead Books in February 2013. Nayeri, an Iowa Writers’ Workshop student, read with IWP writers at Prairie Lights Bookstore during the 2012 fall residency.

    Have good news to share? Send it to ashley-r-davidson[at]uiowa.edu and we’ll include it in the next Shambaugh House Roundup.

    2012 wouldn’t be complete without the October-December Shambaugh House Roundup, in which we share good news from our associates, friends, and alumni, as well as a few choice bits from within the walls of Shambaugh House, home of the International Writing Program. As always, if you have news to share, send it our way and we'll include it in an upcoming post.

    IWP co-founder...

  • IWP Distance Learning Coordinator Rebecca Boyle recently sat down to answer questions about the program and share some exciting opportunities on the horizon.

    1) What is distance learning at the IWP? 

    The International Writing Program's Distance Learning (DL) program is designed to link American and international writers through online creative writing workshops and literature seminars. In collaboration with embassies, universities, and arts organizations, we deliver both introductory and advanced courses to communities with limited access to creative writing programs. Since the inception of the program, we have delivered courses to institutions based in a number of countries worldwide, including Jordan, Somalia, Iraq, New Zealand, Mexico, among others. Although fiction, poetry, and nonfiction workshops are at the core of our program, past course offerings have included topics in contemporary world literature such as immigration narratives, Spanish and American graphic novels, and Maori poetry. Distance Learning programming is most commonly delivered through Direct Video Conference (DVC), Skype, or Elluminate technologies. 

    2) What’s been going on in the past few months?

    This fall featured an exciting array of creative writing programming, from literary seminars to creative writing workshops to interactive interviews. The DL program partnered with institutions based all across the world, connecting Iowa to students and scholars in Gaza, Iraq, and New Zealand. 

    In October, the DL program was delighted to offer a six-session introductory creative writing course in partnership with the American Corner at Al Azhar University in Gaza. Taught by Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate and poet Lauren Haldeman, this course featured weekly live sessions with the instructor, split evenly between poetry and fiction, and concluded with a reading of student work. Sampling writers as diverse as Rumi, Italo Calvino, and Derek Walcott, the course tackled fundamental questions in writing, such as writing about self, image-making, and form. While the class predominantly focused on the practice of writing through in-class writing exercises, readings by key American and international writers were assigned each week and discussed during class. 

    Shorter-term programming included a lecture on Maori literature from former IWP resident Hinemoana Baker and a live discussion with Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor Hisham Matar during his visit to Iowa City in September.  

    3) What programs are going on currently?

    Since September, the DL program has partnered with the American embassy in Baghdad to present an ongoing, multi-genre series on a monthly basis, featuring an American literature session as well as fiction, poetry, and dramatic writing workshops. IWP Director Christopher Merrill kicked off the series with his presentation on American literature, which featured Walt Whitman's “Song of Myself” as a base text for discussing the all-encompassing “I” and the pluralism this implies within the larger context of 19th century American poetry. Upcoming sessions in the series include an introductory fiction session in January, an advanced fiction session in February, and a comparative literature session in March.  

    4) What’s in the DL pipeline in terms of future programming? (What are you most excited about?)

    This spring, the DL program is thrilled to offer its first open course of the year on poetry writing. Anyone with an internet connection is invited to apply. A full course description as well as instructions on how to apply for the course will be posted on the International Writing Program's Facebook page by the end of this month. The DL program is also proud to offer its first ever LGBT reading group this coming February. For more course offerings this spring, please make sure to check the IWP's website.

    5) Who should teachers and students contact if they are interested in getting involved in DL?

    Please use the IWP contact form (http://iwp.uiowa.edu/contact) and make sure to specify the category as "Distance Learning Courses." We'd love to hear from you!

    To find out what else is happening at the IWP, visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See you soon!

    IWP Distance Learning Coordinator Rebecca Boyle recently sat down to answer questions about the program and share some exciting opportunities on the horizon.

    1) What is distance learning at the IWP? 

    The International Writing Program's Distance Learning (DL) program is designed to link American and international writers through online creative writing workshops and...

  • Note to reader: Allie Dane, a longtime friend of the IWP, passed away last month. In this guest post, IWP Program Advisor Peter Nazareth, a personal friend of the Dane family, offers his rembrances

                “We are on farmland and we are only meeting writers,” Mary and I said to Jean Hood of the university administration in February 1974.  “We also wanted to meet farmers.”  We had come to Iowa City from Uganda via New Haven. “Iowa City is the place for you to be,” said Charles Davis at Yale, responsible for my getting the Seymour Lustman Fellowship, so he arranged for Paul Engle to invite us to the IWP.  We arrived in August, a month before the 1973 session was to begin.  In those days, the program lasted over two semesters.  Jean Hood spoke to John Dane at the Kiwanis club, and he and his wife Allie offered to be our host family.  We still remember the day they came to meet us at the Mayflower and take us to their home on a hill on the outskirts of the city.

              John and Allie were warm and friendly and generous, and remained so all the years we knew them. Dinner at the Dane household always began with John giving thanks to God for the food and the company with whom the food was being shared.  And Mary and I always gave thanks to Allie for the food and  particularly the pies she prepared.  I remember that first meal, when our younger daughter Monique, then seven, asked for a “serviette” and Allie did not know what it was so she said to Monique, “If you can see it, please take it.”  Monique did.  “Oh, you mean napkin!” Allie said.  American English was not the English we had learned in Uganda.

    The Danes were progressive farmers.  Not just in farming, though when Vladimir Soloukhin the Russian writer, visited the Dane farm and saw their milking techniques, he told John that in Russia, he would have been declared “A Hero of the Republic.”  It was that the Danes had a great curiosity about the world and loved meeting people from all over.  As Simon Tay of Singapore wrote in his Alien Asian, a book referencing Thoreau’s Walden, John took out his globe and asked him to identify his country (Simon called him “Farmer Doone”, perhaps to protect him from the sensitivity of Singaporeans).  John was to go on to make videotapes of writers who  after they gave them good food and a tour of the farms.  I cannot forget my disbelief when I first saw pigs that were as big as cows in Uganda, it seemed to me then.

              Once we met the Danes, we were friends for life.  We saw their five children grow up, they saw our daughters grow up, and then was the time of grandchildren.  We went to their weddings, they came to ours.

              Allie and John became very close to the International Writing Program.  They had an annual Harvest Party for the writers and took them for a hayride and gave them a full and filling feast where they meet many people from various professions.  In accordance with their tradition, they had a big Harvest dinner on October 26, at the end of which the writer from Kuwait, Taleb al Refai, gave a long speech in which he said this was the best getting-to-know-the-real-Americans event he had attended. 

              On November 19, the Danes had a big Thanksgiving and Christmas Party for their family, twenty-six of them, and the family photograph reveals a laughing, loving Allie.  After the party was over and everyone had left, Allie phoned her closest friends to talk to them.  And then she collapsed.  John and Donna did what they could to revive her.  She was taken to Mercy hospital.  Family came back to see her.  Mary and I spoke to her to thank her for all the love she had given us and all she had done to fill our hearts.  We were told that she had no brain waves so could not hear us, but we believed she could because her eyelids and lips moved.

    Allie passed on the 20th.  The viewing was on the 23rd, and the funeral and was on the 24th at the First United Methodist church, attended by many, many friends.  The Dane children and older grandchildren spoke about her life and achievements.  There was joy and humor and lots of jokes that went with information we did not know—such as that her name was Allegra from a poem by Longfellow.  Reverend Doctor Barrie Trittle officiated.  Samuel Kwok played the keyboards.  He could not help himself: the sad music segued into Jerry Lee Lewis rock ‘n’ roll riffs.

              After the service, there was food for everyone in the basement of the church.  That was Allie: people had to be fed.  And we were all given that fine icecream from Dane’s Dairy.

              Soon after we met in 1974, Allie and John arranged for me to speak about Uganda to a group of farmers, their friends, in their home.  I spoke to them in familiar terms, about the land, the resources, the dairy cattle, and soy beans except that I called them “soya beans”.  A decade later, Allie asked Mary and me to work on a small patch of land to grow vegetables.  And we did!  Tomatoes.  Potatoes. Cucumbers.  Beans.  We felt the great joy of growing something from the earth .  The potatoes and tomatoes had a flavor we never got from store-bought substitutes.  Allie and John gave us what we were seeking from the beginning: a grounding, without which we would have been like balloons floating to wherever the wind took us instead of people rooted in the land from which we could reach out to the world and the world would come to us.  And feel at home.

              We had to let her go, John said to Mary and me at the hospital.  It was tough.  But she has remained with all of us.  She is the music of her name.

    Note to reader: Allie Dane, a longtime friend of the IWP, passed away last month. In this guest post, IWP Program Advisor Peter Nazareth, a personal friend of the Dane family, offers his rembrances

                “We are on farmland and we are only meeting writers,” Mary and I said to Jean Hood of the university administration in February 1974.  “We also wanted to meet farmers...

  • It’s about time we shared some of the highlights of this year’s Life of Discovery exchange between IWP and the China Writers’ Association (CWA). Four writers: Mao Juzhen, Sun Wei, Liu Yewei, and Zhang Yuntao, traveled from China to Iowa City for ten days in late October to meet and collaborate with other writers, participate in cultural exchange, and soak up some of the literary atmosphere of Iowa City.

    Writing and Creativity

    Mao Juzhen, who writes under the pen name A Mao, produced a flurry of poems during the trip, scribbling them in a small black notebook on the Celebration Belle river boat that took the writers up the Mississippi River; in response to a collaborative theatre workshop put on by University of Iowa theatre arts graduate students; during a Halloween-day discussion of writing and ghosts with IWP writers; on a hayride at the Dane family farm outside Iowa City; even seated in the world’s largest Amana-style rocking chair during a tour of the nearby Amana Colonies, thus proving that writers truly can write anywhere.

    Dialogue

    While in Iowa, the CWA writers paid a visit to University of Iowa instructor Bo Sun’s Fifth Year Chinese class, where they discussed the writing process, their work, and the current state of Chinese literature with enthusiastic undergraduates, entirely in Chinese. The visit was followed by tea and a sampling of traditional American pies at the home of Chinese novelist and IWP co-founder Hualing Nieh Engle. The tea was also an opportunity for CWA writers to meet with IWP writers Chan Chi Tak (Hong Kong) and Lin Chun Ying (Taiwan) as well as Hong Kong filmmaker Angie Chen, in town for the screening of her documentary film, One Tree Three Lives, in conjunction with the Impact Award Ceremony honoring Hualing.  Writer Sun Wei participated in the World Canvass radio broadcast of the ceremony, sharing her thoughts on China, Chinese literature, and Iowa City.

    Exchange

    While in Iowa City, the writers gave two public readings, one at Shambaugh House and one at Prairie Lights Bookstore, and donated copies of their books to the Iowa City Public Library as well as the University of Iowa Library. The writers also met with City of Literature director John Kenyon and observed a University of Iowa undergraduate creative writing workshop. CWA writer Liu Yewei, who teaches at Jiangsu Normal University, was particularly interested in how creative writing is taught at Iowa and how the model might be exported and adapted to universities in China.

    Collaboration

    Toward the end of their trip, the writers participated in an after-school writing workshop at Horace Mann Elementary School organized by the Iowa Youth Writing Project, directed by poet Dora Malech, one of four American writers who traveled to China in July as part of the first leg of the 2012 Life of Discovery bi-lateral exchange. The children, ages eight to eleven, interviewed the CWA writers, asking everything from “what kind of holidays do you have in China?” to “does it snow?” then wrote up short articles based on what they learned.

    “Today I met Zhang Yuntao and he does not like pizza,” one little boy wrote. “In China they have zoos in every city. China has many festivals; they are like ours in Iowa City, but with different names.”

                “What do you think of China?” Zhang, a former teacher, asked, engaging the children and listening to their ideas with interest. The conversation epitomized what Life of Discovery is all about: giving writers the opportunity to learn something of each country's literature, form friendships, and create new work through artistic exchange and dialogue. For photos of this event, and others, visit us on Facebook.

    Life of Discovery is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State and conducted in partnership with the China Writers’ Association.

    It’s about time we shared some of the highlights of this year’s Life of Discovery exchange between IWP and the China Writers’ Association (CWA). Four writers: Mao Juzhen, Sun Wei, Liu Yewei, and Zhang Yuntao, traveled from China to Iowa City for ten days in late October to meet and collaborate with other writers, participate in cultural exchange, and soak up some of the literary...

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