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  • Voting for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Book of the Decade has begun! And it features two IWP Alum, John Banville and Sebastian Barry!

  • When President Obama came to Iowa City yesterday to mark the passing of his new health insurance reform bill, he not only cleverly used Prairie Lights Books as an example of a small business about to get a new tax break to keep its employees covered. He also had the wits to go in and actually purchase some books. At first he seemed to stick to a defense theme—a Star Wars pop-up book—but then...

  • All too often writers-in-residence at the IWP have to leave us early. In 2009, Hanaa Hijazi and Fflur Dafydd had to say their goodbyes all too soon, but with the help of fellow-participants, left us with one incredible music video!

    All too often writers-in-residence at the IWP have to leave us early. In 2009, Hanaa Hijazi and Fflur Dafydd had to say their goodbyes all too soon, but with the help of fellow-participants, left us with one incredible music video!

  • Recent articles on African literature feature the names of prominent IWP alumni:

    A Guardian blog post mentioning Veronique Tadjo (Cote d'Ivoire, 2006).

    And an article in Al Ahram on the former director of the African Writers Series, which includes the work of Bessie Head (Botswana, 1977) and Cyprian Ekwensi (Nigeria, 1974).

    In other news: On a reading tour of Kenya this past summer, the IWP group led writing workshops for primary and secondary students in the Somali refugee camp Dadaab. American writers Tom Sleigh, Terese Svoboda, and Eliot Weinberger conducted impromptu writing excercises with nearly 200 students. You can read the students' pieces here.

    Recent articles on African literature feature the names of prominent IWP alumni:

    A Guardian blog post mentioning Veronique Tadjo (Cote d'Ivoire, 2006).

    And an article in Al Ahram on the former director of the African Writers Series, which includes the work of Bessie Head (Botswana, 1977) and Cyprian Ekwensi (Nigeria, 1974).

    In other news: On a reading tour of...

  • Marius and Kathy at one of the many breathtaking stops.

    The leaves in Iowa City begin to change color in September, from dark green to all shades of amber, brown, or red. When the temperature starts to dip a little at night. This is also the time of year when the writers venture out on the first of two travel periods, where they get their choice of three destinations, each led by IWP...

  • The indispensible Common Review links to a long piece in The National (out of Abu Dhabi) on the distinguished literary translator Humphrey Davies and his perspective on the history, the skills, the politics and the special concerns that arise in translating out of the Arabic. It's also interesting to hear that a new academic translation program is opening up in Cairo.

    ...and one does get an extra rise out of seeing two of our Egyptian alumni --Ahmad Alaidy (IWP '04) and Hamdy el- Gazzar (IWP '07) --listed among those Davies has recently translated.....

    natasa d.

    The indispensible Common Review links to a long piece in The National (out of Abu Dhabi) on the distinguished literary translator Humphrey Davies and his perspective on the history, the skills, the politics and the special concerns that arise in translating out of the Arabic. It's also interesting to hear that a new academic translation program is opening up in Cairo.

    ...and one does...

  • The program description for the 2010 Fall Residency is now online!

  • As if winter weather advisories weren’t enough to remind us of the spoils of January, bloggers web-wide dot the i’s: inundated with Best Of lists, and anticipations of the coming State of the Union address, January doesn’t seem to exist much at all except to provide a month for looking ahead, as well as behind. And with old man winter comfortably settled across the Midwest, we look back on the...

  • Todays' ice and snow outside my window make the peacock-rich hot-pink Jaipur Literary Festival seem particularly appealing. Available more immediately at hand, meanwhile, is Wapsipinicon Almanac, hand-edited, typeset in lead, resolutely local, undistracted.

    Todays' ice and snow outside my window make the peacock-rich hot-pink Jaipur Literary Festival seem particularly appealing. Available more immediately at hand, meanwhile, is Wapsipinicon Almanac, hand-edited, typeset in lead, resolutely local, undistracted.

  • A campaign by Wieden+Kennedy for Levi's, this highlights footage of Walt Whitman from the Walt Whitman Archive.

    A campaign by Wieden+Kennedy for Levi's, this highlights footage of Walt Whitman from the Walt Whitman Archive.

  • For anyone (as we all are) missing Mabrouck, here's ten minutes of his IWP adventures (in French, bien sur):

    For anyone (as we all are) missing Mabrouck, here's ten minutes of his IWP adventures (in French, bien sur):

  • Here's a project to keep track of: "Translate This Book!" Is there a title you think really ought to be translated into English? Check out the list, then pitch a title of your own. Or add in Comments below!

    Here's a project to keep track of: "Translate This Book!" Is there a title you think really ought to be translated into English? Check out the list, then pitch a title of your own. Or add in Comments below!

  • Sadly I don't have time to write a longer post but for now I wanted to present the BTL class of 2009, as photographed by Tarek Eltayeb, one of their teachers. And yes, they are just as cool as they look.

    Top row, L to R: Iya Ghassib (Jordan), Nadia El Malt (Lebanon), Hussein Youneiss (Lebanon), Ahmad Ezery (Israel), Majd Iwidat (Palestinian Authority), Irene Ghattas (Palestinian...

  • Why the inaugural session of Between the Lines happened in Chicago rather than Iowa City.

    Take some teenagers from the Middle East and bring them to Iowa for two weeks to study creative writing alongside American teenagers. That's Between the Lines in a nutshell. (Check out the site for details.)

    It was the first year of the program, and as the coordinator, I had spent the previous six months helping to put the whole thing together. Students and chaperones had been chosen,  teachers had been hired, visas and plane tickets were secured, classes and activities were scheduled, rooms were reserved and waiting.

    Meanwhile, the water was rising.

    I’ve spent my entire life in the Midwest, so I know what weather is. (There are those who question whether Cleveland, my childhood home, counts as “Midwest.” When it comes to weather at least, I offer two words: lake effect.) However, living in Iowa has brought new and unique weather adventures. It was here that a tornado came within half a mile of my apartment building. It was here that I first experienced a hail storm severe enough to make me fear for my windshield. It was here that I first had to buy lock de-icer. (Considering how long I lived in Chicago, I know that may sound hard to believe. Then again, things are a little more spread out here.)

    The winter of 2007-2008 was the worst winter I’ve ever suffered through. When born-and-bred Iowans say it’s a bad winter, it’s a really bad winter. Imagine ice storms and snowstorms in rapid succession. Trees coated in thick ice that glittered at night and crackled during the day. Driving around what would normally be considered potholes if streets were made of ice and packed snow. (The city had run out of salt sometime in February.) Even walking was dangerous without Yaktrax or cleats; I loudly blessed the few houses with residents conscientious enough to clear their sidewalks. This record amount of precipitation kept coming after the temperatures rose above freezing. So not only did we have icemelt and snowmelt, we had rain. Lots of it. And the Iowa River bisected the campus.

    First e-mail, June 11, approximately 2:30 pm: Iowa House Hotel (where our teachers were going to stay) closed indefinitely.

    There are several B&Bs in the area; we’ll find someplace for them to stay. No problem.

    Second e-mail, June 11, approximately 4:00 pm: The university fueling station shut down. Fortunately we already had the maxivans we needed to pick them up in Chicago.

    We can still refill the maxivans at regular gas stations; we just have to use the van credit card. Simple procedure. Full steam ahead.

    At approximately 2:00 pm on June 12: All youth camps canceled for the next 10 days. Dorms closed.

    Eight time zones ahead, our three West Bank students were spending their last night at home, preparing to leave the next morning for Amman. Their trip would require them to pass through several checkpoints, adding time to an already long journey. They were being accompanied by the father and brother of one of the students. They would spend the night at a hotel in Amman, and then catch the June 14 flight to Chicago along with most of the rest of the group.

    We had everything ready. We just needed someplace to put them all. At 6:00 pm we called the State Department and asked: Do we cancel? What do we do?

    The State Department replied: Make it work.

    And somehow, through the magic and power of connections both personal and electronic that I still can’t completely define, we did.

    Within 24 hours we found two teachers, Danny Khalastchi and Anjali Sachdeva, who were willing to teach the English-language writing workshops. And with the help of Hull House-Chicago, we found a place to stay: the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). One of our staff members, Steve, made it over to the Rental Pool (on the other side of the river) to pick up 15 laptops and bring them to Shambaugh House before the last bridge was closed. Another staff member, Joe, was scheduled to fly to Newark to meet the two students who were traveling alone from Tel Aviv. He made it to the airport in Cedar Rapids right before Interstate 380 was shut down.

    On June 14, parts of eastbound Interstate 80 were shut down as well, so we had to drive an extra hour just to get to the Illinois line. It was a mostly sunny day; in fact it looked like any summer day in June except for the various puddles, ponds, and lakes appearing where cropland used to be. They were calling it a “500-year flood,” which, I was disappointed to learn, was a mathematical rather than an historical term: This particular type and size of flood has a 1-in-500 chance of happening in any given year.

    Ninety minutes into Illinois we stopped at a Wal-Mart to buy linens and towels since UIC wasn’t going to be able to get us any before Monday. Watching all the people doing what people normally do at a Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon, I had a moment of disconnect: Don’t they know there’s a disaster going on?

    We went to UIC, dropped off our stuff, and then went to O’Hare Airport to meet our group. The international terminal is not that big, yet it took us a while to find them.

    “We’re not going to Iowa,” we told them. “We’re staying here.”

    --Kecia Lynn

    Why the inaugural session of Between the Lines happened in Chicago rather than Iowa City.

    Take some teenagers from the Middle East and bring them to Iowa for two weeks to study creative writing alongside American teenagers. That's Between the Lines in a nutshell. (Check out the site for details.)

    It was the first year of the program, and as the coordinator, I had spent the...

  • The first half of the Life of Discovery project has come to a close in Beijing. To our surprise the jet lag is working to our advantage. The delegation is already sharing images of the exchange.

    Enjoy!

  • The question seemingly on everybody’s minds around here lately is “Why Iowa City?” Home to the world’s top writing programs, the first public university to admit women, and the third UNESCO City of Literature; in a state ranked second overall in 2008 state-by-state Happiness (!?), and recently the third state in the nation to declare banning gay marriage unconstitutional. A city nicknamed by some the “Athens of the Midwest;” in a state often confused for Ohio or Idaho, Iowa has largely been unable to claim much more for, or excuse, itself beyond “Is this heaven? No…”

    But it was a series of recent space-negotiations that got me most thinking I’d better have an answer to that question at some point. I’ve lived in Iowa City long enough to have one in my holster, but it took the misgivings of a Swedish singer-songwriter and a Scottish cultural liaison before I had the proper caliber for the fight. Fresh off recent big-city stops on his American tour, dressed in the highlights and hoopla he’d created at the South by Southwest music festival, the Tallest Man on Earth (consequently revealed to be the smallest musician on earth) took one early look at the basement-setting of the Public Space One concert he’d later be mesmerizing, and according to that look on his face during sound check, thought to himself, “Why, of all places, here?” And Ali Bowden, the ever-graceful Creative Queen of Edinburgh’s UNESCO City of Literature designation, danced around errant Englert lighting and video projection malfunctions during our Iowa City C.O.L. ceremony in order to, amongst other pursuits, show a wanting crowd “Why Iowa City?” by way of “Why Edinburgh?” To be honest to Place, the question is quite natural. Iowa City’s reputation hardly precedes it, and though it may not be New York, it may not be Edinburgh, and it may not even be Austin, Texas, parts of the world continuously pulse through our streets more than they may ever know. But it is where two-hundred chest-to-shoulder, air-conditionless fans sat silenced and grateful by one of the greatest solo performances in memory in a downtown basement, and where an auditorium adopted a Scot as one of its own when they’ve so graciously accepted Iowa City as their literary sister-city-in-arms.

    Currently at the IWP our roster for the Fall’s Residency of writers from around the world is beginning to take shape, and with those 40 honorary-citizens-to-be on their way we’re asking ourselves, ‘How will they each fare in our town?’ by way of ‘How does one exactly fit into a new space?’ How does the translation of the self take shape into a part of the new whole, and vice versa, how does the whole translate and take shape with new parts?

    On the dawning of a UNESCO designation, in the company of the world’s greatest cities, we have a moment to appreciate that Iowa City is a sum of manifold parts. It’s on our sidewalks where you can walk on literary worlds and connect the dots to the city’s literary history, where mere days apart a stage hosted both Rap legend GZA and State Poet Laureate Marvin Bell. Where a music festival attracts the talents of artists we otherwise wouldn’t be able to salute, and at a ceremony where the brightest of Edinburgh reminds us, exactly, Why Iowa City. We accept, with hospitality, and we celebrate. We ARE where the world comes to write. We ARE a City of Literature. We couldn’t be more grateful for the time of those passing through, and we will celebrate the only way we know how, because it’s not that something is in the air, but rather that something is below our feet…

    joe tiefenthaler, program assistant

    The question seemingly on everybody’s minds around here lately is “Why Iowa City?” Home to the world’s top writing programs, the first public university to admit women, and the third UNESCO City of Literature; in a state ranked second overall in 2008 state-by-state Happiness (!?), and recently the third state in the nation to declare banning gay marriage unconstitutional. A city nicknamed by...

  • Given the static—packed, but still static—nature of the iwp home page, it seemed right to also have a space where the ongoing buzz, hum, talk, traffic, and sheer adrenaline inside the Shambaugh House would be visible even between the residencies.

    Hence @ SHSE, a house blog co-authored by everyone with a chair, a keyboard and a job on 430 N. Clinton, whether on the first, the second...

  • Contributors to @Shambaugh House Melissa Schiek Hugh Ferrer Kelly Bedeian Kecia Lynn Joe Tiefenthaler Tammy Petro Natasa Durovicova

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