CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Sept. 24, 1999
Torrevillas of UI International Writing Program wins
Philippine National Book Award
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Rowena Torrevillas, program associate
of the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa, is a
1999 winner of the Philippines' National Book Award for her 1998 essay collection,
"Flying Over Kansas: Personal Views." All the essays, published as a collection
by Giraffe Books, were written in Iowa City.
The award citation praised the book "for its consistently
felicitous articulation of insights, recollections, and incisive commentary
on personal and literary memorabilia, marked by parallel elegance of thought
and depth of feeling."
Torrevillas explains, "The title essay is an autobiographic
'meditation' on a cross-cultural upbringing, and on growing up with chunks
of my childhood scattered over different parts of the U.S., the Pacific ocean
stretching between my putative homes, and my return to the family writing
roots in Iowa when I came back as an adult to take part in the IWP."
Her parents, Edilberto K. and Edith L. Tiempo, founded
the Philippines' National Writers' Workshop, Asia's first center for creative
writing, after attending the UI Writers' Workshop. They were the first foreign
writers to attend the workshop, and Rowena was born shortly after their course
of study at the UI.
Torrevillas represented the Philippines at the IWP
in the University of Iowa in 1984 and joined the IWP staff in 1985. Before
coming to the United States, she was an assistant professor at Silliman University
in the Philippines.
Her other works include "Upon the Willows and Other
Stories," the poetry collection "Mountain Sacraments" and three books forthcoming:
the poetry collections "The Sea Gypsies Stay" and "Generic Dreams," and "Three
Times Three: Three Genres by Three Generations of Tiempo Women," a collaboration
with her mother and her 18-year-old daughter, Lauren, a senior at Iowa City
West High School.
Torrevillas' work has appeared widely in anthologies
and periodicals. Her short fiction and poetry have been translated into Arabic,
Bulgarian, Croatian, Chinese, Hungarian, Hebrew, Russian, Bahasa Indonesia,
Bahasa Malaya, Romanian, Czech, Slovak and Ibo.
The recipient of a doctorate in English literature
from Silliman University, she is a six-time recipient of the Philippines'
highest literary prize, the Palanca Award, for fiction and poetry, and she
has also received the Distinguished Author award from the Writers Union of
She edited the Philippines issue of "Modern Poetry
in Translation", and, with Paul Engle, she edited "The World Comes to Iowa."
She is currently involved in the compilation of an anthology for the IWP,
"Writing from the World III.