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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 8, 2006

Sept. 21 Reading Launches UI Museum Of Art's Writer-In-Residence Program

The University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) will inaugurate a new Writer-in-Residence Program with a reading featuring writers from the UI Nonfiction Writing Program and the International Writing Program (IWP), at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, in the museum.

As part of the UIMA's ongoing collaboration with the UI Nonfiction Writing Program, four master of fine arts candidates in nonfiction writing were selected by the faculty to receive an honorarium provided by the museum. They will each spend three months at the museum, working on various writing projects including an art-based essay. The writers will read from their work on four Thursday evenings through the academic year, sharing the program with established writers from university community.

The UIMA's first writer in residence will be Alex Sheshunoff. For the Sept. 21 reading Sheshunoff will appear in distinguished company, sharing the podium with Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program (IWP), and Mimi Khalvati, a current participant in the IWP.

Additional readings in the UIMA Writer-in-Residence Program will be Thursdays Nov. 9, Feb. 15, 2007, and April 19, 2007.

Merrill is a faculty member in the UI English department and the international literature commentator for the syndicated radio program "The World." He is the author of "Only the Nails Remain," a first-hand account of the tragedy in the Balkans, and "Things of the Hidden God," his most recent book, containing reflections on his pilgrimage to Greece's Mt. Athos, a region sacred in the Eastern Orthodox church.

In 2005 he was a member of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy for the U.S. State Department. And in May 2006 he moderated "The New Symposium," a think-tank for global writers and intellectuals organized by the IWP on the island of Paros in Greece.

Khalvati was born in Tehran and grew up on the Isle of Wight. Her poetry collections include "Mirrorwork" (1995), which received an Arts Council Writers' Award, "Selected Poems" (2000), and "The Chine" (2002). Active as an actor and director in both England and Iran, she has founded Matrix, a women's experimental theatre group, and co-founded Theatre in Exile. She is also the founder of the Poetry School in London. She participates in the IWP courtesy of the William B. Quarton International Writing Program Scholarship

After graduating from college, Alex Sheshunoff started and ran an online lifestyle magazine about New York City called New York Now. He is pursuing a master's of fine arts degree in nonfiction writing from the UI and is currently finishing a book about the western Pacific. His work has appeared in the Austin American Statesman, the Arizona Republic, and on ABC World News Now.

The IWP -- a unique residency program that has been described as "The United Nations of Writing" -- introduces talented writers to American life; enables them to take part in American university life; and provides them with time, in a setting congenial to their efforts, for the production of literary work. Since 1967, more than a thousand writers from more than 120 countries have attended the IWP.

More information on the IWP -- including biographies of all the writers -- can be found on the program's Web page,

The Nonfiction Writing Program is part of the Department of English in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072; cell: 319-541-2846;

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