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University of Iowa News Release


Updated: Sept. 28, 2007

Note: This updates a Sept. 24, 2007 news release about the University of Iowa International Writing Program's 40th anniversary celebration Oct. 7-12 to reflect important changes in the details of several planned events.

International Writing Program celebrates 40th anniversary Oct. 7-12

The University of Iowa International Writing Program will celebrate its 40th anniversary Oct. 7-12, culminating with the Paul Engle Memorial Reading by influential Slovenian poet Tomaz Salamun at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library.

The celebration will include free readings, film screenings, a global playwriting collaboration, panel discussions, social events and an exhibition. Calendars of events are accessible at and

Here is the day-by-day schedule:


--From noon to noon, IWP alumni around the world will collaborate to write an entire new play. Participants will be connected through the Internet from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

--Poets and translators Daniel Weissbort and Matvei Yankelevich will be joined by Writers' Workshop student poet Michael Judd in a reading at 5 p.m. in the Prairie Lights bookstore. Weissbort directed the UI Translation Workshop for many years.

--"Jellyfish," the Camera D'Or winner at this year's Cannes Film Festival, was directed by IWP alumnus Etgar Keret from Israel. It will be screened at 7 p.m., along with Argentine IWP alumnus Martin Rejtman's "The Magic Gloves," at 9 p.m. in the Bijou Theater at the Iowa Memorial Union.


--A panel will discuss "World Lit Net: Writing in the Age of Global Communications" at noon in Room E105 of the Adler Journalism Building. UI translator Russell Valentino and IWP editor Natasa Durovicova will moderate a panel of prominent literary editors.

--The first hour of the International Literature Today class will be open to the public at 3:30 p.m. in Room 140 of Schaeffer Hall. Salamun, former Iowa Poet Laureate Marvin Bell and poet and essayist Eliot Weinberger will discuss the impact of world literature on their work.

--Greek novelist Ersi Sotiropoulos, who attended the IWP in 1981, and current IWP resident Hamdy el-Gazzar read from their newly released novels in a "Live from Prairie Lights" reading at 7 p.m. Sotiropoulos' fifth novel was translated by UI adjunct faculty member Peter Green.


--Panelists including Weinberger, Iowa Review editor David Hamilton and Hungarian poet Istvan Laszlo Geher, a current IWP resident, will discuss "The World's Voice in Our Ear: Influences of World Literature on Writing and Writers" at noon in Room 140 Schaeffer Hall.

--Russian writers Maria Galina, Leonid Kostyukov, Vladimir Sovetov, and Ekaterina Taratuta -- who will be visiting the IWP through the Library of Congress' Open World program -- will read from their work in a bilingual event at 4 p.m. in the Shambaugh House.

--Weinberger will be joined by current IWP resident Kiran Nagarkar, a novelist from India, in a reading at 8 p.m. in Shambaugh House.


--A panel of current IWP participants from the Middle East, Europe and Asia will discuss "The Business of Arabic-Language Literature" at noon in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.

--Chilean writer Roberto Ampuero, who attended the IWP in 1996, will host a Spanish-language reading at 4 p.m. in Shambaugh House. The reading will feature UI faculty member Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez, local journalist Oscar Argueta and IWP participants Elena Bossi from Argentina and Beaudelaine Pierre from Haiti.

--The play collaboratively written on Oct. 7 and 8 will be performed in "All the World's a Page: The Global Play Project" at 8 p.m. in Theatre B of the UI Theatre Building.


--Peter Nazareth will moderate a panel featuring IWP writers and UI faculty on "Creating and Promoting African Literature," at noon in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.

--Sal Robinson, an editor in the international books division of Harcourt Trade Publishers, and Valentino will discuss "Publishing Books in Translation" at 2 pm in Shambaugh House.

--UI librarian Chiaki Sakai will conduct a brief tour of the exhibit "East Asia in the Midwest: 40 Years of East Asian Writers at the IWP" at 4:30 pm in the North Lobby of the Main Library.

--"Scattered Seeds: Writers from China and the Chinese Diaspora" will feature IWP alumni Li Rui, Xi Chuan, Cheng Chou-yu and Ya Hsien at 5 p.m. in E105 Adler Journalism Building.

--A screening of "The Devil Came on Horseback," a film about the conflict in Darfur, will be followed by a discussion featuring Kenyan writer Peter Kimani from the current IWP group, producer Jane Wells, former UI associate dean Sandra Barkan, Sudanese former journalist Abdalla Mohamed Abdalla and UI journalism faculty member Leo Eko. The screening will begin at 7 p.m. at the Bijou.

FRIDAY, OCT. 12 (Paul Engle Day)

--Salamun, an Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor, will answer questions at 11 a.m. in the Frank Conroy Reading Room of the Dey House, 507 N. Clinton.

--"State of the Art: Literature from Where I Stand" will be the topic of a panel featuring IWP residents James T.C. Na (Philippines), Simone Inguanez (Malta), Nirwan Dewanto (Indonesia), Khaled Khalifa (Syria) and Kei Miller (Jamaica).

--"Cultural Diplomacy: The Writer and the World" will feature former Congressman James Leach; Richard Arndt, author of "First Resort of Kings"; UI English faculty member Harry Stecopoulos; and current IWP resident Kavery Nambisan from India at 4 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol.

--A reception at 5 p.m. will open the "Writing at Iowa" exhibit in the Old Capitol Museum.

--Salamun will present the Paul Engle Memorial reading, honoring the founder of the IWP, at 8 p.m. in Shambaugh Auditorium of the Main Library. Salamun was an IWP participant in 1971.

Biographies of all the 2007 IWP writers and participants in the 40th-anniversary activities are accessible at A description of the program and the 2007 residency period is accessible at

The IWP 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 1,100 writers from more than 120 countries have attended the IWP, including Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk from Turkey.

This fall the IWP is hosting writers from more than 30 countries through November, including the program's first participants from Malta and Montenegro. The schedule will provide many opportunities for the public to meet and interact with the writers in social events, formal and informal readings, lectures, performances, film screenings and panel discussions.

The UI is the nation's premier academic center for creative writing. On campus, the writers become part of the UI's uniquely rich literary life, which includes not only the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop, but also the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Translation Workshop, and the Iowa Playwrights Workshop.

The writers also contribute to an undergraduate course, "International Literature Today," attend readings, collaborate with students in the UI Translation Workshop, visit literature classes, learn firsthand about Iowa's rural heritage, attend artistic performances, and interact with faculty and students in a variety of academic departments.

In addition to activities on campus, groups of writers are traveling to Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Santa Fe, New York and Washington, D.C., and individual writers are visiting communities and institutions throughout the country.

The IWP stresses the common interests of writers everywhere, in an atmosphere that puts political differences into perspective. For writers who live under repressive regimes, the IWP has provided an unprecedented opportunity to write, speak and interact freely.

The IWP is staffed and housed by the UI. IWP writers are financed through bilateral agreements with numerous countries; by grants given by cultural institutions and governments abroad; and by private funds that are donated by a variety of American corporations, foundations and individuals. The activities of the IWP are assisted financially by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State under the authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, as amended.

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

In 2005 Merrill was a member of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy for the U.S. State Department. And in May 2006 and 2007 he moderated "The New Symposium," a think-tank for global writers and intellectuals organized by the IWP on the island of Paros in Greece.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit 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: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073 (office) 319-430-1013 (cell),