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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 20, 2009

IWP welcomes 2009 global literary community to the City of Literature

Prominent writers from around the globe are once again converging on Iowa City, now a UNESCO City of Literature, for the 2009 residencies of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP).

IWP Director Christopher Merrill (left) chaired the UI Writing University committee that prepared the UNESCO proposal on behalf of the city. Iowa City was officially designated the third UNESCO City of Literature -- joining Edinburgh, Scotland, and Melbourne, Australia -- late November 2008, so the 2009 IWP group is the first to gather at the UI under the new designation.

"This is one of the most talented and dynamic groups of writers yet to take part in the IWP," Merrill said. "We can't wait to welcome them to our literary community."

The community of 35 writers from 28 countries includes a mix of fiction writers, poets, translators, essayist, filmmakers, playwrights, screenwriters, journalists, critics -- and even a Welsh recording star. They will be accessible to the public throughout the three-month residency in a variety of free readings, discussions, film screenings, performances and social events.

Biographies of the 2009 IWP writers are accessible at The program will also host a variety of special guests during the residency, including a group of Russian writers through the Open World program.

The opening IWP events will be:

--A panel discussion on the provocative topic of "Literature of Desire," featuring Alice Pung from Australia, Milos Djordjevic from Croatia, Salomat Vafo from Uzbekistan, Millicent Graham from Jamaica and Ge Fei from China, at noon Friday, Sept. 4, in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.

--A reading by Iraqi poet Soheil Najm and Saudi Arabian short-story writer Hanaa Hijazi at 5 p.m. Sept. 4 in the Shambaugh House, the IWP headquarters at 30 N. Clinton St. on the UI campus.

--A reading by Tamil poet, essayist and fiction writer Meena Kandasamy from India and fiction writer, playwright and screenwriter Marius Ivaskevicius from Lithuania at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6, in Prairie Lights Books at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The evolving calendar of events will be posted on the IWP site and on the UI Master Calendar: These calendars will be updated regularly as new events are added.

Serial events throughout September and October will include joint IWP/Iowa Writers' Workshop readings most Sunday afternoons in Prairie Lights, panel discussions at noon most Fridays in the Iowa City Public Library, Friday afternoon readings in the Shambaugh House at the corner of Clinton and Fairchild streets, and a series of film screenings on Wednesday evenings in the Adler Journalism Building.

After the housing and transportation chaos of last year, as a result of the June flood that shut down the Iowa Memorial Union, the IWP community is again housed in the Iowa House, centrally located and in regular contact.

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 1,200 writers from more than 120 countries have attended the IWP, including Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

Many of the writers are supported through the U.S. State Department and U.S. embassies, while others are funded through a variety of foundations, government councils and bilateral agreements.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calender: For additional arts information, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

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

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,