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University of Iowa News Release


March 2, 2012

IWP, Moscow Art Theatre linking for literary event

The University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP) and the Moscow Art Theater in Russia will be linked by the latest videoconferencing technology for the Book Wings inaugural event, “Contact,” a collaborative performance Friday March 9, at 10 a.m. Iowa time—Central Time Zone and 8 p.m. Moscow time. The public is invited to view the event free of charge in Theatre B of the UI Theatre Building, and it will also be accessible worldwide through a live Internet stream at

The videoconferencing technology will enable the audience in Iowa City to see and hear the Moscow stage, and the Moscow audience to see and hear the Iowa City stage. All audience members and Internet viewers may submit questions for the live talk-back session following the event by Tweeting to @UIIWP.

Working in conjunction with the UI Department of Theatre Arts, the Virtual Writing University, Information Technology Services, and UITV, this ambitious literary and theatrical event will connect stages 5,000 miles apart. The “Contact” theme was developed by the Culture Sub-Working Group of the U.S.-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission, where this idea took shape.

With grant funds provided by the U.S. Department of State, the IWP commissioned new work by eight distinguished young poets -- four Americans and four Russians -- and has worked with translators to produce all of the work in both English and Russian. Student actors in Iowa City and Moscow will read the poems.

The commissioned English-language poets are Saigon-born Quan Barry, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; 2010 National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes; Dora Malech, an Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumna who coordinates the Iowa Youth Writing Project; and Wave Books editor Matthew Zapruder, who teaches at the University of California Riverside-Palm Desert.

The Russian-language poets are Maxim Amelin, a member of Russian PEN and editor-in-chief for OGI Press; Linor Goralik, who also writes fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books; Pushkin Prize winner Inga Kuznetsova, who has been a literary columnist for Radio Russia; and Anna Russ, who won the Pokolenie Prize for Best Debut and the Triumph Youth Prize for children’s literature.

“Book Wings” is a three-year collaborative exchange and performance initiative designed to bring together American and Russian writers, actors, directors, and new media professionals in a virtual environment to foster a cross-cultural conversation, spark new literary and dramatic ideas, and create an enduring body of work. In 2013, “Book Wings” will feature Russian and American playwrights, and in 2014, the commissioned works will come from American and Russian fiction writers.

“This is a unique collaboration between the worlds of theatre and the literary arts, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with such a talented group of writers, actors, directors, and technical specialists to make it happen,” says IWP staff member Nate Brown, the coordinator of the “Book Wings” event. “The Moscow Art Theatre is one of Europe’s most revered stages, and it’s an honor to collaboratively create a performance with them.”

The Moscow Art Theatre, founded in 1898 by Stanislavski and the venue of Chekhov and Gorky premieres, is at the heart of Russian theater. Learn more at

The IWP is a unique conduit for the world’s literatures, connecting well-established writers from around the globe, bringing international literature into classrooms, introducing American writers to other cultures through reading tours, and serving as a clearinghouse for literary news and a wealth of archival and pedagogical materials.

Since 1967, more than 1,400 writers from more than 140 countries have been in residence at the UI, and the program also sponsors exchange programs, publishes books and journals, pursues cultural diplomacy, and organizes tours, conferences, and other events around the world.

The U.S. Department of State is a major source of support for the program. The IWP also administers the grants of writers who come to the UI under subsidy from cultural organizations both in the U.S. and abroad.

Learn more about “Book Wings” and read the full bios of the commissioned poets at Follow the IWP on Facebook at To reada short piece about some of the behind-the-scenes work for the Book Wings performance, visit

The Department of Theatre Arts is a part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is part of CLAS and the Graduate College.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar:

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,