FALL RESIDENCY AUG. 22 – NOV. 10, 2015
The World’s Oldest & Largest Multinational Writing Residency
Join Us for Weekly Readings & Panels Plus Special Events
Meet 34 International Writers
Staff Director Christopher Merrill Associate Director Hugh Ferrer Editor Nataša Ďurovičová Program Officer Kelly Bedeian Fall Residency Coordinator Kathleen Maris Coordinator for Outreach Samantha Nissen Distance Learning Coordinator Susannah Shive Between the Lines and Silk Routes Coordinator Lisa Daily
The INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM (IWP) is the oldest and largest multinational writing residency in the world. With a tradition of excellence that has continued for nearly five decades, the IWP annually brings outstanding authors from every continent to the University of Iowa. Since 1967, over 1,400 writers from more than 140 nations have taken part in the Fall Residency. The goal of the IWP is to provide authors a one-of-a-kind intercultural opportunity, and the time and space to write, read, translate, study, conduct research, travel, give readings, stage work, and become part of the vibrant literary and academic community at the university and in Iowa City, the only American city designated as a UNESCO City of Literature, a designation in part stemming from the IWP’s presence. For 2015, the IWP will bring together 34 of the world’s emerging and established writers to participate in the Fall Residency’s unique intercultural experience. Over the course of 10 weeks, aside from working on their own projects, writers will give readings and lectures that share their work and cultures, collaborate with artists from other genres and art forms, and travel and interact with audiences and literary communities across the United States. We would like to welcome the international writers to Iowa City and welcome the public to the International Writing Program.
Accountant Monica O’Neil
Thank You: U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Paul and Hualing Engle Memorial Fund,William B. Quarton Fellowship, Max Kade Institute, Creative New Zealand, National Arts Council Singapore, Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation, British Columbia Arts Council, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, CEC ArtsLink, Open Society Foundations, Arts Council Korea, United States-Israeli Education Foundation, U.S. Embassy in Lomé, Togo, U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, Ludwig Foundation, Taiwan Ministry of Culture
Fall Residency Assistant James Yu
Thanks also to our countless friends, supporters, and donors in the local community, within the University of Iowa, and beyond.
Housing Coordinator Mary Nazareth Senior Program Advisor Peter Nazareth
Interns Alison Edwards (Summer) Laura Wang (Fall) Max Seifert (Spring)
IWP Fall Residency guide designed and produced by Little Village Creative Services
IWP Fall Residency Collaboration: Would you like to invite an IWP Fall Residency writer to your classroom or arts organization? If so, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Weekly Events Shambaugh House Reading Series Fridays at 5 p.m., in the Shambaugh House, 430 North Clinton St., Iowa City, IA Prairie Lights Reading Series Sundays at 4 p.m., at Prairie Lights Bookstore, 15 South Dubuque St., Iowa City, IA Cinematheque Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m., East 105, Adler Journalism Building, 188 North Riverside Dr., Iowa City, IA IWP Panel Series Fridays at noon, in the Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn St., Iowa City, IA Visit iwp.uiowa.edu for a complete schedule of this year’s weekly events. Pictured: Mamle Kabu (Ghana) and Christopher Merrill at Prairie Lights Bookstore in 2014. Photos by Kathleen Maris.
WRITER BIOS Johanna Aitchison (poet; New Zealand) is the author of A Long Girl Ago, which was a finalist at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards of 2008, and Miss Dust (2015). She spent several years teaching English in a fishing village in northern Japan, an experience that often serves as inspiration for her poems. Aitchison’s current quest is running marathons. Raed Anis Al-Jishi (poet, translator; Saudi Arabia) is a feminist and human rights activist in Saudi Arabia. He has published one novel and seven poetry collections in
Arabic, and one poetry collection in English, Bleeding Gull: Look, Feel, Fly. Al-Jishi also teaches high school chemistry. Anas Atakora (poet, nonfiction writer; Togo) is in the French Ph.D. program at Dalhousie University in Canada. He has several published poetry collections, with his most recent, En attendant le poème, released in February. His upcoming work, Tante Béa, will be his first published short story collection. In 2008, Atakora was awarded the “Plumes émergentes” award from the University of Lomé. Kirill Timurovich Azernyi (fiction writer; Russia) studied philology at Ural State
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowasponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the International Writing Program in advance at 319-335-0128.
University. He has published two books of prose: The Present and A Doomsday Man. He is the publisher of the magazine Zdes, which is dedicated to contemporary experimental prose, poetry, and essays. His favorite authors and poets include Proust, Mandelshtam, and Parchikov. Yu-Mei Balasingamchow (fiction and nonfiction writer; Singapore) has published a number of stories, including “Grandmother” and “Visiting,” and has put together several exhibits for the National Museum of Singapore. She also co-authored Singapore: A Biography (2009). Sara Baume (fiction writer; Ireland) is INTERNATIONAL WRITING WRITING PROGRAM INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM 2015 2015 3
Shahriar Mandanipour 2015 Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor Monday, September 14 at 7 p.m., Prairie Lights Bookstore Reading: Censoring an Iranian Love Story Tuesday, September 15 at 3:30 p.m., 109, English-Philosophy Building Lecture I: “Filming in Hell: A Camera in the Prison of Hijab” Wednesday, September 16 at 3:30 p.m., Iowa City Public Library Meeting Room A Lecture II: “Story-ing in Purgatory: Exiled Writer Between Politics and Authenticity”
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hahriar Mandanipour, one of Iran’s leading fiction writers and film critics, was unable to publish his work from 1992 until 1997 as a result of censorship. He came to the United States in 2006 as a Fellow at Brown University, and is now a visiting scholar at Harvard University. In addition to his novel Censoring an Iranian Love Story, his work has appeared in translation in PEN America, The Literary Review, and The Kenyon Review.
the author of many essays and short stories including “Soulsearcher1,” which was included in the anthology Davy Byrnes Stories in 2014. During the time it took her first book, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, to be published, she made 381 clay dog figurines, one for each day she waited. Guzal Begim (poet, translator; Uzbekistan) currently serves as an editor for the Uzbekistanian children’s magazine Ghuncha and has previously worked as a reporter. She has three poetry collections, the most recent being Majnunsoat (2012). In 2012, Begim received the medal of the Vietnam Writers Association for translating Vietnamese poetry into Uzbek. 4 INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM 2015
Cheng Ching-Hang, Matthew (poet, nonfiction writer, editor; Hong Kong) is the author of the poetry collection The First Book of Recollection and editor of a number of anthologies, including Hong Kong Cinema Retrospective 2011. The former Vice-Chairman of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society, he received the Hong Kong Arts Development Award for Best Artist (Arts Criticism) in 2013. Chung Wenyin (fiction writer; Taiwan) worked in cinema and photography before she began writing. She is the author of two short story collections and many novels, including Diary for You and Old Appearances of Young Ladies. Chung is the recipient of
Nael Eltoukhy (fiction writer, translator; Egypt)
Global Express A night of theatre and writing Thursday, September 17 at 8 p.m. Theatre B at the UI Theatre Building 200 North Riverside Dr., Iowa City, IA Omar Pérez (Cuba) performing in 2014. Photo by Kathleen Maris.
elebrate the 15th year of Global Express, where students from the UI Theatre Arts Department will perform fast-paced staged readings of literary works by Fall Residents. Not only does Global Express provide a unique opportunity for international writers and performers here at Iowa to meet and work together; the
event also gives audience members an exceptional peek into literary traditions from around the world. “As political issues continue to challenge the international social fabric, initiatives like Global Express help us to recognize our common humanity while celebrating our differences,” says UI Professor Eric Forsythe, curator of this
more than ten literary awards, including the 2005 Wu San-Lien Literature Prize, deemed Taiwan’s most important literary honor.
sition she has held for two years. She was also selected as a “Bold Visionary,” along with twenty-two other Canadian women, in 2014. Her most recent collection of poetry, Live from the Afrikan Resistance!, describes the struggles of the African Nova Scotia community.
Nael Eltoukhy (fiction writer, translator; Egypt) has published five books of fiction and two books of translations. His most recent novels include Nisaa Al Karantina [Women of Karantina] and Al Alfen wa seta [Two Thousand and Six]. He has worked as a Hebrew to Arabic translator for over 10 years, and is a staff journalist at several regional newspapers. El Jones (poet; Canada) was declared poet laureate of Halifax in June 2013, a po-
year’s event. “The Express, part dramatic reading, part solo-turn, part poetry slam, makes stops around the globe, ‘expressing’ our common need for connection, empathy, and delight in each other. All Aboard!” Visit iwp.uiowa.edu for a complete roster of this year’s Global Express participants.
Eugene Kim (fiction writer; South Korea) was awarded the Munhakdongne Young Writers Prize in 2011 and went on to win the Hwang Soon-won Young Writers Prize two years later. She has published three novels, with Summer being her most recent release. Nisah Haron (fiction and nonfiction
Eugene Kim (fiction writer; South Korea) INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM 2015 5
October 1-4, 2015 Visit iwp.uiowa.edu for a complete roster of this year’s Fall Residency panel participants at ICBF.
Technology Makeover To have the world at one’s fingertips, while trying to write an entirely new world on one’s own, can be a struggle. What are the challenges, consequences, and strategies for controlling a life online, with endless access to others’ words? Witnessing the Road Writers discuss how inspirations, travel challenges, and memories influence their writing. What persona emerges as your routines disappear? Writing for a Younger Self How does a writer go about making contact, closing the age gap, finding the language and the themes for those (much) younger, balancing the full range of imaginings with a need for hope?
Self-Portrait Writers address the ways in which their voice or personality enters—or shuns—the page, and how writers separate themselves from their work.
The Hum of Translation If you write in a “small” language, translation—yours, others’—is inevitably a constant companion. If you write in a “major” one, it may be a kind of luxury. A side-by-side collaboration between a writer and her translator may be the best of both worlds. How has translation (re)figured (in) your own writing? Writers on Film Writers discuss filmmakers, films, and the ongoing dialogue between literature and the most popular storytelling form of the century. The World Republic of Letters Any good library, and today the Internet, semi-democratically brings together a vast body of literature. However, the world literary markets advance and supress texts by forcing fashions, rankings, and preferences according to rules that are constantly contested. What is your sense of the republic of letters from where you stand, read, and write?
gory of Urdu poetry. Khalique contributes regularly to Pakistani and international news publications.
writer, translator; Malaysia) has authored a number of short story collections and novels, including The Longing of a Rafik. Her current project chronicles her travels through Italy, Australia, and New Zealand. She has twice been awarded the Utusan Group Literary Prize for her novels, while her short stories have earned her three Negeri Sembilan Literary awards. Harris Khalique (poet, nonfiction writer; Pakistan) is a human rights activist focusing on women’s and minority rights in Pakistan and abroad. He has published eight poetry collections, including Between You and Your Love and Melay Mein, which won the 2013 UBL Literary Excellence Award in the cateINTERNATIONAL WRITING 6 INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM PROGRAM2015 2015
Samuel Kolawole (fiction and nonfiction writer; Nigeria) is the founder and director of the Writer’s Studio, Nigeria’s flagship creative writing school. He is the author of The Book of M and a number of short stories. His work won him a number of fellowships and awards. He is currently writing his second book.
Samuel Kolawole (fiction and non-fiction writer; Nigeria)
Anete Kruusmägi (fiction writer, poet; Estonia) is currently studying traditional dance in Indonesia and writing her first novel. She teaches creative writing to local students
Joining the ‘United Nations of Writers’ is a dream come true Villeda, a poet from Mexico City, joins the IWP as a 2015 Fall Resident and Outreach Fellow
International Writing Program:Tell us about Mexico City.What is it like to be a writer there? Villeda: Mexico City is a vibrant place where urban subcultures coexist with rural populations, which is true for the whole country. This diversity, when combined with our ancient heritage, creates a flourishing and inspiring city. In Mexico you live in the flux, with a powerful tradition of cultural and artistic expression that goes back to forever, alongside a history of immense pain and rising inequity. My country is a mirror of shattered mirrors broken into a million facets, so it is impossible to see it as having a single face. Tell us about your work with visual poetry. I am deeply interested in textual objects, mainly the juncture between literary creation and coding. I started exploring poetry and multimedia in 2009 with a project named LABO that is inspired by Tesauro (“Thesaurus” in English), which is my first book. A more recent project I am working on is called POETuiteame, which will be included in the Electronic Literature Collection’s third volume. This e-lit work, built upon the public’s misconceptions of poets, is a collaborative poetry performance online that recreates new and interesting work in 140 characters or less.
Photo by Ana Villasuso.
and organizes a bilingual poetry workshop. Kruusmägi is planning her second novel about the relationship between Estonians and Russians as perceived by young people. She regularly contributes to Öhtuleht, Estonia’s widely-read daily. Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta (poet, nonfiction writer; Philippines) has received a number of prizes for her work, including the 2014 Carlos Malanca Memorial Award for Poetry, which is the Philippines’ foremost literary award. She has authored four books, including two poetry collections and one short story collection entitled Short Short Stories to Go.
Polen Ly (screenwriter; Cambodia) became interested in cinema during his fifth year of medical school. Although he has had no formal training, he has written, directed, and produced a number of short films and documentaries that have earned prestigious awards, such as Passages of Blooms and Colourful Knots, which won first prize at the 2015 Tropfest SEA film festival in Malaysia. Michael Mendis (fiction writer; Sri Lanka) is the author of “The Sarong-Man in the Old House and an Incubus for a Rainy Night,” which won the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Asia region. His first book of stories is forthcom-
ing in 2015. Michael works as a researcher for the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a public policy advocacy group. Yael Neeman (fiction writer, playwright; Israel) is the author of the short story collection The Option, which was nominated for the 2014 Sapir Prize for Literature, and which remained on Israel’s bestseller list for several weeks. Neeman also received the 2015 Prime Minister’s Prize for Hebrew Writers. Her work has been translated into French, Polish, and English. Birgül Oğuz (fiction and nonfiction writer; Turkey) lectures on literature at institutions in Istanbul. Her latest novel, Hah, won INTERNATIONAL WRITING WRITING PROGRAM INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM 2015 2015 7
Why are you interested in spending three months in Iowa City? Iowa City is an UNESCO City of Literature, the only one in the Americas. Being part of this “United Nations of Writers” is a dream come true. I will be in the same place with devoted colleagues and, mostly importantly, I’ll be following in the steps of some artists I highly admire, such as Fernando del Paso, Luisa Valenzuela, and Orhan Pamuk. Del Paso is one of the best Mexican, and Hispano-American, writers I have ever read. As the Outreach Fellow, what kind of projects are you thinking about creating? I want to engage with the Hispanic population in Iowa. My main goal as the Outreach Fellow is to shape a community across cultural distance. One of the projects I will work on is creating an e-lit work through a wiki. Accessible web applications can encourage a collaborative writing experience. I’m hoping that the wiki, and the large project behind it, will provide a way for the community and Fall Residents to interact with each other, broadening knowledge of different literary traditions and creating new art across diversity. For those interested in reading more literature from Mexican authors, who would you recommend? That is one of the toughest questions I will ever be asked to answer. I would recommend “First Dream” by Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, which is one of the best poems anyone could ever read. “First Dream,” composed in a verse form identified as a silva, is an extraordinary portrait of intellectual passion from a woman who was an artist ahead of her time, greatly misunderstood in an era ruled by punishing misogyny and inequality of genders.
You can find Villeda’s work at www.poetronica.net.
the European Union Prize for Literature in 2014. Oğuz is the author of a number of short stories, essays, and translations that have appeared in Turkish newspapers and literary magazines including Varlık, Notos Öykü and Felsefe Logos. Armen of Armenia (fiction writer; Armenia) is the author of the short story collection The Return of Kikos and the novel Mommyland; Flag. He has won several literary awards, including the 2012 Ardzark Literary Award for the short story “Superstar Mario.” His short stories have been published in numerous Armenian literary journals. His work is significantly influenced by his political activism. INTERNATIONAL WRITING 8 INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM PROGRAM2015 2015
Ser parte de esta ‘Organización de Naciones Unidas de Escritores’ es un sueño hecho realidad Villeda, una poeta de la ciudad de México, se una al Programa Internacional de Escritura como Residente de Otoño y de Alcance Comunitario
Programa Internacional de Escritura: Platícanos acerca de la ciudad de México. ¿Cómo es ser escritor ahí? Villeda: La ciudad de México es un lugar vibrante en el cual las subculturas urbanas coextistan con las poblaciones rurales, como en todo el país. Esta diversidad, combinada con nuestra herencia ancestral, deviene en una ciudad fecunda e inspiradora. En México vives en flujo, con una poderosa tradición de expresiones culturales y artísticas que existen desde siempre y al lado de una historia de dolor inmenso e inequidad creciente. Mi país es un espejo compuesto de espejos rotos en millones de faces, es imposible verlo con una sola cara.
Margarita Mateo Palmer (critic, fiction writer; Cuba) has received the prestigious Premio Nacional de la Crítica six times for her work. Her writing, which focuses on Caribbean literature, has previously earned her fellowships at Harvard University and Tulane University. Her most recent publication, Dame el siete, tebano. La prosa de Antón Arrufat (2014), won her the “Enrique José Varona” UNEAC Literary Prize. Mateo Palmer is a member of the Cuban Academy of Language. Rochelle Potkar (fiction writer, poet; India) is the author of the novel The Arithmetic of Breasts and Other Stories. Her work is published in both online and print antholo-
gies. Potkar is a member of the core team of Poetry Couture, a group that hosts poetry readings throughout India. She is the co-editor of Neesah Magazine and has several upcoming short story projects. Teresa Präauer (fiction writer, poet; Austria) is a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers on the subjects of poetry, theatre, pop culture, and fine arts. She is the author of the novel Johnny und Jean and a book of postcards containing drawing and poetry entitled Pigeons’ Letters. She was the recipient of the 2015 Droste Literature Prize.
Cuéntanos acerca de tu trabajo con poesía visual. Estoy profundamente interesanda en los objetos textuales, particularmente en la coyuntura que existe entre creación literaria y el código. Empecé la exploración de poesía y multimedia en 2009 con un proyecto llamado LABO inspirado en Tesauro, mi primer libro. Un proyecto más reciente es POETuiteame, que será incluido en el tercer volumen de Electronic Literature, y está basado en la equivocada concepción pública sobre los poetas. Es un performance colaborativo online que recrea piezas en 140 carácteres o menos. ¿Por qué te has interesado en pasar tres meses en Iowa City? Iowa City es una Ciudad de Literatura de la UNESCO, la única en el continente americano. Ser parte de esta “Organización de Naciones Unidas de Escritores” es un sueño hecho realidad. Estaré en el mismo lugar que colegas comprometidos y, lo más importante, estaré siguiendo los pasos de algunos artistas que admiro enormemente como Fernando del Paso, Luisa Valenzuela y Orhan Pamuk. Del Paso es uno de los mejores escritores mexicanos e hispanoamericanos que he leído.
ellos, expandiendo el conocimiento de diferentes tradiciones literarias y creando nuevo arte a través de la diversidad. Para los interesados en literatura mexicana, ¿a quién recomiendas? Esa es una de las preguntas más difíciles que me han hecho. Recomendaría “Primero sueño” de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, que es uno de los mejores poemas que puedes leer en tu vida. “Primero sueño”, compuesto en una forma poética conocida como silva, es el extraordinario retrato de la pasión intelectual de una mujer adelantada a su tiempo, enormemente incomprendida en una era dominada por la misoginia punitiva y la desigualdad entre los géneros. Puede encontrar la obra de Villeda en www.poetronica.net.
Como Residente de Alcance Comunitario, ¿qué proyectos estás pensando en llevar a cabo? Quiero involucrarme con la población hispanoamericana de Iowa. Mi principal objetivo como Residente de Alcance Comunitario es forjar una comunidad horizontal de distancia cultural. Uno de los proyectos que trabajaré será una obra de literatura electrónica a través del formato wiki. Espero que esta wiki y el proyecto mayor que la respalda, sea una manera de interactuar para la comunidad y los Residentes de Otoño, entre
Homeira Qaderi (fiction writer; Afghanistan) earned a PhD in Persian literature and authored the novel Silver Kabul River Girl, which was published to widespread critical acclaim. In addition to her work as a university professor in Kabul, she serves as Senior Advisor to the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, and is heavily active in the promotion of women’s rights.
Homeira Qaderi (fiction writer; Afghanistan)
Rachel Rose (poet, nonfiction writer; Canada) is a recipient of the Pat Lowther Poetry Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Audre Lorde Poetry Award, all for 2013. Her poetry books include Song and Spectacle and Notes on Arrival and Departure. Rose
is also a regular contributor to literary journals and magazines, including The Malahat Review and Prism International. Byambaa Sakhiya (screenwriter, filmmaker, producer; Mongolia), a graduate of the State Film School VGIK in Moscow, is a documentary and short fiction filmmaker with a long record of collaboration on international film productions. His documentary Passion (2011) won main prizes at festivals in Asia, the Americas, and Europe; his first feature, Remote Control, was supported by the Hubert Bals Script Development Fund, and released in 2013. He is the co-founder of Ulaanbaatar-based Guru Media. INTERNATIONAL WRITING WRITING PROGRAM INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM 2015 2015 9
Join the IWP and the UI Department of Dance as residents and student dancers present their work created in collaboration during the Fall semester.
Friday, October 30 at 7:30 p.m. Space Place Theater at North Hall 20 West Davenport St. Iowa City
Oscar Ranzo (Uganda) and student performing in 2013. Photo by Greg Bal.
Aki Salmela (poet, translator; Finland) is the author of seven poetry collections, including Word in Progress. His poetry and translations have appeared in literary journals throughout the world. He was the recipient of the Finnish Broadcast Corporation’s Tanssiva Karhu Poetry Prize in 2008, while his first poetry collection, Sanomattomia lehtiä, won the Kalevi Jäntin prize in 2004.
musicians on text and sound compositions. Silkeberg has received a number of awards for her work, including the Nöjesguidens Literary Prize in 2010 and the Swedish Radio’s Poetry Prize in 2004. Villeda (poet, translator, fiction writer; Mexico), in addition to crafting stories, creates visual poetry to enhance her written works. She has written four books of poetry and one children’s book. Her work has received recognition through many awards, including the 2014 National Fine Arts Prize for Children’s Fiction and the 2013 Elías Nandino National Award for Youth Poetry.
received the Ordem Militar de Santiago de Espada medal from the Portuguese president. Mg Yu Pie (poet; Burma) has written several poetry collections, including The Bird That Was Killed When the Sky Capsized. His work is featured in Bones Will Crow: An Anthology of Burmese Poetry. Pie lives in Myeik, the city where he was born, and writes in the local Burmese dialect of Tavoy. He has also earned a law degree. To read their writing samples, go to http://iwp.uiowa.edu.
Antônio Xerxenesky (fiction writer, translator; Brazil) is the author of two novels, two short story collections, and a number of books in translation, including Unnatural Creatures, a short story collection expected in 2015. His most recent works include the novel F and the short story collection A Página assombrada por fantasmas; his stories have been translated into English, Spanish, and German. Marie Silkeberg (poet, translator, nonfiction writer, filmmaker; Sweden)
Marie Silkeberg (poet, translator, nonfiction writer, filmmaker; Sweden) has authored seven poetry collections, including 23:23 and Material. A professor in Creative Writing, she regularly collaborates with INTERNATIONAL WRITING 10 INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM PROGRAM2015 2015
Yao Feng (poet, translator, scholar; Macau) is an associate professor at the University of Macau with numerous poetry collections, including Writing on the Wings of the Wind. In addition to writing in Chinese, he also writes in, and translates from, the Portuguese. In 2006, he
Antônio Xerxenesky (fiction writer, translator; Brazil)
Hosting writers promotes Iowa City’s wonderful sense of community John and Ginny Stamler, an Iowa City couple who open their home to IWP writers each year, tell us what it’s like to host international writers
winter, and Roberto Ampuero, a good friend and former IWP writer who was visiting from Chile. Roberto has stayed with us many times, and will stay again this summer. How did you become interested in hosting Fall Residency writers? John Stamler: It was actually Roberto who suggested it. For a long time Ginny and I have been interested in promoting positive relationships between our country and others. One evening we were all sitting on the porch, and Roberto mentioned how great the cottage was for his writing and suggested that others writers would thrive there as well. We met with Chris Merrill, and he agreed it was a great idea and would be very helpful for the program. International Writing Program: How many years have you been a host family for the International Writing Program’s Fall Residency? Which countries have the writers come from? Ginny Stamler: In a formal capacity, about four years. One writer each year. They have come from Spain, Brazil, Germany, and New Zealand/Fiji. We have also hosted two writers outside the official IWP time period—Martin Dyar from Ireland, who stayed over last
Have any traditions formed? JS: One of our writers, Simon Urban, was very excited that the cottage patio provided a nice gathering space for visitors and a grill, which he called a “griller.” He started inviting other IWP writers over in the evenings. They would bring their own items to grill, side dishes, drinks etc., and it became a tradition.We were always invited, and frequently took part. It was wonderful to be included in their conversations, which were always extremely interesting and very fun.
How do you keep in touch with the writers you’ve gotten to know? GS: Often by email and Facebook, but also by visiting. I mentioned Roberto Ampuero earlier; we meet with him at least once a year, and often more. My good friend and traveling companion of over 20 years, Julie Eichenberger, and I visited Roberto and his wife, Lucrecia, in Chile a few years ago. This November, Julie and I will visit another writer who stayed with us, Rodrigo Garcia, in Brazil. John and I also just returned from a delightful reunion at a rented country house on a lake in Ireland, where we stayed with family, friends and three former IWP writers: Franca Treur, Simon Urban, and Martin Dyar. We explored the countryside and city, cooked and ate together, biked, hiked, and swam in the lake. Can you talk about what is unique in the experience of hosting writers compared to hosting other visiting scholars? GS: I think writers often have excellent behavioral insights. This understanding provides them with an ability to discuss cultures, concepts and people, including themselves, with great depth and humor. As a psychologist, I find the conversations fascinating. I have felt very connected with the writers we have hosted. JS: Writers tell great stories. If you gather a few writers together, and open a bottle of wine, you have yourself a long entertaining evening.You just need to sit back, listen, and pour. When people in the community host a visiting writer, it seems to somehow reinforce that Iowa City deserves its designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. JS: We love living in Iowa City. There is a wonderful sense of community here. It is a liberal city that values diversity, the kind of place in which we wanted to live and raise our son. Writers contribute significantly to this culture. The number of countries the writers represent is amazing. INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM 2015 11
Zinnias in Bloom Zinnias in bloom; a train moving on, departing: maids’ work on the balcony. An electric pole—a hedgehog trying to climb it: a palm tree by night. The branch of an elderbush dressing itself up in black: the scent of its inflorescence quietly glowing. Among the wild
A donation to the IWP will help the program to bring to the Residency a writer of exceptional talent or in difficult circumstances, support the translation of a new work and its subsequent distribution, or pay for a local or a national outreach opportunity. Web: www.givetoiowa.org
rose petals a spider hiding from the rain. Had it not gone into hiding it would have stayed hidden. Night gathers; the starlings flock onto a sign-board: in the sky a child from the long gone past is happily singing. Rain descends from the heavens; fire licks the star by the edges. One me coming down to lie on the earth. Marjan Strojan (IWP 2005), from Dells and Hollows, forthcoming in 2015 from Autumn Hill Books/91st Meridian Books
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