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Release: July 16, 2001

(NOTE TO EDITORS: A news release with a full conference schedule and additional details will be issued @ three week before the conference.)

International Writing Program conference at University of Iowa celebrates art of translation

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa will host "Lost and Found: The Art of Translation," the second annual International Writing Program Festival, Oct. 12-14, 2001, on the UI campus in Iowa City.

The conference, organized around the annual Paul Engle Day celebration that honors the memory of the IWP’s co-founder, will consist of public readings, lectures and panel discussions by illustrious translators from around the world. The conference will occur in the midst of an IWP residency gathering writers from more than 30 countries.

British translator Daniel Weissbort, director emeritus of the UI Translation Program and author of "The Poetry of Survival: Post-War Poets of Central and Eastern Europe," describes the conference as "the most significant gathering of translators that has occurred on either side of the Atlantic in two decades." Participants will include:

-- Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin, who will also present the annual Paul Engle Memorial Reading;

-- Edmund Keeley, the translator of two Nobel laureates, George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis, as well as those of the greatest Greek poet of the last two centuries, Constantine Cavafy;

-- Eliot Weinberger, translator of Nobel laureate Octavio Paz's "Collected Poems";

-- poet Heather McHugh and literary scholar Nikolai Popov, who have translated the most important poet of the Holocaust, Paul Celan;

-- Chinese poet Bei Dao;

-- John Nathan, who holds the Takashima Chair of Japanese Cultural Studies at UC Santa Barbara and who has translated several novels by Nobel laureate Kezaburo Oe;

-- two-time National Book Award-winning writer William Gass, whose most recent book is "Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation";

-- Clare Cavanagh, co-translator of Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska's "Poems New and Collected" and Adam Zagajewski's poetry and prose;

-- Linda Asher, who has translated the Czech novelist Milan Kundera's work;

-- Goran Malmqvist, a member of the Swedish Academy and translator of Chinese literature;

-- Zvonimir Radeljkovie, professor at the University of Sarajevo and founding member of PEN in Bosnia, who has translated extensively from contemporary American and English literature;

-- and prominent translators from the UI faculty.

The "Lost and Found: The Art of Translation" festival is a joint production of the IWP; UI International Programs; the UI Office of the Vice President for Research; the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; the UI departments of Cinema and comparative literature, English, Russian, and Spanish and Portuguese; the UI Press; the Iowa Review and the UI Center for the Book, with support from a grant by Humanities Iowa, an agency of the State of Iowa.

The conference will be free and open to the public. For more information or to register, contact Susan Benner at, (515) 233-1664, or write to the International Writing Program, 469 EPB, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 52242.

A conference website, including a detailed schedule of events, will be established, linked to the IWP homepage at

Paul Engle Day was established in 2000 through a proclamation by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. A native of Cedar Rapids, Engle was graduated from the UI as the first poet anywhere to obtain an advanced degree on the basis of a collection of poems. He returned to the UI to lead the Writers’ Workshop to prominence, and in 1967 he and Hualing Nieh Engle founded the IWP.

The IWP is a one-of-a-kind group-residency program that brings established writers from around the world to the UI, where they become part of the lively literary community on campus and travel to present readings, symposia and lectures throughout the country. Over the years, nearly a thousand writers from 115 countries have completed group residencies.

Participants in the IWP do not take classes at the UI, but in addition to working on their current writing and research projects, they give readings, serve on discussion panels, initiate translation projects, view cultural and artistic events and contribute to a mini-course, "International Literature Today."

In the mid-1990s, the IWP launched another pioneering project, the Interactive Translation Program. Through this program, UI translators work directly with active foreign-language writers to create collaborative translations.

The importance of the IWP to international understanding was recognized in 1976 when former Senator, diplomat and U.N. Ambassador Averrill Harriman nominated the Engles for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1995 the program was honored with the Governor's Award for distinguished service to the State of Iowa.

Three decades of residencies have enabled the IWP to accumulate an unparalleled collection of resources on international literature. The IWP remains in contact with former participants, creating an unprecedented literary and intellectual network without national boundaries.

Director of the IWP is poet, translator, essayist, and radio commentator Christopher Merrill, author of "Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars."

IWP writers have been financed by the United States Information Agency, 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.