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Release: Oct. 1, 2001

IWP's Rowena Torrevillas again wins the Philippines National Book Award

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Rowena Torrevillas, program coordinator of the International Writing Program (IWP) and adjunct faculty member in the English department at the University of Iowa, is a 2001 winner of the Philippines' National Book Award for personal anthology, honoring her recent collection of poetry and prose, "The Sea Gypsies Stay."

This marks the second time in three years that she has received the national literary award of her homeland, presented by the Manila Critics Circle. She also won a 1999 Philippines National Book Award for her essay collection, "Flying Over Kansas: Personal Views," which was written in Iowa City.

"The Sea Gypsies Stay," published by the University of the Philippines Press in 2000, is a collection of poems, fiction and essays, including works that have appeared in the IWP anthology "The World Comes to Iowa" and 100 Words, the literary journal that was published by the IWP for several years.

The book includes a poem dedicated to IWP founder Paul Engle, and the text of a paper delivered at the Southeast Asian Writers' forum in Singapore that includes reflections on the world travels of IWP director emeritus Clark Blaise, the dynamic of personal interaction among writers in the IWP and the impact of the Iowa Writers' Workshop on creative writing in the Philippines.

Torrevillas' parents, Edilberto K. and Edith L. Tiempo, founded the Philippines' National Writers' Workshop, Asia's first center for creative writing, after attending the UI Writers' Workshop. They were the first foreign writers to attend the workshop, and Rowena was born shortly after their course of study at the UI.

Torrevillas represented the Philippines at the IWP in 1984 and joined the IWP staff in 1985. Before coming to the United States, she was an assistant professor at Silliman University in the Philippines.

Her other works include "Upon the Willows and Other Stories," the poetry collection "Mountain Sacraments" and two books forthcoming: the poetry collection "Generic Dreams" and "Three Times Three: Three Genres by Three Generations of Tiempo Women," a collaboration with her mother and her 18-year-old daughter, Lauren, who graduated from Iowa City West High School.

Torrevillas' work has appeared widely in anthologies and periodicals. Her short fiction and poetry have been translated into Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Chinese, Hungarian, Hebrew, Russian, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaya, Romanian, Czech, Slovak and Ibo.

The recipient of a doctorate in English literature from Silliman University, she is a six-time recipient of the Philippines' highest literary prize, the Palanca Award, for fiction and poetry, and she has also received the Distinguished Author award from the Writers Union of the Philippines.

She edited the Philippines issue of "Modern Poetry in Translation", and, with Paul Engle, she edited "The World Comes to Iowa." She has compiled an anthology for the IWP, "Writing from the World III."

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