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Release: Oct. 11, 2001

IWP writers from Norway, West Bank will read Oct. 21 in Prairie Lights

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Poets Torunn Borge from Norway and Ghassan Zaqtan from the West Bank, participants this fall in the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP), will be featured in a free reading at 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Fiction writer Chelsey Johnson, a graduate student in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, will also read.

Borge is an established and well-respected figure in Norwegian literary circles. She is a freelance writer and translator of articles, children's books and cartoons. Her most recent publication is the nonfiction work "Fear of God." Her poetry collections include "An Infinite Durability" and "The Interval."

Zaqtan is co-founder and director of the House of Poetry in Ramallah. He is chief editor for the Al-Shua'ra (Poets) quarterly and writes weekly columns for two newspapers in Ramallah and in the Gulf. His poetry collections include "Luring the Mountain in Beirut," "Prescription of a Description in Jerusalem" and "Weightless Sky." His novel, "Describing the Past," was published in Jordan in 1995. Zaqtan has also written a number of scripts for various film documentaries. He is currently working on a poetry/prose anthology whose theme is "roads," comparing paths in life with the physical environment. His play "The Narrow Sea" was honored at the 1994 Cairo Festival.

Thirty writers representing 24 countries are now in residence at the IWP through Nov. 20. The IWP was the first international writers residency at a university, and it remains unique in world literature. Over the years, nearly a thousand writers from more than 115 countries have completed residencies in the program.

Like most IWP residency groups, the 2001 community is a mix of poets, fiction writers, screenwriters, playwrights, journalists, essayists and critics. Many of the IWP writers will travel from Iowa City to present lectures, symposia and readings at other campuses in Iowa and throughout the country, and to visit places of cultural or historical interest.

The IWP is staffed and housed by the University of Iowa. IWP writers have been financed by the United States State Department, 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.

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