CONTACT: LOIS GRAY
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: Jan. 18, 2002
Photo: Cuban poet and
playwright Norge Espinosa.
Cuban Serves As UI International Programs' Writer-In-Residence
Cuban poet and playwright, Norge Espinosa, hopes to build bridges of cultural
understanding with people in the local community as University of Iowa International
Programs' Spring 2002 Writer-in-Residence.
Through the Writer-in-Residence Program, world-renowned
writers travel around Iowa to conduct readings and workshops at K-12 schools,
public libraries, senior centers, and other venues. The program is funded
by the Stanley/UI Foundation Support Organization and a Title VI National
Resource Center (NCR) grant from the U.S. Department of Education and allows
International Programs to host international writers. Espinosa is based in
the International Center during this three-month residency.
"One of the goals of the program is to maximize the
interaction between participants and the writer," says UI International Programs'
Outreach Coordinator Buffy Quintero. "This is a wonderful and rare opportunity
for students, educators and the community to learn about many different facets
of Cuban life and culture firsthand from one of the most talented contemporary
Cuban poets in the world."
In addition to tailor-made programs, Espinosa is available
to speak on the following themes in English or Spanish: New Cuban Poetry:
Tradition and Ruptures; Young Writers in Cuba; Performing Arts in Cuba; Cuban
Playwrights: The Empty Stage; Gays and Cultural Expression in Cuba: A Fight
Against the Silence; and Life and Culture in Cuba.
"I want to talk and read to American audiences about
several issues, which are connected with my personal life as a poet, playwright
and critic in Cuba, and also to my work supporting gays and lesbian cultural
expression in my country," Espinosa says. "Who are we, the new generation
of Cubans, as writers, actors, stage directors, painters, and simple human
beings. This is a living map of my own memories about Cuba, and I'll invite
the audience to live in this map for a few minutes of readings, and basically
debate and have a time for questions and answers."
During the presentations, Espinosa can read from his
own works, talk about the art of writing, and discuss his home culture and
the role of the artist/writer in that culture as well as his own experience
"Cuban artists are trying to build new bridges of
understanding and awareness through cultural discussions with this nation,"
Espinosa says. "If I can show Iowa audiences something more about real life
and cultural issues in Cuba today, this bridge will became more than a dream.
Espinosa is not a stranger to Iowa. He first visited
the local community last fall as a participant in the world renowned UI International
Writing Program. He says he is excited about the opportunity to spend more
time in the local community as International Programs' Writer-in-Residence.
"Cuba and Iowa are similar: the two places are islands,"
Espinosa says. " If Cuba is a real island in the Caribbean Sea, Iowa is another
island in a very special point of America. These two places are sharing a
need to know more about the world. Cuba is trying to open new windows for
the cultural and liberal expression of its people, and Iowa is using its University
as a gate to the world."
Espinosa has accomplished a great deal in 30 years.
Since the age of 14, he has been collaborating with groups of Cuban writers.
As a 17-year-old, he won the prestigious National Prize of Poetry from the
cultural magazine, El Caimán Barbudo, for his book "Las Breves Tribulaciones"
("The Brief Tribulations"). In 1992, he graduated with a Gold Title from the
National School of Instructors of Theater.
Since then Espinosa has published collections of poetry,
plays, and an anthology. His children's play "Sácame Del Apuro" ("The
Charmed Shrimp") performed by the theatrical group Pálpito won many
awards, including the National Festival of Performing Arts' best text for
children. He also published a children's book, "Los Pequenos Prodigios" ("Little
Miracles") in 1996.
Espinosa serves as director of the Havana bookstore,
Libreria El Ateneo, works as a production assistant for the magazine, Revista
Tablas, and is one of the leaders of the theatre, Teatro El Público.
For the last three years, he has organized a weeklong gay and lesbian cultural
festival in Havana. Two of Espinosa's poems, "Vestido De Novia" ("Bridal Gown")
and "Dejar La Isla" ("Leaving the Island") are among the most widely anthologized
poems by younger Cuban poets. His poems have also been widely published internationally.
For more information or to set up a workshop or speaking
engagement, contact International Program's Outreach Coordinator Buffy Quintero
at (319) 335-0345 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
International Programs consists of a number of offices,
centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services.
Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs,
these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and
promote global scholarship, research and teaching.