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Release: Sept. 23, 2002


The University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP) will celebrate the memory of co-founder Paul Engle with its third-annual international literary conference, “New Media Poetry: Aesthetics, Institutions and Audiences,” Oct. 11-12 on the UI campus in Iowa City.

The concluding event of the celebration will be the Paul Engle Reading by South African writer Etienne van Heerden, an IWP veteran, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 in the auditorium of the Becker Communication Studies Building.

The conference will focus on poetry composed for digital environments, and the sessions will feature some of the leading writers and critics in this field. The conference promises to be an historic literary event since it will be the first devoted exclusively to the critical study of this emerging literary practice.

Speakers will include:

-- Brazilian new media artist Giselle Beiguelman;

-- London-based poet John Cayley;

-- University of Pennsylvania scholar Al Filreis;

-- Loss Pequeno Glazier, director of the Electronic Poetry Center at SUNY-Buffalo and author of “Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries,” the first book-length treatment of new media poetry;

-- Alan Golding, who teaches at the University of Louisville and is the author of “From Outlaw to Classic: Canons in American Poetry”;

-- New York DJ and music critic Kenneth Goldsmith, the editor of UbuWeb;

-- N. Katherine Hayles, who teaches media arts at the University of California and is the author of “How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics,” which won the Rene Wellek Prize for the best book in literary theory for 1998-99;

-- Jennifer Ley, founder of the internet literary arts magazine Riding the Meridian;

-- hypermedia artist Talan Memmott, creative director and editor of the online hypermedia literary journal BeeHive as well as BeeHive's new ebook project “Microtitles”;

-- Carrie Noland, author of “Poetry at Stake: Lyric Aesthetics and the Challenge of Technology”;

-- Katherine Parrish, educational co-coordinator on Project Achieve, a text based virtual environment sponsored by the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto;

-- critic Marjorie Perloff, author of “The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture,” “Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media” and “Poetry On & Off the Page”;

-- radio producer, poet, translator and media critic Martin Spinelli, who teaches Media Studies at CUNY Brooklyn College and is the audio editor of the Electronic Poetry Center; and

-- poet and critic Barrett Watten, co-editor of Poetics Journal and author of “Total Syntax,” a collection of critical essays on modern and contemporary poetics.

The conference organizers are Dee Morris, UI John C. Gerber Professor of English; and Thom Swiss, a faculty member in English and the Rhetoric of Inquiry.

Conference session are open to the UI community free of charge. Others my register through the UI Center for Conferences and Institutes. Contact Kelly Flinn at 319-335-4105 or < >. Conference information is on-line at < >.

Co-sponsors of the conference include Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the English Department, International Programs, American Studies, Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI) and Comparative Literature.

The Paul Engle Reading honors the memory of the Cedar Rapids poet who led the Iowa Writers' Workshop to prominence and co-founded the UI International Writing Program (IWP). At the turn of the millennium, Engle was selected as Iowa’s poet of the century, and in 2000, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack proclaimed Engle's birthday, Oct. 12, as Paul Engle Day in Iowa.

Etienne van Heerden is Hofmeyr Professor in the Department of Southern African Languages at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and founder-editor of LitNet, South Africa's largest multicultural online journal. He is a lawyer by training and attended the IWP in the ‘90s. He writes poetry, short stories and novels in Afrikaans, and his fiction has been translated into 10 languages.

Paul Engle rose from humble Iowa roots -- he was a stable cleaner and a stock boy in his youth --to became one of the world's leading cultural figures.

Clark Blaise, the Writers' Workshop alumnus who directed the IWP through most of the ‘90s, described Engle as “the most influential American writer of the century,” for how he transformed the life of the writer in the United States. “He virtually created the literary community of America, and he was writer’s ambassador-at-large to the rest of the world. . . He made the word ‘Iowa’ synonymous with writing and turned Iowa City into the narrative capitol of the world.”

At the UI Engle became the first student anywhere to obtain a graduate degree on the basis of a book of poems. That book, “Worn Earth,” won the 1932 Yale Younger Poets award, marking Engle as one of the most promising poets on the American literary scene. A New York Times review of his second book hailed him as “a new voice of American poetry.”

Soon after he returned to Iowa from study at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, Engle took over the UI graduate seminar in creative writing. Engle’s vision, enthusiasm and persistence built that course of study into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the most prestigious and influential writing program in the world -- the blueprint for the many creative writing degree programs that now thrive on U.S. campuses.

In 1966 Engle retired from the Writers’ Workshop, but the following year he and his wife, Chinese novelist Hualing Nieh Engle, founded the International Writing Program, a unique residency program for prominent foreign writers. In 35 years, nearly 1,000 writers from more than 115 countries have completed residencies at the UI. Thirty-six writers traveled from 30 countries to participate in the IWP this fall.

The importance of the IWP to international understanding was recognized in 1976 when the Engles were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1995 the program was honored with the Governor's Award for distinguished service to the State of Iowa.

Although Engle devoted most of his energy to the UI writing programs, he managed to write 20 books, winning Guggenheim, Ford and Rockefeller Foundation fellowships, and the Lamont Award of the Academy of American Poets.

In1990 Engle’s career was recognized with the Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1999 the Iowa magazine “Stand Alone” selected Engle as Iowa’s poet of the century.

In response to his death, Philip Roth said, “I think it’s accurate to say that with his Writers’ Workshop that Paul did as much for serious writing in America as anybody in American history.” And Kurt Vonnegut added, “This man did more for other artists than anybody I can think of.”

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New Media Poetry — Conference schedule

Friday, Oct. 11, 2002

All Friday events will take place at the English-Philosophy Building (EPB) unless otherwise noted.

9 -- Welcome from Thom Swiss, Chris Merrill, and Dee Morris

9:30 -- Al Filreis

10:30 -- Loss Glazier

11:30 -- Jennifer Ley: “Web Publishing: The Evolution of the Online Literary Magazine and the Role of Recommended Links and Search Engines”

Kenny Goldsmith “The Bride Stripped Bare: A Brief History of UbuWeb on the Crossroads of the Concrete and the Nude”

2 -- Martin Spinelli “Electric Line: A Digital Aesthetic for Sound Poetry on Radio and the Web”

3 -- Carrie Noland “Nostalgia for Handwriting”

4 -- Barrett Watten: “Distributed Authors and Content Providers: Immobility, Access, and the Space of Poetics”

8 -- A Cabaret of New Media Writing at Shambaugh Auditorium, UI Main Library

Saturday, October 12, 2002

All Saturday events will take place at the Seamans Bldg. unless otherwise noted.

9 -- John Cayley: “Reprogramming Performances of Writing: Distinctions and Interrelations of Text and Code in Writing for Networked and Programmable Media”

1 -- Kate Hayles: “The Time of Electronic Poetry: From Object to Event”

11 -- Alan Golding: “Technologies of the Visual: Materiality in Language Writing and Digital Poetics”

1:30 -- Marjorie Perloff: “Towards a Generative (Digital) Poetics”

2:30 -- Katherine Parrish: “Send in the Clowns: A Poetics of Text-Based Virtual Environments”

Giselle Beigelmann: “Wireless Conditions”

3:40 -- wrap-up discussion

8 -- Etienne van Heerden reading at Becker Communication Studies Building Auditorium