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Release: Jan. 31, 2003

WSUI "Live from Prairie Lights" Features UI-New Zealand Connection

Photo: Paula Morris

The "Live from Prairie Lights" series, hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will feature Iowa Writers' Workshop student Paula Morris from New Zealand at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 in the Prairie Lights book store at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

Morris, the inaugural recipient of a Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship, established by the Writers' Workshop alumnus at Victoria University in Wellington, N.Z., will read from "Queen of Beauty," published last year. The novel, which won the Adam Foundation Prize for Creative Writing, tells the story of a New Zealander of European and Maori descent who returns home after a stay in New Orleans to discover the secrets of her heritage.

Morris has a bachelor's degree from the University of Auckland, a doctorate from York University in England and a master's degree in creative writing from Victoria University. She has been the vice president for marketing at RCA Victor Records, and was a production assistant for the BBC.

Prairie Lights scheduled Morris' reading for Valentine's Day to emphasize the close connections between the UI and New Zealand.

Glenn Schaeffer, who is the chief financial officer of the Mandalay Resort Group (formerly Circus-Circus) in Las Vegas, has become increasingly active as a literary philanthropist. He has endowed scholarships at both the UI and in New Zealand, where he maintains a residence, and he recently contributed $1 million toward an addition to the UI Dey House, home of the Writers' Workshop.

The International Institute of Modern Letters, headquartered at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, was established by Schaeffer, and its New Zealand branch is located at Victoria University. The institute nurtures partnering relationships with the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the creative writing program at Cal-Irvine, which was led to prominence by UI alumnus Oakley Hall.

Victoria University is the home of New Zealand's first and most prestigious creative writing program, providing a natural kinship with the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Poet Shannon Welch, a recent graduate of the UI, is spending the spring semester leading an "Iowa Workshop" at Victoria University through the exchange program of this partnership initiative.

Learn more about this new project at Victoria University's website: .

Established writers from New Zealand have also been regular participants in the residency program of the UI International Writing Program in recent years.

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