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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 12, 2003

International Writing Program Schedule Features Palestinian Poet Sept. 23

Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, a guest of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP), will present a free reading at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23 in the Paul Engle Memorial Lounge of the Shambaugh House on the UI campus.

Continuing the IWP series of free panel discussions, four of this fall's writers in residence will address "Writers as Readers" at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24 in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.

And IWP participant Alejandra Costamagna and IWP "alumnus" Roberto Ampuero will be among the writers featured in a free "Chile Night" reading at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26 in the Shambaugh House.

Gabriel Levin wrote of Taha Muhammad Ali, "It is hard to think of another Palestinian poet of Ali's generation who writes with such intimacy while skillfully modulating between the personal and the public spheres of life."

Ali was raised in Galilee, but at age 17 he fled with his family to Lebanon after their village came under bombardment during the 1948 war. A year later he slipped back across the border and settled in Nazareth, where he makes his living selling antiques and souvenirs in a small shop.

Israeli poet and translator Rami Saari describes the work of this self-taught poet: "Ali writes in a forceful and direct style, with disarming humor and an unflinching, at times painfully honest approach; his poetry's apparent simplicity and homespun truths conceal the subtle grafting of classical Arabic onto colloquial forms of expression. In Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, and in Europe and in America, audiences have been powerfully moved by Taha Muhammad Ali's poems of political complexity and humanity."

In the Wednesday panel, the writers will address the question: What does a professional writer read, and why? The participants will be Polish poet Marcin Sendecki, Korean poet and critic Joeng Han Yong, Lithuanian poet and editor Gintaras Grajauskas and Argentine poet and novelist Leopoldo Brizuela.

Biographies of the participating writers-in-residence are available at, and the prepared comments of panel participants will be available on the IWP site.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

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