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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 28, 2004

Hungarian Writer Gergely Presents Oct. 12 Paul Engle Memorial Reading

Prominent Hungarian poet, fiction writer and translator Agnes Gergely, who participated in the University of Iowa International Writing Program in 1973, will present the annual Paul Engle Memorial Reading at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, in Shambaugh House on the UI campus. The event is free, and the public is invited to attend.

Gergely, a Hungarian Jew, grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust: Her father was murdered by the Nazis. One of her works that has been translated into English is the poem "Crazed Man in Concentration Camp," and she is represented in anthologies of Holocaust literature.

She was born in Budapest and, after her schooling was delayed by the war, she studied Hungarian and English at the University of Budapest. She has been a secondary school teacher, a producer for Hungarian radio, a feature editor of a literary weekly and an editor for a Budapest publishing house. She has published several books of poetry and novels, establishing a place as major voice in Hungarian literature.

Gergely has received several of Hungary's highest literary awards, including the Attila Jozsef, Dery and Milan Fust Prizes, and Hungary's top literary honor, the Kossuth Prize. In 1996 she garnered an award for lifetime achievement from the Getz Corporation.

Paul Engle Day was established in 2000 through a proclamation by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. A native of Cedar Rapids, Engle was graduated from the UI as the first poet anywhere to obtain an advanced degree on the basis of a collection of poems. He returned to the UI to lead the Writers' Workshop to prominence, and in 1967 he and Hualing Nieh Engle founded the IWP. He died in 1990 while en route to receive Poland's highest civilian honor.

The IWP is a one-of-a-kind group-residency program that brings established writers from around the world to the UI, where they become part of the lively literary community on campus and travel to present readings, symposia and lectures throughout the country. Over the years a thousand writers from nearly 120 countries have completed group residencies.

Participants in the IWP do not take classes at the UI, but in addition to working on their current writing and research projects, they give readings, serve on discussion panels, initiate translation projects, view cultural and artistic events and contribute to a course, "International Literature Today."

In the mid-1990s, the IWP launched another pioneering project, the Interactive Translation Program. Through this program, UI translators work directly with active foreign-language writers to create collaborative translations.

The importance of the IWP to international understanding was recognized in 1976 when former Senator, diplomat and U.N. Ambassador Averrill Harriman nominated the Engles for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1995 the program was honored with the Governor's Award for distinguished service to the State of Iowa.

Three decades of residencies have enabled the IWP to accumulate an unparalleled collection of resources on international literature. The IWP remains in contact with former participants, creating an unprecedented literary and intellectual network without national boundaries.

Shambaugh House, the headquarters of the IWP, is located 430 N. Clinton Street, at the corner of Clinton and Fairchild Streets on the UI campus.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,