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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 7, 2005

International Poet Available To Speak To Iowa Groups

Mani Rao, an Indian poet who lives in Hong Kong, will serve as the 2006 University of Iowa International Programs Writer-in-Residence. Through this program, world-renowned writers travel around Iowa to conduct readings and workshops at K-12 schools, public libraries, senior centers and other public venues. There is no cost to sponsor a talk. A fall 2005 participant in the UI's International Writing Program, Rao will return to Iowa Feb. 6 to April 28.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for Iowans to open a dialogue with a gifted international poet," said Blythe Burkhardt, IP's outreach coordinator. "Ms. Rao has been raised in India and spent considerable time living in Southeast Asia, so audiences can expect to gain new perspectives on thinking about the world and literature, and to be inspired to pursue their own writing and creative expression."

This program is made possible by UI International Programs and through funding from the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization and a Title VI National Resource Center grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

During her visits to various venues, Rao will read from her own works, talk about the art of writing and discuss her home culture, the role of the writer in her culture and her own experiences in the United States. Some specific topics include: differences in the way the English language is spoken, how to appreciate the Hindu gods, how she survived as a writer, how she writes poetry and whom she writes it for, and readings of poetry from her vast collection.

Rao is one of Hong Kong's best-known English-language poets, having published six strong-voiced and daring collections of poems over the past 20 years. These collections include "Echolocation," "Salt,"  "The Last Beach," "Living Shadows,"  "Catapult Season" and "Wingspan." Her poems have been translated into Chinese, German, French, Arabic and Korean.

Rao has engaged in some non-traditional public work such as hosting a radio segment on poetry, spraying graffiti in toilets and installing satirical text on a pub window. She is known for her performances. There have been short films based on poetry from her collection "Salt."

For more information or to set up a workshop or speaking engagement, contact Amy Green at 319-335-1433, or Blythe Burkhardt at 319-335-0345, Additional information is available online:

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.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Blythe Burkhardt, 319-335-0345,; Writer: Jeremy Whitaker.