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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 27, 2005

UI Poets Protest War In Nov. 5 Reading

Poets from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and the International Writing Program (IWP) will participate in "Poets Against the War," a free reading at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library.

Featured poets will include Marvin Bell, emeritus professor in the Writers' Workshop; current workshop faculty members James Galvin, Dean Young and Mary Ruefle; Writers' Workshop alumni Mary Swander of Iowa State University, Jan Weissmiller of Prairie Lights Books and James McKean, who teaches at Mount Mercy College; and IWP residents Mani Rao from Hong Kong, John Mateer from Australia and Marjan Strojan from Slovenia.

Bell, a U.S. Army veteran who served two terms as Iowa's poet laureate, will moderate the event, with assistance from Writers' Workshop graduate student Kiki Petrosino.

In late January 2003, poet Sam Hamill declined an invitation from Laura Bush to attend a symposium to celebrate "Poetry and the American Voice." A longtime pacifist, he said he could not in good faith visit the White House following the news of President Bush's plan for a unilateral "Shock and Awe" attack on Iraq.

Instead, he asked about 50 fellow poets to "reconstitute a Poets Against the War movement like the one organized to speak out against the war in Vietnam . . . to speak up for the conscience of our country and lend your names to our petition against this war" by submitting poems of protest that he would send to the White House. When 1,500 poets responded within four days, a new movement was born.

Since then, the "accidental groundswell" has grown to include poets from around the world. There are presently more than 20,000 poems on-line at, the largest poetry anthology ever published. Poems from Poets Against War have been presented in person, by invitation, to several representatives of the U.S. Congress, and many of them have since been introduced into the Congressional Record.

Bell, who has been called "a maverick" and "an insider who thinks like an outsider," is the author of 17 books of poetry and essays. He recently retired as Flannery O'Connor Professor of Letters after 40 years on the faculty of the Writers' Workshop.

Bell has received the Lamont Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and Senior Fulbright appointments to Yugoslavia and Australia.

The Writers' Workshop is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Through the IWP, 35 writers from 28 countries have been members of the UI community since late August. The IWP introduces talented writers to American life; enables them to take part in American university life; and provides them with time, in a setting congenial to their efforts, for the production of literary work. Since 1967, more a thousand writers from more than 120 countries have attended the IWP, including poets, fiction writers, dramatists, screenwriters and non-fiction writers. Biographies of the current writers are accessible at

The IWP is staffed and housed by the UI. IWP writers are financed through bilateral agreements with numerous countries; by grants given by cultural institutions and governments abroad; and by private funds that are donated by a variety of American corporations, foundations and individuals. The activities of the IWP are assisted financially by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State under the authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, as amended.

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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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