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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 16, 2005

Middle Eastern Women In IWP Will Read Sept. 30 At UI

The University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP) will present a free reading by three Middle Eastern women in this fall's literary community -- non-fiction and fiction writer Zahiye Kundus (Israel), poet Nadia Abduljabbar (Saudi Arabia), and poet/fiction writer Estabraq Ahmad (Kuwait) -- at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, in the Shambaugh House at the corner of Clinton and Fairchild streets on the University of Iowa campus.

Biographies of the three writers, and all the other participants this fall in the IWP, can be found on the IWP Web page, The page also includes writing samples from many of the writers.

Abduljabbar, who teaches at King Abdul Aziz University, writes her poetry in English. "Women with Wings", a bilingual collection for which she provided free-verse Arabic translations, was published in 2003. A new bilingual collection, "Prisoner of Poems," is due out in the next year.

Estabraq Ahmad is the pen name of Estabraq Alfaraj, who is an investigator at the Ministry of the Interior in Kuwait. She published articles in newspapers and magazines before her 2004 short-story collection, "Darkness of the Light," won first place in a competition sponsored by the prominent Kuwaiti writer Lila Al-Othman.

Kundus received her bachelor's degree in history and comparative literature at Hebrew University this year. She works for an Israeli-Palestinian organization, Windows, whose educational and cultural programs aim to promote understanding, and reconciliation between the people from both nations. She is a translator for the organization's bilingual youth magazine, and she contributes articles to the book supplement of Ha'aretz newspaper and the literary journal Ma'ayan. She is writing a novel about life in Jaffa.

Through the IWP 36 writers from 29 countries will be members of the UI community for the next three months.

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.

The IWP, which functions as a United Nations of writers, stresses the common interests of writers everywhere, in an atmosphere that puts political differences into perspective. For writers who live under repressive regimes, the IWP has provided an unprecedented opportunity to write, speak and interact freely.

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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