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University of Iowa News Release


April 25, 2007

IWP's Second 'New Symposium' In Paros, Greece, Will Consider 'Justice'

The International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa has organized the second "New Symposium," which will bring together 16 writers from around the world to discuss "Justice." The group will gather Wednesday through Sunday, May 9-13, on the Greek island of Paros, the ancient cultural center where the first "New Symposium" was convened last year.

The New Symposium is made possible through a grant awarded to the IWP from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. The Fulbright Foundation in Greece and the Athens-based European Translation Center EKEMEL are active partners in the symposium's development.

Each participant will contribute a short text on the "Justice" theme, and these texts will provide a baseline for intense, cross-cultural discussions.

Afterwards, having had their ideas analyzed and challenged, participants will revise and expand their essays in light of the fresh insight and perspective brought by the conversations. These longer, more refined final pieces will be gathered and published as an electronic book.

"The New Symposium" reflects the model of personal and intellectual interaction that has characterized the IWP's annual residencies at the UI. The formula is simple and elegant: bring together creative minds from around the world and provide formal and informal opportunities for them to interact. The specific results can never be anticipated but have always proved remarkable -- from literary collaborations, to translation projects, to the inspiration for new work, to the sharpening of vision and the broadening of understanding and the solidifying of productive, lifelong friendships.

Under the leadership of poet Christopher Merrill, director of the IWP, and Artemis A. Zenetou, executive director of the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, the symposium participants will be:

-- Daniel Alarcón (novelist, fiction writer; Peru/USA). His short story collection, "War By Candlelight," was a finalist for the 2006 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award, and his first novel, "Lost City Radio," was published in February 2007. He serves as associate editor of Etiqueta Negra, an award-winning monthly published in his native Lima, Peru. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is a former Fulbright Scholar to Peru and the recipient of a Whiting Award for 2004.

-- Olena Kalytiak Davis (poet; USA), the author of two collections of poetry, has won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including four "Best American Poetry" volumes. Her other awards include a Pushcart Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers grant, several grants from the Alaska and Juneau Arts Councils, and a fellowship from the Rasmuson Foundation.

-- Lena Divani (novelist, fiction writer, playwright, scholar; Greece) is a professor of Balkan and Greek foreign policy at the Law School of Athens. She has published one collection of short stories, five novels, several children's books and three plays. Translations of her fiction have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Spanish, Italian, Hebrew and Turkish.

-- Tony Eprile (fiction writer, novelist; South Africa/USA) is the author of "Temporary Sojourner and Other South African Stories" (1989) and "The Persistence of Memory" (2004), both of which were New York Times Notable Books. Eprile has taught at Northwestern University, Williams College, Bennington College, and Lesley University. Currently he is a visiting faculty member at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

-- Emre Erdem (playwright, theatre critic, dramaturg, researcher; Turkey) is vice president of the Theatre Education Committee at the World Congress of ITI-UNESCO. He has worked on several "drama in education" projects for poor youth in Turkey's earthquake zone, and he founded the One Ray of Hope Project with the help of German theatre instructors from Grips and the Dresden Young Generation Theatre. His project, "Ich, Du, Und" (I, You, And) publishes writing by children and teenagers. He has received a Goethe Institute Artist Fellowship and served as a visiting scholar at the Universities of Essen and Lüneburg in Germany.

-- Helon Habila (poet, novelist; Nigeria) won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, African Region, and the Caine Prize for African Writing. He has taught at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. and has recently joined the faculty at George Mason University.

-- Stratis Haviaras (poet, novelist, translator; USA/Greece) teaches creative writing at the European Center for the Translation of Literature, in Athens, and at Harvard University, where has held a number of positions, including curator of the George Edward Woodberry Poetry Foundation, and the Henry Weston Farnsworth Room. He is the founding editor of the Harvard Review and has published several novels, collections of poems and translations.

-- Jane Hirshfield (poet, essayist; USA) has published six books of poetry, a collection of essays, and three major anthologies collecting the work of historical women poets from a wide range of cultural and spiritual traditions. Her books have been finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award and England's T.S. Eliot Prize, and other honors include the Poetry Center Book Award; the California Book Award; fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations; and the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement from the Academy of American Poets.

-- Etgar Keret (fiction writer, graphic novelist, playwright; Israel) has published several short story collections in English, his writings have been translated into 22 languages, and 40 short movies have been based on his stories. His awards include the Book Publishers Association's Platinum Prize, the Prime Minister's Prize and the Ministry of Culture's Cinema Prize. His movie "Skin Deep" won an Israeli Film Academy award and first place in the Munich International Festival of Film Schools. He teaches film at Ben Gurion University.

-- Mohamed Magani (novelist, essayist, fiction writer; Algeria) won the Grand Prix Littéraire International de la Ville d'Alger, and his works have been translated into German, Italian and English. From 1995-2000 he was a writer-in-exile in Berlin at the invitation of the International Parliament of Writers and the city of Berlin. He founded the Algerian PEN Club and is a Board member of International PEN.

-- Ma Thida (fiction writer, physician, activist; Burma) was in medical school when Burma's military junta shut down the universities. She then served as a health care provider and editor for the nonviolent National League for Democracy. Her many short stories containing disguised criticism of the Burmese government led to six years in solitary confinement. Among the charges against her were "endangering public tranquility and distributing unlawful literature." In 1999 she was pardoned and released on humanitarian grounds. She is the editor of the youth magazine Teen and works as a surgeon at the Muslim Free Hospital, which treats poor patients at no cost. She was a participant in the IWP in the fall of 2005.

-- Barry Sanders (nonfiction writer; USA) is professor emeritus of the history of ideas at Pitzer College and is currently a Fulbright Senior Fellow. A Pulitzer Prize nominee, he has authored and co-authored more than a dozen books on orality and culture. His most recent work is "Alienable Rights: The Exclusion of African Americans in a White Man's Land, 1619-2000," nominated in 2004 for the Pulitzer Prize.

-- Subodh Sarkar (poet, translator, editor; India) is a leading Indian Bengali poet, the author of 22 books. Among his awards is the West Bengal Bangla Academy Award. He has worked with Daniel Weissbort at Iowa and Bhopal, and with Chilean poet Raul Jurita -- their audio-cassette project is a first Indo-Latin American collaboration of its kind. He is the editor of Bhashanagar, a Bangla magazine of Indian poetry with occasional English issues, and he is a reader in English at City College, Kolkata.

-- Ersi Sotiropoulos (poet, novelist, fiction writer; Greece) recently won the National Literature Prize and the Book Critics' Award from the literature magazine Diavaso in 2000 for her novel, "Zigzag Through the Bitter-Orange Trees." It is the first time that a novel in Greece has won both of these awards. She studied philosophy and cultural anthropology in Florence and was a cultural attaché in the Greek embassy in Rome. She has written scripts for film and television and participated in several exhibitions of visual and concrete poetry. She has been a fellow at the IWP, Schloss Wiepersdorf in Germany, Princeton University and the Sacatar Foundation in Brazil.

-- Anastassis Vistonitis (poet, essayist, journalist, translator; Greece) has published 10 books of poetry, three volumes of essays, three travelogues, a book of short stories and a book of translations of the Chinese poet Li He. He served as vice-president of Greek Collecting Society of Literary Works (OSDEL), was a board member of the E.W.C. (European Writers' Congress) and was the general editor of the candidature file of Athens for the 2004 Olympic Games. His creative work has been translated into 15 languages.

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