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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 7, 2007

Photo: Peter Nazareth

International Writing Program alumnus returns to speak on Nov. 9

Kirpal Singh, a writer from Singapore who was in residence at the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP) in 1997, will present a free public lecture, "Deprogramming Robots? The use of literature to spur creative thinking in Singapore -- and elsewhere," at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, in Room 109 of the UI English-Philosophy Building. This event is co-sponsored by the IWP, International Programs and the English Department.

Singh will bring copies of UI faculty member Peter Nazareth's new book, "Edwin Thumboo: Creating A Nation Through Poetry," which is hot off the press in Singapore. The new volume will be launched at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in Shambaugh House, the headquarters of the IWP, at 430 N. Clinton St. in an event hosted by IWP Director Christopher Merrill.

Singh has published three collections of poetry and edited many literary journals and books. He was a founding member of the Centre for Research in New Literatures at Flinders University in Australia, the first Asian director for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and chair of the Singapore Writers' Festival. His most recent book is "Thinking Hats and Coloured Turbans: Creativity Across Cultures." He teaches at Singapore Management University.

Nazareth interviewed Thumboo, whom he calls "the father figure of Singapore literature," in 1977, when the poet was in residence with the IWP and Nazareth began his long association with the program.

"I did an interview then with Thumboo that came to 84 pages so it was published in extracts -- seven to date, the first in the Iowa Review," Nazareth explains. "I was invited earlier this year by Kirpal Singh to write on Thumboo for the Interlogue series on Singapore literature he edits.

"The launch event is part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the IWP, which is fitting since the complete 1977 interview is the second part of the book," Nazareth added. "I mention in the book that the interview is going to be placed online by the IWP, and there are other connections with the IWP, including my quoting in the afterword the presentation of Lawrence Pun from Hong Kong on the first panel held at the Iowa City Public Library this September."

An emeritus professor at the National University of Singapore, Thumboo won the National Book Development Council of Singapore Award for poetry, the inaugural S.E.A. Write Award, the Cultural Medallion for Literature in Singapore, and the ASEAN Cultural and Communication Award. In 2006, he was awarded the Meritorious Services Medal as Distinguished Poet and Literary Scholar.

Nazareth is a UI English faculty member and advisor to the IWP. He teaches and/or has written about African, Caribbean, African-American, Goan and other literatures, as well as the UI course "Elvis as Anthology," for which he has received a great deal of media attention.

His first novel was "In a Brown Mantle," and he is also the editor of "Critical Essays on Ngugi wa Thiong'o," published in 2000.

The English Department is a unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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