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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 13, 2008

International Writing Program, always unique, swims with the current

Each University of Iowa International Writing Program residency community is a unique and unpredictable mix of personalities, talents and temperaments. But as a consequence of the June flood, the 2008 "United Nations of Writing" -- the 42nd aggregation of established and emerging writers from all parts of the globe -- will be even more unpredictable.

As the 32 writers from 29 countries arrive in late August, they will not take up residence together in the Iowa House Hotel in the Iowa Memorial Union. Instead, due to the closure of that flood-damaged facility, they will be scattered throughout the Iowa City community -- in guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, rooming houses and even a former sorority house.

The intimacy of living together has always provided IWP residency groups with the natural environment for casual interchange and building relationships. To help foster that sort of community the IWP is making changes at its Shambaugh House headquarters (left) to provide a more welcoming communal gathering space with wireless Internet.

Transportation to events on and off campus has always been a logistical challenge for the IWP staff and its graduate assistants, but they have never before faced the necessity of organizing schedules for such a dispersed group.

"We have had to become more creative this year," said Christopher Merrill (right), director of the IWP. "And we hope that the special challenges we face will lead to ever greater creative solutions, from our writers and community alike."

Despite the special challenges, the IWP 2008 fall schedule will provide many opportunities for the public to meet and interact with the writers in social events, formal and informal readings, lectures, performances, film screenings and panel discussions.

The residency will also include a variety of special events, including the premiere of a play about IWP co-founder Paul Engle, coinciding with his birth centennial. Once again this year, a group of Russian writers will visit the IWP in the midst of the residency, through the Open World program.

Biographies of the 2008 IWP writers are accessible at

The evolving calendar of events will be posted at and on the IWP site. These calendars will be updated regularly as new events are added.

Serial events throughout September and October will include joint IWP/Iowa Writers' Workshop readings most Sunday afternoons in the Prairie Lights bookstore in downtown Iowa City, panel discussions at noon most Fridays in the Iowa City Public Library, and Friday afternoon readings in the Shambaugh House, at the corner of Clinton and Fairchild streets.

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 than 1,100 writers from more than 120 countries have attended the IWP, including Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073, 319-430-1013 (cell);