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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 22, 2011

UI 'United Nations of Writers' reconvenes in the City of Literature

Prominent writers from around the globe are once again converging on Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature, for the 2011 residencies of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP) -- the program's 45th community of established and emerging foreign writers.

The community of 37 writers from 32 countries includes a mix of fiction writers, poets, translators, essayists, filmmakers, playwrights, journalists, screenwriters, editors and critics.

The 2011 roster of "the United Nations of Writers" includes the representatives from Argentina, Australia, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Tibet, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The writers from Grenada, Lebanon and Tibet are the first IWP representatives from their countries.

Throughout the three-month residency, the writers will engage the public through a variety of free readings, discussions, film screenings, performances and social events. They will also participate in events throughout the country.

The first UI events are:

--A Shambaugh House reading by Joel Toledo from the Philippines and Milena Oda from Germany at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2.

--A joint IWP/UI MFA reading, featuring Fabienne Kanor from France and Tommi Parko from Finland at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4, in Prairie Lights.

Biographies of the 2011 IWP writers are accessible at Become a Facebook friend of the IWP at!/pages/International-Writing-Program/39135032067.

The evolving calendar of events will be posted on the IWP site -- -- and on the UI Master Calendar, These calendars will be updated regularly as new events are added or information changes. IWP events are also listed at the UI's Writing University website,

In addition, IWP activities are represented in the Shambaugh House blog,

Serial events throughout September and October, and into early November, will include joint IWP/UI MFA readings most Sunday afternoons in Prairie Lights, panel discussions at noon most Fridays in the Iowa City Public Library, Friday afternoon readings with refreshments in the Shambaugh House at the corner of Clinton and Fairchild streets, and a series of Cinematheque film screenings on Wednesday evenings in the Adler Journalism Building.

Founded in 1967, the IWP was the first international writers residency at a university, and it remains unique in world literature.

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 1,200 writers from more than 130 countries have attended the IWP, including Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

The UI is the nation's premiere center for creative writing, and Iowa City is the only U.S. City of Literature in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The practice of giving and attending talks and readings, as well as meeting with well-known and emerging visiting American writers, provides the international writers with broad exposure to currents in American literature. All the activities offered by the program are optional for the participants, and the writers are free to use their time as they wish, to write or to conduct research.

Poet and nonfiction writer Christopher Merrill, director of the IWP, chaired the UI Writing University committee that prepared the UNESCO proposal on behalf of the city. Iowa City was officially designated the third UNESCO City of Literature -- joining Edinburgh, Scotland, and Melbourne, Australia -- late November 2008.

Dublin, Ireland -- home of the UI Irish Writing Program -- became the fourth UNESCO City of Literature, and Reykyavik, Iceland, was recently designated. Visit

In addition to the fall residencies, IWP projects include:
--Life of Discovery, a literary exchange with the People's Republic of China, which will include a visit to the UI by four Chinese writers in October.
--Writers in Motion, a study tour for eight international writers of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and South.
--Between the Lines, a summer program for young writers from Arabic-speaking countries, in cooperation with the Iowa Young Writers' Studio.
--91st Meridian, an online literary journal and a book series in partnership with Autumn Hill Books.
--Distance-learning courses in collaboration with universities in Lebanon, Scotland and New Zealand.
--The IWP recently sent a delegation of four writers and a filmmaker to Nepal, where they interacted with a thousand young Nepali writers through workshops, public performances and lectures.

The U.S. Department of State is a major source of support for the IWP. The residency also includes writers participating on grants from their domestic cultural organizations.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: Exhibitions are searchable at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Subscribe or Unsubscribe," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay,