BY HOPE CALLAHAN
The International Writing Program just finished off its forty-seventh year at the University of Iowa. Started in 1967 by Paul Engle and Hualing Nieh Engle to promote the cultivation of an international writing community, the IWP is still going strong. This year’s residents came to Iowa City from Iceland, Iraq, South Africa, Singapore, and various other locales to participate in the ten week program. The writers participated in readings at Prairie Lights Bookstore and the Shambaugh House, as well as film screenings, panel discussions, and translation workshops.
All of these readings are now available through the Writing University audio archives.
Some of the readings are bi-lingual, with the authors first reading their work in English and then following with their pieces in their native language (as is the case with the Natasha Tiniacos and Enrique Serrano reading). Others feature a melting pot of languages and cultures, such as the Kinana Issa and Daren Kimali reading. From Syria and New Zealand respectively, these two writers cover vastly different topics in very different ways. Issa, who opens the reading, talks briefly about the conflict of being a writer and a political activist. Her first essay covers the political climate of her native country (Syria) and her participation in various protests and political movements. Her second essay has a more personal bent but still includes political elements, which she says are an omnipresent component of Syrian life. Darren Kimali, who lives in New Zealand but is originally from Fiji, opens and closes his reading with song. He also includes singing in his spoken word poems, interspersing it periodically in his reading.
The readings vary in length and content. Most readings at Prairie Lights include a graduate student from the Nonfiction Writing Program or the Iowa Writers' Workshop, while readings at the Shambaugh House are only IWP residents. In case you missed any (or all) of the readings, they are all now available here through the University of Iowa’s digital archives. For more information on the International Writing Program, please visit their website for events and resident bios.