By Jodie Klein
Innovation is not a new concept for The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP). In operation since 1969, this project has turned into the nation’s premier center for creative writing and has contributed toward transforming the UI into a writing university.
IWP is in the practice of gathering innovation in writing from abroad and planting it in the Heartland, nurturing the talent and giving it time to grow into something new before sending it off again. Since 1967, IWP has gathered over a thousand writers from over 120 countries, giving these writers the opportunity and time to do what they do best.
Most recently, IWP has begun a new innovative tradition in the “New Symposium,” which met for three years on the island of Paros (Greece). IWP hosted a comparable gathering of writers and artists in Morocco from April 28, 2009 – May 5, 2009, in the form of a Souk Ukaz —a regional tradition of intellectual and artistic exchange.
The participants shared readings and draftings of essays before arriving, and then spent five days in Morocco, discussing the individual presentations, visiting the surrounding cityscapes, meeting with local writers and artists, and staging public readings.
The topic, “Writing In and Beyond the City,” is based on a new statistic: for the first time in recorded history, at the turn of the millennium, more people lived in cities than in rural areas, closer to nature.
Please view this remarkable video produced as a result of this conference: