The University of Iowa (UI) is home to one of the most vibrant literary communities in the world: The Iowa Writer's Workshop, the International Writing Program, and the Non-fiction Writing Program. It is not without good reason that Iowa City, the UI’s locale, is honored as a “UNESCO City of Literature,” a definitive community of writers and readers.
In this unique setting, the UICHR self-consciously engages and promotes human rights thought and action through the arts and literature. It does so for two reasons: first, because human rights, being about things vital to human existence and well-being, afford a mother lode of opportunity for artistic and literary expression—alleviating human suffering; protecting basic decencies; meeting human needs; and otherwise engaging such individual and community interests as civil and political liberty, social justice, economic development, environmental health, matters of peace and security, and cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, and religious diversity; second, because we believe that human rights cannot be truly advanced without the intuitive as well as the cognitive that is in each of us.
The UICHR, a multidisciplinary gathering place for diverse resources and talents, thus invites writers, across cultures, borders, and generations, to engage the human rights issues of our day—through commentary, dramaturgy, memoir, poetry, or story—and to submit their creations to us, previously published or otherwise, for posting and celebration on this page. We begin with the following poems (reproduced here with permission):
A Woman Calls
A poem by Victor Camillo
Published in a collection of human rights poetry:
I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights. Sandpoint, Idaho: Lost Horse Press, Melissa Kwasny & M.L. Smoker eds., 2009. Page 19.
The Dead Have Nothing to Lose by Telling the Truth
A poem by Marvin Bell
Written for the University of Iowa's "Global Focus: Human Rights " event in 1998. The event commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948.