International Writing Program

Shibasaki Tomoka reads at Shambaugh House, September 10, 2016
I first met Shibasaki Tomoka, the Akutagawa Prize-winning writer and our Japanese participant in the 2016 International Writing Program, in Tokyo a few months before she arrived. When we were deciding where in the metropolis to meet, I casually mentioned that I am a fan of retro Japanese coffee shops, and Tomoka replied that she is, too. Coffee culture has a long and proud history in Japan, and if you know where to look, you seldom have to go far to find coffee shops that play jazz or classical music, or that prepare rare, ancient beans using cloth filters or bubbling mad-scientist siphons or other systems not yet dreamed of (or perhaps long since forgotten) in Seattle or anywhere else in these United States. Like many scholars of Japanese culture, I pride myself on being a flâneur of Tokyo and urban Japan in general, with a detailed mental map of the landscape of its major cities, and in Tomoka, I found a kindred spirit. I thought I would propose a place, but Tomoka replied to my message with the name of an old coffee shop in Ueno that she likes. On the second floor of a building not far from the station, right there adjacent to the old black market on a street I have walked down maybe fifty times, is an elegant old coffee shop aglow with brass and steam. How could I have missed it?

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The African Studies Program invites you to attend their first event of the semester, titled "Writing Lives in Africa: A Conversation with Visiting African Writers ." This event will take place on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 from 12:30-1:20 p.m. in 302 Schaeffer Hall.

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fountain pen
Thirty-five writers from 30 countries now call Iowa City home (temporarily) after being selected to be members of the International Writing Program’s 2016 fall residency.

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From Patrick Reed's "Distant Hammers"
Ben Mauk is a 2012 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop who earned a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Germany. In this article, Mauk reflects upon on the work of fellow UI alum, Patrick Reed, who graduated with a Master in Fine Arts in papermaking and bookbinding from the UI Center for the Book in 2013 and also earned a Fulbright Research/Study Grant to Germany.

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Autumn Eckman looks over the script for Yao Feng's poetry series
The ballerina raises a slender leg, then bounds across the smooth floor. She transforms the lingering notes into movement. The scholar translates a sonnet. “Au revoir” becomes “adiós”; “adiós” becomes “goodbye.” Each interpretation shifts the form while the essence remains. This interpretation will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday as the UI Dance Department performs visual representations of works by International Writing Program residents. The free show will take place in North Hall Space/Place.

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The Japanese program at the University of Iowa will be seeing several improvements thanks to a $350,000 grant from the Japanese Foundation. Sawako Kojima of the Japanese Consulate in Chicago presented the award to UI Associate Provost and Dean Downing Thomas, who accepted the grant on behalf of the UI on Oct. 16.

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Come celebrate with us as Ms. Sawako Kojima, of the Japan Information Center and Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago, presents the Japan Foundation Institutional Project Support Program in Japanese Studies to the University of Iowa.

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Harry Leeds had expected students to be shy about writing poetry in English, the way any student might be nervous about writing and sharing personal work in a second language. When it came to the 20 Kazakh students in his poetry workshop, however, he was wrong: “Some people didn’t want to share with the group,” Leeds says, “but everyone wrote.”

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Nearly 20 female participants in Manama, Bahrain, and Amman, Jordan, took part in a distance-learning course offered this past spring by the UI's International Writing Program. The course focused on issues of artistic identity while fostering the participants’ authorial voices and building a community of women writers through weekly live video sessions.

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With rising interest in Chinese and South Korean studies, many universities across the U.S. fear waning enrollment in Japanese studies. The UI, however, has managed to buck the trend, with Japanese studies enrollment numbers on the rise the past 3 years.

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