March 19, 2019 and March 20, 2019

Your Language My Ear is a translation symposium that brings together Russian and American poets, along with American scholars, translators and students of Russian poetry, for intensive translation of contemporary poetry from Russian to English and vice versa at the University of Pennsylvania. The third YLME symposium is scheduled for March 13-March 20 and will include events at Princeton University, our partner institution. Our guests for this iteration of the symposium include: Polina Barskova, Dmitry Kuzmin, Elena Mikhailik, Galina Rymbu, and Leonid Schwab. For more information, visit the project website.

Watch a video recording of the readings via our YouTube channel

Watch a video recording of the discussion via our YouTube channel

Nasser Hussain

January 23, 2019

Nasser Hussain is a Lecturer in Literature and Creative Writing at Leeds Beckett University. He published his first full collection of poetry, boldface, with Burning Eye Press in 2014. His work has appeared in a number of poetry journals and anthologies, most recently in Wretched Strangers (BoilerHouse press, 2018), and Concrete and Constraint (Penteract Press, 2018). His current poetic interest in is mass transit, and his latest book, SKY WRI TEI NGS (Coach House Press 2018) is a book of poems written entirely from IATA airport codes. Tweet him @nassershussain

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Eugene Ostashevsky

November 14, 2018

Eugene Ostashevsky works on writing that wrongs the borders of language, culture, and nation. His latest book of poetry, The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, published by NYRB Poets, discusses migration, translation, and second-language writing as wrought by pirates and parrots. For the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, The Pirate "transforms the absurdity of Russian Futurism into a postmodern poetics of immigration, as it mixes puns, jokes, specialist jargon, early modern exploration and colonial narratives, Socratic dialogue, Wittgensteinian language games, and the allegorical fable." A German reviewer writes that "when the pirate and the parrot are stranded on a deserted island, they deconstruct the strategies of linguistic exclusion hiding in the terms native, refugee, and mother tongue. This book is contemporary, border-crossing, and deeply humane." For an American reader, "Ostashevsky’s original American poetry seems ready-made to discuss the multiple mutating filters of translation." Ostashevsky is also the author of The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza, a book of poetry about the irrationality of rationality, and a translator specializing in zaum’, or the meaningless language of the Russian avant-garde.

Watch a video recording of the reading via our YouTube channel

Watch a video recording of the reading and conversation via our YouTube channel

Eduardo Espina

APRIL10, 2018

EDUARDO ESPINA is one of the most original and influential contemporary Latin American poets. He was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. Doctoral theses have been written about his poetic works, and extensive academic articles have been published in prestigious academic journals such as Revista Iberoamericana and Revista de Estudios Hispánicos. Espina’s poetry is studied in universities in the United States, Europe, and Latin America, and his poems have been translated partially to English, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Albanian, Dutch, Chinese and Croatian. He is included in more than 40 anthologies of international poetry. In 1980 he was the first Uruguayan writer invited to participate in the prestigious International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He has lived in the United States since then. A writer with cult status, Espina has published a dozen books of essays and poetry and was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives and works in College Station, Texas.

Watch a video recording of the close listening via our YouTube channel

Watch a video recording of the reading via our YouTube channel


October 13, 2015

Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the author of American Dervish, published in over twenty languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto's Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His stage play Disgraced played at New York's LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in 2012, and won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His latest play, The Who & The What, premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in February 2014, and will be opening in New York at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in June 2014. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has been the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center Theater and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities with degrees in Theater and Film Directing.


February 6, 2015

Hiromi Itō is one of the most prominent women writers of contemporary Japan, with more than a dozen collections of poetry, several works of prose, numerous books of essays, and several major literary prizes to her name . She divides her time between the towns of Encinitas, California and Kumamoto in southern Japan. After her sensational debut in the late 1970s, she emerged as the foremost voice of the wave of "women's poetry" that swept Japan in the 1980s. She has won many important Japanese literary prizes, including the Takami Jun Prize, the Hagiwara Sakutaro Prize, and the Izumi Shikibu Prize.

Lucas de Lima is the author of multiple chapbooks and the full-length Wet Land (Action Books), named one of the best poetry books of 2014 by Dennis Cooper, Entropy, Coldfront, The Volta, and Philadelphia Review of Books. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Evening Will Come, boundary2, and The &NOW Awards 3: The Best Innovative Writing. As a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Penn, he works on indigenous cosmopolitics and Latin American literature.

Jeffrey Angles is an associate professor of Japanese and translation at Western Michigan University. He is the author of Writing the Love of Boys and the award-winning translator of several of Japan’s most important modern Japanese authors and poets. He believes strongly in the role of translators as social activists, and much of his career has focused on the translation into English of socially engaged, feminist, or queer writers. He is also a poet, and his first book of poetry written in Japanese, entitled Hizuke henkō sen (International Date Line), is forthcoming in 2015 from Shichōsha.

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February 27, 2015

This reading is the culmination of an intensive collaboration between Russian and American poets. Featured writers include:

  • Keti Chukhrov (Moscow)
  • Alexander Skidan (St. Petersburg)
  • Alexandra Petrova (Rome)
  • Shamshad Abdullaev (Tashkent)
  • Polina Barskova (USA)
  • Charles Bernstein (USA)
  • Bob Perelman (USA)
  • Julia Bloch (USA)
  • Julia Dasbach (USA)

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February 26, 2015

Tom McCarthy is a writer and artist whose work has been translated into more than twenty languages. His first novel, Remainder, which deals with questions of trauma and repetition, won the 2008 Believer Book Award and is currently being adapted for cinema. His third, C, which explores the relationship between melancholia and technological media, was a finalist in the 2010 Booker Prize. McCarthy is also author of the 2006 non-fiction book Tintin and the Secret of Literature, an exploration of the themes and patterns of Hergé’s comic books; of the novel Men in Space, set in a Central Europe rapidly disintegrating after the collapse of communism; and of numerous essays that have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The London Review of Books, Harper’s and Artforum. In addition, he is founder and General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network of writers, philosophers and artists whose work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Palais de Tokyo Paris, Tate Britain and Moderna Museet Stockholm. In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction by Yale University. His latest novel, Satin Island, is published in February 2015.

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September 11, 2014

Where can you find new African writing today? On a Beyoncé single, in a feature length film crammed with a-list actors, on the Man-Booker and PEN prize lists, inner publishers' series like the African Poetry Book Fund, on TED-Talks, and right here at Penn. Join us for African Voices, a new series celebrating vibrant writing by women of the African continent. This Fall we welcome poets Gabeba Baderoon (a pioneering voice of the Muslim experience in South Africa) and TJ Dema (who established the spoken-word scene in Botswana). And in the Spring we welcome NoViolet Bulawayo (author of the award-winning novel We Need New Names, set in Zimbabwe and Michigan). This series is supported by the Provost's Interdisciplinary Arts and Culture Fund, Kelly Writers House Writers Across Borders, and Africana Studies and curated by Tsitsi Jaji. All readings are free, open to the public, and followed by discussion with the authors.

TJ Dema is poet and arts administrator living in Gaborone, Botswana. She is an honorary fellow of the University of Iowas International Writing Program (2012), former chairperson of the Writers Association of Botswana and runs Sauti A∧PM, a Botswana-based arts administration organization. For her work within Botswanas literary community she was named an Arise Magazine African Changemaker (2013) and a St. Louis Top 40 under 40 Catalyst (2014). Her chapbook Mandible (2014) was published by Slapering Hol Press for the African Poetry Book Fund as part of the Seven New Generation African Poets box set.

Gabeba Baderoon is a South African poet and the author of three poetry collections, The Dream in the Next Body (2005), The Museum of Ordinary Life (2005) and A Hundred Silences (2006). The Silence Before Speaking, a selected volume of her poetry translated into Swedish, was published in 2008. The Dream in the Next Body was named a Notable Book of 2005 by the Sunday Independent and was a Sunday Times Recommended Book. A hundred silences was a finalist for the 2007 University of Johannesburg Prize and the 2007 Olive Schreiner Award. In 2005, Baderoon received the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Poetry and held the Guest Writer Fellowship at the Nordic Africa Institute in Sweden In 2008, she held a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship in Italy and a Writer's Residency at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. She teaches Women's Studies and African Studies at Pennsylvania State University, and is a member of the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund. See for further details about her work.

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Iranian-American Novelists

March 6, 2014

Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet's novel, Martyrdom Street, is set during the revolutionary year of 1979. It details the lives of three women and their intertwining stories of love, loss, betrayal and hope.

Parochista Khakpour is the author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects. Her novel reveals a tale of immigrant identity, assimilation, and the universal struggle of sons to define themselves in the shadow of their fathers.

Marjan Kamali recently released her debut novel, Together Tea. The work follows an Iranian-American mother, Darya, and her daughter, Mina. Their story is one of family, love and finding the place you truly belong.

Persis Karim is the editor, along with Anita Amirrezvani, of Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers. The collection combines a multitude of works ranging from poetry to non-fiction and represents a diverse group of voices.

Anita Amirrezvani's work, The Blood of Flowers, is the mesmerizing historical novel of an ill-fated young woman whose gift as a rug designer transforms her life.

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A performance by Jaap Blonk

October 14, 2013

Jaap Blonk (born 1953 in Woerden, Holland) is a self-taught composer, performer and poet. He went to university for mathematics and musicology but did not finish those studies. In the late 1970s he took up saxophone and started to compose music. A few years later he discovered his potential as a vocal performer, at first in reciting poetry and later on in improvisations and his own compositions. For almost two decades the voice was his main means for the discovery and development of new sounds. From around the year 2000 on Blonk started work with electronics, at first using samples of his own voice, then extending the field to include pure sound synthesis as well. He took a year off of performing in 2006. As a result, his renewed interest in mathematics made him start a research of the possibilities of algorithmic composition for the creation of music, visual animation and poetry. As a vocalist, Jaap Blonk is unique for his powerful stage presence and almost childlike freedom in improvisation, combined with a keen grasp of structure. He has performed around the world, on all continents. With the use of live electronics the scope and range of his concerts has acquired a considerable extension. Besides working as a soloist, he collaborated with many musicians and ensembles in the field of contemporary and improvised music, like Maja Ratkje, Mats Gustafsson, Joan La Barbara, The Ex, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and the Ebony Band. He premiered several compositions by the German composer Carola Bauckholt, including a piece for voice and orchestra. A solo voice piece was commissioned by the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2002. On several occasions he collaborated with visual computer artist Golan Levin.

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October 7, 2013

Zeyar Lynn, a poet and translator from Burma/Myanmar, is the author of seven poetry collections, including Distinguishing Features (2006), Real/Life: Prose Poems (2009), and Kilimanjaro (2010). He has translated John Ashbery, Charles Bernstein, Donald Justice, Sylvia Plath, Wisława Szymborska and Tomas Tranströmer, as well as many Chinese, Japanese, Australian, East European and Russian poets. Since 2005 he has organized and hosted the annual UNESCO World Poetry Day event in Yangon. He is also one of the editors of the quarterly Poetry World. He teaches English at a specialized language school. And he is an adviser and contributor to the new anthology of Burmese poetry, Bones Will Crow.

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Alessandro de Francesco and translator Belle Cushing

September 12, 2013

Alessandro De Francesco currently lives in London after a long stay in France. Internationally regarded as one of the most relevant poets and language artists of the new generation, Alessandro is currently recipient of the writers' grant of the French National Book Center and is the youngest Faculty member of the European Graduate School, where he was invited twice as artist-in-residence and visiting professor of poetry. He published the following books of poetry and conceptual writing: Lo spostamento degli oggetti (2008), from 1000m (2009), Redéfinition (2010), Ridefinizione (2011), Augmented Writing (2013, upcoming). His poetry is regularly translated and published in journals worldwide. Recent publications in English can be found in the following magazines: Lana Turner Journal, OR, Gradiva, Continent (all translations by Belle Cushing). As an artist, Alessandro's work is entirely based on the innovatory notions of augmented writing and reading environment, involving both visual and sonic text processing. A committed teacher, Alessandro co-founded and directed for two years the Poetry Writing Atelier within the Literature and Languages Department at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and collaborated a.o. with Jean-Marie Gleize at the Centre d'études poétiques in Lyon.

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I LIVE I SEE: Vsevolov Nekrasov in translation

A reading by Ainsley Morse and Bela Shayevich

September 11, 2013

Vsevolod Nekrasov (1934–2009) was a member of the “non-conformist” Lianozovo group, a founder of Moscow Conceptualism, and the foremost minimalist to come out of the Soviet literary underground. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, his work appeared only in samizdat and Western publications. With an economy of lyrical means and a wry sense of humor, Nekrasov’s early poems rupture Russian poetic tradition and stultified Soviet language, while his later work tackles the excesses of the new Russian order. Translated by Ainsley Morse and Bela Shayevich, I Live I See (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013) is a testament to Nekrasov’s lifelong conviction that art can not only withstand, but undermine oppression. Visit:

Ainsley Morse has been translating 20th- and 21st-century Russian and (former-) Yugoslav literature since 2006. A longtime student of both literatures, she is currently pursuing a PhD in Slavic literatures at Harvard University. Recent publications include Andrei Sen-Senkov's Anatomical Theater (translated with Peter Golub, Zephyr Press, 2013), as well as her co-translation of Vsevolod Nekrasov (UDP, 2013). Ongoing translation projects include prose works by Georgii Ball and Viktor Ivaniv and polemical essays by the great Yugoslav writer Miroslav Krleža.

Bela Shayevich is a writer, translator, and illustrator living in Chicago. She is the co-translator of I Live I See by Vsevolod Nekrasov (UDP, 2013). Her translations have appeared in It's No Good by Kirill Medvedev (UDP/n+1, 2012) and various periodicals including Little Star, St. Petersburg Review, and Calque. She was the editor of n+1 magazine's translations of the Pussy Riot closing statements.

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Cross Cultural Poetics: Lila Zemborain and Anna Moschovakis

April 16, 2013

Lila Zemborain is an Argentine poet and critic who has lived in New York since 1985. She directs the Creative Writing in Spanish Program at NYU and is the author of several poetry collections: Abrete sésamo debajo del agua (1993), Usted. (1998), Guardianes del secreto (2002) - translated into English as Guardians of the Secret (2009), Malvas orquídeas del mar (2004) - translated into English as Mauve Sea-Orchids (2007) - Rasgado (2006), La couleur de l' eau / El color del agua (2008) translated into French by Sarah T. Reyna, and the chapbooks Ardores (1989), and Pampa (2001). Her work, translated into English by Rosa Alcalá or Mónica de la Torre, has appeared in the art catalogues Alessandro Twombly (Brussels, 2007), Heidi McFall (New York, 2005) and in numerous publications from Latin America, Spain and the US. Zemborain holds a Ph.D. degree from New York University. Also a critic, she is the author of Gabriela Mistral. Una mujer sin rostro (2002). She has been the director and editor of the Rebel Road Series (2000-2007) and, since 2004, she curates the KJCC Poetry Series at New York University. In 2006 she taught in the Summer Writing Program at Naropa University and in 2007 she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship.

Anna Moschovakis's recent books are You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake, winner of the 2011 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and The Jokers, a translation of La violence et la dérision by Egyptian-French novelist Albert Cossery. She has received grants from New York Foundation for the Arts, The Fund for Poetry, and The Edward Albee Foundation, and in 2009 she was granted an apexart outbound fellowship to Ethiopia. A freelance editor and book designer, she teaches in the Writing Program at Pratt Institute and is a member of the writing faculty at Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. She is also a longtime member of Brooklyn-based publishing collective Ugly Duckling Presse, for which she edits several books a year and heads up the Dossier Series of investigative texts.

Cross Cultural Poetics: Isabel Cadenas Cañón and Edward Foster

April 9, 2013

Isabel Cadenas Cañón's book Irse (Vitruvio, 2010) won the III Caja de Guadalajara-Fundación Siglo Futuro Award for young poets. In 2010, she was selected by the Spanish Ministry of Culture to represent Spain at Book Expo America. She is the co-anthologist of El tejedor: New Iberoamerican Poetry in New York (LUPI, 2011). She has translated C.D. Wright's poetry into Spanish (with Valerie Mejer), Circe Maia's into French (with Étienne Dobenesque) and Raúl Zurita's into Basque. Her poems and translations have appeared reviews such as Brooklyn Rail and Mandorla, as well as in the anthology Palabras errantes. She has performed her poetry in places ranging from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe to the recently departed Bowery Poetry Club. Her photographic work has been showcased in galleries in Spain and the United States. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU, where she is currently pursuing her PhD. Most importantly, she holds the title of “Insigne Vaivodesa” from the Long-lived Institute of Higher Pataphysical Studies of Buenos Aires (LIAEPBA). She lives in Brooklyn, of course.

Edward Foster is a widely published critic, essayist, editor, and poet. His poetry has been translated into, and published in, many languages, including single-author volumes in Slovenian, Romanian, and Russian. The poetry editor of MultiCultural Review, Foster is the founding editor of Talisman: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Talisman House, Publishers, and Jensen/Daniels, Publishers. He is a co-editor of Contemporary Turkish Studies. He is also the president of Greenfield Distribution, Inc., a book distribution company located in New Hampshire. A Professor of History and Associate Dean for Administration in the College of Arts and Letters at the Stevens Institute of Technology, he is a former visiting professor at Drew University Graduate Faculty and Beykent University (Istanbul) and was a Fulbright lecturer at Haceteppe University in Ankara, Turkey, and at the University of Istanbul. The co-director of the Russian/American Cultural Exchange Program, he has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards from Columbia University, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the USIA arts program, the New Jersey Historical Commission, Choice, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Fulbright Commision, the Greve Foundation, the Fund for Poetry, the Trubar Foundation, and the Turkish Ministry of Culture.

A Poetry Reading by Maggie O'Sullivan

April 1, 2013

Maggie O'Sullivan is a British poet, performer and visual artist. For over thirty years, her work has appeared extensively in national and international journals and anthologies and she has performed her work, often in collaboration with dancers and musicians, all over the world. O'Sullivan's work is influenced by Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Beuys, Jerome Rothenberg, Bob Cobbing and Basil Bunting. Her books include, most recently, murmur (Veer Books, 2011), ALTO (Veer Books, 2009), WATERFALLS (etruscan books, 2009), and Windows Opening (Belladonna Chapbook #108, Belladonna Books, 2007). In 1996, she edited out of everywhere: An anthology of contemporary linguistically innovative poetry by women in North America and the UK. Body of Work, which brings together for the first time the full texts of O'Sullivan booklets now out of print made during the London-based late 1970's-1980's and includes many Writers Forum publications is out now (Reality Street, 2006). Full online texts of recent work, including all origins are lonely (2003); murmur - tasks of mourning (2004) and courtship of lapwings (2006) are featured on her website,

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A Reading by Reza Negarestani

March 28, 2013

Reza Negarestani is an Iranian philosopher and writer. Negarestani pioneered the genre of ‘theory-fiction’ with his book Cyclonopedia which was published in 2008, he is also contributing to online journals like Collapse and Ctheory. The name Reza Negarstani is usually heard in connection with the term speculative realism. He also coined the term “culinary materialism.”

A Talk by Simon Morris

February 4, 2013

In a 45 minute presentation, entitled ‘eating the book’ Dr. Simon Morris will present four of his experimental bookworks that challenge conventional methods of reading and writing. Morris has been called ‘philosophically irresponsible’, a ‘literary pervert’ and an ‘inspired lunatic’. From 2011-12, he was writer-in-residence at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Morris is one of the leading proponents of conceptual writing: a fusion of art and literature. In 2002 he founded the publishing imprint information as material. He lives in York, England and teaches at the University of Teesside where he is Programme Leader in Fine Art.

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October 11, 2012

Matvei Yankelevich is the author of Alpha Donut (United Artists Books) and Boris by the Sea (Octopus Books), as well as several chapbooks. He is the translator and editor of Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook, 2007). His translations of Russian poetry have appeared in many periodicals including Harpers, New American Writing, Poetry, and The New Yorker, and in several anthologies including OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism (Northwestern) and Night Wraps the Sky: Writings by and about Mayakovsky (FSG). He is one of the founding editors of Ugly Duckling Presse, where he edits the Eastern European Poets Series; and a member of the writing faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.

Eugene Ostashevsky, born in 1968 in Leningrad, is currently an American poet from New York City. His most recent full-length book of poems, The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza, employs characters such as MC Squared, Peepeesaurus, the Begriffon and, of course, DJ Spinoza, to explore the shortcomings of axiomatic systems with the insouciance and energy of Saturday-morning cartoons. Spinoza, as well as his earlier collection, Iterature, came out from Ugly Duckling Presse. As translator, Ostashevsky has edited the first English-language anthology of OBERIU, a Russian avant-garde group from the 1920s and 30s, led by Alexander Vvedensky and Daniil Kharms. His awards include the NEA and a number of other letters. He teaches literature at New York University.

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April 19, 2012

Mirza Waheed was born and brought up in Srinagar, Kashmir. He moved to Delhi when he was eighteen to study English Literature at the University of Delhi and worked as a journalist in the city for four years. He came to London in 2001 to join the BBC's Urdu Service, where he now works as an editor. His critically acclaimed first novel The Collaborator is the story of a young man in the midst of the Kashmiri conflict of the early 1990s, which the Guardian has called "devastating," "haunting," and "gripping in its narrative drama."

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April 5, 2012

Keorapetse Kgositsile is a South African poet of international acclaim. From 1961 to 1975 he lived in exile in the United States as an influential member of the African National Congress. In the US he became a significant member of the African-American poetry community through his identity as an African poet; he is recognized as having bridged an important gap between African poetry and American Black poetry.

Among Kgositsile's influences are Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Charles Dickens, and D.H. Lawrence. His published work includes the poetry collections My Name is Afrika, Heartprints, To the Bitter End, If I Could Sing, and This Way I Salute You. He has received literary awards such as the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Harlem Cultural Council Poetry Award, the Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Poetry Award, the Herman Charles Bosman Prize, a nd others. In 2008 he was awarded the National Order of Ikhamanga: Silver (OIS).

He has been National Poet Laureate of South Africa since December of 2006.

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November 11, 2012

Digital artist Roderick Coover (Temple University), e-poet Nick Montfort (MIT) and e-fiction writer Scott Rettberg (University of Bergen) present an evening of works created through intercontinental collaboration and across media forms. Coover and Montfort will present Currency, a series of 60 second video poems created through writing and image-making constraints and filmed in Puerto Rico, Switzerland, London, Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Montfort and Rettberg will read from Implementation, a novel published on stickers, stuck and photographed around the world; and, Coover and Rettberg will premiere works from the Norwegian Trilogy, a set of video narratives concerning legend, love, plague, volcanic dust and a great flood.

Roderick Coover's works include films and interactive arts such as Unknown Territories (, The Theory of Time Here (Video Data Bank) and Cultures In Webs (Eastgate Systems), as well as print publications such as Switching Codes: Thinking Through Digital Technology In The Humanities And Arts (Chicago). He is Associate Professor at Temple University. His website is at

Nick Montfort develops creative text generators and interactive fiction; he has done dozens of literary and academic collaborations. Montfort co-edited The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1 and The New Media Reader. He wrote Twisty Little Passages, Racing the Beam (with Ian Bogost), Riddle & Bind, and with several others a book, forthcoming from MIT Press, entitled 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10. He is an alumnus of Penn, where he was part of the Kelly Writers House community. He is now associate professor of digital media at MIT and president of the Electronic Literature Organization.

Scott Rettberg is associate professor of digital culture in the department of linguistic, literary, and aesthetic studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Rettberg is the author or coauthor of works of electronic literature including The Unknown, Kind of Blue, and Implementation. Rettberg is the cofounder and served as the first executive director of the Electronic Literature Organization. He is the project leader of the HERA-funded collaborative research project ELMCIP (Developing a network-based creative community: Electronic Literature as a model of creativity and innovation in practice ). Rettberg writes a column on electronic literature for the Norwegian literary magazine Vagant and is working on a book about contemporary electronic literature in the context of the twentieth century avant-garde.

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October 26, 2011

Aharon Appelfeld’s work is recognized worldwide as among the most profound literature revolving around the Holocaust. His Modernist works do not offer a realistic depiction of the events – instead, they evoke the Holocaust metaphorically without relating to it directly. Appelfeld was born in 1932 near Czernowitz, Romania (now in Ukraine). When he was eight years old, his mother was killed by the Nazis, and he and his father were deported to a concentration camp. Appelfeld escaped and spent three years in hiding in the forests before joining the Soviet Army and eventually finding his way to a displaced persons camp in Italy, and then to Palestine in 1946. He is now one of the last living survivors of the Holocaust.

One of the world’s most important and influential writers, Appelfeld has been a candidate for the Nobel Prize. Together with Amos Oz and A. B. Yehoshua, he was one of the literary pillars who created Israeli Hebrew literature in the aftermath of Israel’s War of Independence, and for this was awarded the Israel Prize in 1983. Appelfeld belongs to the pioneering generation of Israeli writers who created a thriving Hebrew literature that gave voice to the Jewish and Israeli experience in the turbulent years of the early Israeli state. He has published twenty-five novels, novellas, and books of essays and short stories in Hebrew, and his fiction has been translated into over twenty-eight languages. Philip Roth’s interviews of Appelfeld in the New York Times were also published in Beyond Despair. Later, Roth made him a character in one of his novels. Appelfeld received the Brenner Prize, the Bialik Prize (1979), the Prix M!dicis Etranger (2004) and the Nelly Sachs Prize (2005). He has been visiting Professor at Boston, Brandeis and Yale Universities and a visiting Scholar at Oxford and Harvard.


October 6, 2011

December 21, 1963: Having served 20 years for a murder he didn't commit, "Moth" exits Central Sofia Prison anticipating his first night of freedom. Instead he steps into a new and alien world—the nightmarish totalitarianism of Communist Bulgaria. In his first hours of freedom he traverses the map of a diabolical city, full of decaying neighborhoods, gloomy streets, and a bizarre parade of characters.

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A novel of grave wit, Zift unfolds in the course of a single, frenetic night, offering a fast-paced, ghoulish, even grotesque—but also enchanting—tour of shadowy, socialist Sofia. To achieve his depiction of totalitarian absurdity, Vladislav Todorov combines the methods of hardboiled American crime fiction and film noir with socialist symbols and communist ideological clichés.


March 31, 2011

Author of five books of poetry (most recently the visual poem suite Silence) and three volumes of conceptual fiction (most recently the short fiction collection How to Write), Derek Beaulieu's work is consistently praised as some of the most radical and challenging contemporary Canadian writing.

His work has appeared in over 150 journals internationally, has been translated into Turkish, Polish, French and Icelandic and has been featured in over 200 small press publications. His conceptual novels Flatland and Local Colour, both explorations of texts without texts, were published in the UK and Finland respectively and are limit cases of prose.

Publisher of the acclaimed smallpresses housepress (1997-2004) and no press (2005-present), and past editor of several small magazines, Beaulieu has spoken and written on poetics internationally. Toro magazine recently wrote "using techniques drawn from graphic design, fine art and experimental writing, [Beaulieu] vigorously tests the restrictions, conventions, and denotations of the letters of the alphabet."

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February 24, 2011

Shahar Bram is a poet, scholar, and translator. He teaches Hebrew ∧ Comparative Literature at the University of Haifa, specializing in theory and American literature. He is the author of The Ambassadors of Death: The Sister Arts, Western Canon and the Silent Lines of a Hebrew Survivor (translated by Batya Stein), A Backward Look: The Long Poem in the Writings of Israel Pincas, Harold Schimmel and Aharon Shabtay (The Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2005), and Charles Olson and Alfred North Whitehead: An Essay on Poetry (translated by Batya Stein, Bucknell University Press, 2004), among other works. His books of poetry include: Walls (Nahar Books, 2008), The Blooming of Memory (Am-Oved, 2005) and City of Love (Carmel Publishers, 1999). His essays, articles and translations have been published in literary journals such as Word ∧ Image, Partial Answers, Connotations, and Salamander.

Jessica Greenbaum was born in Brooklyn where she lives, finally. A graduate of Barnard College and an initiating graduate of the University of Houston's Writing Program, she has worked as a business reporter for Forbes Magazine, a researcher for The Anti-Defamation League's Civil Rights Division, an English Dept adjunct, and as an editor for a magazine-on-tape for people who are visually impaired. She is presently the chief domestic scientist for a family of husband and two teenage girls, and poetry editor of the Massachusetts based annual, upstreet. Her first book, Inventing Difficulty, won the Gerald Cable Prize, and poems from her second manuscript have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Poetry, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, The Torah: A Woman's Commentary, CCAR Journal: A Reform Jewish Quarterly, Nextbook and . . . ZEEK. She is the founder of Foot Traffic Presents, which sells home-made muffins to passersby for charities benefiting girls and women in the third world (mostly), and which raised $1,500 in its first eleven weeks. Last year she was a runner-up to be Brooklyn's Poet Laureate, and that's a good thing because it sounds like it would have been the hardest of all her non-paying jobs to date.

Bob Perelman teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published 19 books of poems, including: IFLIFE (2006, N.Y: Roof); Playing Bodies, in collaboration with painter Francie Shaw (2004, N.Y.: Granary); and Ten to One: Selected Poems (1999, Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press). His critical books are The Marginalization of Poetry: Language Writing and Literary History (1996, Princeton University) and The Trouble with Genius: Reading Pound, Joyce, Stein, and Zukofsky (1994, University of California). His work can be accessed on Penn Sound.

Rivka Fogel is finishing up her last semester at Penn, where she is the Behrman scholar at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. Her work has been published in various journals including Peregrine and The Brighton Post, and has been featured in Institute of Contemporary Art publications and Arts in the City Crawl. She has poetry forthcoming in The Penn Review and in ZEEK, for which she is also a contributing editor. A past features writer for The Jewish Week, Rivka writes on contemporary art for Art Observed, and was the editor-in-chief of The Kedma Journal, Penn's journal on Israel and Jewish culture. She focuses much of her own research on religion in postwar language theory, and was awarded grants from the Penn English Department and the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships to travel to Jerusalem, where she studied language theory in Orthodox Judaism. Her most recent project, LOL_face, is a web index of identity.


January 20 ∧ 21, 2011

North of Invention presents 10 Canadian poets working at the cutting edge of contemporary poetic practice, bringing them first to the Kelly Writers House, then to Poets House in New York City for two days of readings, presentations and discussion in each location. Celebrating the breadth and complexity of poetic experimentation in Canada, North of Invention features emerging and established poets working across multiple traditions, and represents nearly fifty years of experimental writing. North of Invention aims to initiate a new dialogue in North American poetics, addressing the hotly debated areas of "innovation" and "conceptual writing," the history of sound poetry and contemporary performance, multilingualism and translation, and connections to activism.

A reading by Novelist Chimamanda Adichie

November 9, 2010

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was also short-listed for the Orange Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and long-listed for the Booker. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) is set before and during the Biafran War. Her collection of short stories, The Thing around Your Neck, was published in 2009. In 2010, Adichie was featured in The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" Fiction Issue. Her story, "Birdsong," appeared in the September 20, 2010, issue. She holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins and a Masters degree in African Studies from Yale. She divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

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A poetry reading by Arkadii Dragomoshchenko

November 3, 2010

Born in Potsdam, Germany, Arkadii Trofimovich Dragomoshchenko spent his youth in the Ukraine of the Soviet Union. While working on his eight book-length collections of poetry and two full-length plays, he also worked as a stoker at the former Leningrad State University Psychological Department. His first book was Nebo Sootvetstvii (Sky of Correspondence), published in 1990. The same year a collection in English, Description, translated by Lyn Hejinian and Elena Balashova was published by Sun & Moon Press in the USA. Xenia followed in 1994, published the same year in English, again by Sun & Moon Press. Other books of poetry, followed, Pod Podozreniem (Under Suspicion), and his selected poetry, Opisanie in 2000. Dragomoshchenko has also published several books of fiction and prose, including Phosphor, Kitajskoe Solnce, translated into English as Chinese Sun (Ugly Duckling Press), and Bezrazlichia (Indifferences), a book of collected prose. Dalkey Archive Press published a selection of Dragomoshchenko's prose as Dust in 2009. Dragomoshchenko's work has been collected into several anthologies and he has lectured in the Department of Philosophy at the St. Petersburg State University and been a visiting Professor at the University of California, San Diego, SUNY Buffalo, and the Smolny Institute of Liberal Arts and Science, an affiliate of Bard College.

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A reading by Swedish poets Jorgen Gassilewski and Anna Hallberg

October 6, 2010

Jorgen Gassilewski (born in 1961) is a Swedish writer, translator, cultural journalist and critic. His literary debut was the collection of poetry Du ("You", 1987). All in all he has published nine books, most recently the novel Goteborgshandelserna ("The Gothenburg Events", 2006). Next February a new book of poetry with the classic title Karleksdikter ("Love Poems") will appear. His poetry has been translated into Mandarin, Russian, French, English, Spanish, Polish, Hindi, Danish, Norwegian and German.

Anna Hallberg (born in 1975) is a Swedish poet and critic. Her first book was the collection of poetry Friktion ("Friction", 2001). Three years later it was followed by pa era platser ("on your marks", 2004), and she has been nominated for The Nordic Council's Literature Prize and other awards. This spring her third volume Mil ("Mile", 2008) was published. Hallberg also works with visual poetry, and has had several exhibitions at Nordic galleries. She writes literary criticism for the largest Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, and regularly publishes essays and articles in literary magazines.

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September 30, 2010

Book description from UC Press: "Cuba's cultural influence throughout the Western Hemisphere, and especially in the United States, has been disproportionally large for so small a country. This landmark volume is the first comprehensive overview of poetry written over the past sixty years. Presented in a beautiful Spanish-English en face edition, The Whole Island makes available the astonishing achievement of a wide range of Cuban poets, including such well-known figures as Nicolás Guillén, José Lezama Lima, and Nancy Morejón, but also poets widely read in Spanish who remain almost unknown to the English-speaking world—among them Fina García Marruz, José Kozer, Raúl Hernández Novás, and Ángel Escobar—and poets born since the Revolution, like Rogelio Saunders, Omar Pérez, Alessandra Molina, and Javier Marimón. The translations, almost all of them new, convey the intensity and beauty of the accompanying Spanish originals. With their work deeply rooted in Cuban culture, many of these poets—both on and off the island—have been at the center of the political and social changes of this tempestuous period. The poems offered here constitute an essential source for understanding the literature and culture of Cuba, its diaspora, and the Caribbean at large, and provide an unparalleled perspective on what it means to be Cuban."

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EDIT presents Adachi Tomomi and Tianna Kennedy

February 18, 2010

Adachi Tomomi (family name is Adachi), born in Kanazawa, Japan in 1972, is a performer, composer, sound poet, installation artist, and occasional theater director. He studied philosophy and aesthetics at Waseda University in Tokyo. His improvised poetics include voice, live electronics and self-made instruments. The "Tomomin"—a handmade electric instrument—is familiar to many musicians. His performances of contemporary music by John Cage, Cornelius Cardew, Christian Wolff, Tom Johnson, Dieter Schnebel, Takahashi Yuji, Yuasa Joji and Fluxus have included world and Japanese premiers. He has performed with numerous musicians including Jaap Blonk, Nicolas Collins, Carl Stone, Sakata Akira, Ichiyanagi Toshi, Tanaka Yumiko, dj sniff, Jerome Noetinger, Furudate Tetsuo, Dickson Dee, Zbigniew Karkowski, Johannes Bergmark, Erhart hirt, Makigami Koichi, Butch Morris, Jon Rose, Otomo Yoshihide in Japan, United States and Europe. His work has been presented variously at IRCAM/Centre Pompidou, Waker Art Center, STEIM, Experimental Intermedia Foundation, Tonic, The National Museum of Art Osaka, Super Deluxe, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, La Mama Theatre Melbourne, Anthology Film Archives, 21th Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa and Vooruit. Currently, he is focusing his activities on solo performance (with voice, sensors, computer, self-made instruments), sound poetry (especially to the unknown great Japanese sound poetry tradition), video installation, and workshop-style ensembles with non-professional voice and instruments.

Tianna Kennedy has a Masters in Performance Studies from New York University. She has taught courses in Radio Culture and Sight, Sound, and Motion at Brooklyn College in the department of Television and Radio. She is interested in public art and geography, and has written for liveartmagazine, Reckless Sleepers, and Glowlab. She was a founding member of the Empty Vessel Project (an Action, Art and Design Center); free103point9, (a transmission arts nonprofit); and the August Sound Coalition (which fostered community organizing throug LPFM). In 2009 she project-managed a successful pirate intervention/performance on the Venice Biennale originating in Slovenia with Swimming Cities of Serenissima ( Finally, she is a cellist and wood-finisher by trade.

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A reading and discussion with Christian Bök

KWH Art Opening: "Umlaut Machine: Selected Visual Works"

November 18, 2009

Christian Bök is the author of Crystallography (1994, Coach House Press), a pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and Eunoia (2001, Coach House Books), a bestselling work of experimental literature and winner of the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. Bok has created artificial languages for two television shows: Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict and Peter Benchley's Amazon. Bok has also earned many accolades for his virtuoso performances of sound poetry (particularly the Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters). His conceptual artworks (which include books built out of Rubik's cubes and Lego bricks) have appeared at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York City as part of the exhibit Poetry Plastique. Bok is currently a Professor of English at the University of Calgary.

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A celebration of poet Thomas Kinsella

November 16, 2009

Thomas Kinsella is one of a number of young Irishmen who began to write in the years following World War II, and he has played a major role in invigorating the world of Irish verse.

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A lunch talk with poet Dmitry Golynko

November 10, 2009

Dimitry Golynko is an accomplished St. Petersburg-based poet and translator and a contributing editor of Moscow Art magazine. He has written articles for numerous Russian- and English-language literature publications and, in 2008, Ugly Duckling Presse released an English translation of his book As it Turned Out.

A reading by Brazilian poet Régis Bonvicino

October 13, 2009

The author of eleven books of poetry, along with several translations and an anthology of contemporary Brazilian poetry he co-edited, Régis Bonvicino has come to be recognized as one of the most talented and innovative of Brazilian writers. Bonvicino's poetry combines an intense, sprung lyricism with an engagement with artifice of poetic construction.

A week-long visit by New Zealand poet and critic Wystan Curnow

April 7-15, 2009

Wystan Curnow visited Penn and the Writers House as a Distinguished International Scholar, a program developed through the Office of the Provost which aims to promote global engagement with leading international scholars and artists. Curnow's visit included a talk on contemporary curatorial practice, recording sessions with Charles Bernstein and Al Filreis, class visits, and a capstone poetry reading on April 14th.

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Tea with Marjane Satrapi

April 2, 2009, 3:00 PM

Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Rasht, Iran. She now lives in Paris, where she is a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers throughout the world, including The New Yorker and The New York Times. She is also the author of several children's books, Embroideries, and the internationally best-selling and award-winning comic book autobiography in two parts, Persepolis and Persepolis 2. Persepolis has been made into an animated feature film, co-written and co-directed by Satrapi, and distributed by Sony Picture Classics in 2007.

A reading by Chinese poet Zhimin Li

February 4, 2009, 6:00 PM

Zhimin Li will read from his work and discuss contemporary trends in Chinese poetry.

Poet and scholar Zhimin Li is currently serving as Associate Professor in The School of Foreign Studies of Guangzhou University, as well as Director of The Chinese and Western Culture Study Institute and Director of The English Training Center of Guangzhou University. He also serves as the Secretary-General of English Poetry Study Association of China, and the Vice Secretary-General of Foreign Literature Study Association of Guangdong Province. Li's books include Appreciations on William Shakespeare's Works (1998, 2001, 2005, 2007), Selective Readings of Twentieth Century English and American Poetry (2003), New Chinese Poetry under the Influence of Western Poetics: The Origins, Development and Sense of Nativeness (2005), and Poetics Reconstruction: The Form and The Image (forthcoming in 2008).

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A reading by South African novelist, poet, and activist Breyten Breytenbach

December 4, 2008, 6:00 PM

A native of South Africa, Breyten Breytenbach is a distinguished painter, activist and writer of more than 30 books of poetry and fiction, as well as essays and dramatic works in both Afrikaans and English.

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A Lunch talk with poet NourbeSe Philip

November 21, 2008, 12:00 PM

Co-sponsored by Temple-Penn poetics, NourbeSe Philip will discuss poetry and poetics in the Writers House Arts Cafe, following her November 20th reading at Temple University.

A reading by Lebanese novelist Hanan al-Shaykh

November 18, 2008, 6:00 PM

Hanan al-Shaykh will be joined in her reading by Penn professor and translator Roger Allen. The program is co-sponsored by the Middle East Center and Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture.

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a performance/reading by Pakistani theater and visual artist Bina Sharif

November 4, 2008, 6:00 PM

Bina Sharif, an immigrant to the U.S. from Pakistan, is an award-winning playwright, actress, poet, performance artist, and visual artist. Since the 1980s, her plays have premiered off-Broadway at venues like Theater for the New City, Performance Space 122, and the WOW Cafe. Some of her plays have been anthologized, including Afghan Woman, Fire, and My Ancestor's House. She has performed her one-woman shows at theatres and universities across the U.S. as well as in Belgium, England, and Pakistan.

The program is co-sponsored by the Critical Writing Program and the Middle East Center.

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Download a recording of this event here.

Watch a streaming QuickTime video of this event here.

A workshop with Pakistani theater and visual artist Bina Sharif.

November 3, 2008, 6:00 PM

Bina Sharif, an immigrant to the U.S. from Pakistan, is an award-winning playwright, actress, poet, performance artist, and visual artist. The program is co-sponsored by the Critical Writing Program and the Middle East Center.

A Celebration of New European Poets

September 23, 2008

New European Poets (Graywolf, 2008) presents the exciting works of poets from across Europe. In compiling this landmark anthology, editors Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer enlisted twenty-four regional editors to select and translate 290 poets, whose writing was first published after 1968. These poets represent every country in Europe, and many of them are published here for the first time in English or in the United States. The resulting anthology collects some of the very best work of a new generation of poets who have come of age since Paul Celan, Anna Akhmatova, Federico Garcia Lorca, Eugenio Montale, and Czeslaw Milosz.

On September 23, 2008, we welcomed translators and editors for a discussion of the anthology -- the joys and challenges of translation, the process of selection, the field of European poetry and poetics. After a delicious reception, we capped off the evening with selected readings by translator-editors Marella Feltrin-Morris, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Adam J. Sorkin, J.C. Todd and moderator Wayne Miller.

Cecilia Vicuña, introduced by Charles Bernstein

April 15, 2008

Cecilia Vicuna and Charles

Cecilia Vicuña, acclaimed Chilean poet, filmmaker and performance artist visited the Writers House for a reading and performance of her work. Opening her reading by tossing flower petal "confetti" (collected moments earlier in the KWH garden), Vicuña lead the rapt audience into a communal space where poetry unfolded in real time through playful improvisations, stories and chants.

A recording of the event is available on PennSound.

Cecilia Vicuna

Vicuña, acclaimed Chilean poet, filmmaker and performance artist weaves time, space and sound to evoke ancient sensory memories. Through playful improvisations, stories and chants she leads her audience into a communal space where poetry unfolds. In her work indigenous word-play interfaces the contemporary realities of ecological disaster. Cecilia Vicuña is the author of sixteen poetry books published in Europe, Latin America and the US. Born and raised in Santiago de Chile, she has been an exile since the Pinochet coup in the early 1970s, and since 1980 has resided in New York, spending several months a year in Latin America. Currently she is co-editing the Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry, forthcoming 2008.

The series

"Writers Without Borders" features writers from around the world whose fiction, drama, poetry, memoir, journalism, and performance art demand an international - and, what's more, a globally minded - readership and response. Through this ongoing series, Penn's provost has challenged the students and faculty who form the literary community at the Kelly Writers House to bring to the intimate cottage at 3805 Locust writers whose voices - whether because of regional unrest, cultural turmoil, aesthetic misunderstanding, the difficulty of travel, problems of translation, etc. - have not been much heard here. The setting, always conducive to workshop-style give-and-take, seems apt for introducing these writers to the broader Penn community and to our internationalist Philadelphia-area neighbors and partners.

Support for Writers Without Borders comes indeed from the Office of the Provost, supplemented by a generous start-up grant from Seth Ginns (C'00).

In the news

Global Initiative: Writers Without Borders delivers international lit to UPenn's doorstep

The Philadelphia City Paper wrote about Cecilia Vicuña and the Writers Without Borders series in their April 9, 2008 issue.