In the autumn of 2014 Yankunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann was the first Aboriginal Australian writer to attend the prestigious International Writing Program in the USA. The program is run by the University of Iowa located in Iowa City, and was a 3 month residency spent with 28 other writers from 28 countries from around the world.
The onus of the residency is flexible, although there was much opportunity to listen to and interact with the other writers at various lectures and readings. Social invitations were extended by generous Iowan personalities, and the IWP staff arranged free trips to iconic American sites eg the Effify Mounds ancient burial grounds and national park.
For Ali the main benefit of the residency was the friendships she made with the other writers, sharing conversations of story and the influence of genre. Many of the writers live in war torn countries, and their poetry was captivating.
During the residency Ali travelled to participate in the City of Asylum Jazz Poetry Concert in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, New Orleans and Chicago, gave a lecture at the University of Denver and spent a day in the Rocky Mountains, delivered a 3 hour workshop at the Diagnostic & Correctional Prison south of St Louis in Missouri, toured Washington DC, and read at the Poets House in New York City.
Whilst in America Ali’s award winning verse novel Ruby Moonlight was published in the US by Flood Editions in Chicago. Ali is looking forward to her return to America in 2016, to attend a forum between contemporary Australian poets and activist American poets in the San Francisco area, to be held at the University of California, Berkeley.
Next month Ali will be guest Distance Learning facilitator for the IWP Narrative Witness Indigenous Peoples: Australia-America exchange. Ali will share this role with Cree poet Jennifer Foerster. The IWP is currently recruiting Aboriginal persons who are interested in this exchange using both the mediums of literature and photography.
Please check out the link, and and contact Samantha Nissen firstname.lastname@example.org or Ali Cobby