Iowa International Writing Program

Meet the African writers for the Iowa International Writing Program 2019.

Batsirai Chigama, Shadreck Chikoti, Soukaina Habiballah, Tade Ipadeola, Amira-Géhanne Khalfallah, Samuel Menghesteab, Martha Mukaiwa, and Yamkela Tywakadi are the African writers to take part in the Iowa International Writing Program 2019.

The University of Iowa International Writing Program prides itself as being the oldest and largest multinational writing residency in the world. Started in 1967, it is designed for established and emerging poets, fiction writers, dramatists, and non-fiction writers. The program, running from September 1 to November 16, will include public readings on Sundays and Fridays, panel presentations at the Iowa City Public Library Fridays, as well as film screenings, field trips, and cultural events typically on weekends.

The writers from Africa taking part in the program this year are;

Batsirai Chigama (poetry, fiction; Zimbabwe) has been a teacher of performance and creative writing workshops for over two decades. Her first poetry collection, Gather the Children, won the 2019 Outstanding First Creative Published Work from the National Arts Merits Awards in Zimbabwe.

Shadreck Chikoti (fiction; Malawi) co-directs Pan African Publishers, and is the founder of The Story Club Malawi. He is also the founder of the Kenyenyeva ministries, which serves vulnerable children, and of the Feminart Arts and Book Festival. Writing in English and Chichewa, he participated in the 2011 Caine Prize Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of nine books of speculative fiction; the novel Azotus the Kingdom won the 2013 Peer Gynt Literary Award.

Soukaina Habiballah (poetry, fiction, screenwriting; Morocco) has four poetry collections and one novel [The Barracks] (2016), with a second novel forthcoming in 2019. Habiballah has received many awards including, in 2015, the Buland Al Haidari Prize for Arabic poetry, and the 2019 Nadine Shames Prize for Arab Screenwriters for her short film [Who Left the Door Open?]. Her poetry has been translated into seven languages (including English).

Tade Ipadeola (poetry, translation, prose; Nigeria) received the 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature for his poetry collection The Sahara Testaments, which has been translated into four languages; in 2009 he won the Delphic Laurel for his poem “Songbird.” A Bellagio Rockefeller Fellow and a juror for the Nigeria Prize for Literature, he also translates poetry into Yoruba.

Amira-Géhanne Khalfallah (fiction, nonfiction, drama; Algeria) is a journalist, novelist, filmmaker, and playwright. Her plays Les draps [Sheets] and Shams et les poissons du désert [Shams and the Desert Fish] have been published; her debut novel Le naufrage de la lune [The Wreck of the Moon] appeared in 2018; her short film Essebat [The Shoe] screened at several international festivals; a feature film is in development.

Samuel Menghesteab (fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry; Eritrea) is the author of the Tigrigna story anthology Seb ziseanet seb, and a regular contributor to Tigrigna-language magazines. He teaches adult and youth theater and literary programs, and writers pop sing lyrics .

Martha Mukaiwa (nonfiction, fiction, journalism; Namibia) is an arts and travel journalist, and activist for black Namibians, women, and the LGBTQIA+ community. She has written for The Namibian, Quartz, Matador Network, and The Africa Report, among other publications. She has also served as film juror for the Namibian Theatre and Film Awards, on panels providing grants to Namibia’s upcoming voices in the arts, and on UNESCO’s #JournalistsToo campaign.

Yamkela Tywakadi (fiction, nonfiction, South Africa) is a novelist, publisher, performer, and the founder of Blank Page Edu, a company that develops mobile apps and board games. Often working in South Africa’s native languages, she has published 15 books; her first, Andingombala Ndingumntu: IsiXhosa novel, is used in isiXhosa classes throughout the country. Ms. Tywakadi is on Mail & Guardian’s list of 200 Young South African Leaders for 2019.

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