It was during his time at the University of Iowa that Shimmer started writing one of his best known works, Harvest of Thorns.
The two met at a reception held for the writers at the residence of the Deputy Ambassdor of the United States of America on July 31, 2012.
The five writers are part of the University of Iowa's prestigious writing programme. The other writers are Ellen Doré Watson, Camille T. Dungy, Thomas Mallon and Christopher Merrill.
It's been a whirlwind week for them. They have done a workshop with writers at the Book Café, have been to Masvingo where they did the same with young writers there and have had numerous meetings with other writers and poets. Tonight, August 3, there will be a gala event for them, hosted by the United States Public Affairs Section in the Mayor's Parlour at Town House in Harare.
Below are the reasons we are wowed to have met them...
Ellen Doré Watson is the author of five collections of poetry, including We Live in Bodies and Ladder Music, winner of the Alice James New England/New York award, This Sharpening and, most recently, Dogged Hearts. Among her honours are a Rona Jaffe Writers Award, fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and to Yaddo, and a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship. Watson has translated a dozen books from the Brazilian Portuguese, including The Alphabet in the Park: Selected Poems of Adélia Prado and has also co-translated contemporary Arabic language poetry with Saadi Simawe (Iraqi Poetry Today). She serves as Director of the Poetry Center at Smith College, poetry and translation editor of The Massachusetts Review, and is a core faculty member at Drew University’s Low-Residency MFA Program in Poetry and Translation.
Camille T. Dungy is author of poetry collections Smith Blue, Suck on the Marrow, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. She is editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, co-editor of From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great, and assistant editor of Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade. Her honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Cave Canem, and Bread Loaf, the 2011 American Book Award, a silver medal in the 2011 California Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, and NAACP Image Award nominations. Dungy is currently a professor in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University. Her poems and essays have been published widely in anthologies and print and online journals.
Thomas Mallon’s eight books of fiction include Henry and Clara, Bandbox, Fellow Travelers and the just-published Watergate: A Novel. He has also written nonfiction about plagiarism (Stolen Words), diaries (A Book of One’s Own), letters (Yours Ever) and the Kennedy assassination (Mrs. Paine’s Garage), as well as two books of essays (Rockets and Rodeos and In Fact). His work appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Book Review and other publications. He received a PhD in English and American Literature from Harvard University, and taught for a number of years at Vassar College. His honors include Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships, the National Book Critics Circle award for reviewing, and the Vursell prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, for distinguished prose style. He has been literary editor of Gentlemen’s Quarterly and deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He currently directs the Creative Writing program at The George Washington University in Washington, D. C.
Christopher Merrill’s books include four collections of poetry, Brilliant Water, Workbook, Fevers & Tides, and Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Ales Debeljak’s Anxious Moments and The City and the Child; several edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe as Icon; and five books of nonfiction, The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee, and Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and now directs the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa.
Bob Shacochis is a novelist, essayist, journalist and educator. His work has received a National Book Award for First Fiction, the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. A former Peace Corps volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean, he earned a MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1982; currently he teaches in the graduate writing programs at Bennington College and Florida State University. The author of two short story collections (Easy In The Islands, The Next New World), a novel (Swimming in the Volcano), and a collection of essays about food and love (Domesticity), his most recent book, The Immaculate Invasion, about the 1994 military intervention in Haiti, was a finalist for the New Yorker Magazine Literary Awards for best nonfiction book of the year, and named a Notable Book of 1999 by the New York Times. A contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine and Outside Magazine, he has written op-ed commentaries on the US military, Haiti, and Florida politics for the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. A travel memoir of his journeys in the Himalaya, Kingdoms in the Air, will be published in 2012; a novel-in-progress, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, will appear in 2013.
IWP Staff Coordinator
Kelly Bedeian has a degree in Linguistics from the University of Iowa. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine, then worked as a Program Manager at CONNECT/US-RUSSIA, a Minnesota-based non-profit. Subsequently she joined the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), as a Program Manager for the Community Connections program, as Country Manager for the IREX/Armenia office, and the Regional Manager for the Internet Access and Training Program in the Caucasus Region. At IWP Kelly is a Program Officer, coordinating various overseas programs, departmental HR and financial operations.