Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Writers: Travel to China for Free!

Call for Applications—Deadline February 20, 2009

In 2009, the International Writing Program (IWP), in cooperation with the Chinese Writers' Association, is commencing a pilot exchange project, the Life of Discovery (LOD), between writers and artists from the United States and from the minority ethnic communities in the western regions of the People's Republic of China.

Five American and five Chinese writers and artists, all aged 25-40, will be invited to join two senior artists, one from each country, in a series of collaborative, bilingual projects, conducted first in Western China (over the course of sixteen days in mid-May, 2009) and continued and elaborated upon in the US (five to seven days at the end of September, 2009). Knowledge of Chinese is not required for American participants, nor English for Chinese participants.

LOD is sponsored through grant funds provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US State Department. These will cover all relevant expenses for the US participants: round-trip international travel to China and travel within China, domestic travel in the US, lodging, per diem for meals, work materials, visa costs, health insurance, translation and interpreting. For more details on the exchange, the dates and proposed locations, go to

The IWP invites applications from
· Early-career writers of fiction, poetry, drama, screenplays, literary translation, and/or non-fiction, who have atleast one published (or contracted) volume.
· Artists from other disciplines, including time-based media, music, dance, or the visual arts. (See the website for application details on the application process if you are not a writer.)

Applications will be judged on a number of criteria, including creative merit, interest in cross-cultural activity, and the ability to contribute to a diverse and long-term exchange with Chinese counterparts of minority status.

Applications for writers may be hardcopy or electronic and should include:
A. Writing sample (no more than 15 pages; may be a photocopy or scan of published work). Provide a self-addressed mailer and sufficient postage for return of all materials.

B. Resumé

C. Project proposal (300-600 words)

D. Statement confirming ability to travel in remote and rural areas. The resumé should include any experience relevant to LOD (such as international travel or grants, volunteer work, other exchanges, etc.), in addition to artistic credentials and professional accomplishments. The project proposal should describe, in concrete terms, a proposed collaboration between some or all of the participants in the 2009 LOD project.

It should take into consideration all of the following:
--Twelve writers and artists of different genres and disciplines will be present.
--There will be a heavy reliance on interpreting and translation.
--The periods spent face-to-face (10-12 days in China, 5-7 days in the US) will occur four months apart. That interval may also be included in your proposal.

If you have participated in a similar collaborative effort in the past, we recommend including this in your proposal for illustrative purposes. While the IWP has experience in creative collaboration, we welcome new ideas.
Please send applications, by post or email, to
Tammy Petro
International Writing Program
Shambaugh House
430 N. Clinton
Iowa City, IA 52245


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.