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Visiting Writers Host Workshops Across Kinshasa.

February 22, 2012
Students (and future teachers) at the National Pedagogic University (UPN) participate in a creative writing exercise. (State Dept. Images)

Students (and future teachers) at the National Pedagogic University (UPN) participate in a creative writing exercise. (State Dept. Images)

Sheryl St. Germain, Annie Finch and Laird Hunt (L-R) lead discussions with local artists at Tarmac des Auteurs in Kintambo. (State Dept. Images)

Sheryl St. Germain, Annie Finch and Laird Hunt (L-R) lead discussions with local artists at Tarmac des Auteurs in Kintambo. (State Dept. Images)

From the U.S. Embassy’s auditorium to a small lot in Kintambo to a prestigious teacher’s college, three American writers traveled across Kinshasa to hold creative writing workshops. Sheryl St. Germain, Laird Hunt and Annie Finch brought a collaborative approach to coach students, professional writers and future teachers in the process of writing poetry and prose.

The visit was the result of a collaboration between the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. The writers spent almost three full days in Kinshasa, from March 15 to 18, before continuing to Brazzaville for several more days of activities. During that time, they held workshops at the Congo-American Language Institute, the National Institute of Arts, the National Pedagogic University and at the artists’ group Tarmac des Auteurs.

During the workshops, held in both English and French, the writers shared some of their own work, and led participants through a series of creative writing exercises—composing poems, and reading them aloud for others to comment upon—that are used regularly in American universities. The writers also shared their experiences as writers, and their impressions of the DRC.

The International Writing program not only sends American authors overseas on exchange programs, it invites foreign writers to the U.S. for residencies at the University of Iowa. More information on their organization can be found at http://www.iwp.uiowa.edu/