The talented minds of our very own writers-in-residence and some of the writers from the University of Iowa’s International Writers Program come together for a one night only collaboration featuring readings and performances, across genres.
About the IWP Writers:
Busisiwe Mahlangu (she/her) Busisiwe Mahlangu is a writer and performer from Mamelodi, Pretoria. Her debut collection, Surviving Loss (2018), was adapted for theater. She was a fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (2022), working on her second manuscript, A Body Makes Fire. She has shared her work all over South Africa and performed on international stages including Lesotho, Mozambique, Sweden, eSwatini, Nigeria and the USA. Mahlangu was awarded the Inaugural SA National Poetry Prize (2020). Her work is longlisted for the Sol Plaatje European Poetry Award and is published in Kalahari Review, Ja magazine, Best ‘New’ African Poets, Atlanta Review, Yesterdays and Imagining Realities, Wild Imperfections and elsewhere. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of South Africa. When she is not writing, she makes beaded jewelry and accessories under the handle Busi Creates. You can read more of her work on busimahlangu.com.
Saba Hamzah سبأ حمزة is a feminist poet-scholar, writer, and educator who navigates the intersection of knowledge production, memory, and social justice, with a decolonization approach. Her main devices are line and light and the moments in between. Saba is a research associate at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and a fellow scholar at Vassar College in New York. Her commitment to educational innovation is reflected in her work with alternative pedagogies and artistic practices, where she seeks to stimulate critical thinking and challenge conventional norms, thereby shaping transformative learning experiences. Saba is a founder of the Yemeni Women Archive, a space for emerging knowledge from women’s experiences and histories in Yemen and the diaspora.
Yashika Graham (she/her) is a poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writer, visual artist, and radio broadcaster from Jamaica. She won the 2019 Mervyn Morris Prize for Poetry from the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she read for a Bachelor’s degree in Literatures in English. An executive member of the Poetry Society of Jamaica, she has been awarded a Centrum Writer’s Residency and has been featured on stages including the Dodge Poetry Festival (USA), Bristol Festival of Literature (UK), the World Festival of Poetry (Venezuela) and the Port Townsend Writers Conference (USA) where she has also delivered craft talks and taught cross-genre workshops. Her poetry, prose and literary criticism have been published internationally and her debut collection Some of Us Can Go Back Home is forthcoming from Blouse & Skirt Books.
Tammy Lai-Ming Ho (she/her) is a poet, scholar, translator, and editor from Hong Kong. She is the author of two volumes of poetry, a story collection, and an academic monograph on Neo-Victorian cannibalism. Her third poetry collection will be published in 2024. As editor-in-chief of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, English editor at Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, and founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed academic journal Hong Kong Studies, she has curated events, given lectures and written widely about Hong Kong’s literature and culture. She translates contemporary Hong Kong and Chinese poetry and her own poems have been translated into many languages. Her participation has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.
Raoul de Jong (Netherlands, 1984) traveled through West Africa for four months at age 19, survived for four months in New York with 50 dollars in his pocket, and walked from Rotterdam to Marseille on behalf of his dog. He directed and presented tv-shows for national Dutch television, Iedereen kan dansen (“Everybody can dance”) and In een boek kan het wel (“It is possible, in a book”). Raoul wrote columns, articles and essays for Dutch newspapers and magazines and he has published six novels. His latest book, Jaguarman (2020), was nominated for the Libris Prize and the European Union Prize for Literature. In 2023, Raoul wrote the Boekenweekessay (“Book Week Essay”), the most prestigious literary honor in the Netherlands. He was the first Black writer in this 89-year-old tradition to be asked to do so, and his essay Boto Banja (2023), became a #1 bestseller. Currently he is working on a movie script about the black Dutch writer and freedom fighter Anton de Kom.
About the COA Writers:
Jorge Olivera Castillo is a Cuban poet, writer, television editor, journalist, and songwriter. He is a well-known dissident, and his work has been banned in Cuba. Jorge has published six books of poetry and two short story collections. His works have been translated into several languages, including Czech, English, Italian, and Polish. He recently finished two books: a book of poetry and his third collection of short stories, based on his experiences as a soldier in the African jungle during the Angolan Civil War. Jorge has been a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum since 2021. He is married to Nancy Alfaya Hernandez, a Cuban human rights and women’s rights activist.
Oleksandr Frazé-Frazénko is a filmmaker, writer, and musician. His oeuvre includes films, music videos, and commercials, a discography of over 50 albums, and a dozen books of poetry. Among this collection are Oleksandr’s volumes Decadence (2017), which contains poems in Ukrainian, and Happy Lovers (2021), which contains poems in English. In addition to his original works, Oleksandr published Ukrainian translations of Jim Morrison’s poetry (the first of their kind) in 2013. He has also translated English poetry of the Restoration Period, including the works of John Rochester. His photographs, paintings, drawings, and sculptures have been featured in private collections across the globe, including exhibitions in Ukraine, Germany, Canada, and the U.S., among others. During the first year of the war in Ukraine, Oleksandr stayed in the country and became involved in a volunteer movement working with foreign journalists as a producer, filmmaker, and writer to spread the truth about the situation and the historical context. He has been in residence as part of City of Asylum’s Fellowship for Ukrainian Writers since 2023 with his wife, Mariya Trush, a gifted Ukrainian singer.
Rania Mamoun is a Sudanese activist and bestselling writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She completed Something Evergreen Called Life, a poetry manuscript written during COVID-19 quarantine, translated into English by Yasmine Seale and published by Action Books in March 2023. Rania has published two novels to great international acclaim, Green Flash and Son of the Sun, and Thirteen Months of Sunrise, a short story collection which was shortlisted for the 2020 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. Rania continues to organize for democracy in Sudan. Her writing has appeared in English, Korean, French, and Spanish translation. She is a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum since 2019.
Volodymyr Rafeyenko is an award-winning Ukrainian writer, poet, translator, literary and film critic from Kyiv, Ukraine. He graduated from Donetsk University with a degree in Russian philology and culture studies, and from 1992 to 2018, he wrote his works in Russian, was mainly published in Russia, and was considered a representative of Russian literature. Following the outbreak of Russian aggression in Ukraine, Volodymyr left Donetsk and moved to a town near Kyiv where he wrote Mondegreen: Songs about Death and Love, his first novel in the Ukrainian language, which was shortlisted for the Taras Shevchenko National Prize—Ukraine’s highest award in arts and culture. Volodymyr learned Ukrainian from scratch, and has dedicated himself to speaking Ukrainian, rather than Russian, his mother-tongue, as an act of resistance and perseverance. Among other recognitions, he is the winner of the Volodymyr Korolenko Prize for the novel Brief Farewell Book (1999) and the Visegrad Eastern Partnership Literary Award for the novel The Length of Days (2017). Volodymyr’s prose is full of phantasmagorical images and storylines, as well as explicit and implicit allusions to well-known texts. He is sometimes called the “magical postmodernist” due to the intertextuality and richness of his prose. He is a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum with his wife, Olesia Rafeyenko, since June 2023.
Olena Boryshpolets is from Odesa, Ukraine. It is said that you can leave Odesa, but Odesa will never leave you. As such, Olena has carried Odesa with her upon her arrival in Pittsburgh, and is ready to share the incredible city with us all. She is a poet, writer, journalist, actress, culture manager, and laureate of the Konstantin Paustovsky Municipal Literary Prize for the collection of poems “Blue Star.” Olena is also a member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine and a co-founder of the public organization Creation Without Borders. After the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine in February 2022, Olena went to Poland and banded together with other Ukrainian women to tell the European audience about the war and its consequences through the Polish-Ukrainian play “Life in the Event of War.” She has been in residence as part of City of Asylum’s Fellowship for Ukrainian Writers since 2023.
Anouar Rahmani is a writer and human rights defender from Algeria. He is the author of four novels in Arabic, including Hallucinations of Jibril and What God is Hiding from Us. Through his creative writing, journalism, and activism, Anouar advocates for individual freedoms, environmental rights, and the rights of minorities, women, and the LGBT+ community. In 2015, he was the first person to demand same-sex marriage in Algeria publicly. Anouar holds a License in Public Law and a Master’s in State and Institutional Law from the University of Morsli Abdallah. During the 2019 Algerian Revolution, he composed a new model for the Algerian constitution. In 2021, he was shortlisted for the Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards and selected by the German Bundestag’s Protection Program “Parliamentarians for Parliamentarians.” Anouar is an Artist Protection Fund Fellow-in-residence at Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Modern Languages and City of Asylum.
About Your Visit:
The in-house restaurant 40 North will be closed, but a cash wine bar will be available.
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