Ford Takes Poetry to Morocco, Tunisia

  • Katie Ford, assistant professor of English  

The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa has invited Katie Ford, assistant professor of English, to participate in a reading and lecture tour in Tunisia and Morocco.

Funded by the United States Department of State, the tour is called the Souk Ukaz: A Marketplace of Ideas, and includes a notable list of writers and poets from around the world. The theme for this year’s tour, “Writing In and Beyond the City,” focuses on cities as a terrain for the arts.

Ford was invited, she said, because her book of poetry, Colosseum, published last year, “is consumed by the concerns of an American city.”

The tour has been created in an effort to build cultural ties based on the arts. Past tours have visited Syria, Cyprus, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

“If citizens of one country fear the citizens of another, perhaps reading the poems or listening to the songs or holding the hand-crafted goods made by those foreigners can bring understanding, sympathy and a human link between those who are otherwise so distant,” Ford said. “The arts can bridge the distance, I think, that so often allows us to fathom destroying each other’s countries, lands, fields and lives. There’s a reason bombs are dropped from great distance.”

The tour participants will visit cultural leaders in Morocco and Tunisia and will attend public readings.

Joining Ford on the tour are Polish activist and poet Krzysztof Czyzewski; Argentinian novelist Carlos Gamerro; author Michal Hvorecky from Slovakia; Lebanese writer Rosanne Saad Khalaf, who is also an assistant professor of English at the American University of Beirut; Cypriot poet Gurgenc Korkmazel; Bosnian playwright Haris Pasovic; American poet Barbara Ras; Mexican author and poet Alberto Ruy-Sanchez; Moroccan essayist [Faouzi Skali], who founded the Fes Festival of Sufi Culture and forum and co-founded the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music; Tunisian-American novelist Mustapha Tlili, who founded the Centers for Dialogues at New York University; Greek poet Anastassis Vistonitis; American literary critic and writer Eliot Weinberger; and Japanese writer Kyoko Yoshida.

In November 2008, Ford received the prestigious Lannan Fellowship.

To learn more about Ford, read an interview she did recently with the Franklin & Marshall Magazine.

She also was recently interviewed by NPR’s program Speaking of Faith to give the poet’s perspective on the recession.

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