Hirshhorn Plaza

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Media only:

Gabriel Einsohn (202) 633-2822 einsohng@si.edu

Media Web site:


The Hirshhorn Museum will host an exclusive reading Friday, Nov. 18 at noon in which writers from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program will respond, through essays and poetry, to Jim Hodges’s “don’t be afraid,” 2005, a billboard installed on the Hirshhorn’s façade through spring 2006. The International Writing Program is the oldest and largest international writing residency in the world and brings emerging talent together from across the globe in order to explore contemporary themes in literature. This collaboration underscores the Hirshhorn’s commitment to providing free programming related to its collection of international modern and contemporary art and supporting emerging artists from around the globe. 

Christopher Merrill, director of the program, will host the reading at the Hirshhorn. The five participating writers include Van Cam Hai, Laila Neihoum, Yvonne Owuor Adhiambo, Nihad Sirees and Ameena Hussein. The U.S. Department of State, a major contributor to the program, makes it possible for many scholars to participate in the program. 

Van Cam Hai (fiction and nonfiction writer; b. 1972, Vietnam) made his Vietnamese publishing debut in 1995 with a collection of poems titled (in English) “Man Who Tends the Waves.” A member of the Vietnamese Association of Writers and of the Vietnamese Association of Journalists, Hai works for Viet Nam Television and has received the Gold Prize three times for his work on documentary films. 

Laila Neihoum (journalist, poet, editor and translator; b. 1961, Libya) is a contributor to many publications in Libya, including “Albait,” “Almouatamer,” “Almajal” and “Four Seasons.” Neihoum has produced a collection of poems by young Libyans entitled “Teseneon” (Poets from the 1990s) and a collection of global short stories “Ofoq min lazaward” (Azure horizons). 

Yvonne Owour Adhiambo (fiction writer and playwright; b. 1968, Kenya; r. Tanzania) won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2003 for “Weight of Whispers,” a story told from the perspective of a Rwandan fleeing after the 1994 massacres. She serves as the executive director of the Zanzibar International Film Festival. 

Nihad Sirees (novelist and screenwriter; b. Syria) is a civil engineer who lives in Aleppo, Syria. Of his many television dramas, the most widely acclaimed, “Silk Market,” set in Aleppo during the political turmoil of the 1950s, was shown throughout the Middle East, in Germany and in Australia. His latest series, “Al Khait Al Abiadh” (The First Gleam of Dawn), provides a frank depiction of the country’s government-controlled media. He is at work on a 30-episode series about the early life of the Lebanese-born artist and poet Kahlil Gibran. 

Ameena Hussein (editor, publisher, fiction and non-fiction writer; b. 1964, Sri Lanka), a consultant for several international human rights NGOs, has published two short-story collections. She edits “Nethra,” a journal published by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, which addresses issues of violence, governance and development. 

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian’s museum of modern and contemporary art maintains an active exhibition program and offers an array of free public programs that explore the art of our time. The museum, located at Independence Avenue and Seventh Street S.W., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25), and admission is free.

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