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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

Humanities Guåhan presents 'I Come From Here'

Humanities Guåhan will present “I Come From Here: Portraying Place, Community and History,” an upcoming series of creative writing and journalism workshops and readings featuring writer Inara Verzemnieks.

The series will take place from Sept. 10 to 15, and is funded by a grant awarded to Humanities Guåhan from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in partnership with the Pulitzer Prizes and the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

Verzemnieks is author of the acclaimed memoir, "Among the Living and the Dead: A Tale of Exile and Homecoming on the War Roads of Europe" and a 2007 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Feature Writing for her work in the Oregonian.

A staff writer for the Oregonian for 13 years, Verzemnieks has also written for the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, Tin House, the Iowa Review, and Creative Nonfiction. She now teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Iowa, consistently ranked as the top school for creative writing in the nation. Winner of the Rona Jaffe Award and a Pushcart Prize, Verzemnieks was recently awarded the Anšlavs Eglitis and Veronika Janelsina Literary Prize, one of the largest awards in Latvian literature.

While visiting Guam, Verzemnieks will teach two public high school creative nonfiction workshops, two college-level feature writing workshops, and two master classes for journalists and other writers. She will also read from her work at a free public presentation on Sept.11 at the University of Guam and at an “Evening with the Author” event on Sept.13 at the Hyatt Regency Guam.

“Humanities Guåhan is honored to receive such a prestigious award from the Mellon Foundation and to have the opportunity to bring a writer and teacher of Inara Verzemnieks’ caliber to Guam,” said Kimberlee Kihleng, executive director for Humanities Guåhan.

The intent of “I Come From Here: Portraying Place, Community and History” is to inspire members of Guam’s community to think deeply and creatively about their own complex connections to Guam, Micronesia and the larger Asia-Pacific region, Kihleng said.

Writing workshop participants will focus on place-based writing about the island or region while learning elements of the craft of literary nonfiction and journalistic feature writing, engaging in immersive and generative writing exercises, and/or reviewing written work and receiving feedback in a workshop setting.

Verzemnieks has been celebrated for her own placed-based writing, most recently for her memoir, which is centered on her family’s home in Latvia and brutal separation of her grandparents’ family from that home in the midst of war. The Washington Post called the book “exquisitely written,”; the New York Times Book Review praised the book as “thoughtful and eloquent,”; Booklist said of Verzemnieks’ work, “Spellbinding and poetic, this is a moving tribute to the enduring promise of home.”


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