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Shadreck Chikoti in USA for writing residency programme

CHIKOTI — I am happy to represent Malawi

The country’s renowned writer Shadreck Chikoti is part of this year’s 2019 Fall Residency with the International Writing Programme (IWP) at the University of Iowa with support from the United States Embassy.

Chikoti left the country on August 30 for the 11-week programme.

“It is a heavenly experience to be part of the programme. They have excellent facilities to aide one’s writing,” Chikoti said Tuesday.

The IWP is an internationally known annual forum at the University of Iowa, which brings together emerging literary figures from around the world for an 11-week writer-in-residency programme.

Participants in the IWP Fall Residency spend 11 weeks in Iowa City presenting their work to local audiences, working with students and attending and teaching classes.

The programme enables participants to present their countries’ literatures to audiences and to learn more about America society and culture at the same time.

Chikoti, who has been listed by CNN as one of seven must-read African authors, said the programme had benefited many writers.

“We are 27 in total from all over the world including Japan, Singapore, Morroco, Eritrea, Greece, Mexico, Namibia and South Africa,” Chikoti said.

Some of the writers who are part of the programme include Gbariela Roman from Mexico, Yamkela Tywakadi from South Africa and Martha Mukaiwa from Namibia.

Chikoti said only three Malawians had been part of the programme and they include Professor Steve Chimombo, Edson Mpina and Steve Sharra.

“I am happy to represent Malawi at this programme to share knowledge and also learn from others. Many great writers have passed through this programme,” he said.

Chikoti has won numerous literary awards including the 2013 Peer Gynt Literary Award for his futuristic novel, Azotus the Kingdom.

Last year he was nominated by the Africa39 project as one of the most promising African writers under 40.

Chikoti runs Pan African Publishers and Story Club Arts Café in Lilongwe where artists and art fans of all media gather to discuss and celebrate art.

The writer is also founder of Kenyenyeva Ministry, which feeds and educates vulnerable children.

Through the Story Club, Chikoti is also set to hold the Feminart Arts and Book Festival in November this year.

Chikoti is expected back from the programme on November 20 with the Feminart Festival coming up on November 23 and 24.

The former vice president of Malawi Writers Union is the first writer to attend the residency programme since 1997.

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