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Award-Winning Russian Authors To Visit UNC-Chapel Hill
September 28, 2008

For Immediate Release

Prof. Christopher Putney
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
UNC-Chapel Hill
(919) 962-7548

Cassandra Hartblay, Program Coordinator
CEC ArtsLink
(212) 643-1985 x17

Four acclaimed Russian writers will be the guests of the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department at UNC-Chapel Hill September 17-26 as part of a program to encourage cross-cultural communication through the arts. The writers, representing the diversity of contemporary Russian literature, include Dina Gatina, a poet, prose-writer, and graphic artist, Gennady Kanevskiy, known for his rhythmic spoken word poetry, Ilya Kukulin, a prominent literary critic and poet, and Nikolai Zvyagintsev, author of four books of lyrical poetry.

A highlight of the ten-day residency will be a series of public events, bringing the work of these authors to the local community. There will be three opportunities for the public to meet the writers.

Tuesday, September 23, 5:00pm, Panel discussion: “What It Means to Be a Writer in Today’s Russia”
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Campus: Dey Hall Fourth Floor Toy Lounge
The writers will discuss issues about the contemporary Russian literary scene and answer questions from audience in a round-table format.

Wednesday, September 24, 7:30pm: Poetry Reading
University of North Carolina-Greensboro Campus: Center for Creative Writing in the Arts Faculty Center
OW participants read from their work in Russian, with English translations read in succession.

Thursday, September 25, 7:00pm: Poetry Reading
Market Street Books/Arts & Letters Community Center
610 Market Street, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
OW participants read from their work in Russian, with English translations read in succession.

The writers will visit North Carolina as part of the Open World Cultural Leaders Program supported by The Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts and facilitated by CEC ArtsLink, a New York City-based nonprofit organization.

This will be the first trip to the United States for many of the writers, and an exciting opportunity to connect with colleagues and contemporaries in this country, and to share their viewpoints with an American audience. This is the fourth year that the UNC- Chapel Hill Department of Slavic Languages and Literature will host a group of Open World writers.

Dmitri Bykov, who participated in the program in 2005, recalled, “Three weeks of this program helped me understand America better than living in the country for years would have.”

This sentiment is very much in line with the goals to Open World Program, which seeks to create “citizen diplomats,” and those of CEC ArtsLink, organized around the belief that, “the arts are a society’s most deliberate and complex means of communication, and that artists and arts administrators can help nations overcome long histories of reciprocal distrust, insularity and conflict.”

Following their stay in North Carolina, the writers will travel to Washington, DC, where they will attend the National Book Festival, give a special reading of their work at the National Endowment for the Arts, and give public reading at Bridge Street Books in Georgetown.

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The writers’ visit is part of a professional exchange program sponsored by the Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress. Open World is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress. Open World’s Cultural Leaders Program aims to forge better understanding between the United States and Russia by enabling emerging Russian leaders in the arts to experience America’s cultural and community life, and to work with their American counterparts. Over 13,000 Open World participants have been hosted in all 50 U.S. states since the program's inception in 1999. Support for the cultural program is provided through partnership and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Open World Leadership Center funds the administrative portion of the program.

CEC ArtsLink, through a multi-faceted program of cultural exchange, serves to create and sustain constructive, mutually beneficial relationships in the arts between the United States and Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Working with artists, arts organizations and community-based groups, CEC ArtsLink provides an essential structure for ongoing dialogue, contributing to a culture of openness and trust between nations.

For more information and to arrange interviews with the Russian writers during their stay in North Carolina, please contact Prof. Christopher Putney, Chair, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, UNC-Chapel Hill at (919) 962-7548 or For more background on Open World, please visit To learn more about opportunities for artists and arts organizations administered by CEC Artslink, please visit

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