Ithaca City of Asylum

Irakli Kakabadze Receives 2009 Oxfam Novib/PEN Award

On November 18, ICOA writer in residence Irakli Kakabadze received the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award, which is awarded annually to writers who have been forced to flee their home countries. Also receiving awards were Maziar Bahari (Iran), Daniel Coronell (Colombia), Chi Dang (Vietnam), and Sonali Samarasinghe (Sri Lanka).

Yi Ping Publishes Poem in Sampsonia Way

The premier issue of Sampsonia Way, called “Tiananmen Revisited,” published by Pittsburgh City of Asylum, includes a new poem by Yi Ping, ICOA’s first resident writer. To read the bilingual text, translated by Michelle Yeh, click here.

ICOA at the Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair

ICOA has been selected to participate in this year’s Alternative Gift Fair, an annual event that offers Ithacans a wide array of holiday presents in the form of charitable donations. The Alternative Gift Fair showcases over 55 organizations, with gifts beginning at $5. Each gift you buy comes with a free greeting card and with an insert about the organization being supported.

The Fair will be held from 11 am to 7 pm, Saturday, December 5, in two adjacent locations: the First Presbyterian Church at 315 North Cayuga Street, and the First Baptist Church at 309 North Cayuga Street.

Gifts available in support of ICOA are as follows:

  • $5 will provide writing supplies for a new story, novel, play, or poem by a writer-in-exile.
  • $20 will provide a gift of uninterrupted writing time in the form of childcare for an ICOA writer-in-exile.
  • $35 will provide a day of safe housing for an exiled writer and his/her family in Ithaca.
  • $100 will provide a set of 5 chapbooks by ICOA’s four writers-in-exile to high school libraries in the Ithaca, Lansing, Trumansburg, and Aurora areas.
  • $X (unrestricted) will support airfare from Europe to Ithaca for a writer-in-exile.

If you’re unable to join us at the Fair, please be aware that after December 5th, gifts can be purchased online at http://www.ithacaaltgiftfair.org. A downloadable gift card insert will accompany your online purchase.

All gift donations go directly to participating organizations. Sponsorship of the Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair comes from Center for Transformative Action and TCAction, with financial support from Alternatives Federal Credit Union.

We look forward to sharing the holidays with you!

Irakli Kakabadze to Perform September 26th, 2009 at “Voices of Freedom”

“Voices of Freedom” is the annual highlight of community events planned by Ithaca City of Asylum.

This year’s program features ICOA resident Irakli Kakabadze. The following press release is available for download.

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Russia’s attack on the Republic of Georgia, the tiny Eastern European country to its east, grabbed headlines this August of 2008. But Georgia’s biggest enemy is the idea that war is the solution to the territorial conflict—or any conflict—says Irakli Kakabadze, a Georgian writer, poet, and playwright who fled his native country in 2007, when his life was threatened as the result of his writing and activism. “Peace is a dangerous idea to some people,” he observes. Kakabadze will give a free public reading of his work at this year’s Voices of Freedom event, scheduled for 3:00 p.m., Saturday, September 26th, at the Unitarian Church of Ithaca.

Every year, Voices of Freedom celebrates Banned Books Week. The event is sponsored by Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA), a nonprofit organization that supports writers whose lives have been threatened and whose works have been suppressed. The group’s efforts are essential as long as “there are places in this world where, if you honestly put pen to paper, someone will put a gun to your head,” says novelist and former Cornell professor of creative writing Lamar Herrin, an ICOA board member.

In addition to Kakabadze’s reading, this year’s program writer Ernesto Quinonez will facilitate a discussion with Kakabadze focusing on “the artist as activist.” Kakabadze will discuss the importance of art, and writing, as a tool for community and peace building. Read More

Documentary Film about ICOA Resident Irakli Kakabadze

“Peace is a dangerous idea to some people,” says Irakli Kakabadze, a writer, poet and playwright from the Republic of Georgia who fled his native country in late 2006 with his pregnant wife when his life was threatened because of his writing, antiwar and human rights activism.

Kakabadze and his wife, Anna Dolidze, are the subject of a new documentary, “At the Top of My Voice,” by Larry Kamerman and A.V. Sudhir that had its regional premier at Ithaca’s Fall Creek Pictures April 5 as part of the 2009 Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF). Kamerman has worked with such film luminaries as Martin Scorsese and Steven Soderbergh.  Another screening of this film is planned in the early fall 2009 by Cornell University Cinema.

You can view clips of the movie at the film’s website.