In spring 2011, poets & writers Joshua Ferris, Eliza Griswold, Bob Holman, Nathalie Handal & Christopher Merrill traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and UAE as part of a literary tour sponsored by the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. POSTCARDS is a series of short transmedia pieces about their trip including their experiences in Pakistan when Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Special Forces. Selected for the 2012 LANDLOCKED FILM FESTIVAL.

Produced in association with the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. This video and the tour was made possible by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Special thanks to Natasa Durovicova, Christopher Merrill, and Kelly Bedeian. Also special thanks to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, American Embassies in Kabul, Abu Dhabi, and Kathmandu, and the diplomats and local staff who organized the tours. Rattapallax is supported through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Read the interview with filmmaker Ram Devineni on the U.S. State Department’s website: A Literary Connection.


JOSHUA FERRIS, the author of the novel, Then We Came to the End (Little, Brown and Company and finalist for the National Book Award), is the main character who leads us from the stability of Brooklyn to the turbulent countries of SouthEast Asia. He witnesses the political violence in Karachi to the a national shutdown of Kathmandu due to Maoist Rebels to the daily struggles of living in war-torn Kabul. (33 minutes, HD NTSC).


Writer and reporter ELIZA GRISWOLD (The Tenth Parallel, Farrar Straus Giroux) is in Karachi, Pakistan conducting workshops with the rest of the delegation when suddenly Osama bin Laden is killed and the country is thrown into turmoil. She is asked to report on the general feelings and fears of the Pakistani people for the Daily Beast. A great documentary on the insights of reporting in difficult area during turbulent times. Featured in GUERNICA MAGAZINE (9 minutes, HD NTSC).


Spoken-word poet BOB HOLMAN is on a search to record a Newari poet for the endangered languages cento, which will be presented at the United Nations in New York City. Pressed for time, he travels to Kathmandu and experiences the diverse languages and peoples of the mountainous country. In the midst of a national strike that shutdowns Kathmandu, he finds a young poet who reads a poem about her grandfather. Bob returns to New York City and jubilantly presents the cento at the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. (6 minutes, HD NTSC).


Poet NATHALIE HANDAL is living in New York City. As the editor of New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond (W.W. Norton & Co.), she published an Afghanistani woman poet who was later killed, so Nathalie travels to Kabul to meet with other women poets and experience their culture and language. At Kabul University, she teaches a poetry workshop with young girls and creates a beautiful love poem with them, which becomes featured in BOMB magazine and the POETRY FOUNDATION. (8 minutes, HD NTSC).