2016 Summer Writers Festival

Jul 22, 2016 | IAIA News

The Institute of American Indian Arts’ (IAIA) Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing presents the Summer Writers Festival on July 23 through July 30, 2016. Readings by noted authors will take place each night beginning at 6 pm in the Auditorium in the Library and Technology Center (LTC) on the IAIA campus. See the Visit page for directions and a campus map.

MFA Director Jon Davis

MFA Director Jon Davis

Participating in the festival this year are noted authors, Kimberly Blesser (Anishinaabe), Theodore Van Alst, Jr. (Lakota), Sharma Shields, Diane Glancy (Cherokee), Amanda Boyden, and Joseph Boyden (Metis/Ojibwe), as well as MFA faculty writers Lidia Yuknavitch, Pam Houston, Claire Vaye Watkins, Joan Naviyuk Kane (Iñupiaq), Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Derek Palacio, Ramona Ausubel, Melissa Febos, Ismet Prcic, Elissa Washuta (Cowlitz), Sherwin Bitsui (Diné), Santee Frazier (Cherokee), Chip Livingston (Creek), Eden Robinson (Haisla/Heiltsuk), Ken White, Toni Jensen (Métis), and James Thomas Stevens (Akwesasne Mohawk).

MFA Director Jon Davis said, “This Summer, we see the return of Joseph Boyden and Amanda Boyden, who have been on leave to complete various cinematic and literary projects, and, in Joseph’s case, to be appointed to the Order of Canada. Santa Fe’s own Ramona Ausubel will read on opening night from her new novel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, which has been called one of this season’s best books by O Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Huffington Post, Elle.com, The Millions, Good Housekeeping, Chicago Tribune, and Time Magazine, among others. Melissa Febos, Joan Naviyuk Kane, Claire Vaye Watkins, Ken White, Derek Palacio, Chip Livingston, Sherwin Bitsui, Eden Robinson, and Pam Houston all have books just out or coming out in the next year or so. This will be an energized week.”

Schedule of Readings

DayDateReaders
SaturdayJuly 23, 2016Ramona Ausbel, James Thomas Stevens, and Kimberly Blaeser
SundayJuly 24, 2016Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Theodore Van Alst, Jr., and Claire Vaye Watkins
MondayJuly 25, 2016Derek Palacio, Elissa Washuta, and Sharma Shields
TuesdayJuly 26, 2016 Chip Livingston, Ken White, and Toni Jensen
WednesdayJuly 27, 2016Diane Glancy, Santee Frazier, and Pam Houston
ThursdayJuly 28, 2016Ismet Prcic, Sherwin Bitsui, and Eden Robinson
FridayJuly 29, 2016Lidia Yuknavitch and Joseph Boyden

Summer Writers Festival evening readings are free and open to the public. Support for these events is provided by the Lannan Foundation.

Writers Festival Reader Biographies

Writers Festival Reader Biographies

Ramona Ausubel is the author of the novel No One is Here Except All of Us, winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and Finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Her new collection of stories, A Guide to Being Born, was one the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of the year and a San Francisco Chronicle best book of the year. She has a new novel just released, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, and a forthcoming collection of stories,Awayland, both from Riverhead Books.

Sherwin Bitsui is the author of Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press, 2003) and Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). His recent honors include a 2011 Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship and a 2011 Native Arts & Culture Foundation Arts Fellowship. He is also the recipient of a 2010 PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award.

Kimberly Blaeser is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she teaches Creative Writing and Native American Literature. She is the author of three collections of poetry: Apprenticed to JusticeAbsentee Indians and Other Poems, and Trailing You. Blaeser is Anishinaabe, an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, and grew up on the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. She is the editor of Stories Migrating Home: A Collection of Anishinaabe Prose and Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry.

Amanda Boyden is the author of two novels, Pretty Little Dirty and Babylon Rolling, an international bestseller and one of the French weekly Le Point‘s top twenty books of 2010. The St. Louis Post-Dispatchincluded the novel in its Best Books of the Year and said, “[Pretty Little Dirty] hinted at the author’s literary promise. With Babylon Rolling, that promise is fulfilled.”  Amanda has contributed nonfiction to Macleansmagazine, the Globe and Mail, the anthology New Orleans: What Can’t Be Lost, and others.

A Canadian Métis of Irish, Scottish, and Ojibwe heritage, Joseph Boyden has written a collection of stories,Born with a Tooth, three novels, Three Day Road, Through Black Spruce, and The Orenda, and a historical biography, Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. Isabelle Allende chose Three Day Road for The Today Show’s Book Club, and Barnes & Noble selected it for their Discover Great New Writers Program. The novel won The Rogers Writers Trust Prize; McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award; Canadian Authors Association Book of the Year Award; The Libris Book of the Year Award; Amazon First Novel Award; the Festival America Readers’ Award, Vincennes, Paris; and France’s Prix Literaire, Cote D’Azur. Through Black Spruce won Canada’s most prestigious literary prize, the ScotiaBank Giller, as well as the Libris Book of the Year and Author of the Year awards. In 2012, Joseph was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canadian arts and culture.

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the forthcoming essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017). Her essays have won prizes from Prairie SchoonerStory Quarterly, and The Center for Women Writers. She has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony fellow, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Santee Frazier holds a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Syracuse University. He is the recipient of various awards including: a Syracuse University Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, The School for Advanced Research Indigenous Writer in Residence, and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship. His poems have appeared in American PoetNarrative Magazine, Ontario ReviewPloughshares, and other literary journals. His first collection of poetry, Dark Thirty, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2009.

Diane Glancy, an author of Cherokee and German descent, is an award-winning poet, playwright, and novelist. In 2008-2009, she held the Visiting Richard Thomas Chair at Kenyon College. Prior to this position, Glancy taught creative writing for nearly two decades at Macalester College. Her work includes Pushing the Bear: A Novel of the Trail of Tears and Designs of the Night Sky, both of which draw on the history of the Cherokee Removal, as well as Stone Heart: A Novel of Sacajawea.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths is the author of four poetry collections, including Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books, 2015). Griffiths’ literary and visual work has appeared widely.  Griffiths teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Pam Houston‘s most recent book is Contents May Have Shifted, published by W.W. Norton in 2012. She is also the author of two collections of linked short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, the novel Sight Hound, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton.She is Professor of English at UC Davis, and directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, and teaches at writer’s conferences around the country and the world.

Toni Jensen (Métis) is the author of From the Hilltop, a collection of linked stories published through the Native Storiers Series at the University of Nebraska Press. She holds a PhD from Texas Tech University and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Arkansas.

Joan Naviyuk Kane received a 2009 Whiting Writers’ Award for her first poetry collection, The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife. Her second book, Hyperboreal, received the 2012 AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.  The Straits, a chapbook appeared in 2016. Milk Black Carbon will be published as part of the 2017 Pitt Poetry Series.

Chip Livingston is the author of three books: two collections of poetry, Crow-Blue, Crow-Black (2012) andMuseum of False Starts (2010); and a collection of short stories and creative nonfiction, Naming Ceremony(2014). His writing has received awards from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, and the AABB Foundation.

Derek Palacio‘s short story “Sugarcane” appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013, and his novella,How to Shake the Other Man, was published by Nouvella Books. His debut novel, The Mortifications, is forthcoming from Tim Duggan Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group. He is the co-director, with Claire Vaye Watkins, of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.

Ismet Prcic‘s debut novel Shards was published in 2011 by Black Cat, imprint of Grove Press to critical acclaim, winning the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for first fiction, the Writers Center First Novel Prize, the Oregon Book Award and many others.

Eden Robinson is a Haisla/Heiltsuk author from Kitamaat Village, a reserve on the northwest coast of British Columbia. Her first book, Traplines, a collection of short stories, won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1998. Monkey Beach, her first novel, won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in 2001, was long-listed for Dublin IMPAC Award, and shortlisted for both The Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction in 2000. Her most recent novels are Blood Sports, and Son of a Trickster, which is forthcoming in 2017.

Sharma Shields is the author of a short story collection, Favorite Monster, and a novel, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac. Sharma’s writing has appeared in Electric Lit, Slice, The New York Times, Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Fugue, and elsewhere and has garnered such awards as the Autumn House Fiction Prize, the Tim McGinnis Award for Humor, a Grant for Artist Projects from Artist Trust, and the A.B. Guthrie Award for Outstanding Prose.

James Thomas Stevens earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University, and has taught at Haskell Indian Nations University and the State University of New York at Fredonia. He currently teaches at IAIA.  Stevens has published seven books of poetry, including Combing the Snakes from His Hair, for which he was awarded a 2000 Whiting Writer’s Award.

Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr. is an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana. His current book-length project is Spaghetti and Sauerkraut with a Side of Frybread, and his edited volume The Faster, Redder, Road: The Best UnAmerican Stories of Stephen Graham Jones was released in April 2015 by the University of New Mexico Press.
Elissa Washuta is the author of My Body Is a Book of Rules, a memoir from Red Hen Press. Her second book, Starvation Mode: A Memoir of Food, Consumption, and Control was published in June 2016 by Instant Futures, a micro press out of Portland, Oregon. She serves as adviser and lecturer for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington.

Claire Vaye Watkins was born and raised in the Mojave Desert. Her collection of short stories, Battleborn(Riverhead Books), won the Story Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, and a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. One of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35,” her first novel, Gold Fame Citrus, was published by Riverhead Books in 2015. A Guggenheim Fellow and an assistant professor in the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, Claire is also the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.

Ken White is a co-writer and co-producer of the feature film Winter in the Blood, adapted from James Welch’s novel of the same name. His poetry has appeared in The Boston Review, The Tusculum Review,Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Versal, and Manor House Quarterly, among others. He is the author of two books of poems: Eidolon (Peel Press 2013) and The Getty Friend, forthcoming from Les Figues Press.

Lidia Yuknavitch is the National Bestselling author of the novels The Small Backs of Children (Harpers) and Dora: A Headcase (Hawthorne Books), and the memoir The Chronology of Water (Hawthorne Books), as well as three books of short stories Her Other Mouths, Liberty’s Excess, and Real To Reel, and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories of Violence.

Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing

There are approximately fifty Low Residency MFA Programs in the U.S. The Institute of American Indian Arts’ program is modeled on the most successful of these, with one important difference: IAIA’s mission “to empower creativity and leadership in Native arts and cultures through higher education, lifelong learning, and outreach” means that the program and the literature we read carry a distinct Native American and First Nations emphasis. Over 60% of our faculty mentors are established Native American or First Nations authors. Our program is open to everyone, but the focus will remain aligned with our unique mission.

IAIA faculty mentors are a dynamic group of writers who have won, among many other awards, Lannan Literary Awards, Whiting Awards, a National Book Award, a ScotiaBank Giller Prize, a PEN/Faulkner Award, a PEN/Hemingway Award, a PEN Open Book Award, a United States Artist Fellowship, and a Donald Hall Prize from the Associated Writing Programs.

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