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2024 MFACW January Evening Reading Series

Dec 6, 2023

Join the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) from Monday, January 8 through Friday, January 12, 2024, as the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFACW) program presents an Evening Reading Series featuring program mentors and special guests. Each evening will engage its audience with poetry, memoir, or fiction from some of today’s most vibrant and vital writers. Check the schedule and presenter bios below for additional details.

All readings will be livestreamed on the IAIA website and Facebook. See links below to watch the livestreams.

Evening Reading Series Events


Kimberly Blaeser (White Earth Nation), past Wisconsin Poet Laureate and founding director of In-Na-Po—Indigenous Nations Poets, is a writer, photographer, scholar, and mentor in the MFACW program. She authored five poetry collections, including Copper YearningApprenticed to Justice, and Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance. Her scholarly work includes the monograph Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition, and she edited Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry and Stories Migrating Home. Her photographs, picto-poems, and ekphrastic pieces have appeared in exhibits such as Visualizing Sovereignty and No More Stolen Sisters. Blaeser, an Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist, is an enrolled member of White Earth Nation who grew up on the reservation. A Professor Emerita at UW-Milwaukee and 2024 Mackey Chair in Creative Writing at Beloit College, her accolades include a Lifetime Achievement Award from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. Her book Ancient Light is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press in 2024.

Brian Evenson: Brian Evenson is the author of more than a dozen fiction books, most recently the story collection A Collapse of Horses (Coffee House Press, 2015) and the critical book Ed Vs. Yummy Fur: Or What Happens When a Serial Comic Becomes a Graphic Novel (Uncivilized, 2014).  His collection Windeye (2012) and the novel Immobility (2012) were both finalists for the Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Last Days won the 2009 ALA-RUSA Award). His novel The Open Curtain (2004) was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award. He has translated work by Christian Gailly, Jean Frémon, Claro, Jacques Jouet, Eric Chevillard, Antoine Volodine, Manuela Draeger, David B., and others. He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes and an NEA fellowship. His work has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Slovenian.

Jennifer Elise Foerster (Muscogee [Creek] Nation of Oklahoma) is a mentor in the MFACW program and the author of three books of poetry, The Maybe Bird (The Song Cave 2022), Bright Raft in the Afterweather (University of Arizona Press 2018) and Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press 2013) and served as the Associate Editor of When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry (W.W. Norton 2020). She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University and holds a PhD in Literary Arts from the University of Denver. She serves as Joy Harjo’s literary assistant and works in non-profit administration for various arts and literary organizations. Foerster grew up living internationally, is of European and Mvskoke descent, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. She lives in San Francisco.

Kelli Jo Ford (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) is a novelist, short story writer, and mentor in the MFACW program. She is the author of the novel-in-stories Crooked Hallelujah. Her work has been published in The Paris ReviewVirginia Quarterly ReviewMcSweeney’s Quarterly, and The Missouri Review. She has received many awards, including an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, and a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship.

Carribean Fragoza: Growing up in the peripheries of the Greater LA region and outside of Chicano communities of East LA that have largely come to define Chicano identity, including in culture and literature, has shaped my literary approach. Rather than sticking to the usual tropes of Chicanx and Latinx writing, I break onto new thematic territory with unique character voices and perspectives. As a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA program at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), I push the boundaries of Chicanx literature using experimental approaches and devices and freely borrow from international queer and feminist literary movements. I have published fiction and poetry in publications such as BOMB Magazine, Huizache, Entropy, Palabra Literary Magazine, and Emohippus. My arts/culture reviews and essays have been published in online national and international magazines such as Aperture, Los Angeles Review of Books, LA Weekly, KCET, Culture Strike, and Tropics of Meta. I am also the founder and co-director of the South El Monte Art Posse (SEMAP), a multi-disciplinary arts collective.

Pam Houston is a mentor in the MFACW program and the author of the memoir Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, as well as two novels, Contents May Have Shifted and Sight Hound, two collections of short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton. Her stories have been selected for volumes of The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Short Stories of the Century, among other anthologies. She won the Western States Book Award, the WILLA Award for contemporary fiction, the Evil Companions Literary Award, and several teaching awards. In addition to teaching in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Houston is Professor of English at UC Davis and co-founder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, which puts on between seven and ten writers’ gatherings per year in places as diverse as Boulder, Colorado, Tomales Bay, California, and Chamonix, France.

Raquel Gutiérrez is an arts critic, writer, poet, educator, and mentor in the MFACW program. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Gutiérrez credits the queer and feminist DIY post-punk ‘zine culture of the 1990s plus Los Angeles County and Getty paid arts internships with introducing her/them to the various vibrant art and music scenes and communities throughout Southern California. Gutiérrez is a 2021 recipient of the Rabkin Prize in Arts Journalism and a 2017 recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. Gutiérrez’s first book, Brown Neon (Coffee House Press), was named one of the best books of 2022 by The New Yorker.

Leslie Jamison is the New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy ExamsThe Recovering; Make it Scream, Make it Burn; and a novel, The Gin Closet. Her next book, a memoir called Splinters, comes out in February 2024. She writes frequently for publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Atlantic, the New York Review of Books, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. She directs the nonfiction writing program at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Layli Long Soldier (Oglala Lakota) is a poet, IAIA alum, and mentor in the MFACW program. She is the author of the poetry collections Chromosomory and WHEREAS. Her work has appeared in POETRY MagazineThe New York TimesThe American PoetThe American ReaderThe Kenyon Review, and BOMB. She has received many awards, including the NACF National Artist Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Michael Murphy Memorial Poetry Prize in the UK.

Bojan Louis (Diné) is a poet, essayist, short story writer, and mentor in the MFACW program. He is the author of the short-story collection Sinking Bell, the poetry collection Currents, and the nonfiction chapbook Troubleshooting Silence in Arizona. His work can be found in Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary WritersWhen the Light of the World Was SubduedOur Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry; and The Diné Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature. Louis has received a MacDowell Fellowship and a 2018 American Book Award.

dg nanouk okpik (Iñupiaq-Inuit) is a poet from south-central Alaska. Her debut collection of poetry, Corpse Whale (2012), received the American Book Award (2013). Since then, her work has been published in several anthologies, including New Poets of Native Nations (2018) and the forthcoming Infinite Constellations: An Anthology of Identity, Culture, and Speculative Conjunctions (2023). With her new collection Blood Snow, published in 2022 by Wave Books, okpik established herself as a poet of both great achievement and great promise, a cartographer of wildernesses without and within. Former United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo has described okpik’s work as “at once surprising and prophetic, ceremonial and disruptive.” Her poetry opens readers to a complex web of culture, ecology, and myth. In Blood Snow, okpik’s vision, while idiosyncratic and particular, is always also communal. No narwhal, no flower, no spore, no sunrise, no mosquito—not even a tooth emerging from the gum of a baby marmot—goes unnoticed. All these beings and objects are, she writes, “sung from my throat from a deep / place inside me.” okpik’s poetry offers the reader a way of thinking about our world that returns us to its gifts, its magic, and its sustaining beauty.

Mona Susan Power (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) is the author of four books of fiction: The Grass Dancer (awarded the PEN/Hemingway prize), RoofwalkerSacred Wilderness, and the newly released novel A Council of Dolls. Fellowships in support of her work include an Iowa Arts Fellowship, James Michener Fellowship, Radcliffe Bunting Institute Fellowship, Princeton Hodder Fellowship, USA Artists Fellowship, McKnight Fellowship, and Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship. Her short stories and essays have been widely published in journals, magazines, and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories series, The Atlantic MonthlyThe Paris ReviewThe Missouri Review, and Ploughshares. Power is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, born and raised in Chicago. She graduated from Harvard Law School and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She currently lives in Minnesota.

Deborah Jackson Taffa (Quechan (Yuma) Nation and Laguna Pueblo) earned her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop and is the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, A Public Space, Salon, the Huffington Post, Prairie Schooner, The Best Travel Writing, and other outlets.

Janet Sarbanes is the author of the short story collections Army of One and The Protester Has Been Released and a book of essays, Letters on the Autonomy Project, which explores autonomy as a political and aesthetic concept and practice. The recipient of a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol art writer’s grant, Sarbanes has published art criticism and other critical writing in museum catalogs, anthologies, and journals, including East of Borneo, Afterall, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her essay on Shaker aesthetics and utopian communalism received the Eugenio Battisti Prize from the Society for Utopian Studies. In addition to offering BFA classes, she teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program and the MA Aesthetics and Politics. She currently serves as Director of Faculty Affairs.

MFA in Creative Writing

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is designed as a two-year program with two intensive week-long residencies per year (summer and winter) at IAIA. Students and faculty mentors gather for a week of workshops, lectures, and readings. At the end of the residency week, each student is matched with a faculty mentor, who then works one-on-one with the student for the semester. IAIA’s program is unique in that we emphasize the importance of Indigenous writers speaking to the Indigenous experience. The literature we read carries a distinct Native American and First Nations emphasis. The MAFCW offers four areas of emphasis: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and screenwriting.

The deadline to apply for the 2024 academic year is Feb. 1 by 5 pm (MST).