MFA in Creative Writing Faculty

The writers who serve as faculty mentors are outstanding for both their level of literary achievements and for their teaching records and abilities. These accomplished authors bring careful attention and diverse writing styles and voices to the mix.

Jennifer Elise Foerster

Jennifer Elise Foerster

Interim Director, Jennifer Elise Foerster

Jennifer Elise Foerster, an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts, earned her PhD in English and Literary Arts from the University of Denver and her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts. She is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Foerster is the author of Leaving Tulsa (2013) and Bright Raft in the Afterweather (2018), both published by the University of Arizona Press. She lives in San Francisco and co-directs, with Joy Harjo, For Girls Becoming, an arts mentorship program for Mvskoke youth in Oklahoma.

Ramona Ausubel

Ramona Ausubel

Ramona Ausubel

Ramona Ausubel is the author, most recently, of the novel Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty (Penguin 2016). Her first novel, No One is Here Except All of Us, won of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and was a Finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Her 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. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review Daily, One Story, Salon (online), The Best American Fantasy and was shortlisted in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Non-Required Reading. A new collection of stories, Awayland, is forthcoming.

Marie-Helene Bertino

Marie-Helene Bertino

Marie-Helene Bertino

Marie-Helene Bertino is the author of the novel 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas and the story collection Safe as Houses. Her work has received The O. Henry Award, The Pushcart Prize, The Iowa Short Fiction Award, and fellowships from The Center for Fiction NYC, Sewanee, MacDowell and Hedgebrook Writers Colonies. She teaches at NYU and lives in Brooklyn, where she is an Editor-at-Large for Catapult Magazine. In Fall of 2017 she will be The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellow in Cork, Ireland. For more information, please visit her website.

Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He is Diné of the Todich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl’izilani (Many Goats Clan). He 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

Kimberly Blaeser

Kimberly Blaeser

Kimberly Blaeser is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she teaches Creative Writing and Native American Literatures. She is the author of three collections of poetry: Apprenticed to Justice, Absentee 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. Blaeser is currently at work on a collection of “Picto-Poems” combining her photographs and poetry. Her creative nonfiction, short stories, and scholarship have appeared widely in journals and anthologies.

Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline is a writer and editor from the Georgian Bay Metis Community in Ontario who has published four books of short stories, literary fiction, and young adult fiction. Her latest book, The Marrow Thieves, won the 2017 Governor General’s Award and the prestigious Kirkus Prize for Young Readers. It was a finalist for the White Pine Award, One Book–One Brampton, the Trillium Prize, and The Swartz Award and was a selection for CBC’s 2018 Canada Reads. The Marrow Thieves was also named a Book of Year on numerous lists including the National Public Radio, the School Library Journal, the New York Public Library, the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, and the CBC, and is a national bestseller. Cherie currently lives in Toronto, Ontario where she coordinates the annual Indigenous Writers’ Gathering. She recently signed a four-book deal with Penguin Random House and writes for TV.

Jennifer Elise Foerster

Jennifer Elise Foerster

Jennifer Elise Foerster

Jennifer Elise Foerster, an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts, earned her PhD in English and Literary Arts from the University of Denver and her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts. She is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Foerster is the author of Leaving Tulsa (2013) and Bright Raft in the Afterweather (2018), both published by the University of Arizona Press. She lives in San Francisco and co-directs, with Joy Harjo, For Girls Becoming, an arts mentorship program for Mvskoke youth in Oklahoma.

Santee Frazier

Santee Frazier

Santee Frazier

Santee Frazier is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He 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 Poet, Narrative Magazine, Ontario Review, Ploughshares, and other literary journals. His first collection of poetry, Dark Thirty, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2009.

Sydney Freeland

Sydney Freeland

Sydney Freeland

Sydney Freeland (Diné) is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker. Her debut feature film, Drunktown’s Finest, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win a number of awards, including the Grand Jury Prize and HBO Outstanding First Feature awards at LA Outfest 2014, as well as a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Feature. In 2016, she directed the web series Her Story, which was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Short Form Drama. Sydney is also a recipient of the 2015 Fox Global Director’s Initiative, 2015 Sundance Women’s Fellowship, 2015 Ford Fellowship, 2014 Time Warner Fellowship, and a 2004 Fulbright Scholarship. She was selected to participate in both the 2010 Sundance Screenwriting and Directing Labs and the 2009 Sundance Native Lab. Upcoming projects include the Netflix original film Deidra and Laney Rob a Train, which is due for release in 2017. Sydney currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

Geoff Harris

Geoff Harris

Geoff Harris

Before becoming a freelance writer/producer, Geoff Harris was Vice President in charge of Story and Writer Development at NBC, where he worked for 12 years. He also has taught TV-writing intensive workshops for Native American and Latino writers, sponsored by ABC and NBC, as well as a Web Series writing class for MFA students at Cal State University, Los Angeles. Many of his workshop students have gone on to staff positions on TV shows. He blogs about television writing on the Save the Cat! website.

Pam Houston

Pam Houston

Pam Houston

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. Her stories have been selected for volumes of Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards, The 2013 Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA award for contemporary fiction, The Evil Companions Literary Award, and multiple teaching awards. She is Professor of English at UC Davis, directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, and teaches at writer’s conferences around the country and the world. She lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

Toni Jensen

Toni Jensen

Toni Jensen

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. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 2007; Best of the West: Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri, 2011; and Denver Quarterly, among others. She holds a PhD from Texas Tech University and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Arkansas.

Kristiana Kahakauwila

Kristiana Kahakauwila

Kristiana Kahakauwila

Kristiana Kahakauwila is a hapa writer of kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian), German, and Norwegian descent. Her first book, This is Paradise: Stories (Hogarth, 2013), takes as its heart the people and landscapes of contemporary Hawai`i. She earned a BA in Comparative Literature from Princeton University and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Michigan. A former Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, Kristiana currently lives in Bellingham, WA, where she is an Associate Professor at Western Washington University. Recent work has appeared in RED INK, Kartika Review, Mistake House Magazine, and GEO Magazine. She is currently at work on a historical novel set on the island of Maui.

Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones (Blackfeet) is the author of sixteen novels and six story collections, and, so far, one comic book. Jones has been an NEA recipient, has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction and the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, has won a few This is Horror Awards, and he’s been a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award and the Shirley Jackson Award a few times each. He’s also made Bloody Disgusting’s Top Ten Horror Novels. Stephen lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Joan Naviyuk Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane’s books and chapbooks of prose and poetry include The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife (2009), Hyperboreal (2013), The Straits (2015), Milk Black Carbon (2017), A Few Lines in the Manifest (2018), and Sublingual (2018). She is a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow, has won a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, the USA Projects Creative Vision Award, an American Book Award, the Alaska Literary Award, and fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Alaska Arts and Cultures Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the School for Advanced Research, and the Aninstantia Foundation. Kane was a Harvard National Scholar, and the recipient of a graduate Writing Fellowship from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Iñupiat with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, she raises her children as a single mother in Anchorage, Alaska.

Chip Livingston

Chip Livingston

Chip Livingston

Chip Livingston is the mixed-blood Creek author of four books: two collections of poetry, Crow-Blue, Crow-Black (2012) and Museum of False Starts (2010); a collection of short stories and creative nonfiction, Naming Ceremony (2014); and a novel, Owls Don’t Have to Mean Death (2017). His writing has received awards from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, and the AABB Foundation. Chip’s writing has appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, South Dakota Review, Cincinnati Review, and on the Academy of American Poets’ and Poetry Foundation’s websites. He has taught at the University of Colorado, University of the Virgin Islands, Brooklyn College, and Regis University.

Terese Mailhot

Terese Mailhot

Terese Mailhot

Terese Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band. Her book, Heart Berries: A Memoir, is forthcoming from Counterpoint Press and Doubleday Canada (2018). She is a Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow at Purdue University. Her work has been featured in The Rumpus, Carve Magazine, The Offing, The Feminist Wire, Burrow Press Review, Huffington Post Canada, Indian Country Today, Global Citizen, and elsewhere. Her essay, “I Know I’ll Go,” was listed as notable in Best American Essays 2016. She is a Native American Journalists Association award winner and also received fellowships from Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, Writing By Writers, and Vermont Studio Center.

Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange was born and raised in Oakland, California. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. His first novel, There There will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in the summer of 2018.

Derek Palacio

Derek Palacio

Derek Palacio

Derek Palacio received his MFA in Creative Writing from Ohio State University. His 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, was published in 2016 by 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. He lives and teaches in Ann Arbor, MI.

Migizi Pensoneau

Migizi Pensoneau

Migizi Pensoneau

Migizi Pensoneau was born and raised in Minnesota, and attended Wesleyan University. Pensoneau has worked for several Hollywood studios and independent companies as a writer and a producer for film and television. He is the recipient of awards, commissions, fellowships, and grants from ABC/Disney, The Institute of American Indian Arts, the Sundance Institute, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among others. Migizi has published several pieces on the interaction of American Indians and popular culture. He recently received his MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, and is a co-founder and writer for the popular comic group the 1491s.

Ken White

Ken White

Ken White

Ken White is a poet and screenwriter who divides his time between Montana and Southern California. He co-wrote and and co-produced the feature film Winter in the Blood, co-directed and co-wrote the short film Universal VIP, as well as directed and co-wrote the short film The Conservationist, currently in development as a feature, which White will direct. He has written or co-written ten feature scripts, including Blight, and The Wereman, The Sorrows, and Cullen’s Hound, as well as new scripts, The Orpheum Circuit, The Conservationist, and a television pilot, LIT, with James Meetze. White is the author of three books of poetry, Eidolon, The Getty Fiend, as well as Middlemost Constantine (forthcoming from Spork). His work has appeared in The Boston Review, The Tusculum Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Omniverse, Manor House Quarterly, Versal, Spork, Horsethief, and Poets.org, among others. White teaches screenwriting in the IAIA Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing program.

Residency Faculty

Residency faculty are listed here.

James Thomas Stevens

James Thomas Stevens

James Thomas Stevens

James Thomas Stevens is an Associate Professor in the BFA Creative Writing Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. A member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation in upstate New York, Stevens grew up between three reservations, the two where his grandparents came from, Akwesasne Territory and Six Nations Reserve, and the one where they settled, the Tuscarora Nation. Stevens earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University. He has taught at Haskell Indian Nations University and the State University of New York at Fredonia. 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, A Bridge Dead in the Water, Mohawk/Samoa: Transmigrations (with Caroline Sinavaiana), Bulle/Chimere, and Tokinish. His work has been anthologized in works such as Genocide of the Mind, Visit Teepee Town, and Sovereign Bones.

Faculty on Leave

Here is a listing of current faculty on leave.

Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson is a Haisla/Heiltsuk author from Kitamaat Village, a reserve on the northwest coast of British Columbia. She is the author of the novels Monkey Beach, Blood Sports and the upcoming Son of a Trickster; Sasquatch at Home: Traditional Protocols & Modern Storytelling, which originated as a Henry Kreisel Lecture at the Canadian Literature Centre in Edmonton; and the short story collection Traplines. Traplines won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1998. Monkey Beach 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. One of the stories from Traplines, “Queen of the North,” was also published in The Penguin Anthology of Stories by Canadian Women. She was honored for her contributions to Canadian literature with the 2016 Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award.

Eden Robinson is on leave during the 2018–2019 semesters.

Lidia Yuknavitch

Lidia Yuknavitch

Lidia Yuknavitch

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 fictions – Her Other Mouths, Liberty’s Excess (FC2), and Real to Reel (FC2), and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories of Violence (Routledge). Her writing has appeared in publications including Guernica Magazine, Ms., The Iowa Review, Zyzzyva, Another Chicago Magazine, The Sun, Exquisite Corpse, TANK, and in the anthologies Life As We Show It (City Lights), Wreckage of Reason (Spuytin Duyvil), Forms at War (FC2), Feminaissance (Les Figues Press), and Representing Bisexualities (SUNY), as well as online at The Rumpus. She writes, teaches and lives in Portland, Oregon, with the filmmaker Andy Mingo and their renaissance man son Miles. She is the recipient of the Oregon Book Award—Reader’s Choice, a PNBA award, and was a finalist for the 2012 Pen Center creative nonfiction award.

Lidia Yuknavitch is on leave during the 2018–2019 semesters.

Subscribe to IAIA’s Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from IAIA.

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.