Select Page

IAIA MFA Quarterly, Volume I, October 2018

Oct 15, 2018

The Institute of American Indian Arts has played a key role in the direction and shape of Native expression for over 50 years. The IAIA Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing, now in its sixth year, is expanding on this legacy, graduating successful writers who are making distinct contributions to the body of Native American and world literatures.

This inaugural issue of the IAIA MFA Quarterly, to be published four times a year, highlights the publications and writing-related news from our MFA community. Read more to find out how the IAIA MFA students and alumni are transforming the literary landscape.

Interested in joining our groundbreaking community of writers? Our priority application deadline for scholarships is December 15—learn more and apply!

The MFA Quarterly Journal is published October 15, January 15, April 15, and July 15 of every year. Students, alumni, and faculty mentors: please send any news, photos, links, or updates to Interim Director Jennifer Foerster at
“The Institute of American Indian Arts places priority on Indigenous worldviews in a contemporary context and attempts to locate its curriculum within that field of knowledge. The low-residency program is a place for writers to find community and be encouraged by writers producing serious work.”
Sherwin Bitsui (Diné)

MFA Faculty Mentor

Publications, Awards, & Recognitions

Gordon Johnson (current student, Screenwriting), is releasing a book of short stories and essays, Bird Songs Don’t Lie: Writings from the Rez, from Heyday Books, November 1, 2018.

Rowena Alegria (2018) has the following recent publications: Tribal College Journal, short story “Down and Out in Pueblo,” Fall 2018; and Mississippi Review, short story “Janet Cramer, Class Whore,” June 2018. Rowena is the Winner of the Tribal College Journal Writing Competition for Fiction 2018, and Finalist for the Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction 2018. She has also been awarded fellowships to the Macondo Writers Workshop, Writing by Writers Workshop, and Vermont Studio Center/ IAIA Creative Writing Fellowship. Rowena was a finalist for the Sundress Academy for the Arts’ VIDA Fellowship.

Brendan Basham (2018) received a fellowship to attend the Sierra Nevada College Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing as a 2018 Summer Residency Visiting Artist. He has also been recently hired as Adjunct Faculty at Guttman Community College in NYC.

Trevino Brings Plenty (2018) has poems anthologized in New Poets of Native Nations, edited by Heid Erdrich, Graywolf Press. His work appeared in the June 2018 issue of POETRY.

Boderra Joe (2018) received a 2018 NMPA Better Newspaper Contest award for Sports Writing for her work with the Gallup Sun.

Lemanuel Loley (2018) has been awarded a fellowship to attend a Writing by Writers Workshop in November in Tahoe City. Lemanuel is co-founder and co-director of the Emerging Diné Writers Institute at Navajo Technical University, where he also serves as Adjunct Faculty and Career Services Coordinator.

New Poets of Native Nations, Trevino Brings Plenty

New Poets of Native Nations, Trevino Brings Plenty

Matthew Jake Skeets (2018) is a winner for the 2018 National Poetry Series Open Competition with his manuscript, Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, forthcoming from Milkweed Press, 2019. He also received the 2018 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. Since last January, he has presented at the Arizona Social Justice and Writing Conference, Hozho’o Halne’ Writing Conference, Emerging Diné Writers Institute, and Northern Arizona Book Festival. Matthew Jake Skeets has been hired on the English Faculty in the School of Arts, Humanities, and English at Diné College.

David Weiden (2018) made the 2018 PRISM Creative Non-Fiction Prize Longlist for Carlisle Longings.

Ginger Gaffney (2017) received a Fellowship to attend the 2019 Tin House Winter Writing Workshop. Her novel, Half Broke, is forthcoming with W.W. Norton.

Barbara Robidoux (2017) is releasing her book of poetry, The Storm Left No Flowers, this Fall 2018 from Finishing Line Press.

Beatrice Szymowiak (2017) has her first chapbook of poetry, Red Zone, coming out this Fall from Finishing Line Press. Pre-orders are available October 19, 2018. Her recent and forthcoming journal publications include:

  • “Yangtze Baiji Expedition Log, November-December 2006,” in OmniVerse #82, July 2018
  • Broadside “Yangtze Baiji Expedition Log, November-December 2006,” Omnidawn/Littoral Press, Fall 2018
  • “To hold a Grenade” in Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, January 2018.
The National Poetry Series

The National Poetry Series

Beatrice is the Winner of the 2017 Omnidawn Broadside Single Poem Broadside Poetry Contest judged by Craig Santos Perez for “Yangtze Baiji Expedition Log, November-December 2006,” and the recipient of the Chancellor Graduate Student Award, conferred by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She started a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Fall 2018 and works as a teaching assistant for the university.

Angie Trudell Vasquez (2017) was a finalist for the New Woman’s Voices Chapbook Competition for her manuscript, In Light, Always Light. Her manuscript will be published by Finishing Line Press.

Joaquin Zihuatanejo (2017) released his first book, ARSONIST, the winner of the 2017 Anhinga Robert Dana Prize, on September 10.

Dara Elerath (2016) has a poem forthcoming in Poet Lore and has written a book review forthcoming in Tupelo Quarterly. She was a Semi-Finalist for a 2018 Provincetown Fine Arts Works Center Writing Fellowship.

Charlotte Gullick (2016) published the following essays since January 2018:

  • “Caught Between the Cow and the Buoy,” Full Grown People, April 2018
  • “I Could Feel the Poverty,” The Millions, May 2018
  • “All These Miles,” Pembroke Magazine, January 2018

She was also selected as Finalist for the Montana Prize for Creative Nonfiction, May 2018

Mary Kancewich (Mar Ka) (2016) has published the following interview online: Poetic Conversation/Alaska Poet Mary Kancewick Interviews Lithuanian Poet Marius Burokas. University of Alaska Press will be releasing Mar Ka’s poetry collection, Be-hooved, on February 15, 2019.

Genesis by Crisosto Apache

Genesis, Crisosto Apache

Crisosto Apache (2015) released his poetry collection, Genesis, in 2018 from Lost Alphabet Press.

Jeffrey Carnett (2015) has released his novel, The Flute Player from Urumqi, from Partridge Publishing in 2018.

Sherwin Bitsui, Faculty Mentor, is releasing his third book of poetry this Fall: Dissolve, Copper Canyon Press, 2018.

Kimberly Blaeser, PhD, Faculty Mentor, was awarded a 2018 Distinguished Public Service Award from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. She has recently taught at the 2018 Emerging Diné Writers’ Institute, Navajo Technical University, July 11–15, 2018, along with alums Byron Aspaas (2015) and Matthew Jake Skeets (2018), and at the Aldo Leopold Center in Baraboo, WI in August. Dr. Blaeser has presented at several conferences, including The Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas, at Karl Franzens University in Graz, Austria, the Eau-Claire Music Festival, and the International Martes Symposium at Northland College, WI. You can listen to a reading and interview on “Making Waves,” To The Best of Our Knowledge Live Show, Milwaukee, WI, April 19, 2018.

Kim Blaeser has the following recent 2018 publications:

  • When We Sing Of Might” and “Wellspring: Words from Water,” “New Poetry by Indigenous Women,” ed. Natalie Diaz, Literary Hub, February 13, 2018.
  • “‘Because We Come From Everything’” and “Of Eons and Epics,” Kenyon Review Online, March/April 2018.
  • “Eloquence of Earth” excerpt, Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, ed. Melissa Tuckey (Athens: U of Georgia Press, 2018) 207-08.
  • “Transformations: Ziigwan” and “Undocumented” (with Margaret Noodin), They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing, ed. Simone Muench & Dean Rader (Black Lawrence Press, 2018) 56-58.
  • Interview Podcast, Interview by Janet McAdams, Kenyon Review.
  • “Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance/Ikwe-niimi: Résister en dansant,” “Manoominike-giizis,” and “After Words/Les mots d’après,” Translation by Béatrice Machet, Levure Littéraire, No. 14, 2018.
  • “Mazina’igan: To Feast on Words,” Tribal College Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Fall 2018) 44-45.
  • Mini Essay in “This Land is Your Land:The 22 best US national parks to escape the crowds, chosen by experts,” The Guardian.

Kim Blaeser also has the following forthcoming 2018 publications:

  • Initiés à la justice (Apprenticed to Justice),” “Quand nous chantons le pouvoir (When We Sing Of Might),” “Fantaisies de femmes (Fantaisies of Women),” and “Campement du rocher sacré (Sacred Stone Camp),” Au-delà du chagrin (Beyond Sorrow)”, ed. Béatrice Mache (Marignane, France: Wallâda Publishing, 2018).
  • Poetry Installation, “Ghost Fishing: Eco-Justice Poetry and the Diasporic City,” Kimmel Center for University Life Windows, NYU (New York University), New York City, NY. September 10–November 16.
  • Picto-Poems Exhibit, Galena Center for the Arts, Galena, IL, October 12, 2018–January 13, 2019.

Jennifer Foerster, Interim Director, published her second book of poetry, Bright Raft in the Afterweather, in February 2018 with University of Arizona Press. Her poems have been published recently in POETRY (June 2018), Waxwing (June 2018), and “New Poetry by Indigenous Women,” ed. Natalie Diaz, Literary Hub (February 13, 2018). Her work was recently anthologized in New Poets of Native Nations, edited by Heid Erdrich, Graywolf Press, Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, ed. Melissa Tuckey, Univ. of Georgia Press, and in Au-delà du chagrin (Beyond Sorrow), edited by Béatrice Mache, Wallâda Publishing.  She was a presenter and panelist at the Library of Congress National Book Festival in August, and is the recipient of a 2019 grant from the Aninstantia Foundation.

Waxwing Magazine

Waxwing Magazine

Santee Frazier, Faculty Mentor, will be releasing his second book of poetry, AURUM, with University of Arizona Press in Fall 2019.

Joan Kane, Faculty Mentor, won the 2017 Open Chapbook contest from Finishing Line Press for Sublingual.

Chip Livingston, Faculty Mentor, published the following poems in Spring/Summer 2018:

  • “The Magicians’ Twins,” poetry, print, Poet Lore, Spring 2018
  • “Seed Beed,” poetry, print, The Journal, Spring 2018
  • “San Benito,” poetry, online, Academy of American Poets, POEM A DAY, June 2018,

The following publications are forthcoming:

  • “The One Who Is,” short story, 2018 Short Story Advent Calendar, Dec. 2018
  • “I Remember Joe Brainard’s Cock Pics,” lyric essay, Punctuate, online, Oct./Nov. 2018
  • “The Alphabet of the Republic,” lyric essay, Carve, print, Oct./Nov. 2018
  • “San Joaquín, The Keeper”; “Los Santos de la Republica”; “San Cono,” 3poems, INVERTED SYNTAX, Online/Print, Nov. 2018.
  • “Iemanja,” poem, Confiado a un amplio aire: Poemas de Uruguay (Trusting on the Wide Air: Poems of Uruguay anthology), Yaugáru Editorial, January 2019.

Terese Marie Mailhot (Class of ’16 and Faculty Mentor) is a Finalist for this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for her memoir, Heart Berries, published with Doubleday Canada, and winner of the 2018 Clara Johnson Award for Women’s Literature from Jane’s Stories Press Foundation.

Tommy Orange (Class of ‘16 and Faculty Mentor) is on the Longlist for the National Book Awards for Fiction for his novel, There There, published by Alfred A. Knopf/Penguin Random House, and has been named one of seven authors on the shortlist for the First Novel Prize from The Center for Fiction.

Upcoming Readings & Events

Gordon Henry has the following scheduled readings:

  • California State University, Long Beach, CA, November 15, 2018
  • Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, Banning, CA, December 3, 2018

Matthew Jake Skeets will be reading at the Diné Studies Conference, October 25–27, 2018.

Mar Ka will be reading at the Writer’s Block Book Store, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Sherwin Bitsui, Faculty Mentor, is presenting at Poets House, NYC: Epic Voices: Contemporary Diné Poetry & The Epic Tradition, October 16, 7 pm.

Kimberly Blaeser, PhD, Faculty Mentor, is presenting at the following upcoming events:

  • “Tommy Orange and Kimberly Blaeser in Conversation,” Boswell Books, Milwaukee, WI, September 25, 2018, 7 pm.
  • Madison Book Festival, Madison, WI, October 13, 2018, at 12 pm.
  • NYU’s Torch Club, NYU (New York University), New York City, NY, November 1st, at 6:30 pm.
  • Keynote & Reading, “Streamlines: An Undergraduate Conference Celebrating Language, Literature, and Writing,” Loras College, Dubuque, IA, November 10, 2018.
  • Poetry Reading & Conversation, Galena Center for the Arts, Galena, IL, November 16, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm.
  • “(Ab)Original Forms: Great Lakes Indigenous Writing,” MLA Conference, Chicago, January 4, 3:30 pm–4:45 pm.

Jennifer Foerster, Interim Director, will be participating in October 2019 in the Fall Poetry Festival in Druskininkai, Vilnius, Lithuania. She is reading on October 15 at the San Francisco 2018 LitQuake for New Native Voices, with Heid Erdrich and Greg Sarris.

IAIA Alum Trevino Brings Plenty and Alumni/Mentors Tommy Orange and Terese Mailhot are presenting on November 10 during the Portland Book Festival at the Portland Art Museum.

Other News from the 2017–2018 Academic Year

The Mayers of Shiprock, Ramona Emerson

The Mayers of Shiprock, Ramona Emerson

  • David Tromblay has work in RED INK: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities; Open: A Journal of Arts & Letters; Watershed Review; and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.
  • Erin Singer has stories in Conjunctions and Ploughshares.
  • Michelle LaPena’s story “Life Along the River” appears in Waxwing.
  • Lauren Monroe, Jr. is a 2018 Time Warner Producer Fellow at Sundance.
  • Leah Lemm received a 2018 Cedar Cultural Center Commission to produce a song cycle.
  • Bryan Bearhart was nominated for Best New Poets for a poem published by Foglifter
  • Migizi Pensoneau and the 1491s wrote a play that will be produced by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
  • Recent IAIA MFA alumni agent signings include Chee Brossy and Terese Mailhot with Massie & McQuilkin and Ginger Gaffney with Wales Literary Agency, and David Weiden with Aevitas Creative Management. Terese Mailhot also signed with Jack Jones Literary Arts Speakers Bureau.
  • Waylon Baker accepted the position of president of White Earth Tribal & Community College.
  • On February 22, Terese Mailhot, Tommy Orange, and the Low Rez program were featured in a major article on Buzzfeed: Remember Their Names: These Writers Are Launching A New Wave Of Native American Literature.
  • “Moon and Star,” by IAIA MFA alum Ginger Gaffney is in the Winter 2017 issue of Tin House.
  • Jennifer Love’s essay “Origin Story” took first place in creative nonfiction in the Santa Fe Reporter’s annual writing contest.
  • Ramona Emerson’s film The Mayors of Shiprock won the Best Documentary Award at the 2017 LA Skins Fest.
  • Amy Maki’s feature-length script Rub the Speed was a quarterfinalist—that is, one of the top 70 out of 1600 scripts submitted—in the 2016 Zoetrope Screenplay Contest.
  • Joaquin Zihuatanejo won the 2017 Anhinga-Robert Dana Prize for Poetry with his manuscript
  • Darlene Naponse’s story “She is Water” was runner-up for the 2017 Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.
  • Jason Asenap had a short film, “Captivity Narrative,” in Toronto’s ImagineNative.

About The Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing

The Institute of American Indian Arts’s Low Residency Master of Fine Arts program provides a professional degree in creative writing while allowing students to live at home and continue participating in work, family, and community.

Students and faculty mentors gather twice a year on the IAIA campus for an intensive week of workshops, lectures, and readings. At the end of the week, each student is matched with a faculty mentor, who then works one-on-one with the student for the 16-week online semester, developing the student’s creative work in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or screenwriting.