Passing of MFACW Alumna Clara de la Torre

Jun 17, 2021

Clara de la Torre

Clara de la Torre

Dear Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) MFA in Creative Writing (MFACW) Community,

We mourn the loss of Clara de la Torre, who tragically passed away in an auto accident on June 12, 2021. Over the last four years, she was an integral part of the IAIA MFACW community, and we will miss her warmth and wisdom in the weeks, months, years to come.

Clara graduated this Spring ‘21 Semester from IAIA with an MFA in both nonfiction and screenwriting. She would often give small gifts to the MFACW staff and contribute to the wellbeing of the program by providing a meticulously curated assortment of teas during our weeklong residencies. In writing workshops and craft talks, she would offer deft insights on literary craft. Always mindful of the unique cultural makeup of the IAIA MFACW program, Clara established deep rapport with mentors, students, staff, and the greater IAIA family.

Clara generously gave her time, attention, energy, and love to many. It would take pages to list all who benefited from her kindness and care. From caring for wounded creatures she encountered, to mentoring children and young adults, to giving boxing classes with the elderly who suffered from Parkinson’s, is to mention only a small amount of what she regularly and joyfully contributed.

In her short life, Clara lived many lives. She was a professional boxer, a smoke jumper, an ultra distance runner, a beekeeper, and a writer. She was looking forward to adapting her boxing memoir—which she wrote at IAIA—to the small screen.

While this moment is shocking and heartbreaking, we hope we can celebrate Clara’s talent and rigor for the written word.

—IAIA MFACW Director Santee Frazier (Cherokee Nation) ’06, Professor in Creative Writing Jamie Figueroa (Boricua, Afro-Taíno) ’16, and MFACW Mentor Geoff Harris