IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

MFA Faculty


Jon Davis, Director

Jon Davis, Director of the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing, is the author of six chapbooks, a limited-edition letterpress collaboration with the artist Jameson Chas Banks, and three full-length collections of poetry, Preliminary Report (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), Scrimmage of Appetite, for which he was honored with a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry, and Dangerous Amusements, for which he received a G.E. Younger Writers Award and the Lavan Prize. He has also received two NEA Fellowships, a Lannan Residency, a Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship, and a residency at Cill Rialaig in Ireland. He is co-translator, with the author, of Dayplaces (Tebot Bach Press) by Iraqi poet Naseer Hassan. He has taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts since 1990 and served as Santa Fe Poet Laureate. Jon’s Blog

Sherman Alexie

Fiction writer, poet, performer, screenwriter, and filmmaker Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene) is the author of twenty books, including, most recently, Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories from Grove Press; War Dances, stories and poems, from Grove Press; and Face, poetry, from Hanging Loose Press. He is the winner of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry, the PEN/Faulkner Award, National Book Award, PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, American Book Award, and a Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award. He was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction. In 1999, he was selected by The New Yorker as one of its “20 Writers for the 21st Century” and, in 1996, Granta named him one of the “Twenty Best American Novelists Under the Age of 40.” He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Letters in 2015. NOTE: Sherman Alexie is not currently mentoring students during the 16 week semester. He teaches during the residency, teaches two additional workshops per semester, and holds individual manuscript conferences. Sherman’s Website

Ramona Ausubel

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. 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. Ramona’s Website

Marie-Helene Bertino

Marie-Helene Bertino’s debut novel 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas, was a Barnes & Noble Fall ’14 Discover Great New Writers pick. Her debut collection of short stories Safe as Houses received The 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Award, The Pushcart Prize, and was long-listed for The Story Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in The Pushcart Prize Anthology XXXIII, Granta, Salon.com, North American Review, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and Mississippi Review’s Anthology 30. She has taught for NYU, One Story’s Emerging Writer’s Workshop, The Sackett Street Writers, and NYC’s The Center for Fiction, where she was an Emerging Writer Fellow in 2011. She lives in Brooklyn, where she was the Associate Editor of One Story for six years. She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Hedgebrook Writers Residency. Marie’s Website

Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He is Dine 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. Sherwin’s Website


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. Kimberly’s Website

Amanda Boyden

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-Dispatch included 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.” Her third novel, The Scientist’s Daughter, will also be a Random House release. Amanda has contributed nonfiction to Macleans magazine, the Globe and Mail, the anthology New Orleans: What Can’t Be Lost, and others. NOTE: Amanda Boyden will be taking the 2015-16 academic year off to complete various writing projects.  Amanda at Random House


Joseph Boyden

A Canadian Metis of Irish, Scottish, and Ojibwe heritage, Joseph 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. NOTE: Joseph Boyden will be taking the 2015-16 academic year off to complete various writing projects. Joseph’s Website

Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press in April of 2012.  Her poems received the Narrative Prize and appeared in Best American Poetry and the annual Pushcart Prize collection. She is the recipient of a Lannan Residency in Marfa, Texas; a Native Arts & Culture Foundation Arts Fellowship; a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Holmes National Poetry Prize, a Bread Loaf Scholarship and Fellowship, and a United States Artist Fellowship. Natalie at Copper Canyon

Melissa Febos

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 work has appeared in venues including The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Glamour, Post Road, Salon, New York Times, Guernica, Hunger Mountain, Portland Review, Electric Literature, Dissent, Poets & Writers, The Chronicle of Higher Education Review, Bitch Magazine, and Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, and she has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, Anderson Cooper Live, CNN’s Dr. Drew, and elsewhere. Her essays have won prizes from Prairie Schooner, Story Quarterly, and The Center for Women Writers, and she is the recipient of fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and The MacDowell Colony. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Monmouth University and serves on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. The daughter of a sea captain and a psychotherapist, she was raised on Cape Cod and lives in Brooklyn. Melissa’s Website

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. Santee’s Website

Manuel Gonzales

Manuel Gonzales is the author of the collection, The Miniature Wife and Other Stories (Riverhead Books) and the forthcoming novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack! (Riverhead Books). He was awarded the 2014 Academy of Arts & Letters Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the 2014 Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Book Award. His fiction and essays have been published in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Tin House Magazine, Fence Magazine, Open City Magazine, One Story, Esquire, and the Believer Magazine. He was the co-owner and baker for the Clarksville Pie Company in Austin, Texas, founded the writing workshop, Austin Writer’s Lab, was the director of Austin Bat Cave, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for kids. He teaches creative writing at the University of Kentucky.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet and visual artist. She is the author of four poetry collections, including Lighting the Shadow, which was recently published by Four Way Books in 2015. Griffiths’ literary and visual work has appeared widely. She is the creator and director of P.O.P (Poets on Poetry), a video series of contemporary poets featured by the Academy of American Poets. She is the recipient of fellowships including the Cave Canem Foundation, Yaddo, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Millay Colony, Vermont Studio Center, and others. Selected by Poetry Society of America, Griffiths curated the Poetry Walk for the 2015  Frida Kahlo: Art Garden Life exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden. Currently, Griffiths teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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. Geoff at Script Analysts


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 in The Pacific University low residency MFA program. and 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.

Joan Naviyuk Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane is Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, Alaska. She received a 2009 Whiting Writers’ Award for her first poetry collection, The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, published first by NorthShore Press Alaska and in its second edition by the University of Alaska Press. Her second book, Hyperboreal, received the 2012 AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. She has received an American Book Award, an Alaska Literary Award, both an Individual Artist award and an Artist Fellowship from the Rasmuson Foundation, a fellowship from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Conservation Foundation’s Native Writers on the Environment award, a Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and the United States Artists Creative Vision Award. Joan’s Website

Chip Livingston

Chip Livingston is the mixed-blood Creek author of three books: two collections of poetry, Crow-Blue, Crow-Black (2012) and Museum of False Starts (2010); and a collection of short stories and creative nonfiction, Naming Ceremony (forthcoming, 2014). 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 the anthologies The People Who Stayed; Sing; Sovereign Erotics; and Dias de los Muertos. He has taught at the University of Colorado, University of the Virgin Islands, and Brooklyn College. Chip’s Website

Derek Palacio

Derek Palacio holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Ohio State University. His short fiction has appeared in Puerto del Sol and The Kenyon Review, and his story “Sugarcane” was selected for inclusion in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013. His novella, How to Shake the Other Man, was published by Nouvella Books in spring 2013. He is the co-director, with Claire Vaye Watkins, of the Mojave School, a non-profit creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada. Currently he lives and teaches in Lewisburg, PA, where he is completing a novel about a small Cuban family struggling to remain whole after fleeing the island as part of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift. Derek’s Website

Ismet Prcic

Ismet Prcic was born on March 9th 1977 in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina and immigrated to the United States in 1996. His 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. It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and has been translated into nine languages. A recipient of a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts award for fiction he is also a Sundance and Jerusalem screenwriting lab fellow. He co-wrote the screenplay for the film Imperial Dreams which premiered in January at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and won the audience award in its category. Prcic lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two annoying cats. In the service of the arts he writes, teaches and spies on his neighbors. Izzy’s Website

Eden Robinson

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 novel is Blood Sports. Eden at McClelland

James Thomas Stevens

James Thomas Stevens is the Chair of 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.

Elissa Washuta

Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a writer of personal essays and memoir. She is the author of two books, Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules, named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Chronicle of Higher Education, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. Elissa holds an MFA from The University of Washington and currently serves as the undergraduate adviser for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington and a nonfiction faculty member in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a faculty advisor for Mud City Journal and Saturday editor for The Rumpus. Elissa’s website

Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins was raised in the Mojave Desert, first in Tecopa, California, and then across the state line in Pahrump, Nevada. Watkins earned her MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Best of the West 2011, New Stories from the Southwest 2013, the New York Times and elsewhere. Claire has received fellowships from the Writers’ Conferences at Sewanee and Bread Loaf. 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 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. A finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, Battleborn was named a best book of 2012 by the San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Time Out New York, Flavorwire, and NPR.org. In 2012, Claire was selected as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.” A 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and an assistant professor at Bucknell University, Claire is also the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.

Orlando White

Orlando White is the author of Bone Light (Red Hen Press, 2009) and LETTERRS, forthcoming from Nightboat Books. Originally from Tólikan, Arizona, he is Diné of the Naaneesht’ézhi Tábaahí and born for the Naakai Diné’e. He is a recipient of a Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Residency, and a Bread Loaf John Ciardi Fellowship. He has taught at The Art Center Design College, Brown University, and the Institute of American Indian Arts. Currently, he teaches at Diné College and lives in Tsaile, Arizona. Orlando’s Website

Ken White

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 current projects include a screen adaptation of Debra Earling’s novel Perma Red, which he will direct, and Stolen, co-adapted with the book’s author Lucy R. Christopher, slated for production in 2015. He has written or co-written eight feature scripts, including Blight and The Wereman, as well as adaptations of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and the medieval Irish epic The Tain Bo Cuailgne – The Cattle Raid of Cooley. 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 one book of poems, Eidolon (Peel Press 2013). Winter in the Blood Website

Some Recent and Upcoming Visitors

  • Arthur Sze, Poet
  • Luci Tapahonso, Poet
  • Dana Levin, Poet
  • Chris Merrill, Poet/Nonfiction Writer/Director, International Writing Program
  • Michael Wiegers, Copper Canyon Press Editor
  • Elisabeth Schmitz, Grove/Atlantic, Inc. Editor
  • Nancy Stauffer, Agent, Nancy Stauffer Associates
  • Eric Simonoff, Agent, William Morris Endeavor
  • Gary Fisketjon, Vice President at Knopf
  • Nicole Winstanley, President of Penguin Canada
  • Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Poet and Editor
  • Matt Donovan, Poet/Nonfiction Writer
  • Ann Filemyr, Poet
  • Greg Glazner, Poet/Novelist/Musician
  • Evelina Zuni Lucero, Novelist
  • N. Scott Momaday, Poet/Novelist
  • The 1491s, Comedy Troupe
  • Professor Len & The Big Night
  • Nick Flynn, Poet and Nonfiction Writer
  • Simon Ortiz, Poet, Nonfiction and Fiction Writer
  • John D’Agata, Nonfiction Writer
  • Dean Rader, Poet
  • Kelly Forsythe, Poet and Editor
  • Debra Magpie Earling, Fiction Writer
  • Mona Susan Power, Fiction Writer
  • Jess Walter, Fiction Writer
  • Jennifer Foerster, Poet
  • Joy Harjo, Poet, Creative Nonfiction Writer

Photo credits: Jon Davis by Teresa White, Sherman Alexie by Chase Jarvis, Sherwin Bitsui by Richard Castaneda, Amanda Boyden by LJ Goldstein, Natalie Diaz by Joseph Gidjunis, Melissa Febos by Caitlin Delohery, Santee Frazier by Summer Frazier, Joan Kane by Seth Kantner, Chip Livingston by Gabriel Padilha, Eden Robinson by Arthur Renwick, Orlando White by Layli Long Soldier.