Teachers and counselors at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio are chosen, with rare exceptions, from among the students and graduates of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, founded in 1936, was the first graduate creative writing program in the United States and is still regarded as one of the finest. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop typically accepts 25 fiction writers and 25 poets every year from an application pool of over 1,500. Teachers and counselors for the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio are thus by default not only extraordinarily accomplished writers in the early stages of their careers, but have had the opportunity to acquire extensive teaching experience while studying at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, in many cases teaching creative writing to undergraduates. It is for their teaching experience, enthusiasm, and expertise that we hire them to work at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. In short, the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio offers young, passionate, high school-age creative writers the opportunity to study with some of the finest writers and teachers in the country.
Current & Recent Staff
Ren Arcamone is a writer from Sydney, Australia. She’s finishing her MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and she’s an alumna of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. Before moving to Iowa, she worked as an arts organiser for Writing NSW, an Australian non-profit for emerging and established writers. Alexia Arthurs
Alexia Arthurs is a writer and keeper of Persian cats--she has two so far, Cous Cous and Fable! She was raised in Jamaica and New York, which inspired the stories in her debut story collection, "How to Love a Jamaican." She has taught creative writing at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Abigail Carney
Abigail Carney is a writer from rural Ohio, a place that shows up in her stories. Abigail is currently an MFA candidate in fiction writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she is an Iowa Arts Fellow and at work on her first novel. Her plays include SUNDAY MORNING (The Road Theatre & the Yale Playwright’s Festival), THE GLOAMING (The Young Playwrights Festival at the Lucille Lortel Theatre), TAXIDERMY (The LIC One-Act Play Festival), BLOODY SQUISHY (Montserrat), and BELLADONNA (New School for Drama). DUST CAN’T KILL ME, a folk musical co-written with Elliah Heifetz, was produced at the New York Musical Festival, where it won five Awards for Excellence. The show was a Time Out New York Critics' Pick and also appeared at NYC Fringe, Le Poisson Rouge, and Yale University. Abigail has taught playwriting at the New Haven Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School. As a spoken word poet, she competed and performed at Rustbelt, the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, Brave New Voices, and opened for The Strivers Row. She graduated from Yale University cum laude.
Scott Ditzler is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Capote Fellow and a Teaching Writing Fellow. His fiction has appeared in Crazyhorse, December, and Puerto del Sol. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Kansas City Star. Scott currently lives and teaches in Iowa City, where he is working on a novel narrated as a series of apologies. Janelle Effiwatt
Janelle Affiong Effiwatt was born in Tucson, Arizona. After receiving a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, she applied to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she graduated this spring with an MFA in poetry writing. Janelle’s poetry attempts to make a spectacle of the mundane, and is concerned with visibility, blackness, and humor. In her work you will find institutions, domestic spaces, and a lot of birds, intersecting, always, with issues of race and class. As an instructor she is interested in the Lyric (poem) as a mutating and hybridizing art form, teaches mainly women and writers of color, and sees the classroom as a generative, sacred, writing space. Her first chapbook is forthcoming this Fall 2019 from Letter Machine Editions. She lives and teaches in Iowa City. Dana Fang
Dana Fang is a queer, non-binary, Asian American writer and artist from the Chicagoland area. They hold a BA in Creative Writing and English from Oberlin College and graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in Spring 2019 with a MFA in Poetry. Their work has appeared in Cleaver, phoebe, Sonora Review, and Black Warrior Review, among others. They are currently finishing a poetry manuscript that explores the British colonization of China during the Opium War through the lens of prominent Chinese imperial gardens. They use this historical examination as a vehicle through which to contrast their disjointed memories of their early childhood growing up in rural China and familial stories told to them about their family’s farming community. In their free time, they work as a portrait and event photographer for Bawdy Bawdy Ha Ha, an Eastern Iowa burlesque and variety show. Jane Huffman
Jane Huffman has an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa, where she is currently an instructor for the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, POETRY, Ninth Letter, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She is editor-in-chief of Guesthouse, a literary journal ( www.guesthouselit.com). Jane is from metro-Detroit, Michigan and has a BA in theatre arts and English from Kalamazoo College. Aaron Hwang
Aaron Hwang is a graduate student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He graduated Yale with a Writing Concentration, but doesn’t really like to talk about it. He has never been a dragon or dipped his hand into the emptiness beyond the rim of the universe. He is perpetually losing things, and forgetting things, and running late. He turned this bio in late. He is not and has never been fancy. Please do not bully him. Jing Jian
Jing Jian (JJ) immigrated from Wuhan, China to Long Island, NY when she was thirteen. Before coming to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she is an Iowa Arts Fellow, to study fiction writing, JJ received a B.S in mathematics from MIT and worked as a software engineer. You bet her parents were not as thrilled as she was about her career change. Before Iowa, JJ has studied writing with Junot Diaz, Bret Anthony Johnson, and David Mura. She is a graduate of VONA, a multi-genre workshop for writers of color. She practices and teaches aerial dance in her spare time. Matthew Kelley
Matthew B. Kelley is a writer from Atlanta, GA. He is a fiction fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has received fellowships from Kimbilio Fiction and Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Claire Lombardo
Claire Lombardo is a fiction writer, teacher, and Post-It enthusiast. Her debut novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had, was released in June 2019 and debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List. It has been translated or is forthcoming in over a dozen languages, and is currently being adapted for a series on HBO with Laura Dern and Amy Adams co-producing and Lombardo writing. Claire is a 2017 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been the recipient of an Iowa Arts Fellowship, a Sun Valley Writers' Conference Fellowship, and a Key West Literary Seminar Scholarship. She has taught fiction writing at the University of Iowa and the Iowa Young Writers' Studio. Samantha Macpherson
Samantha Jade Macpherson is a writer from the Okanagan Valley, in Canada, and an MFA fiction candidate at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her work has been published in The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Ricepaper Magazine, and The Journey Prize Anthology 31. Her story "Tattoo" was the winner of The Malahat Review's 2018 Novella Prize, as well as the Jack Hodgins Founders' Award for Fiction. She's been shortlisted for the 2019 Journey Prize. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Victoria and is currently at work on a collection of linked stories
Ian McMurray is a writer currently living in Iowa City. His fiction focuses on the psychology of infatuation, memory, self-delusion, and family. Some of his favorite contemporary writers are Peter Cameron, Adam Haslett, Kazuo Ishiguro, Alice Munro, and Viet Thanh Nguyen; he is also a fan of Victorian gothic fiction, science fiction, and detective fiction. In his spare time, Ian is an avid reader, moviewatcher, racquetball player, and shih tzu dad. He is still figuring out how to brush his dog's teeth. Carl Napolitano
Carl Napolitano is a writer, ceramicist, and occasional drag performer from Little Rock, Arkansas. He holds a BA in English-Creative Writing and Studio Art from Hendrix College and is currently finishing his MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His work has appeared or is forthcoming Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, CRAFT, and The Rumpus. He is an associate editor for Sibling Rivalry Press. Karen Parkman
Karen Parkman graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2016 and now lives and teaches in Iowa City. She’s also lived in West Virginia, Ohio, Boston, and New Zealand. Her favorite books include Escapes by Joy Williams, Why Did I Ever by Mary Robison, and The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury. Hanging out in a classroom with other people who love writing is one of the great joys of her life. Karen’s stories have been published in Joyland and Witness, and she is currently working on a novel.
Anna Polonyi is a trilingual writer interested in obscure chapters of history. Before pursuing her M.F.A. in fiction with the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she worked as a news reporter in Paris, France. Her bylines include the International New York Times, Foreign Policy and the French public radio. She studied History and Literature at Harvard University. She has published Wayword, a chapbook of poems, and has taught workshops on a sailboat off the coast of Denmark, a field station in the Great Plains and a festival in Kazakhstan. She is currently at work on a memoir about growing up as a Third Culture Kid. She lives in Paris, France. Eliana Ramage
Eliana Ramage is of course a writer, and also a high school English teacher in Tel Aviv. A Cherokee Nation citizen from Nashville, she is at work on a novel about an aspiring astronaut from her tribe. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Baltimore Review, the Beloit Fiction Journal, and the anthologies All the Women in My Family Sing and Re(Sisters). She loves dance parties, television, and the Cherokee language. Eliana is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Santiago Sanchez
Santiago Jose Sanchez is a Colombian-American fiction writer at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Their stories are forthcoming or published in McSweeney's, ZYZZYVA, Subtropics, Joyland, and elsewhere. They have received fellowships from the University of Iowa and the Lambda Literary Writers' Retreat. Ryan Tucker
Ryan Tucker is a ceramicist and writer whose research includes theories of material engagement, including the materiality of language, ecopoetics, and politics of the body, specifically in relationship to nostalgia, illness, and pain. His ceramic work looks to find an intersection between the permanence of fired clay and the shifting points of understanding inherent in language. Pluto’s Red, his most recent collection of poems, is being submitted for publication and thinks about the relationship between memories of intimacy, the space race, surveillance, and cartoon dogs. He is a recipient of the Roselyn Schneider Eisner Prize, was a Provost’s Visiting Writer at University of Iowa, and has been published in BOMBMagazine. Currently, he teaches poetry, composition, and literature courses at the University of Iowa and Augustana College.
Danielle Wheeler was the 2010-2011 Rona Jaffe fellow in poetry at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She currently lives in Austin, where she teaches writing and literature. Her first chapbook, Teenage Exorcists, was released in 2015.
Connor White is from Long Island, New York and is a 2017 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa and at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He graduated with a BFA in Film and Television from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and worked for several years as a film director, producer and editor before coming to Iowa City. Ada Zhang
Ada Zhang is a fiction writer who is interested in exploring family, foreignness, and the lingering effects of history on the lives of ordinary people. Before coming to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop to pursue her Masters in Fine Arts, she was living in New York City, where she worked for three years as a children’s book editor at Sterling Publishing. Her list included titles in the board, picture book, nonfiction, activity, and middle grade categories. Ada’s own fiction is hugely influenced by classics such as William Trevor, Chekhov, and Alice Munro, as well as by contemporary favorites Yiyun Li, Danielle Evans, and Daniyal Mueenuddin. She currently lives in Iowa City with a sweet kitty named Tofu, and in her spare time, she likes to read short stories, FaceTime with friends who live far away, and see what Cardi B is up to on Instagram. Her stories have been published in Witness Magazine and The Rumpus.
Writers who have taught or counseled at the Iowa Young Writers' Studio since its founding in 2000 include Daniel Alarcón, Andy Axel, Katherine Bell, Amy Bernhard, Catherine Blauvelt, Shane Book, Sarah Braunstein, Marion Bright, Jamel Brinkley, Thea Brown, Suzanne Buffam, Austin Bunn, David Busis, Amy Butcher, Scott Butterfield, Greta Byrum, Marjorie Celona, Daniel Cesca, Ashley Clarke, Harriet Clark, Lindsay Coleman, Arda Collins, Ben Doyle, Nick Dybek, Jason England, Michelle Falkoff, Joe Fassler, Sarah Fay, Adam Fell, Jorge Guerra, David Gorin, Jane Gregory, Jill Haberkern, Ben Hale, Meg Hartmann, Amy Hassinger, Mary Hickman-Fernandez, Nate Hoks, Naomi Jackson, Evan James, Leslie Jamison, Rebecca Johns, Nimo Johnson, Riley Johnson, Amanda Kallis, Daniel Khalastchi, Sally Keith, Kristin Kelly, Justin Kramon, Josh Kryah, Kerrie Kvashay-Boyle, Nam Le, Anna Lewis, Jason Lewis, Jane Lewty, Jack Livings, Claire Lombardo, James Longley, Carmen Maria Machado, Alex Madison, Dora Malech, Steve Marlowe, Anthony Marra, Peyton Marshall, Aaron McCollough, Madeline McDonnell, Sara McGuirk, Elyse Mele, Nancy Mendoza, Andrew Milward, Fatima Mirza, Kevin Moffett, Melissa Mogollon, Paula Morris, Anna Morrison, Becca Myers, Andrew Nance, Thisbe Nissen, Derek Nnuro, Emily Pettit, Daniel Poppick, Margaret Reges, Alex Ruskell, Lewis Robinson, Dan Rosenberg, Margaret Ross, Anjali Sachdeva, Sanjena Sathian, Christian Schlegel, Lauren Shapiro, Vivian Shotwell, Nina Siegal, Lucy Silag, Will Smiley, Jared Stanley, Kate Sullivan, Michelle Taransky, Tim Taranto, Catherine Theis, Vu Tran, Justin Tussing, Christine Utz, Kelsi Vanada, Anya Ventura, Cara Wall, Keenan Walsh, Patricia Walsh, Malena Watrous, Elizabeth Weiss, Lisa Wells, Monica West, Julia Whicker, Vinnie Wilhelm, Antoine Wilson, De'Shawn Winslow, Rachel Yoder, C. Pam Zhang and Jenny Zhang.