IAIA launches new MFA program

May 15th, 2013 | By | Category: 24-4: Language Revitalization, Tribal College News
SHERMAN ALEXIE

LITERARY GIANT. Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene) is one of many faculty mentors in the Institute of American Indian Arts’ new MFA program. Photo by Chase Jarvis

The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA, Santa Fe, NM) has announced its first graduate program, the new Low Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The Low Residency MFA program offers a professional degree in creative writing while allowing students to live at home. The program begins with a weeklong residency at the IAIA campus in Santa Fe where students and faculty mentors, together with visiting writers and editors, gather for workshops, classes, lectures, readings, and individual conferences. For the remainder of the program, faculty mentors work online with up to five student writers.

In keeping with IAIA’s unique mission—“to empower creativity and leadership in Native arts and cultures through higher education, lifelong learning, and outreach”—most of the faculty mentors are American Indian and the literature studied in the program carries a distinct Native American emphasis. The program is open to everyone, but its focus aligns with IAIA’s unique mission.

Jon Davis, a faculty member at IAIA for 22 years, directs the program. Faculty mentors include Sherman Alexie, Sherwin Bitsui, Amanda Boyden, Joseph Boyden, Natalie Diaz, Melissa Febos, Santee Frazier, Sterlin Harjo, Geoff Harris, Joan Kane, Chip Livingston, Susan Power, Eden Robinson, and Orlando White. Collectively, faculty mentors have published more than 40 books and have won numerous awards, including Lannan Literary Awards, Whiting Awards, a National Book Award, a ScotiaBank Giller Prize, a PEN/Faulkner Award, a PEN/ Hemingway Award, a PEN Open Book Award, a United States Artist Fellowship, and a Donald Hall Prize from the Associated Writing Programs.

During the two-year program, students produce a full-length collection of poems or stories, a novel or novella, a book-length creative nonfiction manuscript, or a feature screenplay. They meet with editors, publishers, and producers and network with faculty mentors and visiting writers. Industry professionals scheduled to visit IAIA include Chris Merrill, director of the International Writing Program; Michael Wiegers, executive editor at Copper Canyon Press; Elisabeth Schmitz, editor at Grove/Atlantic; Nancy Stauffer of Nancy Stauffer Associates; Eric Simonoff, head of the literary division at William Morris; Gary Fisketjon, vice president of Knopf; and Nicole Winstanley, president of Penguin Canada.

The IAIA’s Low Residency MFA program is among the most affordable MFA programs in the country, according to Davis. Students can apply online or through the mail. For more information about the program and the application process visit IAIA online at www.iaia.edu/academics/ mfa-in-creative-writing/ or contact Jon Davis, director, MFA in Creative Writing at (505) 424-2365 or mfa@iaia.edu.

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