Workshop Faculty

2024 Workshop Faculty 

Every summer, we are honored and proud to welcome top-tier faculty to teach and guide our talented high school students. The faculty at Fir Acres are published, working writers with graduate degrees in creative writing from the finest programs in the country (Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Texas, Columbia, Stanford, etc.). Faculty have extensive publications, acclaimed books, and books forthcoming. All faculty have experience mentoring and teaching at the high school, university, and graduate level, and their classes, electives, and Workshops allow students to fully enter the college experience.

Aamina Ahmad

Aamina Ahmad was born and raised in London, England. Aamina’s first novel, The Return of Faraz Ali, was named a notable New York Times and NPR pick for 2022 and went on to win the Art Siedenbaum Los Angeles Times First Book prize, The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain First Book prize, and the Gordon Bowker Volcano prize. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has been a recipient of a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, a Pushcart Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award. She is also the author of a play, The Dishonored. She teaches creative writing at the University of Minnesota. 

Annelyse Gelman

Annelyse Gelman’s work has appeared in BOMB Magazine, the PEN Poetry Series, The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere, and she is the author of the book-length poem Vexations (2023, University of Chicago Press); the poetry collection Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone (2014, Write Bloody); the artist’s book POOL (2020, NECK Press); and the experimental pop EP About Repulsion (2019, Fonograf Editions). Annelyse creates and collaborates across disciplines—producing poetry-films, music videos, paintings and photographs, performances and public interventions—to explore the temporal and material capacities of language. She holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, where she founded Midst, a digital publication and pedagogical resource focused on sharing the writing and revision processes of contemporary poets. Recent and upcoming teaching includes Ellipsis Writing, Media Poetry Studio, and Deep Springs College.  

Audrey Gutierrez

Audrey Gutierrez is a Cuban-American writer from Louisiana. She earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was awarded the Mary Blodgett Fiction Prize from the University of Iowa. In summer 2022, she was an Alaska State Parks Artist-in-Residence and a 2022 PEN America Emerging Writers Fellowship Finalist. She has just completed her novel, Gótica., about five sisters living on the edge of Cuba during the Revolution, and is currently working on a collection of sci-fi and horror stories called Tales from the Swamp. Her work has appeared in F(r)iction, Literary Magazine, CALYX Press, and Artslandia Magazine. Audrey has taught fiction and nonfiction at Lewis & Clark College and The University of Iowa.

Tramaine Suubi

Tramaine Suubi (she/they) is a multilingual Bantu writer. They were born by the Nile River and raised by the Potomac River. They are an alum of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Yellow Arrow Writer-in-Residence. Their poems live in Brink Literary Magazine, Solstice Literary Magazine, and other spaces. Tramaine is the managing editor of Writivism and is officially represented by the Creative Arts Agency. Their forthcoming book debut is a full-length poetry collection called “phases.” This first collection and a second collection will both be published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins. Tramaine is in love with all things water.

Don Waters

Don Waters is the Director of Fir Acres Writing Workshop. He’s the author of the memoir These Boys and Their Fathers, a novel, Sunland, and two story collections, The Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain and Desert Gothic, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. His fiction has been widely published and anthologized in the Pushcart Prize, Best of the West, and New Stories from the Southwest. A frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, he’s written for the New York Times Book Review, Outside, The Believer, Tin House, and Slate, among other publications. Waters is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Lewis & Clark College as a Visiting Professor. He lives in Portland with his partner, the writer Robin Romm, and their daughters.

Josh Weil

Josh Weil is the author of the novels The North of the World (forthcoming) and The Great Glass Sea, the novella collection The New Valley, and the story collection The Age of Perpetual Light. A Fulbright Fellow and National Book Foundation 5-under-35 honoree, he has been awarded The American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Sue Kaufman Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the California Book Award, the GrubStreet National Book Prize, the Library of Virginia Literary Award, the New Writer’s Award from the Great Lakes Colleges Association, and a Pushcart. A graduate of the MFA program at Columbia University, he has been the Picador Guest Professor at the University of Leipzig, the Distinguished Lecturer at the Sozopol Writing Seminars, the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bowling Green State University, the Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi, and the Visiting Writer at the University of California, Irvine. He has taught at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the Community of Writers in Squaw Valley as well as in MFA programs at Columbia University, Brooklyn College, and Bennington College. He lives with his family in California’s Sierra Nevada.

Past Workshop Faculty

Distinguished Visiting Writers 

Omar Al Akkad

Omar El Akkad is an author and journalist. He was born in Egypt, grew up in Qatar, moved to Canada as a teenager and now lives in the United States. The start of his journalism career coincided with the start of the war on terror, and over the following decade he reported from Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and many other locations around the world. His work earned a National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff Penny Award for young journalists. His fiction and non-fiction writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Guernica, GQ and many other newspapers and magazines. His debut novel, American War, is an international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize and has been nominated for more than ten other awards. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, TheWashington Post, GQ, NPR, Esquire and was selected by the BBC as one of 100 novels that changed our world. His new novel, What Strange Paradise, was released in July, 2021, and won the Giller Prize, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, and was shortlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize. It was also named a best book of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR and several other publications.

Carson Ellis

Carson Ellis is the author and illustrator of the bestselling picture books Home and Du Iz Tak? (a Caldecott Honor book and the recipient of an E.B. White Read Aloud Award). She has illustrated a number of books for kids including The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket, and The Wildwood Chronicles by her husband, Colin Meloy. Carson has been awarded silver medals by the Society of Illustrators for her work on Wildwood Imperium and on Dillweed’s Revenge by Florence Parry Heide. She’s the illustrator-in-residence for Colin’s band, The Decemberists, and received Grammy nominations in 2016 and 2018 for album art design. She works sporadically as an editorial illustrator for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and others publications and exhibits art on occasion. She’s represented by Nationale in Portland.

Carson lives on a farm in Oregon with Colin, their two sons, three cats, three llamas, two goats, many chickens, and an unfathomable multitude of tree frogs.

Mary Szybist

Mary Szybist is Associate Professor of English at Lewis & Clark College. She is most recently the author of Incarnadine, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Her work has been awarded two Pushcart Prizes and has been supported by residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Bellagio, Italy. Her first book Granted won the 2004 GLCA New Writers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Mary grew up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and attended the University of Virginia and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has called Portland home since 2004.