Fir Acres Faculty 2020
Alexia Arthurs was born and raised in Jamaica until age twelve, when she moved with her family to New York. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has published fiction in Granta, The Sewanee Review, Small Axe, Virginia Quarterly Review, Buzzfeed, Shondaland, Vice, and The Paris Review, which awarded her the Plimpton Prize in 2017. Her first book, a short story collection called How to Love a Jamaican, was published in 2018. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2019. She lives in Iowa City with two Persian cats.
Ashley Colley is a poet and animal studies scholar. Her poems have appeared most recently in Prelude, jubilat, Black Warrior Review, Textsound, and New Delta Review. She is the recipient of a Fulbright grant to France, where she studied representations of animals from cave art to early cinema as research for her in-progress poetry collection, Animals in Motion. A visual artist and musician, her classes often explore the relationship between creative writing and other art forms. Ashley has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently finishing her PhD in creative writing at the University of Denver. Originally from Ohio, she lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two rabbits.
Mark Mayer has a BA from Brown University, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD from the University of Denver. From 2012 to 2014, he lived at Cornell College’s Center for the Literary Arts as the Robert P. Dana Emerging Writer. His first book of short stories, AERIALISTS, won the Michener-Copernicus Prize and was published by Bloomsbury USA. His work has been published in American Short Fiction, the Kenyon Review, Guernica, The Iowa Review, and The New York Times and he’s been interviewed in the Paris Review and BOMB. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, he teaches fiction writing at Colby College.
Laurel Nakanishi is a writer and educator from Honolulu, Hawai’i. She is the author of the Berkshire prize winning poetry book, Ashore, forthcoming from Tupelo press. Her poetry and essays have appeared in various literary magazines, including Orion, Black Warrior Review, and Fourth Genre. Laurel has been fortunate to receive grants from the Fulbright Foundation, Japan-US Friendship Commission, and Wrolstad Foundation. Laurel received her MFA in poetry from the University of Montana and her MFA in creative non-fiction from Florida International University. She currently teaches poetry on the island of O‘ahu.
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. He lives in Portland with his partner, the writer Robin Romm, and their daughters.
S.Yarberry is a Fir Acres alumnus, first as a Fir Acres student and later as a Fir Acres Resident Advisor. Their poems have appeared in, or are forthcoming in, Tin House, The Washington Post’s The Lily Magazine, Sixth Finch, jubilat, Indiana Review, The Offing, Nat Brut, Berkeley Poetry Review, Notre Dame Review, DREGINALD, The Boiler, miscellaneous zines, among others. Their articles and interviews have appeared in BOMB magazine and Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly. They graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2016 and have an MFA in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis, where they now hold the Junior Fellowship in Poetry and teach undergraduate poetry. Additionally, they teach online at The Loft Literary Center and serve as the Poetry Editor of The Spectacle literary magazine.
Distinguished Visiting Writers
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.
Pauls Toutonghi is a first-generation American whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other periodicals. He’s the author of two novels, a short story collection, and a book-length work of narrative nonfiction, published by Knopf. He’s a graduate of Middlebury College and received his MFA and his PhD in English literature from Cornell University.
Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, Willy Vlautin started playing guitar and writing songs at twelve years old. It was a Paul Kelly song, based on Raymond Carver’s “Too Much Water So Close to Home,” that inspired him to start writing stories.
Vlautin has published five novels: The Motel Life (2007; New York Times Editor’s choice and notable book, made into a major motion picture starring Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsh, Stephen Dorff, and Kris Kristofferson), Northline (2008), Lean on Pete (2010; Winner of the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction, short-listed for the IRISH IMPAC award, and a major motion picture starring Steve Buscemi and Chloe Sevigny), and The Free (2014; Winner of the Oregon People’s Choice Award). His fifth novel, Don’t Skip Out on Me (Shortlisted for the PEN/Faulkner Award, ALA Notable book of the year, A Southwest Book of the Year, and a top ten bestseller in The Netherlands) has just come out in paperback. His work has been translated in ten languages.
Vlautin founded the band Richmond Fontaine in 1994. The band has produced ten studio albums to date, plus a handful of live recordings and EPs. The band has achieved critical acclaim at home and across Europe. The Independent called Willy, “The Dylan of the Dislocated.” Vlautin’s new band, The Delines, featuring vocalist Amy Boone (The Damnations), has received rave reviews from across Europe and the United States. The Delines sold out venues on their first UK and Irish tour and have subsequently had successful tours in Europe and Australia.
Vlautin currently resides in Scappoose, Oregon.