Workshop Faculty

Fir Acres Writing Workshop Faculty Summer 2022 


Aamina Ahmad was born and raised in London. After completing an MA in Television Drama, she worked for BBC Drama and other independent television companies as a script editor on various long-running series. Her play The Dishonoured was produced by Kali Theatre Company and toured the UK. She is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a recipient of a Stegner Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award. Her short fiction has appeared in One Story and The Southern Review, and Ecotone, among others. Her novel, The Return of Faraz Ali, has been published by Riverhead. She currently lives in Berkeley, California.


Ashley Colley is a poet based in Memphis. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Orion, Colorado Review, The Spectacle, jubilat, Prelude, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Fulbright grant to France, where she studied images of animals from cave art to early cinema as research toward her poetry manuscript, Animals in Motion. An interdisciplinary thinker, Ashley often incorporates other art forms and methods of inquiry into her creative writing classes. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and PhD in English and Literary Arts from the University of Denver.


Evan James is the author of the comedic novel Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe and a collection of personal essays, I’ve Been Wrong Before. He’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, the Berlin Writers’ Workshop, Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, and Pierrepont School, where he built and oversaw the growth of the Creative Writing department for four years. His work has appeared in Oxford American, The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, and many other publications. He was a fellow at the Lambda Literary Writers’ Retreat from Emerging LGBTQ Voices, and has participated in writing residencies in Bulgaria, Finland, and Kenya. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Aurora Masum-Javed is a poet and educator. A former public school teacher, she received her MFA from Cornell University where she also served as a lecturer. Her work can be found in various journals including Aster(ix), Black Warrior Review, Nimrod, Winter Tangerine, and Frontier. She has received fellowships from places such as the MacDowell Colony, Millay Arts, Caldera Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Storyknife, and Kundiman, among others. A recent Philip Roth Resident and Hub City Writer in Residence, she is now living in Minnesota where she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Macalester College.


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 PrizeBest 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 ReviewOutsideThe BelieverTin 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 AGNI, Tin House, The Washington Post’s The Lily Magazine, Sixth Finch, jubilat, Indiana Review, Redivider, Notre Dame Review, DREGINALD, The Boiler, and miscellaneous zines. Their articles and interviews have appeared in BOMB, The Adroit Journal, 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 held the Junior Fellowship in Poetry from 2019-2020. Yarberry is currently a PhD candidate in literature at Northwestern University where they hold the Mellon Cluster Fellowship in Poetry & Poetics. Additionally, they have taught undergraduate poetry at Washington University in St. Louis and online at The Loft Literary Center. Yarberry is the Poetry Editor of The Spectacle literary magazine. Their first book of poems, A Boy in the City, is forthcoming from Deep Vellum in the spring of 2022.

Distinguished Visiting Writers (More visitors announced spring 2022!)


Mary Szybist Mary Szybist is Associate Professor of English at Lewis & Clark College. She is the author of Incarnadinewinner 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.


Willy Vlautin is the author of six novels and is the founder of the bands Richmond Fontaine and The Delines. Vlautin started writing stories and songs at the age of eleven after receiving his first guitar. Inspired by songwriters and novelists like Paul Kelly, Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, William Kennedy, Barry Gifford, and John Steinbeck, Vlautin works diligently to tell working class stories in his novels and songs. Vlautin has been the recipient of three Oregon Book Awards, The Nevada Silver Pen Award, and was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. He was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Two of his novels, The Motel Life and Lean on Pete, have been adapted as films. His novels have been translated into eleven languages. Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, Vlautin lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife, dog, cats, and horses, and he teaches at Pacific University’s MFA in Writing program.