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Fir Acres Writing Workshop

Workshop Faculty

Fir Acres Faculty 2019

Alexia ArthursAlexia 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 last summer. In 2018, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Iowa City with two Persian cats.


Jesse LichtenstainJesse Lichtenstein’s essays and journalism have appeared in The New York Times MagazineThe Atlantic MonthlyThe New Yorker, Tin House, and Esquire; his poems have been published in The Paris ReviewBoston ReviewDenver Quarterly, and jubilat. He grew up in the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon, studied the history of science at Harvard University, and received an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College. He lives in Portland.


Laurel NakanishiLaurel Nakanishi was born and raised on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’i. Through her work as a writer and educator, she has lived in Montana, Nicaragua, and Japan. She is the author of the Berkshire Prize-winning poetry book, Ashore, forthcoming from Tupelo Press. Her poetry and essays have appeared in national literary magazines and a prize-winning chapbook, Mānoa|Makai. Laurel has been fortunate to receive grants from the Fulbright Foundation, Japan-US Friendship Commission/National Endowment for the Arts, and Wrolstad Foundation. In 2012, Laurel founded a community arts organization in Nicaragua, NicaArts, which she continues to direct. Focusing on the intersections between teaching, writing, and community organizing, Laurel collaborates with non-profits and schools in her home state of Hawai’i to bring creative writing opportunities to underserved children and young adults. Laurel received her MFA in poetry from the University of Montana and her MFA in creative non-fiction from Florida International University. She lives with her family in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Don Waters, Fir Acres Faculty DirectorDon Waters is the Director of Fir Acres Writing Workshop. He’s the author of Sunland, a novel, 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. YarberryS.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, jubilat, Indiana Review, The Offing, Nat Brut, Touchstone Magazine, FIVE:2:ONE‘s #thesideshow, and miscellaneous zines. Their articles and interviews have appeared in, or are forthcoming in, BOMB magazine and Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly. Their work will also be anthologized in Queer Voices: Prose, Poetry, and Pride, forthcoming from Minnesota Historical Society Press. They graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2016 and will soon receive an MFA in Poetry at Washington University in St. Louis, where they teach undergraduate poetry.

Mario ZambranoMario Alberto Zambrano graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2013, where he received a John C. Schupes Fellowship for Excellence in Fiction. Lotería, his first novel, was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and chosen as a top-ten debut in 2013 by BooklistVillage VoiceVogue, and Library Journal. Zambrano has received literary fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Hawthornden Castle in Scotland, and Vermont Studio Center. Currently, he teaches at Harvard University and Boston Conservatory at Berklee. 


Special Guests

Mary Szybist

Mary Szybist is Associate Professor of English at Lewis & Clark College. She is most recently 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.

Zulema SummerfieldZulema Renee Summerfield is a writer, educator, and creative coach. She is the author of Every Other Weekend, published by Little Brown and named a selection for the Barnes and Noble Discovery Award. Her short fiction has been published in a number of literary journals, including Guernica and Threepenny Review. She teaches fiction courses both in person and online, including as a fellow through Literary Arts’ Writers in the Schools Program. She is the co-founder of Creation Island, a generative writing salon in Portland, Oregon. A MacDowell Colony fellow, she is currently at work on a new novel and a collection of short stories. 

Willy VlautinWilly Vlautin was born and raised in Reno, Nevada and has published five novels: The Motel Life (made into a major motion picture starring Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsh, Stephen Dorff, and Kris Kristofferson), Northline, Lean on Pete (made into a major motion picture starring Steve Buscemi and Chloe Sevigny), and The Free. His fifth novel, Don’t Skip Out on Me, has just been published. His books have been a New York Times Editor’s choice and have won the Ken Kesey Award in Fiction and the Oregon People’s Choice Award. His work has been translated into nine 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. Driven by Vlautin’s story-like songwriting, 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 lives in Scappoose, Oregon.

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