Workshop Faculty

Fir Acres Faculty 2021

Alexia Arthurs 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 2020 and currently teaches at Colby College in Maine. 


Ashley Colley

Ashley Colley is a poet based in Memphis. 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 toward 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. She lives with a man and two rabbits.


Mark Mayer

Mark Mayer has a BA from Brown University, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD from the University of Denver. Mayer’s first book of short stories, AERIALISTS (Bloomsbury, 2019), won the Michener-Copernicus Prize and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. His stories have been published in American Short Fiction, the Kenyon Review, Guernica, and The Iowa Review. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, he is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing in the University of Memphis MFA program.


Don Waters, Fir Acres Faculty Director 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 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 Tin House, The Washington Post’s The Lily Magazine, Sixth Finch, jubilat, Indiana Review, Redivider, Notre 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.

Distinguished Visiting Writers 


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.

Kaui Hart Hemmings has degrees from Colorado College, Sarah Lawrence, and she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her first novel, The Descendants, a New York Times bestseller, has been published in twenty-two other countries and is an Oscar-winning film directed by Alexander Payne and starring George Clooney. Other books include a story collection, House of Thieves, The Possibilities, an Oprah and People magazine “must read,” which has been optioned by Jason Reitman. Her debut YA novel, Juniors, has been published by Penguin Putnam. Her current novel, How to Party With an Infant, releases this summer in paperback. She lives in Hawaii.

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.