Workshop Faculty

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 Hunter College and 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 has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Colby College, and she now teaches at George Mason University. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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 BA ’19 is a Cuban-American writer from Lafayette, Louisiana. She earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and received her bachelor’s degree from Lewis & Clark College. Audrey has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa and English language in Baeza, Spain. In summer of 2022, she was an Alaska State Parks Artist-in-Residence. She is a finalist for the 2022 PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship and the Mary Blodgett Fiction Prize from the University of Iowa. Currently, she is finishing her gothic novel, The Fractures of Nos Castillo, about five sisters living on the edge of Cuba during the Revolution, as well as working on a collection of horror and sci-fi short stories called Tales from the Swamp. Her work has appeared in F(r)iction Literary Magazine, CALYX Press, Prometheus Dreaming, and Artslandia Magazine. A former Fir Acres Writing Workshop Resident Advisor, she’s teaching fiction and nonfiction this year in the English Department at Lewis & Clark.

Kaui Hart Hemmings

Kaui Hart Hemmings has degrees from Colorado College and Sarah Lawrence College, and she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her first novel, New York Times bestseller The Descendants, has been published in 22 other countries and is an Oscar-winning film directed by Alexander Payne and starring George Clooney. Other books include a story collection called House of Thieves and a novel called The Possibilities, an Oprah and People Magazine “must read” that 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 Hawaiʻi.

Laurel Nakanishi

Laurel Nakanishi is a writer, educator, and author of the book of poetry Ashore (Tupelo Press). She was born and raised in Kapālama on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’i. She holds degrees from the University of Montana and Florida International University and has been fortunate to receive fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation and Japan-US Friendship Commission. Her poetry and essays have appeared in national literary magazines, including Orion, Western Humanities Review, and Fourth Genre. She teaches creative writing in Hawai’i.

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.

Distinguished Visiting Writers 

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.

Pauls Toutonghi

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. The film of his book, Dog Gone, was released by Netflix in January 2023. It was the #1 film in the world, on Netflix, for nearly two weeks – reaching #1 in 32 countries. He’s a graduate of Middlebury College and received his MFA and his PhD in English literature from Cornell University.