2017 Faculty

Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, it was named a best book of 2016 by Publishers Weekly, GQ, The Guardian, Slate, and The Washington Post, among many others, and is being translated into ten languages. His short fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, A Public Space, VICE, and elsewhere, and he has contributed nonfiction to The New Yorker, The London Review of Books, The New York Times, and The Atlantic. He holds graduate degrees from Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Arts Fellow. He lives in Iowa City.


Photo by Adam KarstenPam Houston’s most recent book is Contents May Have Shifted, published in 2012, by W.W. Norton.  She is also the author of two collections of linked short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, the novel, Sight Hound, and a collection of essays called A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton.  Her stories have been selected for volumes of Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century.  She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA award for contemporary fiction, and The Evil Companions Literary Award and multiple teaching awards.  She is professor of English at UC Davis, directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers and teaches in The Institute of American Indian Art’s Low-Rez MFA program and at writer’s conferences around the country and the world.  She lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.


Fenton Johnson is the author of the new novel The Man Who Loved Birds (The University Press of Kentucky) as well as the award-winning Scissors, Paper, Rock and Crossing the River, each recently reissued in new editions. He has published as well Geography of the Heart:  A Memoir and Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey among Christian and Buddhist Monks. His collection of essays Notes of an Emigrant Son: New and Selected Essays was selected for the Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature published by Sarabande Press and will be forthcoming in 2017. Going It Alone: On the Dignity and Challenge of Solitude (W.W. Norton), based on his most recent Harper’s Magazine cover essay, will be published in 2018. Geography received the American Library Association and Lambda Literary Awards for best LGBT Creative Nonfiction, while Keeping Faith received a Lambda Literary and Kentucky Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction. Johnson has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was recently featured on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air and writes regularly for Harper’s Magazine. He teaches in the creative writing programs at the University of Arizona and Spalding University.


Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, Hyperboreal, The Straits, and Milk Black Carbon. Her awards include the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, the American Book Award, the Alaska Literary Award, and fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the School for Advanced Research, and the Aninstantia Foundation. Joan graduated from Harvard College, where she was a Harvard National Scholar, and Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she was the recipient of a graduate Writing Fellowship. Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, she raises her sons in Anchorage, Alaska, and is MFA faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir WILD, the New York Times bestsellers TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS and BRAVE ENOUGH, and the novel TORCH. Her books have been translated into forty languages around the world. WILD was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. The Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of WILD stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as Cheryl’s mother, Bobbi. The film was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby. Strayed’s essays have been published in The Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Sun, Tin House, and elsewhere. Strayed is the co-host, along with Steve Almond, of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus. Strayed holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Portland, Oregon.


Luis Alberto Urrea, is the best selling author of 15 books, including The Devil’s Highway and The Hummingbird’s Daughter. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Urrea has won the Lannan Literary Award, the Pacific Rim Kiriyama Prize, an American Book Award, the Christopher Award and an Edgar Award, among other honors. His novel Into the Beautiful North is a current selection of the NEA’s Big Read program. His books have been chosen by more than 45 different cities and colleges for community reads programs and he is much in demand as a speaker, lecturer and teacher.  In 2015, he released a book of short stories, The Water Museum and a poetry collection, The Tijuana Book of the Dead. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Urrea is most recognized as a border writer, though he says, “I am more interested in bridges, not borders.” He lives in Chicago where he is a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.