Narrative Witness: Indigenous Peoples, Australia-United States

Exchange Overview

In August 2015, the IWP Distance Learning Program will open a new artist-writer exchange to honor the voices of indigenous peoples in Australia and the United States.

Narrative Witness, Indigenous Peoples: Australia-United States will bring photographers and writers in far-flung communities together to create, collaborate, and workshop online. Poets Ali Cobby Eckermann and Jennifer Elise Foerster along with photographer Will Wilson will lead the exchange.

Emerging and established writers and photographers are welcome to participate. Over two months, you will be invited to create fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography on the theme of narrative witness: turning a documentary and imaginative lens on your lived and inherited experiences as indigenous artists. If you self-identify as a member of an indigenous community in Australia or the United States and are interested in participating, please email Samantha Nissen.


Ali Cobby ECKERMANN is the author of six books, including the poetry collections Little Bit Long Time (2009), Kami (2010), Love Dreaming and Other Poems (2011), and Ruby Moonlight (2011), the verse novel His Father’s Eyes (2011) and a poetic memoir, Too Afraid to Cry (2013). Her awards include the Australia Poetry Centre’s 2008 New Poets Award and the 2013 Book of the Year for Ruby Moonlight. She co-edited Southerly Journal’s 2012 Aboriginal issue titled A Handful of Sand. In 2015, Eckermann was an IWP Fall Resident.

Jennifer Elise FOERSTER’s work has appeared in journals and anthologies including New California Writing 2011 and Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas. Her first book of poems, Leaving Tulsa (2013), was a Shortlist Finalist for the 2014 PEN Open Book Award. She has received a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. Of German, Dutch, and Muscogee descent, Foerster is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. She is a non-profit development consultant, and is also pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing at the University of Denver.

William (Will) WILSON is a Diné photographer who spent his formative years living in the Navajo Nation. Some of his many awards include the Native American Fine Art Fellowship from the Eiteljorg Museum; and, in 2010, a prestigious grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. From 2009 to 2011, he managed the National Vision Project, a Ford Foundation-funded initiative at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, and helped to coordinate the New Mexico Arts Temporary Installations Made for the Environment (TIME) program on the Navajo Nation. Wilson has held visiting professorships at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Oberlin College, and the University of Arizona, and he has been an active part of New Mexico’s Science and Arts Research Collaborative, which brings together artists interested in using science and technology in their practice with collaborators from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia Labs. Recently, Wilson completed an exhibition and artist residency at the Denver Art Museum and was the King Fellow artist in residence at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, NM. He is the Photography Program Head at the Santa Fe Community College. An archive of his work, both past and present, and his artist’s statements regarding ongoing projects are available on his website.

Upcoming Events

Happening Now

Find Us Online