Women’s Creative Mentorship Project

Yvonne Owuor Speaks at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Right: Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (IWP Fall Resident 2005 & 2017, Kenya), shown here speaking at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., is a mentor for IWP’s inaugural Women’s Creative Mentorship Project.

Women’s Creative Mentorship Project

**Closed for Applications**

In 2019, collaborating with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the International Writing Program launched the Women’s Creative Mentorship Project (WCM). This project focuses on mentorship between young, emerging female writers, and female IWP Fall Residency alumni.

The inaugural WCM project began with a 4-day in-person conference in Portland, Oregon, in late March of 2019, followed by a six-month distance collaboration. The in-person WCM conference was comprised of master classes, manuscript consultations, and one-on-one meetings between mentors and mentees. Additional programming included special seminars with visiting authors and other creative professionals, both U.S.- and overseas-based. During the conference, mentees worked with assigned mentors and IWP staff to develop personalized plans that provided structure for the distance portion of the project, ending in September 2019. An anthology of WCM creative writing has been published by the IWP, and can be read here.  

This initiative was open to women writers at all writing levels, and is funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Virtual Women’s Creative Mentorship Professionalization Project
Engaging writers in Argentina, Botswana, Colombia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Somalia, and South Africa
(14 mentees & 5 writer/publisher experts / April 15-October 15, 2020)

This 2020 project built on the already-established WCM connections as a program extension, introducing participants to prominent writers and creative text publishing experts through a series of professional practice seminars, one topic expert per month. Participants continued their mentorships, and were invited to create digital “collages” (short videos, images, text, and their personal ‘writing resource lists’) to describe their work over these six months and—given the COVID-19 pandemic—their work beyond it, including the balancing/un-balancing of life, COVID-19, writing, and global and local concerns: distancelearningiwp.org/digitalcollageswmp2020


Ubah Cristina Ali Farah (fiction writer, poet, playwright, translator; Italy) was born in Verona, Italy, of a Somali father and an Italian mother. She grew up in Mogadishu but fled the civil war at the age of eighteen. A poet, novelist, playwright, and oral performer, she has published stories and poems in anthologies, winning in 2006 the Lingua Madre National Literary Prize. Her first novel, Madre piccola (2007), won the Vittorini Prize, and has been translated into Dutch and English (2011); Il comandante del fiume appeared in 2014. She holds a Ph.D. in African Studies from the University of Naples- L'Orientale, and has presented her academic work in Africa, the US and Europe. She is affiliated with the Center for Somali Studies at Roma Tre University and with The Australasian Centre for Italian Studies. In 2017 she participated in the International Writing Program residency; in 2018 she had a Maison des Ecrivains et Traducteurs de Saint-Nazaire residency.

Maxine Case (fiction, journalism; South Africa) is a senior writer for the non-profit Cape Town Partnership. She contributes to a number newspapers and magazines, including Real Simple, Reader’s Digest and O Magazine. Her short story “Homing Pigeons” was included in African Compass: New Writing from Southern Africa 2005. In 2007, her debut novel All We Have Left Unsaid won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in Africa, and, jointly, the Herman Charles Bosman Award.

Maria Sonia Cristoff (novelist, nonfiction writer; Argentina) is the author of, non-fiction narratives Falsa Calma (2005), which appeared in 2018 as False Calm in Katherine Silver’s translation, and Desubicados [Misfits] (2006), and of three novels Bajo influencia  (2010), Inclúyanme afuera  (2014), and Mal de época (2017). Her work explores fiction and non-fiction intermingling in literary pieces. She is also the editor of three collections that have close links to her own narrative: Patagonia (2005), Idea crónica  (2006) and Pasaje a Oriente (2009). Her literary pieces and criticism have been published in newspapers and magazines such as La Nación, Clarín, Página 12, Perfil, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Noticias, Siwa, Anfibia and Letras Libres. An alumna of the 2011 IWP fall residency, Cristoff teaches creative writing at Universidad Nacional de las Artes (UNA) and Universidad Nacional Tres de Febrero (Untref). Her work has been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Arabic and Swedish.

Tjawangwa (TJ) Dema (poet, Botswana) is a Motswana poet, teaching artist and arts administrator. Her poetry collection Mandible was published in 2014 under the auspices of the African Poetry Book Fund; The Careless Seamstress won the 2018 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press in 2019. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University (UK), where she mentored the all-female national champions for the British Council’s Power in the Voice initiative. A past chairperson of the Writers Association of Botswana, Dema has coordinated workshops and cultural exchanges, and produced recordings of Botswana poets, and given readings and workshops in Africa, Asia, the UK, and Europe.  In 2012 she participated in the IWP fall residency; in 2016 she was Artist-in-Residence at Northwestern University’s Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. She is a 2016 Mail and Guardian/GabzFM Editor’s Choice award recipient, a 2014 St. Louis Top 40 under 40 Catalyst, and has received grants from the Vermont Studio Centre and Denmark’s DIVA fellowship.

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (novelist, essaysist, Kenya) is an author, lecturer, and arts curator. In 2003, she won the Caine Prize for African Writing for her story “Weight of Whispers,” also the title of a 2003 volume. Her first novel, Dust, was published by Knopf in 2014, made the Folio Award shortlist, and won the 2015 TBC Jomo Kenyatta Literature Award; her second novel, The Dragonfly Sea, also from Knopf, appeared in 2019. Owuor was an IWP Fall Resident in 2005, and returned in 2017 as the Residency’s first Grinnell Fellow.

Shenaz Patel (fiction writer, playwright; Mauritius) has written many novels, plays, and short stories in both French and Mauritian Créole: best known is her 2005 novel Le silence des Chagos, forthcoming in an English translation in 2019 as The Silence of the Chagos. As a working journalist, she writes about social and cultural issues; much of her writing seeks to unearth the unsaid and untold.  In 2016, she was an International Writers Program resident; in 2018, she had a fellowship with the Hutchins Centre-W.E.B du Bois Institute at Harvard University.

Pilar Quintana (novelist, fiction writer; Colombia) has published four novels, Cosquillas en la lengua (2003), Coleccionistas de polvos raros (2007), Conspiración iguana (2009) and La perra (2017; winner of Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana, shortlisted for Premio Nacional de Novela) as well as the short story collection Caperucita se come al lobo (2012). In 2007 she was selected by Hay Festival as one of Latin America’s “39 under 39” young writers. In 2010 she received Spain’s Premio de Novela La Mar de Letras for Coleccionistas de polvos raros; in 2016 she received a grant from the Ministry of Culture for La isla cuenta, a series of writing workshops in the Island of Old Providence. La perra won the 2018 Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana and was shortlisted for Premio Nacional de Novela. Her screenplay Lavaperros (with A. García Ángel), won grants from Fondo para el Desarrollo Cinematográfico and Proimágenes, and was produced in 2018. Her stories have been published in Latin America, Spain, Italy, Germany, the US and China. She is an alumna of the IWP (2011), and of the International Writers Workshop of the Baptist University of Hong Kong (2012).

Karen Villeda (poet, translator, fiction writer; Mexico) has published two children's books, Pelambres (2016) and Cuadrado de Cabeza. El mejor detective del mundo o eso cree él (2015); four collections of poetry: Dodo (2013), Constantinopla (2013), Babia (2011) and Tesauro (2010), and a book of essays Tres (2016). Villeda has had grants from the Open Society Foundations, Ragdale Foundation and Young Creators Program of the National Fund for Culture and Arts (FONCA); among her many awards are the Fine Arts Prize for Literary Essay 2017, "Clemencia Isaura" National Award of Poetry in 2016, Youth Prize of Mexico City 2014, and Fine Arts Prize for Children's Fiction 2014. Villeda explores poetry and multimedia on her website www.poetronica.net; her digital work can also be found in MIT’s Electronic Literature Collection. Her poems have been translated into Arabic, French, English and Portuguese, and published widely in the Americas; she has translated English poetry into Spanish. Her next book, Visegrado, will be published by the National Institute of Fine Arts.


PDF icon WCM Anthology4.87 MB

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