CWE MFA Graduates

wbonfig2William Bonfiglio graduated from Iowa State’s M.F.A. program in Creative Writing and Environment in 2016, and is a graduate of Bucknell University, where he achieved a B.A. in Psychology and English with a concentration in Creative Writing.





Button_RachelRachael Button is from Michigan—a place she frequently writes and talks about. If you ask her she’ll point out her hometown on her hand. As an undergraduate she studied English and ran cross country and track for Valparaiso University in Indiana. Since moving to Iowa she’s run the Des Moines marathon, helped with a prairie burn, volunteered on an organic farm, and taken part in a community art project at Ada Hayden Park. This summer Rachael did her field work at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise, Michigan, where she taught people about sunken ships, lighthouses, and Lake Superior. She primarily writes nonfiction.



Carter_CorrinaCorrina Carter grew up in northern California. Before coming to ISU, she earned a BA in English from UC Irvine. Her passions include wildlife (especially birds), horse racing, true crime, and her terrier Agent Cooper. Carter graduated from ISU’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment in the Spring of 2016.




Chloe N. Clark graduated from the MFA program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University in 2016. While a Teaching Assistant, she taught ISUComm Foundations courses and tried to find ways to make writing seem like an enticing prospect (she usually tries to accomplish this through Doctor Who and bad puns).

As an undergrad she was the recipient of The David Cole Creative Writing Award, The Cy Howard Writing Award, and The University Bookstore Award for Academic Excellence (for her creative writing thesis). She has also been a featured reader at the Summerset Festival of the Arts and The Wisconsin Book festival.

Her poetry and fiction have appeared in a variety of publications including Apex, Bombay Gin, Booth, Rock & Sling, Mirror Dance, Rosebud, Supernatural Tales, Menacing Hedge, Abyss & Apex, Sleet, Prick of the Spindle, Verse Wisconsin, and more. She has had pieces nominated for Best of the Net, was a runner-up in Sundog’s Short Story Contest and a Finalist in Wyvern Lit’s Flash Fiction Contest.

She has an ongoing monthly column at Luna Station Quarterly called Ghosts and Fandoms. Here she writes about Fan Studies as an academic area of study as well as Genre in literature and popular culture.

In addition to baking, reading too much, teaching, writing, and being a grad student, she blogs under the moniker Pints and Cupcakes. On her blog, links to her published work can be found on the Writings page. She also tweets (probably too much) and can be followed @PintsNCupcakes.


Michelle Donahue is a California native who holds a B.S. in environmental biology. Before she came to Iowa, she researched sea lions as a volunteer for the Galapagos National Park, taught English in Istanbul, lived in the UK, and worked on farms in Greece and Bulgaria.

Michelle is a second year fiction candidate and the current Managing Editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment. She was the 2012-2013 Hogrefe fellow.

Her fiction has appeared in Whiskey Island, Paper Darts, NAP, and others. She won Treehouse’s Contest for Unusual Prose and was a finalist in the James Knudson Prize at Bayou Magazine, the William Richey Short Fiction Contest at Yemassee, and the String of 10 Contest at Flash Fiction Chronicle. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Poecology, Redactions, Hobart, and others.

slfuthey2Originally from Central Pennsylvania, Samantha Futhey is a 2016 graduate of ISU’s Creative Writing and Environment MFA program, with a concentration in poetry. At ISU, she taught undergraduate English communication courses, and acted as the treasurer for AgArts, an organization dedicated to linking agriculture and the arts. In the local community, she was a student teacher for the Ames High School creative writing club. From 2014-2015, she was a poetry editor for Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, and continues editorial work as an intern for Ice Cube Press, a Midwest-focused publisher. Outside of writing and publishing, she worked on a variety of farms including a goat dairy in Oregon, vegetable and native wildflower farms in Montana, and her father’s cow dairy in Pennsylvania. Food politics, cheesemaking, farm animals (especially cows), and rural places are her current obsessions, both in writing and in life.

gsiyer2Geetha Iyer is a writer with a background in the natural sciences. She received a Master’s in Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida in 2010 and will complete an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University in 2014.

Her research and writing impulses are driven by the impact of migration and colonization upon contemporary ecosystems and societies. Her fiction is forthcoming in Orion and Salt Hill, and has received a Hopwood Undergraduate Award and Robert F. Haugh Prize from the University of Michigan, the 2012 Fiction Prize from Gulf Coast, and the 2013 Calvino Prize from the University of Louisville. She received a work-study scholarship at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2013.

At ISU she is an active member of the Casey Stewardship Committee for the MFA program’s Everett Casey Nature Center and Reserve. She served as the Casey Reserve’s stewardship coordinator for 2013. She tends to the beehives at Casey as a member of the Bluff Creek Bee Club. She is also a member of ISU’s Science Communication Project.

She was born in India and grew up in the United Arab Emirates.

Keener_AnnaAnna Keener received her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico in Environmental Science. While an undergraduate, she was given the opportunity to study biology on the Galapagos Islands. She has also traveled in Belize, studying small mammals, and has spent a summer counting prairie dogs and tagging birds in the New Mexican desert. Anna took to writing at an early age, a period of her work which featured time traveling dog narrators and ‘it was all a dream’ twist endings. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Anna’s hometown is Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the base range of the Rocky Mountains.


claire112Minnesota native and Ames, Iowa resident Claire Krüesel views the world—like everyone else—percolated through her personal experience. Studying Biochemistry attuned her to shifting perspectives of scale, and singing in the Iowa State University women’s choir Cantamus trained her to witness the stories told in each brief note. Now a second-year graduate student in ISU’s MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment, Claire serves as Poetry Editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, the program’s literary journal, and connects with the community by teaching yoga and playing in local bands. Her writing and research interests hover at the intersections of art, science, architecture, and the way we infuse objects with history, places with memory, and each moment with our own invisible spiderweb maps—currently manifested in work with University Museums on the incredible 1969 Japanese-made stage curtain at C. Y. Stephens auditorium. Some of Claire’s writing can be found online and is forthcoming in Prairie Gold, an anthology of Midwestern writers from Ice Cube Press. Claire loves antiques, the North Shore, anything in the phrygian dominant mode, and her dog Ginger.

amccombs2Audrey McCombs writes fiction and creative nonfiction, studies conservation biology, and is currently working on a historical novel set in Madagascar in the 1830’s.  She previously served as Creative Director for Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Missing Slate, Sequestrum, The Mountain, Pithead Chapel, Earthspeak Magazine, Pay Attention: a River of Stones, and Beaches and Parks from Monterey to Ventura. Before going back to graduate school, she worked in natural resources management for many years, and has lived in Asia, Europe and Africa. She dreams of a three-year vow of silence, and a house empty of everything but blank walls upon which she may, finally, write down the code that animates our brute substance.

MacVaugh_FredFred MacVaugh was born and raised in southeastern Pennsylvania. Before coming to ISU, Fred earned an MA in English, with an emphasis in technical communication, from the University of Nebraska at Omaha; worked for seven years as an archivist for the National Park Service (NPS); completed an MA in history from the University of Texas at El Paso; and received a BA in history, with a minor in creative writing (poetry), at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Fred’s NPS experience includes a season at Vicksburg National Military Park, two years at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and five years in the Midwest Regional Office, where he assisted staff in 57 parks in 13 states manage records, archives, museum, and library collections. Along the way, Fred’s also taught college-level English and history; worked as a newspaper reporter and obituary writer, writing tutor, and grocery clerk; interned at the University of Nebraska Press; and published poems in, most recently, Plains Song Review. His goal is to combine writing about history and nature with teaching, conservation, and land preservation and management.

O'Brien_Jimmy As an undergraduate, James O’Brien attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland, completed a senior thesis on the Rhetoric of Punk Rock, played rugby, and graduated in Spring 2007. The following year, O’Brien served with AmeriCorps VISTA in Southern Maryland as a mediator, facilitator, and public outreach coordinator. During his time with AmeriCorps he developed a writing as conflict resolution group, worked alongside local law enforcement, and provided alternative dispute resolution services to Maryland’s court system. His literary interests include the Literature of the American South, Mythology, Medieval Literature, and Modern Rhetoric. Currently, he is at work on a collection of short stories centered on Washington D.C.’s straight-edge punk scene as well as several pieces of magic realism. His story, ‘Night’s Work,’ is forthcoming from J Journal in Winter 2009.

adpayton1Andrew Payton is a Maryland native and an MFA candidate. While at Iowa State he has served as the Poetry Editor on Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, worked as a field technician in Alberta, Canada, for renowned wolf biologist Cristina Eisenberg, and written and published in all three genres.

Andrew’s poetry has been published in Notre Dame Review, Fourth River, Louisville Review, and elsewhere, and won the 2013 James Hearst Poetry Prize at North American Review. His fiction is published in Greensboro Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Masters Review, won a fellowship to the Aspen Summer Words Writing Retreat, and received finalist commendations in the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, Hunger Mountain’s Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize, and Gigantic Sequins Flash Fiction Prize. His nonfiction is published in Bayou, South Dakota Review, South Loop Review, and won Flyway’s Home Voices Contest.

His thesis is a novel set in West Virginia and Baltimore, titled Blasting at the Big Ugly. When he’s not filling blank pages, he enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking, biking, and basketball.

Rogers_KimKim Rogers hails from a town (Elgin) that used to be the edge of the suburbs of Chicago, but is now the middle of the suburbs of Chicago. She is currently at work on a book-length memoir about her travels to and from Zimbabwe over the last decade. For her MFA fieldwork, she returned to Zimbabwe to visit old friends, collect data for her memoir, and teach poetry, nonfiction, and business writing at Kufunda Learning Village ( Her work has appeared in the Florida Review, Potomac Review, and the Briar Cliff Review. Her chapbook, After the Flood in Mozambique, based on her Fulbright year in Zimbabwe, was published as part of an Iowa State arts grant. She completed her MA in English at ISU in 2004 with a yet-to-be-published (damn you first book contests) poetry manuscript, Magic and Other Explanations. In between her MA and MFA she worked as the managing editor of the National Women’s Studies Association Journal.

SchmielWhen asked where she is from, MFA graduate Erin Schmiel doesn’t know to what you refer. She was born in Ravenna, Ohio, grew up in northeastern NE, had her formative years in Door County and Milwaukee, WI and then moved to Missoula, MT as an adult where she got her Bachelors of Science (BS) in English and Creative Writing from the University of Montana. She’s the third generation in her family to own her grandfather’s 1968 Volkswagen Bus; she loves her road bike too much and likes to look at maps. To be a functioning human being, she thinks it’s very important to know cardinal directions (at all times).


tegannia2Born and raised in Minnesota, Tegan Swanson has also found home in Madison, WI, Washington D.C., the Pacific coast of Ecuador, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Besides writing, she taught composition for ISU, facilitated a therapeutic creative arts workshop, worked for an emergency youth shelter, and assisted in community-supported agriculture projects. She also made paper/paint/found object collage and watercolor/ink drawings. See her work at Etsy.

Her prose has appeared in Ecotone and Flyway: A Journal for Writing & the Environment. Her short story “Things We Found When the Water Went Down” won the 2013 Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction from Bellingham Review, and she will complete a novel-in-stories of the same name this spring. Currently, she is at work on two other major prose projects—a novel about fresh water wars called After the Water, and a nonfiction memoir about her time in the Republic of the Marshall Islands entitled Ibwijleplep Aetoklok: The Highest Tide. Contact her at

Thomann_Dana2Dana Thomann grew up on a family farm near the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk in Riverside, Iowa. Dana’s talented Uncle Larry welded a U.S.S. Enterprise replica for the town in the 1980s. The replica sits in the local park and is paraded down Main Street during the annual Trek Fest celebration.

While considering if she could be Captain James T. Kirk’s (many times) future grandmother, Dana also attended the University of Iowa (2001-2005), taught on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota (2005-2008), and worked for the TRiO Upward Bound Project at the University of Iowa (2008-2012).

Dana’s heart is always with the family farm and what it sustains: her distinctly Midwestern family, her dog (Temple Grandin), and the family’s black Angus herd. These are the muses of her fiction.

Trout_Stefanie1Stefanie Brook Trout explores the dynamic interactions between people and their environments through all genres of writing. She holds a BA in history and environmental studies from the University of Michigan and an MAT from Marian University, where she was an Indianapolis Teaching Fellow. Stefanie received her MFA in Creative Writing and Environment in 2015.

Stefanie is the communications assistant for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the MFA student coordinator for the Everett Casey Nature Center and Reserve, and a leading member of both AgArts and the Bluff Creek Bee Club. She has received an Environmental Writing Fellowship from the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory and a Teaching Excellence Award from ISU’s Graduate College.

A former nonfiction editor for Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, Stefanie is currently an intern at Ice Cube Press. She co-edited Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, published by Ice Cube Press in July 2014 and now touring the Midwest. Learn more about Stefanie on her author website:


Chris Wiewiora is a Masters of Fine Arts graduate student in Iowa State University’s Creative Writing and Environment Program. Chris has served as the managing editor of the literary magazine Flyway and the President of the graduate student organization AgArts, and has been a member of the Bluff Creek Bee Club. As a teaching assistant in the speech communication department, Chris champions his undergraduate students’ voices in public speaking.

In the community of Ames, Chris has volunteered as a summer instructor of creative writing at the public library and restarted the Creative Writing Club at the high school. His fiancée Lauren Zastrow works at Practical Farmers of Iowa. Together, committed to a sustainable food lifestyle, they share membership in Wheatsfield Co-Op.

Chris’ writing focuses on the themes of food, faith, illness, genealogy, sexuality, and masculinity. He mostly writes nonfiction, which has recently been published in Make, Slice, Gastronomica, Sports Literate, nerve, the Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, and the Huffington Post. His work has received special commendations in Best American Sports Writing 2012 and Best of the Net (2011, 2013). Chris’ essay, “This is Tossing,” was anthologized in Best Food Writing 2013.

Additionally, Chris has contributed more than a dozen essays to The Good Men Project and has written “publishing tip” columns for thereviewreview (noted on Poets & Writers’ blog). His writing has earned him admission to the Oxford American’s inaugural Summit for Ambitious Writers and a scholarship to River Teeth’s Nonfiction Conference at Ashland University. Currently, Chris sits on the editorial board of BULL: Men’s Fiction.

At ISU, Chris’ thesis, a memoir-in-essays, explores the Appalachian heritage of his birthplace, Buckhannon, West Virginia; his upbringing in an evangelical Christian missionary family in Warsaw, Poland inside the “Iron Curtain”; and his family’s subsequent dislocating move to Orlando, Florida.

Wright_Adam_120Adam Blake Wright was born and raised on a 40-acre apple orchard in Asheville, North Carolina. In 2009, he graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with highest honors in Creative Writing, Journalism, and Dramatic Art. From 2010-13, Adam served as a creative writing, theatre, and gardening instructor for Asheville City Schools. His creative interests include fiction writing, food writing, children’s literature, oral storytelling, and theatre.

Adam has directed professionally in New York City and San Diego, and most recently directed hometown productions with the Anam Cara Collective and Magnetic Field Theatre. In 2008, Adam conducted a field research study with oral storytellers throughout the United Kingdom. Additionally, he has worked on more than a dozen organic farms across the country and is a vocal advocate for local, sustainable agriculture.

At ISU, Adam served as a teaching assistant for composition and public speaking courses. He was the nonfiction editor for Flyway, the lead coordinator of the Bluff Creek Bee Club, and president for AgArts. He also co-led the Ames High School Creative Writing Club. A 2016 graduate of the MFA Program, Adam is pursuing a co-major in Sustainable Agriculture at ISU, and is writing a thesis in the form of a young adult novel about industrial food systems.