About Jessica Key

2019 Writing Contest Runner-up

2019 Writing Contest Runner-up

For the fifth year in a row, we partnered with Iceland Travel to run a competition to win a spot at the Iceland Writers Retreat. This year’s theme was “Equality” and we received over 400 submissions from the around the world. Today we are sharing the second place story, which is “Volcanoes” from Petronella Wagner of South Africa.

The winner of the competition is Giacomo Roessler from Germany, with his story “Ferðin” which you can read hereThird place was awarded to Alyson Hilbourne in the United Kingdom, with “On Reynisfjara Beach” which we will post in the coming days.

There are still some spaces available to attend the Iceland Writers Retreat. Click here to sign up.

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Q&A with Alumni Award Recipient Carien Smith

Q&A with Alumni Award Recipient Carien Smith

This year is the fourth year the Iceland Writers Retreat has offered the Alumni Award. This prestigious award is funded in by generous IWR alumni and friends. It gives its recipients full or partial funding to attend the next Retreat, which will take place April 3 to 7, 2019 in Reykjavik. The winners are chosen based on both merit and financial need, and submissions were reviewed by IWR alumni volunteers. We received over 600 applications from around the world and the quality of submissions was extremely high. Over the coming weeks, we will be posting Q&A’s with this year’s recipients of the Alumni Award, today’s with Carien Smith. You can read our Q&As with Dan Musgrave, Lola Opatayo, and Jonaki Ray on our blog.

Carien Smith is a Johannesburg-based academic and award-winning writer in both English and Afrikaans. Carien grew up in the Eastern Cape, and is currently a contract lecturer and research associate at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Johannesburg, where she has just submitted her dissertation for a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, focusing on Value Theory and the Apocalypse. She has published multiple research articles in various accredited academic journals, and has contributed to a literary theory encyclopaedia. She plans on pursuing her PhD in Climate Change Ethics and Epistemology. Her research areas include Absurdity, Value Theory, the Apocalypse, Climate Change Ethics, Epistemic Injustice, and Ecocriticism.

Carien has been a finalist for the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award twice (2016, 2018), and is elated to be a recipient of this award for 2019. In 2015 she was longlisted (6 longlistees) for the PEN International New Voices Award. She has won the AdHoc Flash Fiction competition (a Bath Flash Fiction Award project) twice (2018, 2016). In 2015 she received an Afrikoon from the ATKV (Afrikaans Language and Culture Organisation) for her contribution to Afrikaans literature and the arts. In 2009 her play titled “Formalien” was longlisted for the Nagtegaal Prize (10 longlistees). She has published multiple creative fiction pieces in books (Op die spoor van in 2017, Spreek die Woordin 2016, and Nuwe Stories 3in 2014), in newspapers, and other collaborations. Carien is also a professional member of PEN South Africa, and is currently working on finishing her debut short fiction collection, to be published by one of the top publishing houses in South Africa.

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Q&A with Alumni Award Recipient Jonaki Ray

Q&A with Alumni Award Recipient Jonaki Ray

This year is the fourth year the Iceland Writers Retreat has offered the Alumni Award. This prestigious award is funded in by generous IWR alumni and friends. It gives its recipients full or partial funding to attend the next Retreat, which will take place April 3 to 7, 2019 in Reykjavik. The winners are chosen based on both merit and financial need, and submissions were reviewed by IWR alumni volunteers. We received over 600 applications from around the world and the quality of submissions was extremely high. Over the coming weeks, we will be posting Q&A’s with this year’s recipients of the Alumni Award, today’s with Jonaki Ray. You can read our Q&As with Dan Musgrave and Lola Opatayo on our blog.

Jonaki Ray was educated in India (IIT Kanpur) and the USA (UIUC), and after a brief stint as a software engineer, returned to her first love, writing. She is now a poet, editor, and writer based in New Delhi, India.

Honors for Jonaki’s writing include a 2018 Pushcart Prize nomination for fiction by Zoetic Press, and a nomination for the 2018 Forward Prize for the Best Single Poem by Oxford Brookes University Poetry Centre.  She is a finalist in the 2018 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and the winner of the 2017 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Contest, ESL. In 2016 she was longlisted in the Writers’ HQ International Fiction Contest and the RL Poetry Award, and shortlisted in the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Contest, ESL.

Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Southword JournalThe American Journal of PoetryRambutan Literary JournalLunch TicketThe Matador Review, ColdnoonIndian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), So to Speak Journal, while non-fiction essays and reviews have been published in The WireThe Times of IndiaThe Telegraph India, and Down to Earth, among others.

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Q&A with Alumni Award Recipient Lola Opatayo 

Q&A with Alumni Award Recipient Lola Opatayo 

This year is the fourth year the Iceland Writers Retreat has offered the Alumni Award. This prestigious award is funded in by generous IWR alumni and friends. It gives its recipients full or partial funding to attend the next Retreat, which will take place April 3 to 7, 2019 in Reykjavik. The winners are chosen based on both merit and financial need, and submissions were reviewed by IWR alumni volunteers. We received over 600 applications from around the world and the quality of submissions was extremely high. Over the coming weeks, we will be posting Q&A’s with this year’s recipients of the Alumni Award, today’s with Lola Opatayo. You can read our Q&A with Dan Musgrave here!

Lola Opatayo holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature-in-English from the Obafemi Awolowo University, and an MA in Communications and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan. She works as an editor, blogger and teaches an online creative writing class- StoryCrafting. Lola has worked as a project manager with Writer’s Studio Africa. She blogs creative writing tips, news and resources at lolaopatayo.com.

Lola’s stories are centered on female reproductive, sexual and mental health issues. Her work has appeared in Obsidian. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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Q&A with Alumni Award Recipient Dan Musgrave

Q&A with Alumni Award Recipient Dan Musgrave

This year is the fourth year the Iceland Writers Retreat has offered the Alumni Award. This prestigious award is funded in by generous IWR alumni and friends. It gives its recipients full or partial funding to attend the next Retreat, which will take place April 3 to 7, 2019 in Reykjavik. The winners are chosen based on both merit and financial need, and submissions were reviewed by IWR alumni volunteers. We received over 600 applications from around the world and the quality of submissions was extremely high. Over the coming weeks, we will be posting Q&A’s with this year’s recipients of the Alumni Award, starting with Dan Musgrave!

Dan Musgrave was raised by animals in rural Kansas. Currently, he is one of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship’s initial cohort of Literary Fellows. He is a writer and photographer whose work most commonly focuses on the intersections of the human and animal world and his work has appeared in The Missouri Review, The Sun, and Electric Literature. He is a registered member of the Osage Nation, and he holds an MFA from the University of Missouri- St Louis and an MA in Biological Anthropology from Iowa State University. For nearly seven years, he did linguistic, cognitive, and behavioral research with captive bonobos while they trained him in the art of being a better person. Dan can be found online at danmusgrave.com

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2019 Faculty Update

2019 Faculty Update

We are so pleased to have three great additions to our faculty for the 2019 Iceland Writers Retreat:

Ann Hood is the author of the bestselling novels The Knitting Circle, The Obituary Writer, and The Book That Matters Most as well as two memoirs, Morningstar: Growing Up with Books and Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, which was a NYT Editors’ Choice  and named one of the top ten non-fiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly. She is also the author of the YA novel She Loves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah and a ten book series for middle readers, The Treasure Chest, which has recently been optioned for television. Hood’s short stories and essays have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, National Geographic Traveler, Food and Wine, Tin House, and The Washington Post. Her most recent book is Kitchen Yarns: Notes in Life, Love and Food.

Ragnar Helgi Ólafsson is a writer and visual artist, living and working in Reykjavík. A poet, playwright, and author of both novels and short story collections, his work has received the Tómas Guðmundsson Literary Prize and been nominated for both The Icelandic Literary Prize and The DV-Culture Prize.
Ragnar is active in the field of visual art producing performances, text-based works and digital installations often dealing with the elementary banalities of the human condition: the connections between oneself and others, poetry, time and memory. He also runs a small publishing house Tunglið forlag, which publishes a handful of books of poetry and fiction per annum, available only at special events on the night of the full moon.

Alexander Maksik is the author of the novels You Deserve NothingA Marker to Measure Drift and Shelter in Place. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize and The Andrew Lytle Prize, he’s co-director of the Can Cab Literary Residence in Catalonia, Spain.

Please note that Emma Straub and Jón Gnarr are unfortunately no longer able to appear at the event in April; we apologize for the inconvenience.

Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Awards Open September 1st

Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Awards Open September 1st

Thanks to generosity of our alumni and friends, we will be offering Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Awards for the 2019 event — three full and two partial scholarships. Full funding covers all participation of a “complete package” in the Iceland Writers Retreat, as detailed on our website (including accommodation). The scholarship also includes round-trip flights to Iceland. Partial funding covers the participant fee for the Standard Package only, and neither accommodation nor round trip flights.

The recipients will be chosen based primarily on two factors: a) The potential they demonstrate (or has demonstrated) as a writer and b) Their need for financial support to be able to attend. We will also evaluate based on the other questions in the application, though, so make sure to tell us about yourself and why you think you’d be the perfect match for the Iceland Writers Retreat. (Please don’t just tell us how you have always wanted to visit Iceland.)

We will begin accepting applications and linking to the form to apply from 1 September. Full details on how to apply will be posted at that time. It will be free to submit an application, but follow the instructions carefully, as incomplete submissions will not be considered.

We are so pleased to be offering the IWR Alumni Award for the fourth time. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of our alumni and friends.

 

Curated Experiences: IWR Alumni Winner Julia Duin’s Story

Curated Experiences: IWR Alumni Winner Julia Duin’s Story

I arrived in Iceland a few days before the conference began, rented a car and explored such delights as Bláfjöll, a ski resort in the Blue Mountains a half-hour’s drive southwest of Reykjavik. The winds at the top were pretty strong, and the area was small compared to similar resorts in Washington state, but it was my first time ever skiing outside of North America. Writers are such a cloistered, indoor lot, so it was delightful to cloak myself in my new green ski jacket and experience the rush of spring snow.

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