This year is the fourth year the Iceland Writers Retreat has offered Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Awards. This prestigious award is funded in its entirety 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.
Three of our five recipients are individuals who had applied previously for an Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award. So if you applied and were not successful on this occasion, please consider applying again in future!
Full Award recipients:
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
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.
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 vanin 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.
Partial Award recipients:
Lucy Grace lives in the UK and writes award winning short stories and flash fiction. In 2018 she won first prize in the Writers & Artists 2018 Yearbook Short Story award, was shortlisted in the Bridport, Fish and Reflex Awards, commended in the Brittle Star and longlisted in the international Alpine Fellowship 2018 Writing Prize. Most recently she was shortlisted for the scholarship place on the Curtis Brown novel writing course. Her work has been published in several anthologies. She is currently finishing her first novel.
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 Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, Rambutan Literary Journal, Lunch Ticket, The Matador Review, Coldnoon, Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), So to Speak Journal, while non-fiction essays and reviews have been published in The Wire, The Times of India, The Telegraph India, and Down to Earth, among others.
We’ll be profiling all the recipients in more detail in the coming weeks. We would again like to thank the alumni and friends of the Iceland Writers Retreat for their generous contributions to enable us to offer these awards, as well as to the dozens of volunteers who helped to review applications.
The other finalists for the prize were (in alphabetical order):
Lavender Arumugam (South Africa)
Amy Barrett (United Kingdom)
K Tempest Bradford (United States)
Virginia Castiglione (Argentina)
Linda Craig (United States)
Ivan Darias Alfonso (Austria)
Margot Douaihy (United States)
Inna Eizenberg (Israel)
Natalia Elfimova (Russia)
Elrena Evans (United States)
Antonio Manuel Fraga Allegue (Spain)
Sierra Skye Gemma (Canada)
Shafika Ghani (Singapore)
Abak Hussain (Bangladesh)
Cheryl Katz (United States)
Sara Mang (Canada)
Lori Ella Miller (United States)
Dennis Mugaa (Kenya)
Lara O’Brien (United States)
Juan de Dios Sánchez Jurado (United States)
Anindita Sengupta (United States)
Kerry Sunderland (New Zealand)
Charlotte Symons (United Kingdom)
Amrita Thakkar (India)
Laura Theis (United Kingdom)
Masha Vapnitchnaia (Turkey)
Michelle Walshe (Ireland)
Hani Yousuf (Pakistan)
An additional 23 people received “honorary mention” (these people have been informed via email).
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.
Alexander Maksik is the author of the novels You Deserve Nothing, A 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.
The deadline to apply for the third Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award has now passed. We received over 600 applications from dozens of countries around the world.
The deadline for this award has now passed. We will announce the recipients on 3 December, 2018.
Registration is now open for the Iceland Writers Retreat. In addition to general registration, which is currently open to all, we have scholarships slots available for those with financial need. The Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award offers talented writers in need of financial support an opportunity to attend the Iceland Writers Retreat in Reykjavík, Iceland in April, 2019.
Please read these guidelines and click on the link at the end of this article to apply.
Who can apply
Anyone who is aged 18 or over on April 3, 2019 is eligible to apply for an Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award (anyone is welcome to independently register and attend the event without a scholarship). The winning candidate(s) must demonstrate that s/he does not have the financial means to attend the conference without this award.* Candidates do not need to be professional writers, but should be serious about the craft and interested in developing their skills and contacts. Their writing interests must fit well with the faculty for the 2019 retreat (i.e. literary fiction, non-fiction, memoir).
Family members of the judges and those who have already attended the IWR are not eligible to apply.*
What does it cover?
Entrants can apply for either full or partial funding. 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.
Please ensure that you apply for the most suitable category for you, as if you apply for full funding you are very unlikely to be considered for a partial award. (Note that we usually have many more applications for full funding than partial funding.)
The award does not include airport transfers, travel insurance, travel visas (if applicable)**, other incidentals or meals not listed in the itinerary, or the Relax & Write extension.
How are the recipients chosen?
The recipients will be chosen based primarily on two factors: a) The potential s/he demonstrates (or has demonstrated) as a writer and b) his/her 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.)
The applicant should also be available for media interviews before and during the Retreat, and be able to explain how s/he would help to share their experience with others after the fact. This may include being asked to prepare a short report on their experience to be published on the IWR website.
Applications will be reviewed by a group of IWR alumni. The final decision on the award recipient will be made by the IWR Founding Directors.
Deadline for applications: Wednesday, 31 October, 2018. Midnight, PST. We will announce the recipients on 3 December, 2018.
*If this financial stipulation does not apply to you, or if you have already attended the IWR, please consider entering our writing competition, which is open to all and will be advertised in November. We will provide details of this event on our website soon.
**Please note that we are not responsible for issuing travel visas and cannot guarantee that one will be issued for you. However, we would provide all the required supporting letters and our past recipients who have required visas have had no problem being issued with one.
General Tips for applying:
We receive hundreds of applications for the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award. To increase your chances of being selected, please follow the application instructions very carefully.
- Incomplete applications will not be considered.
- It is not possible to make changes to your application once it has been submitted; you will receive email confirmation that your application has been received.
- Level of funding: We receive far more applications for full funding than partial funding, but you need to show that you are unable to afford even the cost of flights to Iceland and accommodation while in the country. Note that you are very unlikely to be considered for partial funding if you have applied for full funding.
- Your background: We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and with all levels of writing experience. However, we are more likely to rank applications highly from people who have not had the opportunity to attend many other writing retreats or to develop their writing in other ways. The quality of your writing is what is most important, whether you are just starting out, have been working for a while, or are at a mid- or post-career break. We encourage people of all ages (over 18) to apply.
- Why do you want to attend? We all love Iceland. And we all love writing. If you are applying simply to get an opportunity to visit Iceland you are unlikely to be granted an award. Tell us why this particular event and this particular faculty have captured your interest. Show us that you have done some research about the Iceland Writers Retreat. Note especially that our workshops in 2019 focus primarily on literary fiction, non-fiction, and memoir. Your writing samples should also reflect this and should therefore be prose samples.
- Writing samples: Note that the maximum length for each writing sample is 1000 words. We will not consider applications that have longer writing samples.
- Why you need financial assistance: This is one of the most difficult yet important factors to consider for this award. Please be as honest as you can with us in explaining why this event is beyond your means without support. Your answer to the question about applying for additional funding is also important. We know that some countries offer support to writers who attend conferences, and we’d like to see if you have taken any initiative in terms of thinking broadly for ways in which you can attend.
- How will you share your experience with others? We want many people to know about the Iceland Writers Retreat. How will you help us get the word out if you are awarded a scholarship? We know that social media is very popular. Do you have other, more original ideas too?
- References: References should be by people who are familiar with your writing and are not family members. We give higher marks for references that have been written specifically for this event. Applications without appropriate references will not be considered. Please note that due to the number of applications we receive, we cannot accept references that have been sent separately.
About the Iceland Writers Retreat
Held for the first time in April 2014, the Iceland Writers Retreat is an event comprised of a series of small-group writing workshops and cultural tours designed to introduce participants to Iceland’s rich literary heritage. Faculty in 2019 include Emma Straub, Louis de Bernieres, Ivan Coyote, Priya Basil, and Chigozie Obioma. The Iceland Writers Retreat was named one of the world’s best writers’ retreats by the Sydney Morning Herald, and one of the top 10 “Events to travel for in 2014” by Four Seasons Magazine.
About the IWR Alumni Award
This is the fourth time the IWR Alumni Award has been granted. It is so named because it has been funded by former IWR participants. We are extremely grateful for their generosity.
APPLICATIONS HAVE NOW CLOSED.
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.