This year is the third year the Iceland Writers Retreat has offered the Alumni Award. 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 11 to 15, 2018 in Reykjavik. The winners are chosen based on both merit and financial need, and submissions were reviewed by IWR alumni volunteers. We received over 700 applications from around the world and the quality of submissions was extremely high.
Full Award recipients:
Puja Changoiwala is a Mumbai-based independent journalist, and author of the widely-acclaimed true crime book in India, ‘The Front Page Murders.’ This book, Puja’s debut work as an author, is recipient of awards and unanimous acclaim from the most reputed quarters of the country. As a journalist, Puja is a contributor to some of the most esteemed news publications in India, Europe, and North America. Her writings have featured in The Guardian, BBC, among other renowned outlets. Previously a human rights correspondent with a London-based political magazine, Puja has also worked as a senior crime correspondent with Hindustan Times, a leading Indian national daily. She has produced award-winning work, covering Mumbai’s sins, and their casualties.
Nora Shychuk is a graduate of University College Cork in Ireland, where she received an M.A. in creative writing. Her B.A., from Jacksonville University, is in Screenwriting and English. Her work has appeared in several literary journals and magazines, including The Lonely Crowd and Pact Press’ Speak and Speak Again anthology. Her short story, Separations, was shortlisted for the 2017 From The Well Short Story Competition in Ireland. Last year, Nora was a finalist for the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award and couldn’t be more pleased to be one of the recipients this year. She is an assistant editor for Regal House Publishing and is currently finishing up a short story collection. She lives in New York City.
Partial Award recipients:
Fatin Abbas was born in Sudan, grew up in New York, and attended university in the UK and US. She is a graduate of the Hunter College (CUNY) MFA in Creative Writing Program, winning during her time there the Bernard Cohen Short Story Prize and the Miriam Weinberg Richter Award. Her fiction has appeared in Freeman’s, The Warwick Review, and Friction, and her non-fiction and review essays have appeared in Le Monde Diplomatique, The Nation, Africa is a Country, and openDemocracy.net. She is a recipient of the Miles Morland Foundation Writing Scholarship, and is at work on her first novel, The Interventionists.
Julia Duin is a Seattle-based journalist who has worked as a reporter or editor for everything from the Houston Chronicle to the Washington Times. She’s also written extensively for the Washington Post Sunday Magazine for which she just came out with a nearly 6,000-word profile on President Trump’s advisor Paula White. She’s published six books, the latest being In the House of the Serpent Handler, a nonfiction work about 20-something Appalachian pentecostal serpent handlers who use Facebook to publicize their exploits. During the 2014-2015 academic year, she occupied the Snedden chair as a journalism professor at the University of Alaska/Fairbanks.
We’ll be profiling all the recipients in more detail in the coming weeks.
The other finalists for the prize were (in alphabetical order):
Jane Affleck (Canada)
Michael Agugom (Nigeria)
Luís Roberto Amabile (Brazil)
Sarah Barnes (United States)
Odette Casamayor (United States)
Efemia Chela (South Africa)
Christy Chilimigras (South Africa)
Heather Delfs (Australia)
Judith Duncan (Australia)
Jacinta Escudos (El Salvador)
Lucy Grace (UK)
Anne Hamilton (UK)
Sean Kerr (Canada)
Mary-Ann Leeb (United States)
Amy J. E. MacKenzie (United States)
Joanne McClelland-Phillips (Australia)
Dora Mortimer (UK)
Daniel Musgrave (United States)
Diego Olavarría (Mexico)
Suyi Okungbowa (Nigeria)
Ash Parsons (United States)
Carien Smith (South Africa)
An additional ten people received “honorary mention”.
Iceland Writers Retreat brings together writers from around the world for five days of learning, exploring, writing, and creative inspiration. Along with being from diverse backgrounds, writers are working across multiple styles of writing, and as such, the Retreat aims to offer a mix of workshops that can apply across genres as well as deep delves into specific forms of writing.
Each faculty member will teach two workshops, usually with a mixture of seminar discussion and exercises. For the 2018 Retreat, workshop options include exercises in establishing voice, outlining a novel, and learning to edit your work. Some classes focus on sensory writing, while others teach how to write a book review. From travel writing to dissecting the art of the scene to explorations of wickedness, there are surely workshops for any kind of writer.
The full list of workshops (and their descriptions) are now posted on our About the Retreat page. With such fascinating classes, and high-calibre Featured Authors, the only problem now is narrowing down what to register for!
The deadline to apply for the third Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award has now passed. We received over 700 applications from dozens of countries around the world.
The Iceland Writers Retreat welcomes one Social Media and Marketing Intern each year. This intern helps maintain social media and promote the various aspects of the Iceland Writers Retreat. This year’s intern is Jessica Key.
IWR: How did you become an intern for the Iceland Writers Retreat?
Jessica: I am a Master of Publishing student at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. The degree includes a professional placement component, where students work with a sponsoring organization to gain practical experience and learn more about the publishing industry from the inside.
Prior to doing my degree, I had interned and/or worked for multiple small presses and literary magazines in British Columbia, and I absolutely love the literary community here. I wanted to push myself a bit further out of my comfort zone and try something new with my professional placement, so I started thinking about working in marketing and publicity in publishing. My father’s family is Icelandic, and I have cousins there, so I had been following IWR on social media for a while, hoping to one day attend. When I found out that the organization offered a yearly marketing internship, I applied within the week.
IWR: How do you feel about being involved with the Iceland Writers Retreat?
Jessica: I am so excited to be involved! Getting to work with such an amazing organization, talking to writers about the opportunities it affords them, travelling to such a beautiful place, and getting to participate in a retreat with so many talented faculty… this is such a fantastic opportunity, and I’ve been able to talk about little else since I found out I got the internship!
IWR: What do you like to write?
Jessica: I did my undergrad degree in Creative Writing, so I used to write a bit of everything: fiction, journalistic features, poetry, (very occasionally) scripts… but my biggest love is creative non-fiction, particularly personal essay. The university I went to, Vancouver Island University, was small but my program was so fantastic, and I feel very lucky to have worked closely with professors whose work I had admired for years as a reader. In particular, Susan Juby fostered my love of CNF and Joy Gugeler made me realize I wanted to work in publishing beyond being a writer––she is the reason I enrolled in the MPub degree.
Since I’ve been in the MPub, and usually trying to balance 1-3 internships or jobs on top of it, I’ve barely made time for my personal writing, and I am so excited to recapture my excitement for it in Iceland. I can’t think of a more beautiful or inspiring place to reconnect with the craft, or more interesting and accomplished teachers to be learning from.
IWR: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Jessica: In a job that lets me continue to doing what I love. Working with books and authors that inspire me, and sharing the excitement and passion I have for the industry with a greater audience. Also, hopefully I will be a lot better at actually submitting my work to literary magazines rather than letting it languish in my drafts folder.
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, 2018.
Who can apply
Anyone who is aged 18 or over on April 11, 2018 is eligible to apply. 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 should fit well with the faculty for the 2018 retreat (i.e. literary fiction, non-fiction, memoir). For example, if you are primarily a poet, you should be clear in your application about why attending workshops that focus on literary fiction and non-fiction will be beneficial to you.
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 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 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 last year we had 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 will the recipients be 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.
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: Tuesday, 31 October, 2017. Midnight, PST. We will announce the recipients on 4 December, 2017.
*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. We will provide details of this event on our website soon. It will open in early October.
**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 a very large number 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. 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.
- 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 2018 focus primarily on literary fiction, non-fiction, and memoir. While we have all kinds of writers attend our event, and all of them get something out of it, if you are e.g. primarily a poet or a playwright, please be sure to explain exactly what you will get from workshops that focus on a different genre.
- 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. Applications without appropriate references will not be considered.
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 2018 include Hilton Als, Hallgrímur Helgason, Priya Basil, Susan Shreve, Terry Fallis, and Gwendoline Riley. 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 third 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.
We did it — thanks to your support!