Ep. 97: Deborah Jackson Taffa | Faculty Series | Institute of American Indian Arts

Memoirist and director of the Institute of American Indian Arts MFA program Deborah Jackson Taffa talks to Jared about her new book, Whiskey Tender. Deborah shares how memoir writing is a form of familial and historical preservation, and offers advice on having difficult conversations with the real people who appear in our creative nonfiction. Plus, she discusses the value of the low-res IAIA program for both indigenous and non-indigenous writers, offers strategies for sustaining creative energy, and describes methods to avoid falling into a common misstep for MFA students: social comparison.

A citizen of the Quechan (Yuma) Nation and Laguna Pueblo, Deborah Jackson Taffa is the director of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is the author of the memoir WHISKEY TENDER and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. Her writing can be found at PBS, Salon, LARB, Brevity, A Public Space, The Boston Review, The Rumpus, and the Best American Nonrequired Reading. In late 2021, she was named a MacDowell Fellow, Kranzberg Arts Fellow, and Tin House Scholar. In 2022, she won a PEN American Grant for Oral History and was named a Hedgebrook Fellow. Find her at deborahtaffa.com and on social media @deborahtaffa.

Headshot of Deborah Jackson Taffa
Headshot of Deborah Jackson Taffa

Follow MFA Writers