Deborah Taffa

New Mexico, United States

Member Since: 11/19/2012

Deborah Taffa née Jackson is the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing at IAIA (Institute of the American Indian Arts) in Santa Fe, NM. Deborah grew up in a Navajo Nation border town in the northwest corner of the state, and now splits her time between Santa Fe and Saint Louis.

A citizen of the Quechan (Yuma) Nation and Laguna Pueblo, Deborah earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Prior to her job at IAIA, she taught Creative Nonfiction at Webster University and Washington University in Saint Louis. She also served as an Executive Board Member with the Missouri Humanities Council where she was instrumental in creating a Native American Heritage Program in the state.

Deborah’s memoir manuscript won the SFWP Literary Prize in December, 2019. In 2021, the work-in-progress was awarded a PEN America/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History. She has also won awards from Tin House, MacDowell, Ellen Meloy Fund, A Public Space, New York Summer Writers Institute, WNDB, and the Kranzberg Arts Foundation.

Deborah serves as co-president of the literary magazine, River Styx. Her writing can be found at The Rumpus, Boston Review, LARB, A Public SpaceSalon, Huff Post, Prairie Schooner, The Best Travel Writing, The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading and other places. 


Twitter Username: @deborahtaffa


  • Pen American Jean Stein Award(2021)
  • Kranzberg Arts Award(2021)
  • MacDowell Fellowship(2021)
  • Tin House Scholar(2021)
  • SFWP Lit Prize(2019)
  • A Public Space Fellowship(2018)


  • Director of MFA CW Program at Institute of American Indian Arts (October 2021 - )


  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from University of Iowa, Iowa City (May 2013)

Genres of Interest

Fiction, Creative nonfiction, Screenwriting, Poetry