Deborah Taffa née Jackson is the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing at IAIA (Institute of 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.
She serves as the co-president of the literary magazine, River Styx. Her writing can be found at The Rumpus, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, A Public Space, Salon, Huff Post, Prairie Schooner, The Best Travel Writing, The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, et cetera. Her play, “Parents Weekend,” was performed at the Autry Theater’s 8th Annual Short Play Festival in Los Angeles in 2018, and “Digadohi,” a documentary she co-wrote with Stratigraphic Productions, can be found streaming on local PBS channels.
As a performer, Deborah has had the incredible honor of reading a series of poetic interludes for the Chaco Symphony featuring the Grammy nominated flautist, R. Carlos Nakai. Their performance at the Lincoln Center in 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic. She can be reached at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @deborahtaffa.