Field Studies Writing

About the Field Studies GRAND MANAN and SOUTHWEST Program

The Field Studies in Writing Program on Grand Manan brings students from the University of Arizona Creative Writing Program to Grand Manan Island in the Canadian Maritimes over the course of five summers (2015-2019).The pilot program is made possible by the appointment of Professor Alison Hawthorne Deming as Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in Environment and Social Justice. On the island students work on research and writing to create place-based literature that explores how the arts and literature can contribute to our understanding of environment and climate change. With a population of 2500 year-round residents, Grand Manan has a 200-year history of traditional fisheries, now undergoing profound changes due to decline of fish–and recently a dramatic increase in lobsters—in the North Atlantic. The project engages with island youth to mentor them in telling their stories of coming of age in this place where sustainability of the local culture is deeply tied to the sustainability of marine life.

In 2017 the University of Arizona Creative Writing Program launched a companion program, Field Studies Southwest, supported by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program Environment and Social Justice. MFA students will spend two weeks in southern Arizona exploring how literary and documentary arts can create humane responses to environmental, social justice and border issues in the region. The new southwest project is coordinated by recent MFA alumnus (and Grand Manan Field Studies alum) Paco Cantú. Associate Professor Susan Briante serves as faculty facilitator. Ethnobotanist and Patagonia resident Gary Paul Nabhan also serves as consultant. Participants work in collaboration with the Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute, a program sponsored by the Borderlands Habitat Network, engaging marginalized youth in hands-on restoration work of the local ecosystem while providing leadership and educational opportunities. In March two MFA participants joined with graduate students from the Wake Forest University School of Theology, under the leadership of Fred Bahnson, author of Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith, to visit the Native Seeds/ Search farm in Patagonia and the Kino Border Initiative in preparation for the summer program.

Posts from students in both projects are found in this site’s blog.

Creative Works

Load more


The Team 2017

Field Studies Grand Manan

KATIE GOUGELET is an MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction Writing. She writes about environmental change, contamination, health, and justice. She is currently working on a project to understand the United States’ transition away from coal power, and what this transition means for the long-term health of communities that used to provide this resource to the rest of the country.

 CLAIRE MCCLAIN is an MFA candidate in poetry, born and raised in Tucson, AZ. The natural world of the Sonoran Desert and the Sky Island region play a critical role in her creative process. Claire’s poems are interested in the unseen structures of self/body, environment, family, economy, memory, and grief. Claire has a five-year-old son whose presence is strong in her writing, as is her experience of motherhood. Claire has been interested in black and white photography since she was a child, and has logged many hours in the darkroom, but hasn’t dived fully into the digital world yet, and would like to explore combining photography with her writing.

JOSH RIEDEL is a fiction writer from Oregon. Before enrolling in the MFA program at the University of Arizona, he worked for eight years in the technology industry, at Facebook and Instagram. He writes about how technology (re)shapes the world around us. He serves as a digital editor for Fairy Tale Review and reads for Sonora Review. He’s taught English in Vietnam and at the University of Arizona and has also operated two Ferris wheels.

The Team 2017

Field Studies Southwest

ABBY DOCKTER is an MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction from Farmington, New Mexico. She spent a few years following field and lab science jobs up and down the Rockies, and currently writes as a science communicator for the Institute of the Environment. Her most irresistible interests are (pre)history and ethnobotany, how we change our surroundings and how they in turn change us. She enjoys long, dry archaeological reports, and usually hikes with poetry.

GABRIEL DOZAL is an MFA Candidate in Poetry at the University of Arizona from El Paso TX. He is concerned with defining the extreme code-switching, camouflage, and chameleon nature of the culture of the borderlands.


RAQUEL GUTIERREZ is a bilingual poet and essayist pursuing an MFA degree in poetry at the University of Arizona. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she writes about language, history, space and institutionality and publishes chapbooks by queers of color with the tiny press Econo Textual Objects, established in 2014. Her work has found homes in Huizache, The Portland Review, Los Angeles Weekly, GLQ: Gay and Lesbian Quarterly and Entropy.


The Team 2016

JOSEPH BRADBURY hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, but has lived throughout the American West his entire life. He learned the business end of a shovel at a young age, which propelled him into an early adult life of concrete work, carpentry, framing, drywalling, a year as a farm hand, and just about every other mode of manual labor thinkable. These years of hard work serve as the content for much of his writing, which focuses on labor and land ethics in working-class communities. He is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Arizona and the nonfiction editor at Sonora Review.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 9.14.58 AMDANIELLE GELLER is just wrapping up her first year in the Creative Writing program at the University of Arizona, where she is concentrating in nonfiction. Before attending UA, she received an MS in Library and Information Science with a concentration in archives management. Her research and writing interests include birds and birding; video games and gaming culture; and her Diné (Navajo) heritage.

  Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 9.15.04 AM
Originally from Denver, PEYTON PRATER STARK is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of Arizona. She is equal parts writer and teacher. Previous work includes teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts and developing writing workshops for 826 Seattle. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Eleven Eleven and Colorado Review.


University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences University of Arizona College of Science Bowdoin College
Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice University of Arizona Institute of the Environment

Contact Us

Thank you for your interest in the Field Studies Writing program! Contact us at