Creative Faculty & Students

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Luis Muñoz

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Born in Granada, Spain. He has degrees in Hispanic Philology and Romance Philology, and a PhD in Spanish Literature. In his hometown he directed the University of Granada’s Aula de Literatura (1992-2000), as well as the poetry magazine Hélice, from its founding until its closure (1992-2002). Between 2001 and 2012 he worked in Madrid as an advisor to the Residencia de Estudiantes. In 1994 he edited the anthology El lugar de la poesía (The Place of Poetry) and he has translated, among other titles, El cuaderno del viejo (The Notebook of the Old Man) by Giuseppe Ungaretti (Pre-Textos, 2000). In 2008 he was curator of the exhibition Gallo. Interior de la una revista (Gallo. Interior of a magazine) about the publication edited in 1928 by Federico García Lorca. His most recent books are Vecindad (Vicinity, Visor, 2018) and Querido silencio (Dear Silence, Tusquets, 2006). His poetic work until 2005 is gathered in the volume Limpiar pescado. Poesía reunida (Cleaning Fish. Collected Poems). He has published the books Septiembre (September), Manzanas amarillas (Yellow Apples), El apetito (The Appetite), and Correspondencias (Correspondences). He has received, among others, the Ciudad de Córdoba, Generación del 27, Ojo Crítico, and El Público awards.

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Horacio Castellanos Moya


Writer and a journalist from El Salvador. For two decades he worked as editor of news agencies, magazines and newspapers in Mexico, Guatemala and his own country. As a fiction writer, he was granted residencies in a program supported by the Frankfurt International Book Fair (2004-2006) and in the City of Asylum program in Pittsburgh (2006-2008). He has also taught in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2009, he was guest researcher at the University of Tokyo with a fellowship granted by the Japan Foundation. He has published eleven novels, five short story collections, two essay books, and a diary. His novels have been translated into twelve languages; five of them (Senselessness, The She-Devil in the mirror, Dance with Snakes, Revulsion, and Tyrant memory) are available in English. He was awarded the Manuel Rojas Iberoamerican Prize for Fiction 2014, by the Government of Chile.

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Ana Merino


Recent winner of the 2020 Nadal Award for her novel “El mapa de los afectos”, in 2009 left her position at Dartmouth College to create the Spanish MFA program at the University of Iowa. Merino was its director since her foundation from March 2011 until December 2018.”. She has published nine books of poems, two of which, “Preparativos para un viaje” and “Juegos de niños”, won the Adonais Prize in 1994 and the Fray Luis de León Prize in 2003 respectively. She is also the author of a youth novel, a children album, and four plays, including “Amor muy frágil” (2013), which was staged in several Swiss theaters in 2012 and 2013 and “La Redención” at Iowa City in 2017. Between 2001-2011 she was a Member of the ICAF (International Comic Arts Forum) Executive Committee; and between 2004 and 2014 Directors Board Founder Member at The Center for Cartoon Studies. Since 2019 is part of the Board of Directors of the Riverside Theater at Iowa City. Merino has won the Diario de Avisos prize for her short articles on comics for the literary magazine Leer. She had collaborated with opinion articles for El País and has won an Accésit of the Carmen de Burgos Award for one of her journalistic pieces. Merino has also written extensive criticism on comics and graphic novels. She has two academic books El cómic hispánico (2003) and Diez ensayos para pensar el cómic (2017), a monograph on Chris Ware (2006) and the catalogue Fantagraphics creadores del canon (2003). She has curated five comic book expositions. She has been invited as visiting Professor to the University of San Gallen (Fall 2012) and to The University of Zurich (Spring 2019). In the summer of 2010 Merino created The Spanish Creative Literacy Project (SCLP) as an outreach project through the Spanish MFA and the undergraduate Spanish Creative Writing initiative at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. 

Full Professor of Hispanic Studies and 2016 Collegiate Scholar. In 2009 Merino left her position at Dartmouth College to create the Spanish M.F.A. program at the University of Iowa, she was its director since her foundation in March 2011 until December 2018. Between 2001-2011 she was a Member of the ICAF (International Comic Arts Forum Executive Committee; and between 2004 and 2014 Directors Board Member at The Center for Cartoon Studies:

She has published nine books of poems: Preparativos para un viaje (winner of the Adonais Prize in 1994), Los días gemelos (1997), La voz de los relojes (2000), Juegos de niños (winner of the Fray Luis de León Prize in 2003/translated into English and published by Harbor Mountain Press in 2012), Compañera de celda (2006) (translated into English and published by Harbor Mountain Press in 2007), Hagamos caso al tigre (2010), Curación (Accésit Jaime Gil de Biedma Prize, 2010), El viaje del vikingo soñador (2015) and Los buenos propósitos (2015). She is also the author of a youth novel: El hombre de los dos corazones (2009), a children album: Martina y los piojos (2017) and four plays: Amor muy frágil (2013), staged and travelled to several theaters in Switzerland on 2012 and 2013, and Las decepciones (2014), La redención (2016) staged last year at theater B at UI and Salvemos al elefante (2017). A selection of her poetry was translated into German by teamart Verlag Zurich in 2009. Her poems have appeared in more than thirty anthologies, some translated into Portuguese, Slovenian, French, Dutch, Bulgarian, or Italian. Merino has also written fiction, and extensive criticism on comics and graphic novels. She has two academic books El cómic hispánico (2003) and Diez ensayos para pensar el comic (2017), and a monograph on Chris Ware (2006). Merino has won the Diario de Avisos prize for her short articles on comics for the literary magazine Leer. She has collaborated with opinion articles for El País and has won an Accésit of the Carmen de Burgos Award for one of her journalistic pieces. She has curated four comic book expositions. She has been invited as visiting Professor to the University of San Gallen (Fall 2012) and to The University of Zurich (Spring 2019). She has received the Premio Nadal 2020 with her book El mapa de los afectos.

In the summer of 2010 Merino created The Spanish Creative Literacy Project (SCLP) as an outreach project through the Spanish MFA and the undergraduate Spanish Creative Writing initiative at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  The SCLP office is located in 123-G PH.


Recent Visiting Professor


Eduardo Halfon

Guatemalan writer. He moved to the United States at the age of ten, went to school in South Florida, studied industrial engineering at North Carolina State University, and then returned to Guatemala to teach literature for eight years at Universidad Francisco Marroquín. Named one of the best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogotá, he is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Roger Caillois Prize, José María de Pereda Prize for the Short Novel, and Guatemalan National Prize in Literature. He is the author of fourteen books published in Spanish and three novels published in English: Mourning, winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award and the International Latino Book Award, finalist for the Kirkus Prize and Balcones Fiction Prize, and longlisted for the PEN Translation Prize; Monastery, longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award; and The Polish Boxer, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Halfon frequently travels to Guatemala and was a visiting professor in creative writing at the University of Iowa in 2018.

Current Students

Arturo Camacho

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Arturo Camacho is a teaching assistant who is passionate about literature, Spanish, creative writing, fiction and pedagogy.

Camila de Urioste

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Camila Urioste is a Bolivian-Uruguayan writer. With Diario de Alicia she won the 2005 National Poetry Award. Between 2009 and 2017 she wrote and staged 8 plays and published her second book of poems, Caracol (Plural, 2014). In 2017 she won the National Novel Award for Soundtrack (Editorial 3600). In 2019 she published her first book of short stories, Cuerpos de Agua (Editorial 3600). She is the co-writer of the film Muralla (2018) and the miniseries La Entrega (2019). For Muralla she won the Argentores Award for Best Screenplay at the Jujuy International Film Festival, Argentina.

Lara Dopazo

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Galician writer and MFA in Spanish Creative Writing student, Lara has published poetry, short stories and essay. Some of her poems have been translated into Spanish, English, Italian and Greek. Writer-in-residence in the Spanish Academy in Rome in 2019.

Mireya Hernández

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Born in Madrid, Spain. She has a Bachelor's degree in English Philology and studies in Journalism, Screenwriting and Audio-description. During the last 15 years she has worked mainly as a translator, a publisher’s reader, a teacher and a cultural manager. Her short stories, articles and interviews have been published in several important magazines and newspapers such as El Cultural, LEER, Diario de Sevilla, ABC, Calle del Aire, Ajoblanco, Jot Down and El Salto. She has written two books: Meteoro (Caballo de Troya, 2015) and Modos de caer (Newcastle, 2021).

María José Plata Flórez

María José Plata Flórez is a Colombian writer and is currently in her first semester at the MFA Creative writing in Spanish. She was one of the 35 winners of the 2014 edition of the National Short Story Contest at Colombia and she also won second place at the National Short Story Contest Caro y Cuervo. During her undergraduate at the University of Los Andes she co-founded Pigasus, a creative writing workshop that got to publish a short story collection in 2018 with an independent Colombian publishing house called Escarabajo Editorial. She has also been a popular educator and a human rights defender. 

Gabriela Román

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Mexican writer and playwright whose plays have been staged and published in Mexico, Great Britain, Spain, Malawi, Argentina and the United States, and have been translated into English and Portuguese. She is also passionate about languages, cultures and teaching. Her work focuse mainly on women, gender, identity and youth. Writer-in-residence in the 2019 Fall Residency of the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa. Playwright-in-residence in 2019 at the Lark Play Development Center in New York. Translator-in-residency at the Banff Centre of Arts and Creativity in Canada in 2014. She won the National Drama Prize Manuel Herrera for her play Playa Paraíso, and her play Cósmica was finalist for the 2014 ASSITEJ-Spain Theatre for Young Audiences International Prize. 

Byron Sandoval

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Salvadoran writer. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. His focus is in the encounter of culture with technology. He is currently working on a collection of short stories that highlights the conversion of the Salvadoran vernacular with the cosmopolitan view of the city.

Mariana Tejeda

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Mexican stage manager born in Ciudad de México. Mariana started her writer career at seventeen at the Writer's School in Mexico City, where she got some of her short stories published in compilations and magazines. Then she chickened out and exiled herself in the Theater. After over a decade hidden backstage, Mariana is finally putting down the headset to come out as a writer (again), and Iowa seems like the perfect location to do so.

Sabina Urraca

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Sabina Urraca is a Spanish writer, journalist and editor. She writes for media publications such as El País,, Vice or Cinemanía. She is the author of the novel Las niñas prodigio (Fulgencio Pimentel), winner of the Premio Javier Morote, awarded from the Spanish Federation of Bookseller Guilds and Associations, and selected for New Spanish Books, and Soñó con la chica que robaba un caballo (Lengua de trapo). She was selected for 10 de 30, a project that aims to bring international exposure to Spanish writers. Her work is featured in the anthologies La errabunda (Lindo&Espinosa) and Tranquilas: Historias para ir solas de noche (Lumen). Some of her texts and book chapters have been published on The Washington Square Review, The White Review and Los Bárbaros. In 2017, she delivered a TED talk called Escaping the Girl Prodigy. She taught creative writing at the Escuela Fuentetaja and was the 2020 resident editor at Editorial Barrett. 

Guadalupe (Lupita) Vega Zavaleta

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Mexican writer born in Oaxaca. She studied Creative Writing and Literature at Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana. During 2019, she was part of the International Writing Program’s Women’s Creative Mentorship Project, with Karen Villeda as her mentor for a fiction project. Her work has been published on the Mexican magazines: Este país and Tierra Adentro. Currently, she is working in a collection of short stories inspired by her hometown. 


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