Writers' Workshop Readings Series

Program News

The 2009-2010 Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellow in Creative Writing

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop and The Rona Jaffe Foundation are delighted to announce that the 2009-2010 Rona Jaffe Foundation Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing has been awarded to Yuly Restrepo, who will enroll in the program’s Graduate Fiction Workshop this fall. The fellowship, which pays tuition and a generous stipend, is granted each year to a first-year woman student in fiction or poetry.

Ms. Restrepo is a promising young writer with a unique personal history. She was born in Colombia, South America, and grew up in the city of Medellín, until her family was granted political asylum in the United States. “When I was seventeen years old,” she says, “My father, who owned a business, began to receive threats from one of the guerrillas in the country. As a result, his business began to fail, and he became afraid for his safety. He decided to travel to the United States, where he was granted political asylum. Later my mother, brother, and I joined him and obtained political asylum as well.”

Her family moved to Florida, and Ms. Restrepo attended Saint Petersburg College. One of her professors encouraged her interest in creative writing, which led her to transfer to the University of Tampa, where she graduated with a major in Creative Writing and a minor in English in 2006. Since then, she has been working as a translator of technical and instructional literature.

“Being accepted into the Workshop is a great honor, and receiving this year's Rona Jaffe Fellowship is one of the best encouragements that can be added to that acceptance,” she says. “I am very grateful for the confidence that has been placed in my writing with this fellowship. It is a relief to know that, during my time at the Workshop, I will be able to focus on writing, without worrying about the financial strain I would have without this aid.”

The Rona Jaffe Foundation established this fellowship at the Writers' Workshop in 2008, in recognition of the programs’ shared goal of supporting writers of exceptional talent early in their career. The Foundation, established in 1995 by author Rona Jaffe (1931-2005), funds emerging women writers of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. It is the only national literary awards program of its kind dedicated to supporting women writers exclusively.

For more information about The Rona Jaffe Foundation, please visit their website, at