Indiana University Creative Writing Program
Creative Writing Program
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Jacinda Townsend

Teaching Philosophy/Approach to Workshop

I am less interested in teaching someone to write the way I write than I am in helping them write the way they will--I enjoy helping students hammer the dross into something shimmery, and in ushering new voices out of the powder room and into the great ballroom of literature. I hit character pretty hard in workshop, as I feel that character development is the foundation on which any good narrative is built. MFA students need to learn how to keep writing after graduate school, when they have departed the security of workshop and the nurturing presence of a built-in writing community; to that end, I encourage my students to learn how to read as writers and to realize how absolutely crucial is the skill of effective self-editing.

Writing Interests

Despite my great love for the short form, I have spent the past decade writing, quite exclusively, novels. My novels tend to touch on political issues and my writing is firmly planted in African-American and feminist traditions. I am currently working on a novel partially set in Morocco that uses a transnational "adoption" as a flashpoint to examine themes of motherhood and social injustice.


Jacinda Townsend is the author of the novel Saint Monkey (forthcoming, Norton), portions of which have been published in Mythium Journal, poemmemoirstory, and WomenArts Quarterly. A former Fulbright fellow to Côte d’Ivoire and Carol Houck Smith fiction fellow at the University of Wisconsin, she has published short fiction in numerous literary magazines such as African Voices, Carve Magazine, The Maryland Review, Obsidian II, Passages North, Phoebe, and Xavier Review. She is a former Hurston-Wright Award finalist, and a graduate of Harvard University, Duke Law School, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is at work on a novel about transnational adoption set partially in Marrakech, Morocco.

For more information visit:
Unbound: Jacinda Townsend and Neela Vaswani on 'Object Permanence'
W.W.Norton & Company Inc.