Our Story

The Ames Writers Collective was conceived while founder, Ana McCracken studied for her MFA at Iowa State University. Prior to enrolling at Iowa State as a “late-in-life” memoir candidate, McCracken considered herself a non-traditional student of writing. To support the twenty-two years she spent writing her memoir, she studied memoirs of favorite authors and attended their writing workshops and retreats. She enrolled in continuing education programs at Stanford and UC Berkley. When McCracken was invited to teach at OLLI—ISU during her second year as an Iowa State MFA candidate, she welcomed the opportunity. While teaching, she realized that Central Iowa writers crave writing classes like she had and long to find ways to meet other writers. Thus was born the Ames Writers Collective.

A’Ja Lyons reading poetry at Words Meet Art

As a nonprofit organization, the Ames Writers Collective will:
  • offer opportunities for writers and authors to teach
  • help writers to form writing groups and gather in community
  • conduct community outreach for adolescents, seniors, and individuals receiving cancer treatment
  • provide affordable classes and scholarships
  • host an annual literary festival to showcase local authors and bring nationally acclaimed authors to Ames, Iowa

In brief the Ames Writers Collective is an organization committed to building and uplifting communities through the art of writing and storytelling, while advancing the literary arts in Ames, Iowa.

Our Mission

The Ames Writers Collective brings together writers and readers of diverse ages and cultural backgrounds to celebrate the essential art of the written and spoken word. Talented and committed working writers and authors teach and empower people of all skill levels to bring their stories to life. We foster conversation across cultural divides, building and uplifting communities through the art of storytelling, while advancing the literary arts in Ames, Iowa.
Our Board

Board of Directors

  • Jennifer Brockpahler

    Jennifer Brockpahler is the director of the Ames Community Arts Council. With an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies (music, education, business) and a master’s degree in Community Arts Management, she is thrilled to put her passion for community building, outreach, and creative collaboration to work for the artists of Ames. In addition to her work with the Arts Council, Jen is an administrator with the Critical Materials Institute of the Ames Laboratory.

  • Jennifer Drinkwater

    Jennifer Drinkwater, a Mississippi native, is an artist, an associate professor of art and visual culture and the community arts specialist for extension and outreach at Iowa State University. Jennifer explores how we bring artwork from the studio into the world, and how art-making can both build and shape community. Jennifer’s also the creator of The What’s Good Project, which celebrates the meaningful stories from where we live through community conversations and painting.

  • Ellyn Grimm

    Ellyn Grimm is a co-owner of Dog-Eared Books. She holds a degree in English from Iowa State University and previously taught English Language Arts at Williamsburg Jr./Sr. High School and Ames Middle School. She is passionate about building community in the downtown district, particularly around reading and writing.

  • Anna Magnusson

    Anna Magnusson was adopted from Seoul, Korea and raised in Iowa. She attended high school in Des Moines and earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa. Anna serves as the executive director of Able Up Iowa. Anna’s heart is filled with love for people and their stories. She has dedicated her life to a number of nonprofit organizations and causes as a volunteer or employee, which has led to a myriad of unexpected opportunities and adventures–including stepping into the role of a radio producer and host at KHOI 89.1 FM.

  • Ana McCracken

    Ana McCracken received her Bachelor of Science and MFA in Creative Writing and Environment degrees from Iowa State University. She is currently seeking representation for her thesis, Redacted—A Memoir of Adoption. Her personal essays are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, the anthologies Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God and The Joy of Adoption, and her poetry in Telepoem Booth®Iowa. She is the founder of the Ames Writers Collective, an organization committed to building and uplifting communities through the art of writing and storytelling, while advancing the literary arts in Ames, Iowa.

  • Mikesch Muecke

    Mikesch Muecke aka polytekton, teaches architecture and interdisciplinary design courses at Iowa State University, and holds two degrees from the University of Florida—a Bachelor of Design with a Major in Architecture, and a Ph.D. in Architectural History and Theory from Princeton University. When not teaching, he edits, designs, and publishes books for Culicidae Press (peer-reviewed since 2005) and for the non-profit publishing houses Hog Press, Musca Press, and Zanzara Press, all located in Ames, Iowa.

Special Thanks

Our Supporters

The Ames Writers Collective is proud to be a grantee of the City of Ames Arts Capital Grant Program

Our Major Foundations

The board of the Ames Writers Collective is deeply grateful for the generous and ongoing funding support we receive from the following foundations:

A Proud Member of the Ames Chamber of Commerce
Rotary Club of Ames

The Ames Writers Collective is proud to be a grantee of the Rotary Club of Ames.

Special Thanks to You!

Without you, we couldn’t support our community of writers and audience who enjoys listening to the written word. We thank our students, members, audience and donors. Please consider giving today.