About Us

Our Story


A’Ja Lyons reading poetry at Words Meet Art

The Ames Writers Collective (a nonprofit 501(c)(3)) 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-plus years she has spent writing her memoir, she studied memoirs of favorite authors and attended their writing workshops and retreats, while also attending continuing education writing programs. Always longing for a writing community, McCracken received a certificate from the Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) in order to lead her own generative writing workshops—for both writers seeking community and for cancer support groups.

When McCracken was invited to teach at OLLI—ISU during her second year as an Iowa State MFA candidate, she welcomed the opportunity. Most of her classes are based in the AWA method, which believes that everyone is a writer, everyone has a strong and unique voice, we are all born with creative genius, and writing as an art form belongs to all people.

While teaching at OLLI, McCracken realized that her “Over 50+” writers craved opportunities to write in community like she had. Thus was born the Ames Writers Collective.

Since its inception in the fall of 2021, the Ames Writers Collective has provided outreach writing programs to cancer patients and survivors, adolescent and Over 50+ writers. For writers wishing to write in community, the Ames Writers Collective offers Tuesday Open Writes.

Swift Youth Writers

Programming also includes partnerships with the Octagon Art Gallery and Iowa State University Museums, Words Meet Art, where writers use art as writing prompts and read their stories or poems publicly. The Author Spotlight series co-hosted with KHOI Community Radio features local and visiting authors. And, the pop-up Swift Literary Festival features local and regional authors and their books.

Our Mission

The Ames Writers Collective is committed to
creating healthy communities through the art of writing.

Board of Directors

Jen Brockpahler

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

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

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.

Jennifer L. Knox

Jennifer L. Knox is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently, Crushing It. Knox received her bachelor’s from the University of Iowa, and her master’s of fine arts in poetry writing from New York University. Her poems have appeared five times in the “Best American Poetry” series, and in publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker and American Poetry Review. www.jenniferlknox.com.

Ana McCracken

Ana McCracken

Executive Director

Ana McCracken received her Bachelor of Science and MFA in Creative Writing and Environment degrees from Iowa State University. 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 has served as a board of director for Litquake in San Francisco, and was recently elected to the Willa Cather Foundation Board of Governors. Passionate about building and uplifting communities through the art of writing and storytelling, she founded the Ames Writers Collective in 2021.

Mikesch Muecke

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.

Our Supporters

Corporate Sponsorship


Ames Writers Collective is grateful to have the support of 10Fold Architecture + Engineering.

Integrity Construction

We are proud to have Integrity Construction as one of our most dedicated supporters!

Stephens Auditorium

Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University is a great supporter and partner to Ames Writers Collective.


City of Ames

City of Ames

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

Rotary Club of Ames

Rotary Club Of Ames

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


Holly and Don Beermann

Thank you for your generosity! Donors such as you help us maintain our community outreach programs.

Lynne Carey

Thank you for your generosity! Donors such as you help us maintain our community outreach programs.

Nancy and John Hayes

Thank you for your generosity! Donors such as you help us maintain our community outreach programs.

Community Partners

Ames Chamber of Commerce

Ames Chamber of Commerce

We are a Proud Member of the Ames Chamber of Commerce

Ames Community Arts Council

Ames Writers Collective is pleased to have the unwavering support of the Ames Community Arts Council.

Octagon Center for the Arts

Thank you to Octagon Center, who has been an enthusiastic partner with Ames Writers Collective, hosting and promoting our events.


Mary Greeley Foundation

We are proud to have the Mary Greeley Foundation supporting our Cancer Writing Circles.

Thistlewood Foundation

Thistlewood Foundation

The Ames Writers Collective is thrilled to have the support of the Thistlewood Foundation.

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.