UI alumna awarded Fulbright for creative writing to New Zealand

Clare Jones, of New Orleans, LA, has received a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Grant in Creative Writing to New Zealand and Polynesia where she will research and write a collection of poetry.


Clare Jones has been awarded a Fulbright to write a book of poetry based on research in Polynesia and New Zealand for 2015-16.

Jones graduated in May 2014 with an M.F.A. in creative writing (poetry) from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Graduate Certificate in Book Arts from the UI Center for the Book.

Jones’s collection will explore the divergent and convergent forces of evolution in the rare wildlife and landscape of the Pacific region. As she writes, she plans to interview writers, publishers, conservation workers, natural historians and other members of the public.

“The study of natural history in the Pacific, as global climate change and human activity alter landscapes and languages, is a major force behind my writing,” Jones said.

In particular, she is most interested in the evolution of birds, plants and geological features in the Pacific, which is home to fragile ecosystems and some of the planet’s most isolated forms of life. This passion stems from her past experience in the Marshall Islands from 2010-2011, where she worked as a volunteer in a remote village.

When Jones returned to the U.S., she found that many of the people she spoke to had never heard of Micronesia, nor were they aware of the physical changes occurring there due to global warming. Having known little about the region herself before leaving the U.S., Clare found that her experiences there, as well as on the island of Pohnpei – where she held a writing residency in 2013 funded by the University of Iowa – changed the way she worked as a writer.

“By talking with fellow stateside writers about how the Marshall Islands and Pohnpei had influenced the poetry I wrote, I was able to bring up diverse topics that are often, despite their importance, left out of conversation,” Jones said.

Jones hopes to give back to local communities by contributing to a public lecture series at the Victoria University of Wellington and working as a conservation volunteer. She also hopes to investigate the potential of new creative writing publishing initiatives to bring Pacific area cultures and climate change activism to the attention of the global community.

“The Pacific – as a microcosm of the fragile global environment – is a region too often ignored in popular and academic life,” Jones said.

“This project is key for this time and place (and my own goals as a writer) due to the pressures global climate change has placed on the forces of evolution throughout the world, but in the Pacific in particular.”

Clare Jones is one of 13 Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant winners from the University of Iowa for 2015-16. See the full list of winners.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For more information on applying for a Fulbright through the University of Iowa, visit our Fulbright page.

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