Almaty Writing Residency is an international project organized by Olga Markova Open Literature School of Almaty (OLSA) and the renowned IWP International Writing Program. With the pilot Writers Residency in Kazakhstan taking place in 2021, it has become an annual event for Kazakhstani writers, poets, and authors from near and far.

ALmaty writING residency - iwp international writers program

Almaty Writing Residency is a collaborative international project of the OLSA and the renowned IWP Writers Residency.   

The IWP was founded by Paul Engle and Hualing Nieh Engle as a non-academic, internationally focused counterpart to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Since 2014, the program offers online courses to many writers and poets across the world. Since its inception in 1967, the IWP has hosted over 1,500 emerging and established poets, novelists, dramatists, essayists, and journalists from more than 150 countries. Its primary goal is to introduce talented writers to the writing community at the University of Iowa, and to provide for the writers a period of optimal conditions for their creative work. Since 2000, the IWP has been directed by poet and journalist Christopher Merrill.


To make for an immersive creative environment, residents will live on the territory of one space. Participants will work together on writing projects, discuss literary and literature-related issues, partake in creative meetings and public events, and take tours of the city and the surrounding area. Any author can become a participant on the basis of competitive admission. Both established prose writers and poets, as well as those taking their first steps, are invited to submit their proposals. Experienced authors will be given preference. The residency events will be held in three languages  English, Kazakh, and Russian, with our interpreters available at all timesTravel costs to Almaty and back, as well as accommodation and per diem will be covered for the writers admitted into the program. The basic requirement for the authors is active participation in the activities of the residency.  


sonnet mondal

Sonnet Mondal is an award-winning Indian poet, editor, and author of An Afternoon in My Mind (Copper Coin 2022/Bite-Sized Books, U.K.), Karmic Chanting (Copper Coin 2018), Ink and Line (Dhauli Books 2018) and five other books of poetry. He has read as an invited poet at literary festivals in USA, Macedonia, Ireland, Turkey, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Hungary, Madagascar, South Africa, and Slovakia. He was awarded Gayatri Gamarsh Memorial Award for literary excellence in 2016, Godyoo Podyo Probondho Award in 2023, and was shortlisted for Tagore Literary Prize in 2020.  His writings have appeared in publications across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. His recent works have appeared in the Harper’s Bazaar, Virginia Quarterly Review, Stand Magazine, Words Without Borders, Singing in the Dark (Penguin Random House), Luvina magazine (University of Guadalajara, Mexico), La Otra (University of Mexico), Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), Stand magazine, Poetry Salzburg Review (University of Salzburg), and Mascara Literary Review among others.  Mondal was one of the authors of the Silk Routes project of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa from 2014 to 2016. Founder director of Chair Poetry Evenings – Kolkata’s International Poetry Festival, Mondal edits the Indian section of Lyrikline (Haus für Poesie, Berlin) and serves as managing editor of Verseville. He has been a guest editor for Words Without Borders, New York, and Poetry at Sangam, India. His works have been translated in over twenty languages.

Olga Markova Almaty Open Literary School and Almaty Writing Residency presents the guest in 2023 – Sonnet Mondal, poet, India.

He will take part in the AWR Kazakhstani literary translators’ workshop from 09/29/23 to 10/04/23; publication of Sonnet Mondal’s poems in Kazakh and Russian will be the result of translator’s work.

Public meeting with Sonnet Mondal and poetry reading will be held at the American Space and Maker Space Almaty, 03.10.2023, 17.00. Almaty Towers​, Bayzakova, st, 280.

Almaty Writing Residency Official Catalog

Supporting literature is a long-term investment, but some results have already become evident: new works of the participants are coming out, a media about Kazakhstani literature has appeared, the residency is becoming part of the literary process and part of the cultural landscape of our beloved city. This shows that there is a demand for the AWR and that we have found our niche. The AWR is a unique program for Kazakhstan.



The United States inaugurated the Consulate General in Almaty – the only American Consulate in Central Asia – in December 2009.  The Consulate General hosts offices of the Department of State (including Consular, Public Affairs and Political/Economic Sections), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This consular district encompasses the four southern regions (oblasti) of Kazakhstan, although many Consulate agencies and sections have broader mandates in Kazakhstan and in Central Asia.

The U.S. Consulate General in Almaty works on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, such as trade, commerce, economic development, democracy and governance, humanitarian assistance, health promotion and disease control, counter-narcotics and environmental protection. The Consulate General also provides services to American citizens and businesses in Kazakhstan.


Chevron Corporation, headquartered in San Ramon, California, is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries operating worldwide.  The company is involved in literally every area of energy development, including the exploration, production and transportation of crude oil and natural gas; the refining, marketing and distribution of transportation fuels and other energy products; the manufacture and sale of petrochemical products; the production of electricity and geothermal energy; the development of energy efficiency solutions; and the development of future energy resources, including biofuels. Chevron supports several socially-oriented and cultural projects in Kazakhstan, including the Almaty Writing Residency, launching in 2021.


In Kazakh, Angime [Ahn-Ghee-Mae] means conversation. In the spirit of this word, Angime promotes international, multilingual, and multidisciplinary literary and artistic conversations. Edited by the diverse faculty of Nazarbayev University and independent editors, Angime takes advantage of its distinctive intellectual and creative context in Kazakhstan.



Yuriy Serebriansky is a Kazakhstani author of Polish origin, and cultural researcher. His prose, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in Kazakh, Russian, and American literary journals, and been translated into Kazakh, Polish, English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French and German. In 2010 and 2014, he was awarded the Russkaya Premia literary award; in 2017, his [Kazakhstani Fairy Tales] was recognized as the best bilingual book for a young audience at the Silk Road Book Fair; in 2019, his novel [Black Star], co-written with Bakhytzhan Momyshuly (1941-2012) received the Altyn Kalam literary prize. Editor-in-Chief of Esquire Kazakhstan from 2016 to 2018, he is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Kazakhstani Polish diaspora magazine Ałmatyński Kurier Polonijny, and the prose editor of the Russian literary magazine  Literatura. In 2019, he was one of the instructors for IWP’s Between the Lines youth program.


Valeria Krutova is a novelist. Born in 1988, she received a degree in law. She took part in the 18th and 19th Young Writers’Forums of the SEIP Foundation. Her work was published in the journal “Friendship of Peoples,” “Youth,” in the literary online magazines “Daktil,” “Лиterraтура,” “Formaslov,” the literary magazine “Autograph,” the literary almanac “LiterraNova”(2018), in the prose collection “The Road without End.”

mikhail zemskov, financial COORDINATOR

Mikhail Zemskov is a Kazakhstani prose writer and playwright. The author of four books of prose and many publications in Kazakhstani and foreign literary magazines and collections. Twice winner of the Russian Prize, finalist and laureate of drama competitions and festivals. One of the founders of the Olga Markova Almaty Open Literary School. Co-organizer of literary forums and festivals in Kazakhstan. Graduate of the screenwriting and film studies faculty of VGIK. Member of the Writers’ Union of Moscow and the Kazakh PEN club. Lives and works in Almaty.


Dina Makhmetova is a playwright, theatre historian, translator. Graduated from Zhurgenov National Academy of Arts with a major in Theatre Studies and from the translation department of Abylai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages. She is a graduate of the writers’ master class of the Mussagetes PF. Readings of her plays took place at ARTiShock theatre (Almaty, 2005 –2006), the festival of Ilkhom theatre organized by “Status Plus” studio (Tashkent, 2009). In the Open Literary School of Almaty she runs a playwriting and screenwriting seminar, creative writing for youth workshop. Her works were published in the online magazine Text Only, in the literary almanac “Literra Nova”.


Anton Platonov is a translator and art manager. He graduated from the translation department at St. Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts, a student of translator and writer Vera Reznik. Participant of the poetry seminars of the Open Literary School Almaty season 2015-2016. He translates contemporary prose from English, Spanish, and German, researches and translates beatnik poetry, with the special focus on Gregory Corso. He writes and translates texts about contemporary art and philosophy. His translations and essays have been published in the electronic publication Лиterraтура, Esquire, Sygma, etc. One of the founders and head of the projects “Illustrated Guide to the Meanings of Almaty” and editor-in-chief at ariadna.media — a media about contemporary art in Central Asia. Co-founder and co-head of the Laboratory for Literary Translation (supported by the U.S. Mission to Kazakhstan). He lives and works in Almaty.

Аlyona timofeyeva, volunteer

is a writer, essayist, and drama critic from Kazakhstan. She is an alumna of Open Literature School of Almaty second-level prose and young writers programs. Alyona participated in Word/Movement  workshop by the International Writing Program. Her work has appeared in “Daktil” literary magazine,  «Литературная Алма-Ата» almanac, and on the internet (Manshuq, Әдеби портал, 5Q Media, Steppe, Orda). She studies international affairs at the KIMEP University. She was shortlisted for the Qalamdas Literary Prize, dedicated to the memory of Olga Markova, in the Literary Criticism nomination.  


Christopher Merrill’s online lecture. Kazakh and Russian subtitles.

20.08.2021 — Almaty Writing Residency 2021 — This year residency participants list.




The former capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan, called in different periods Alma-Ata and Verny, has been the cultural center of the country. The city’s literary history is rich and spans many cultures. The great writers and poets of Kazakhstan worked here. Some made the city the setting for their books.  The monumental building of the Union of Writers, Mukhtar Auezov house-museum, the monuments to Abai, Zhambyl, Gerold Belger, memorial plaques on the houses where the writers lived and worked — all this is part of the city’s literary history.  Today, the literary history of Almaty continues through contemporary authors.