Almaty Writing Residency is an international project of 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 will become an annual event for Kazakhstani writers, poets, and authors from near and far.


  • Application submission start — April 27, 2021
  • Deadline for submissions — July 1, 2021
  • Participants list announcement — August 20, 2021
  • Start of the residency — September 12, 2021
  • End of the residency — September 18, 2021

American Space Almaty
Residency program

  • 13.09/18.00 Meet-the-artist session with residency participants
  • 14.09/18.00 Creative meeting with Nina Murray
  • 15.09/18.00 Meet-the-artist session with Christopher Merrill
  • 16.09/18.00 Kazakhstani literary magazines present their authors
  • 17.09/18.00 Literature in translation. Residents Inauguration Ceremony

ALmaty writING residency - iwp international writing 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.

How is the writers residency organized?

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.  

goals and objectives of almaty writING residency:

The organizers of the Almaty Writing Residency will announce the theme of the Residency for every year. In 2021, the theme will be: “Kazakhstani Identity.” Resident writers, guest masters and the audience will discuss identity issues, international experience, and experiences of working in the Kazakh and Russian languages in Kazakhstan. Networking and exchange between Kazakh-speaking and Russian-speaking Kazakhstani authors is one of the main goals of this year’s residency. We are looking forward to productive collaboration, which will help writers to further their creative endeavor and promote their work in Kazakhstan and abroad.

selection process:

The jury for the 2021 Almaty Writers Residency will accept the following documents from applicants:

  • Participant’s application form (download)
  • Copy of ID card
  • Cover letter detailing the motivation to engage with the 2021 Residency theme
  • A piece of creative writing (prose, poetry, opinion journalism) up to 25 thousand characters with spaces in Kazakh or Russian
  • Author’s BIO (publications, participation in creative projects)

Application should be sent to: litshkola@gmail.com 

our instructors for 2021:

christopher merrill

has published six collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many edited volumes and translations; and six books of nonfiction, among them, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War, and Self-Portrait with Dogwood. His writings have been translated into nearly forty languages; his journalism appears widely; his honors include a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French government, numerous translation awards, and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial and Ingram Merrill Foundations. As director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa since 2000, Merrill has conducted cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries. He served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO from 2011-2018, and in April 2012 President Barack Obama appointed him to the National Council on the Humanities.

Nina murray

Nina Murray was born and raised in the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv. She holds advanced degrees in linguistics and creative writing. She is the author of the poetry collection Alcestis in the Underworld (Circling Rivers Press, 2019) as well as chapbooks Minimize Considered (Finishing Line Press, 2018), Minor Heresies (Heartland Review Press, 2020), and Damascus Electric (Pen & Anvil Press, 2020). Her translations from Russian and Ukrainian include Peter Aleshkovsky’s Stargorod, Oksana Zabuzhko’s Museum of Abandoned Secrets, and Oksana Lutsyshyna’s Ivan and Phoebe (forthcoming from Deep Vellum). 

She speaks Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Lithuanian, and English.

our partners:

u.s. consulate general in almaty

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

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.

angime literary journal

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.

our team:

valeria krutova, coordinator

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.”

yuriy serebriansky, consultant

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.

dina makhmetova, translator

Playwright and translator. Graduated from Zhurgenov National Academy of Arts (Almaty) in 2002, with a major in “Theatre Studies.In 2005, she graduated from the translation department of Abylai Khan Kazakh University of International Relations and World Languages. She is a graduate of the writer’s master class of the “Musaget” PF (2003). Her plays have been produced by “ArtiShok” theater (Almaty, 2005-2006), the theater festival of “Status Plus” studio, dedicated to the problem of social discrimination of HIV-positive people (Tashkent, 2009). Her work was also published in the online magazine Text Only, No. 28, 2009.

аnton platonov, translator

Translator, researcher, art-manager

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.

residency Ambassador 2021:

dana kanafina

Dana Kanafina was born in Petropavlovsk in 2000 and raised in Almaty. She is a novelist. She participated in Almaty Open Literary School OLSA Summer School for young writers in 2017, in the International Writing Program “Between The Lines” at the University of Iowa (2019). Alumnus of OLSA prose seminar (1-st level). Her works were published in Literratura Magazine. She also took part in Anna Poloniy’s Creative writing workshop (Go-Viral Festival) and Anna Rudnitskaya’s “Youth Included” workshop. Works as a freelance journalist and studies at the university.

jury 2021:

evgeniy abdullaev

A Russian poet, prose writer and critic living in Uzbekistan. He publishes critical articles under his real name and poetry and prose under the pseudonym Sukhbat Aflatuni. He spent his childhood in Namangan; since 1978, he’s lived in Tashkent. He graduated from the Tashkent State University, the faculty of philosophy, in 1993. He was published in the journal “Arion,” “Friendship of Peoples,” “The Star of the East,” “Znamya,” “Jerusalem Journal,” “Novaya Yunost,” “October,” the almanac “The Little Silk Road.”(Tashkent-Moscow, 1999-2005) and “Interpoezia” (New York-Moscow, 2005). Award winner of the journal “October” (2004, 2006), the “Russian Prize” (2005), the youth award “Triumph” (2006). Books of poems: Psalms and Sketches (Moscow: R. Elinin Publishing House, 2003), Landscape with a Severed Ear (Moscow: R. Elinin Publishing House, 2008). Prose writings: “Tashkent novel” (St. Petersburg: Amfora, 2006), “+39” (2011), “The Adoration of the Magi” (2015), “The Ant King” (2016). Member of the editorial board of “The Star of the East” (since 2006); the editorial board of “Friendship of Peoples” (since 2008). He teaches philosophy and logic as well as ancient Greek and Latin at Tashkent Orthodox Theological Seminary. He is the editor-in-chief of “Восток Свыше” (Vostok Above) magazine of the Tashkent diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church (Central Asian Metropolitan District).

ardak nurgazy

A poet, prose writer, and literary critic. He has been living in Kazakhstan since 1991. In 2006, he worked as a journalist in the newspaper “Kazakh Literature.”From 2006 to 2008, he was editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Шетел әдебиеті” (Foreign Literature). In 2008, he served as an editor at Zhalyn magazine, and in 2009-2015, he was a journalist for the newspaper “Almaty akshamy” (Vecherny Almaty). From 2017 to 2019, he worked as a manager in the press service of Mukhtar Auezov Kazakh State Academic Drama Theatre. He is the author of “The Book of False Freedom” (kaz. Zhalgan Bostandyk kitaby; 2009) and “Kolibri” (kaz. Arakus; 2011, in Chinese and Kazakh), “Daldik ham tunyktyk” (2014, in English, Chinese and Kazakh), “A Garden of Trees and Other Poems” (2016), “Pebbles, Eggs and the Fence: A Collection of Poetry from Central Asia” (2020, Australia, Puncher & Wattmann Publishers), “Tanym men talgam” (2018), a collection of stories “Lines and Dots” (Kaz.), Contemporary Kazakh Poetry (2010). With the play “I, I am nobody” (kaz. Men, men eshkim de emespin) won first place in the nomination “Best Dramaturgy” at the international literary contest “Rukh”.

аlina gatina

Novelist, literary editor, teacher of literary courses, she graduated from Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (Department of Philosophy and Political Science) and correspondence department at Gorky Literature Institute, workshop of Oleg Pavlov’s prose. From 2005 to 2007 she worked as a literary editor and then publication editor of the journal “Shahar-Kultura.” Participant of the Literary Shift at the Tavrida Art Festival, 2019.Participant of the 20th International Forum of Young Writers of Russia, CIS and Foreign Countries, 2021. Published in the journal “Friendship of Peoples.”Winner of the literary prize “Altyn Tobylgy” of 2018, Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (novel “Shroud. Second Breath”).  Finalist of Pushkin literary prize “Lyceum” in 2020 (with the novel “Nymphalides”). Medalist of “Argumenty i Fakty” Publishing House “Words’ Weight in Gold” in 2020 (with the novel “Nymphalides”). Winner of the literary prize “ФИКШН35” in 2021 (with the novel “The soul and the desert” and other stories). Lives in Almaty, teaches literary courses.

оral arukenova

A novelist, poet, literary critic, translator, she writes in Kazakh and Russian. She was born in the village of Akadyr, Karaganda region. She graduated from the Institute of Foreign Languages (Almaty, Kazakhstan), School of Management in Hamburg (Germany). For fifteen years, she held senior positions in international companies and multinational corporations. She lives in Almaty. In 2015, she started writing fiction and completely altered her professional life. She is currently a researcher at the Auezov Institute of Literature and Art (Almaty, Kazakhstan), studying for a doctorate. Her works were published in the almanac “LiterraNOVA,” on the Kazakhstan literary portal “Әдебиет,” in the magazines “Esquire,” “Tamyr,” “Prostor,” “Neva” (Russia), “Za-Za Verlag” (Germany) and in collected volumes of contemporary Kazakhstani prose. Her prose and poetry has been translated into German and English. The debut book “The code of the oil industry,” published by Meloman Publishing in 2018, was awarded by the independent literary contest “Altyn Kalam” in the category “Literary Debut of the Year”.

Аlmaty - the City's literary history :

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.