THEME 2022




Kelly Dwyer is a graduate of The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the author of two novels, The Tracks of Angels and Self-Portrait with Ghosts, and two children’s books; her monologues and short plays have been produced in Madison, Boston, New York and Glasgow, Scotland.  She grew up in California and lives in Baraboo (near Madison), Wisconsin, where she teaches creative writing part-time, does freelance manuscript editing, and is working on a novel, more plays, and flash fiction inspired by the Disney Princesses at middle age. А longtime teacher, writing coach, and editor, passionate about helping other writers achieve success. 


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.


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.


Aigerim Altayeva

Aigerim Altayeva is an English teacher, poet and prose writer. She writes in Russian and English. She has been published in the “Science and Education” journal of Tomsk State Pedagogical University and in an online magazine “On Children’s Issues.” She is a graduate of the GLOBAL UGRAD international exchange program (USA). She participated in the coordination of the Peace Revolution project (Thailand) in Kazakhstan, took part in the productions of the youth theaters “Promen” and “Sovremennik.”

Svetlana Poznyakova

Svetlana Poznyakova is a prose writer, a teacher, a trainer at creative writing courses. She writes in Russian.

Svetlana’s tales and stories have been published in the almanac LiterraNova, in the OLSHA anniversary collection “The Road without End,” published by the Kazakh publishing house “Aruna,” the Russian publishing house “Book Publishing.”


Born on May 29, 1995 in the village of Akermen, Merki District of Zhambyl Region, Nurbek Nurzhanuly graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of al-Farabi Kazakh National University. He received a Master’s degree from Ardahan University, Turkey. He is the author of two collections of poems “Muń Aı” (Sad moon), “Kókshіl kóleńke” (Blue Shadow), and a book of prose “Tánsіz gúlder” (Bodyless Flowers).

He won the international “Daraboz” competition, was the 3rd degree laureate of the international “Shabyt” festival. He was the winner of the “Best Poetry of the Year” award of the Republican “Golden Pen” contest, winner of the Republican “Kazakh and City” literary competition. He was awarded the 1st prize in the Republican “Er Tóstіk” literary competition for children and won the 2nd place in the Republican “Uly Dala” contest in the category “Children’s works.”

He lives in Almaty and works as a correspondent for the newspaper “Kazakh University.”

Oral Arukenova

Oral Arukenova is an author of poetry and prose as well as a literary critic and translator. She writes in Kazakh and Russian. Arukenova’s work has been published in online and paper journals and anthologies in Kazakhstan, Russia, Germany, and USA. Her 2018 debut book, “Pravila Neftyanki” (Rules of the Oil Business) was named the Literary Debut of the Year by the independent literary contest “Altyn Qalam.” Her poem “Secretly I go to the park” translated by Shelley Fairweather-Vega entered into the Great Works of Literature II manifold of City University of New York (CUNY). She is a finalist of MECENAT.KZ – literary award for the best novel about Kazakhstan (2022).

Ainagul Sadykova

Ainagul Sadykova is a writer, translator, and literary critic. Under the program “Cultural Heritage,” as well as on government order, she translated works by T. Wilder, F. Kafka, A. Marshall, A. Ryunosuke, etc into Kazakh. She won the Grand Prix in the category “Artistic translation” of the 2004 National Competition of Young Writers, Critics, Essayists, and Translators in for the translation of the children’s story “The Beast” by Nikolai Leskov. She is the finalist of MECENAT.KZ Literary Contest (2022), author of the novel “Autumn Melody”. She has experience in teaching, conducting scientific research in universities, working on the TV channels “Khabar,” “Channel One Eurasia.” She is a member of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan. Master of Science.

Aset Syzdykov

Aset Syzdykov is an author of prose for children and teenagers and a journalist. He lives in the capital. He writes in Russian. He has been published in Kazakhstani newspapers and literary magazines. For example, the stories “Caught in the Web,” “Nightmare from the Attic,” and “Black Hare” were published in the newspaper “Leader” (in Kokshetau) in 2005.

In 2007, at the age of 17, he wrote the children’s story “Fairy Tales of Apple Trees,” which he submitted for “Altyn Kalam” and Eurasian Guild competitions in 2020. As a result, he was shortlisted and ended up among the finalists of both awards. In 2022, the story was published in the online magazine “Dactyl” (daktil.kz).

In 2022, he participated in QALAMDAS literary competition with the novella “Alan and Zakaria. City of Actamatons” that tells a story of schoolchildren who are passionate about robotics.