Educator Spotlight: James Thomas Stevens
James Thomas Stevens, Akwesasne Mohawk, is a published author of seven books of poetry and an associate professor of creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Stevens, who is also of Welsh ancestry, received an associate degree in fine arts in 1990 from IAIA and a master of fine arts from Brown University in 1993.
Formerly an instructor at Haskell Indian Nations University and State University of New York at Fredonia, Stevens has taught at IAIA for the last three years and currently teaches poetry workshops, intro to Native literature, contemporary fiction, creative nonfiction, multicultural literature and environmental literature.
A stalwart advocate of IAIA, Stevens said the campus is “a much tighter community” than most mainstream universities.
“We have a small student body,” he said. “It’s family. That family never goes away. You’ll know those people for the rest of your life. Really, to me, IAIA has always been about the community.”
Stevens added that for those creative Natives with a prowess for the pen, there’s money for them to attend IAIA.
“Per credit hour, it’s a really an affordable school,” he said. “There is funding. We have so many scholarships that are given out because of the success of our program.”
One of the many scholarships at IAIA is the revered Truman Capote Literary Trust Scholarship, Stevens said.
“There’s three of those we give per year, and they are $10,000 each. The Truman Capote foundation called us last semester and said due to the success of our publishing poets and writers they wanted to add a fourth one.”
These days, Stevens is working on his eighth book of poetry.