K.L. Cook, professor of English and co-coordinator of Iowa State’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment, has been named the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) Dean’s Faculty Fellow in the Arts.
The award, created and funded by the Transforming LAS endowment, will support Cook’s progress on new book projects and restore a lost opportunity to promote recently published ones.
“I’m deeply honored and grateful for this award,” Cook said. “It’s a validation of the creative work I’ve been doing while at Iowa State, particularly the three new books of fiction, essays and poetry that I published in late 2019 and 2020. The award is also a vital incentive and encouragement to make significant progress on new writing projects.”
Cook’s three most recent books were all published around the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many authors, his book events, which had included trips across the United States and to Paris, were put on hold last year. Now, he is looking forward to finally sharing those new works—“Marrying Kind,” “The Art of Disobedience” and “Lost Soliloquies”—with more readers.
“Now that things are returning to normal, I’m eager to share those stories, essays and poems with a broader audience,” he said. “I will get to go to Paris next summer, so I’m looking forward to that. And I’m starting the process of reaching out to colleges, universities, bookstores and literary festival directors to arrange other events over the next couple of years.”
The LAS Dean’s Faculty Fellow in the Arts Award will support Cook’s three projects in progress—a collection of essays that examine the intersection of personal, public and literary tragedy; a novel exploring family dynamics, theatre and place-based artistic subcultures in the setting of a Shakespeare festival in Arizona; and a book-length critical study of short story cycles, linked stories and novels-in-stories, which is also receiving research funding from an ISU Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities (CEAH) grant.
Cook’s works have earned numerous honors, including the inaugural Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the Willa Award for Best Contemporary Fiction and the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction.
His stories, essays, articles and poems have appeared widely in journals, magazines and national anthologies. He is the recipient of a Western Writers of America Award for Best Short Story, the Grand Prize from the Santa Fe Writers Project, an Arizona Commission on the Arts fellowship and grant, and residency fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Ucross and Blue Mountain Center.
Cook teaches introductory, advanced and graduate courses in creative writing at Iowa State, including courses on the theory and practice of teaching creative writing. His research areas include creative writing, forms of fiction, short story cycles, literature of the American Dream, Western American literature, place-based and environmental literature, Shakespeare, literary influence, family systems theory and creative writing pedagogy. Since 2004, Cook also has served as a member of the graduate faculty of Spalding University’s low-residency MFA in Writing Program.
Cook is also the recipient of the 2021 LAS Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring.