Dordt College News

Den Boer joins the ranks of elite writers in Stanford writing program

May 13, 2010

Sarah Den Boer (’02), a Ph.D. student at the University of South Dakota, has been awarded a 2010 Wallace Stegner Fellowship at the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University.

And although she’s known the news since March, she still has moments when she is hardly able to believe it is true.

Each year, Stanford offers ten two-year fellowships–five in fiction and five in poetry. Named for Wallace Stegner, the fiction writer and Stanford professor who founded Stanford’s creative writing program, the fellowship includes a stipend of $26,000 per year, tuition, and health insurance costs. The Stegner Fellowship is exceptionally competitive: 1,784 writers applied this year. Recipients write and attend a weekly three-hour workshop with Stanford faculty. Many well-known writers have been Stegner Fellows in the past, including Wendell Berry, Raymond Carver, Marilyn Chin, Robert Pinsky, Tobias Wolff, Dean Young, Jeffrey Eugenides, and ZZ Packer.

Den Boer, the author of “Sawdust, Sugarcube,” a collection of poems published by Dancing Girl Press (, has also published poems in several literary magazines. She and her husband, Josh Meendering (’99), will move from Bozeman, Montana, to the San Francisco area this summer.

“I feel a bit sheepish to admit that I did not even realize the level of prestige of this fellowship when I applied last fall,” says Den Boer. “Generally, I don’t apply to things like this, but I felt oddly compelled last November, even though I didn’t think I had a chance.” After applying, Den Boer says she mostly forgot about it until March 1, when she received both an e-mail and a voicemail from Eavan Boland saying that she’d been awarded a fellowship.

“Josh won’t let me erase that voicemail—it’s not every day that one receives a voicemail from a famous poet,” she says. “After a bit of disbelief that my application was actually selected, one word sums up my reaction: THRILLED!”

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