CLAS poetry MFA graduate receives prestigious fellowship to Stanford University

A graduate student who just completed his MFA will move to California to participate in a prestigious fellowship opportunity.
Monday, July 10, 2023

By: Emily Delgado  

Adedayo Agarau recently graduated from the world-renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop with a Master of Fine Arts in poetry. During his time at Iowa, he was a Robert Hayden Scholarship fellow and a recipient of the Stanley Award for International Research at the University of Iowa. He has now also landed two highly competitive post-grad fellowships – the Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University and a fellowship with the Cave Canem Foundation.  

Adedayo Agarau
Adedayo Agarau

“I remember getting the email from Cave Canem, and the first thing I did was send the news to my friends. When I heard from Stanford University, I was walking down Clinton Street after Monday’s workshop and broke down in tears because it was unbelievable, knowing the number of people applying for these fellowships,” Agarau says.  

Cave Canem is a week-long retreat, held annually at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Pennsylvania, focused on cultivating the artistic and professional growth of its fellows, who are Black poets. After attending the Cave Canem program, Agarau will enter the Wallace Stegner Fellowship, a full-time, intensive academic workshop environment within Stanford University, where fellows are working artists, intent upon practicing and perfecting their craft over two years in the program. 

In addition to recently completing his MFA at Iowa, Agarau is the editor-in-chief of Agbowo, an African literary magazine. He was a founding editor at IceFloe Press, Canada, as the New International Voices editor and African Chapbook Acquisition manager. Agarau curated and edited Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry and has written and published three poetry chapbooks. 

During his time at Iowa, Agarau says he was enveloped in a wave of support from faculty in the program. He worked with numerous supportive professors who each helped him develop his writing and thesis.  

While studying at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Agarau also worked as a student marketing assistant for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In this position, he helped promote the School of Music, Department of Theatre Arts, and Department of Dance by writing reviews and student profiles, crafting social media posts, and even trying photography for the departments’ Instagram and Facebook accounts. 

“I felt accommodated in a space that enhanced my creativity, allowing me to touch both the creative side and the ‘business’ side of writing,” Agarau added.  

At Stanford and through his fellowships, Agarau plans to highlight the colonial and post-colonial culture of his native country, Nigeria. His writing is already leading conversations on the possibilities of a wave of new-generation Nigerian writers, and his work has attracted wide review from magazines like Open Country, YesPoetry, and AfroCritik

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.