Discipline: Theatre – playwriting, Literature – poetry

Quan Barry

Discipline: Theatre – playwriting, Literature – poetry
Region: Madison, WI
MacDowell Fellowships: 2006, 2015, 2023

Born in Saigon and raised on Boston’s Northshore, Quan Barry is the Lorraine Hansberry Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of seven books of fiction and poetry, including the recent novel When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East, which follows a group of Buddhist monks as they search for a reincarnation in the vast Mongolian landscape. The NY Times described it as, “mesmerizing and delicate . . . a dazzling achievement…the unlikeliness of the novel is exactly its magic.” She is also the author of We Ride Upon Sticks, which O: Oprah Magazine called, “Spellbinding, wickedly fun.” In 2021, she was awarded the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and is one of a select group of writers to receive NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction.

Barry is currently Forward Theater’s first ever writer-in-residence. Her first play production, The Mytilenean Debate, premiered in spring 2022.

During her first two residencies at MacDowell, Barry worked respectively on her poetry collection Water Puppets and her novel When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East as well as on her ping pong game. At MacDowell in 2023, she completed a draft of her TV pilot “Sticks”, based on her 2020 novel We Ride Upon Sticks. She also edited half of her fourth novel, My God is Godly, which follows a Black American tourist who is stranded in Antarctica with others.

Portrait by Jim Barnard



Quan Barry worked in the Banks studio.

Banks, an ell on the north end of the Lodge dormitory, was first used as an artist’s studio in 1970. Since then, it has played host to an extraordinary list of writers working in several disciplines. In all seasons, Fellows have enjoyed the pastoral view through the French doors facing a field…

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