Jen Ippensen (she/her) has writing in or forthcoming in BULL, Every Day Fiction, Fugue, and jmww among other places. She is a founder and co-editor in chief at Vast Literary Press where she is busy working on their first project, Vast Chasm Magazine, which launched in January 2022. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Nebraska and has been named a Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer.
Jen earned a BA in theatre from Doane College and spent several years performing, stage managing, and directing before completing the transition to teaching program and later earning an MAEd in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in English through the University of Nebraska. She is a certified educator in the state of Nebraska and has spent considerable time teaching language arts classes, coaching competitive speech teams, and directing plays. She currently serves as director of an academic library and teaches college research skills and strategies. She is also a teaching artist with the Nebraska Writers Collective.
Originally from Worms, Nebraska, Jen has lived and worked in many places, from New York City to large and small towns in the Midwest. She now resides with her family in northeast Nebraska, where she writes literary fiction, creative non-fiction, and the occasional poem; consumes dark chocolate and copious amounts of cheese; and fosters an obsession with the color black.
Honors & Awards
2019 Best of the Net Nomination
"Three Things You Should Know About Jarod J. Brinkley III" (published October 24, 2018) was nominated by Collective Unrest for Best of the Net 2019.
2019 Wyoming Writers, Inc. Scholarship Recipient
In 2019, Jen was grateful to be selected as a Wyoming Writers, Inc. scholarship recipient and to participate in the summer conference held in Laramie, Wyoming, along with Holly Pelesky.
2018 Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer
In 2018, Jen Ippensen was the featured Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer at the Story Catcher Summer Writing Workshop & Festival presented by the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society and Chadron State College. Related events were hosted at Fort Robinson State Park and the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center.
NEA Big Read: Northeast Nebraska
Jen served as program manager for the NEA Big Read: Northeast Nebraska in 2022-2023. Programming centered on Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig, with a focus on increasing awareness around disabilities, disability services, accessibility, and inclusion. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.
Nebraska Writers Collective
Jen works as a Teaching Artist with the Nebraska Writers Collective in conjunction with All Writes Reserved.
Jen served as literary manager and dramaturgy coordinator for TheatreMidwest, a company that produces projects relevant to people in the middle of the United States and seeks to raise voices of women and other under-represented groups, while offering radical hospitality in order to make theatre more accessible. While she is no longer involved with the company in this capacity, she is a champion of their mission and work.
Vast Literary Press
In 2021, Vast Literary Press was established as an extension of the literary community its founders (Jen Ippensen, Holly Pelesky, and Mike Keller-Wilson) found in one another. Vast's mission is to publish bold work, champion distinct artists, and cultivate literary community. Their first project is Vast Chasm Magazine, and Issue 1 is set to drop in January 2022. Jen is honored to serve as co-editor in chief.
Voices Out of Nowhere
In the spring of 2020, Jen and Nina Buck judged the 2020 Voices Out of Nowhere poetry contest, and in 2021, 2022, and 2023 Jen teamed up with Neil Harrison to judge the Voices Out of Nowhere fiction contest.
Jen has been involved with WSC Press, occasionally interviewing authors for the Nebraska Territory Mini Interviews series. Check out some of her interviews: