Creative Writing

Students from all disciplines at Mount Holyoke enroll in our creative writing courses. In English 201, Introduction to Creative Writing, students experiment with multiple genres, develop a vocabulary with which to talk about the writer's craft and experience a writing workshop, often for the first time. English 201 is open to all students, without prerequisite or application.

Upper-level creative writing courses are open to all students who have completed English 201 or its equivalent. Some advanced courses, such as English 306, Advanced Projects in Creative Writing, are open to all students who have completed the prerequisites and an application.

The English Department also regularly offers courses in Journalism, Playwriting and Screenwriting.

Each year, the English Department hosts the Kathryn Irene Glascock Poetry Contest, an intercollegiate poetry competition judged by a panel of distinguished poets. Judges have included Robert Frost, Seamus Heaney, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Richard Wilbur and William Carlos Williams—and more recently, Alicia Ostriker, Joseph Legaspi, Donika Kelly, Marilyn Chin, Dawn Lundy Martin and Martín Espada.

Collage of books from former professors and students.

History

Alums include Emily Dickinson, Sabina Murray, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Wendy Wasserstein—to name a few. Former professors and visiting writers include W.H. Auden, Joseph Brodsky, Sven Birkerts, Corinne Demas, Anita Desai, John Irving, Brad Leithauser, Valerie Martin, Jaime Manrique, Mary Jo Salter, Sejah Shah, Robert Shaw and Ronaldo V. Wilson. These faculty have supported many student writers and publications, including The Blackstick Review.

Five College Literary Community

The Western Mass region is home to many thriving literary communities, to which our students have access. From the Visiting Writers Series at the UMass Amherst’s MFA Program for Poets and Writers to the Smith College Poetry Center to Amherst College’s LitFest to the Five College PoetryFest, to the Emily Dickinson Museum, there’s always something literary to do at one of the Five Colleges.

Internships and Community-Based Learning

Students have opportunities to work with local organizations like Voices From Inside, or to intern for one of the area’s many literary magazines and publishers.

Violet Kupersmith ’11

Rising writer. Fearless female characters.

For her senior thesis in creative writing, Violet Kupersmith ’11 wrote a collection of short stories that turned into a book contract with Random House.
Andrea Lawlor Visiting Lecturer in English

Changing shape, changing gender

A debut novel by Andrea Lawlor features a main character who can transform his body as he explores gender and sexuality in the early 1990s.
Image of Suzan Lori-Parks ’85

Pulitzer-winning alum profiled in N.Y. Times.

The new play by the ‘astounding and beautiful’ Suzan-Lori Parks ’85—you can take James Baldwin's word for it— is her “finest work yet.”