Hampshire's creative writing professors believe that writers need a deep knowledge of language and craft as well as a daring imagination that is open to the world. Above all, writing takes practice.
Through workshop courses in fiction, literary journalism, and poetry that couple intensive writing with active reading, students practice elementary techniques, receiving detailed critiques from professors and peers. Our students discover and develop their own voices, and learn to read as writers. Our faculty also believe that each student's journey to writing is unique.
Students are encouraged to develop their curiosities, and to discover their own ways of telling stories, all the while paying close attention to others' voices. Our faculty also know the power of art to change lives. Today's dramatically changing world requires writers to be deft, informed thinkers whose vision is broad and clear.
In addition to taking creative writing courses each year, students actively explore a wide range of disciplines, bringing what they learn into active conversation with their creative work.
Plate by Plate: A Poem's Tectonics
In this course, we will practice methods of reading and writing the poem. We will study the poem as a built and living body-structure whose parts (syntax, line, image, syllabics, etc.) work to shape the poem's scape and our experiences of it. This class will be both reading- and writing-intensive, as we will study poems and prose written by poets. Class members will write written responses to readings, and will produce poems based on a series of writing experiments designed to encourage a close consideration of the tectonics of the poem's words, lines, and body. In this class, we will follow the college workshop model (intensive peer critique) to develop and further develop our skills as poetry readers and practitioners. There are no prerequisites for this course, but students should be ready to engage deeply and wholeheartedly with their work and the work of other poets. Among our guides will be: Audre Lorde, Denise Levertov, Camille Paglia, Gwendolyn Brooks, W.H. Auden, William Carlos Williams, Cesar Vallejo, Anna Akhmatova (tr. Kunitz), and Robert Hayden.
Creative Writing Program
The Creative Writing Program maintains an alcove in Emily Dickinson Hall where students can swap books, post found poems as well as their own writing and announcements, and find the creative writing faculty. The Creative Writing Program hosts writers' coffeehouses at least once per semester, where students and faculty gather informally to talk about and hear each others' work.
Visiting Writer in Residence
The Visiting Writer in Residence Program brings to campus a working writer who meets with students and presents her work to the community. Past visiting writers have included Grace Paley, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Jennifer Tseng, and Marilyn Nelson.
In addition, the Hampshire writing community is energized by students themselves, who organize readings and critiques of student work and actively share information about Valley events, contests, and calls for submissions. The Hampshire Slam Collective organizes trips to Boston and weekly open mics, and our nationally recognized slam team actively welcomes the participation of new students.
Students are also encouraged to submit work and participate in the production of The Reader (semi-annual literary/photo review) and The Climax (student newspaper), as well as the many smaller student-run zines and showcases.
Throughout the year, the Five College consortium hosts a diverse and vibrant literary community. Students can attend readings, signings, and lectures by visiting and resident literary lights, such as Eleni Sikelianos, Patricia MackLachlan, Mart'n Espada, Wally Lamb, Mark Costello, and Aleida Rodriguez. The annual Five College Student Poetry Fest features outstanding poets from each of the schools, and the WORD! Festival offers a particular platform for student-written plays that take up questions of identity and diversity.
With the help of our alums, many of whom are professional, well-established writers and literary folk, many students participate in internships at magazines and journals, publishing houses, and literary agencies.