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Creative Writing

Student reading in front of Seelye Hall

The English Department offers a creative writing emphasis in our major. We offer courses in nonfiction prose as well as writing poetry and fiction at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. Other colleges in the Pioneer Valley also offer a wide range of courses in creative writing. At Smith, we also have the Poetry Center, an innovative program that brings well-known poets to campus each semester and provides opportunities for students to meet.

Smith Courses in Creative Writing

Smith offers the following advanced writing courses every semester. Each is limited to 12 students.

  • ENG 295 Advanced Poetry Writing
  • ENG 296 Advanced Fiction Writing

In addition, the following courses are offered at least once a year:

  • ENG 290 Crafting Creative Nonfiction
  • ENG 384 Writing About American Society

Many students also take THE 261 and 262 Writing for the Theater (in the theatre department) and AMS 351 Writing About American Society, a seminar in the American Studies Program.

We also offer special sections of ENG 120, the Colloquia in Literature, that provide practice in creative writing for beginning students: Reading and Writing Short Stories, and Reading and Writing Short Poems. Work in these classes can help you build a portfolio to submit for the more advanced courses. These classes, though limited to 18 students, are open to all students at the college; no writing samples are required.

Writing courses above the 100–level can be repeated for credit with the permission of the instructor and of the chair. Only one course in writing may be taken in any one semester except by permission of the chair.

How to Apply for the Advanced Courses

Registration for the advanced writing courses takes place during the pre–registration period. Please submit a sample of your work to the English department office in Pierce 105 by the last day of pre-registration. Contact Jennifer Roberts, the department’s administrative assistant, for information on what to submit for consideration. The professor of the course will review these portfolios and will notify the students that have been admitted; the registrar will admit ONLY those students who have gone through this process and been accepted.

Other Courses in the Valley

Many distinguished creative writing teachers teach at the other four colleges. We are trying to make our application processes more uniform, but at the moment the best way to get into a class at Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke or the University of Massachusetts is to get in touch with the teacher during the pre-registration period and find out what he or she wants you to do.