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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 Boutelle-Day Poetry Center, an innovative center that brings well-known poets to campus each semester and provides opportunities for students to meet.

Smith Courses in Creative Writing

Students usually begin with ENG 125, "Introduction to Creative Writing," multiple sections of which are offered every semester. Each section, limited to 15 students, emphasizes drafting, workshopping, and revising; in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. (Note: these creative writing courses do not satisfy Smith College's Writing Intensive requirement.) ENG 125 prepares students to take our intermediate and advanced creative writing courses, and helps students build a portfolio to submit for those upper-level courses. ENG 125 is open to all students; no writing samples are required.

At the 100-level, we also offer ENG 135,"Introduction to Writing Creative Nonfiction" and ENG 136, "Journalism: Principles and Practice."

Beyond the introductory level, the Smith English Department offers the following intermediate and advanced creative writing courses every year. Some are offered every semester. Each is limited to 12 students, admitted by permission of the instructor. Writing samples are required:

  • ENG 206 Intermediate Fiction Writing
  • ENG 216 Intermediate Poetry Writing
  • ENG 245 Worldbuilding
  • ENG 290 Crafting Creative Nonfiction
  • ENG 291 Lakes Writing Workshop
  • ENG 295 Advanced Poetry Writing
  • ENG 296 Advanced Fiction Writing
  • ENG/PYX 301 Advanced Poetry Writing: A Capstone
  • ENG 384/AMS 351 Writing About American Society

Many students also take THE 261 and 262 "Writing for the Theater" (in the Theatre department), and FMS 281 "Screenwriting Workshop" (in the Film and Media Studies program). Cross-listed in ENG, THE 261, THE 262, and FMS 281 can be counted among the writing workshops required for the Creative Writing Emphasis in the major.

Creative writing courses above the 100–level can be repeated for credit with the permission of the instructor and of the chair. No more than two courses in creative writing may be taken in any one semester except by permission of the chair.

How to Apply for the Intermediate and Advanced Courses

Registration for the advanced writing courses takes place during the registration period. Please submit a sample of your work to the English department office in Pierce Hall 105 by the first day of the registration period. 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.