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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.
Current Operating Mode: GREEN

Creative Writing Workshop

With few writing programs that cater exclusively to students in high school, Smith’s Creative Writing Workshop allows you to explore your writing in a creative and supportive environment. This program will foster your love of writing in a variety of mediums. All of our classes apply the design model to writing: Rather than trying to craft perfect texts, we teach an open, multidraft process that embraces the unpredictable that occurs when we stop trying to control our writing. So while you will learn how to edit your own and others’ work, our primary goal is for you to learn a powerful, flexible approach that eliminates writer’s block and gives you access to your full creativity.

Program Dates for 2021


Session 1: June 28–July 9 | Session 2: July 12–23

On Campus (Program Full - WAITLIST ONLY)

July 23–August 7 (Classes begin July 26)

Find Your Voice

High school students from around the world gather in person or virtually to hone their writing skills in a highly creative, but nonjudgmental, environment. There is something empowering about hearing your own lines being read in a supportive way that gives you a chance to let your full voice out. The equation is simple: you, your talent and what you want to write about. The sum total: Magic!

Program Details

Remote Program

Session 1

Remote Via Zoom

June 28–July 9, 2021

Classes are Monday–Friday

10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Making Poems

2–4:30 p.m.


Session 2

Remote Via Zoom

July 12–23, 2021

Classes are Monday–Friday

10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Writing Fantasy

2–4:30 p.m.


On-Campus Program

Session 3

On Campus

July 23–August 7, 2021

Classes are Monday–Friday, beginning on July 26

9 a.m.–noon

Young Adult Fiction
You Are a Story: Crafting Real Life Into Fiction

1–4 p.m. Making Poems


Instructors are published writers who have been trained in this methodology and who provide a supportive, strengths-based classroom environment. In addition to individual feedback from your instructors, you will also become part of an international writing community, as the program accepts students from all over the world.

During the on-campus program, in the evenings, students can take part in activities such as open mic night and improv, or attend workshops on publishing, finding an agent and creating an author website.

At the end of the program, you will have the start of an online writing portfolio, an anthology with writing samples from all of the students and professional contacts in the literary world.

Creative Writing Workshop Tuition

Tuition for one course online: $1,975
Tuition if enrolled in two courses online: $3,150 (price for two online courses)*
Tuition for the on-campus session: $3,995
*Two online courses may be taken during the same session or different sessions, but the courses cannot have competing class times.

See the Apply to Summer Programs webpage for more details.




Jennifer Jacobson

Course Description

In this two-week session, we will write and revise our stories in a supportive community. The first week is designed to tap the muse and inspire new work through a series of writing exercises in-class and around Northampton. We will read short published work to deepen our understanding of scene, point of view, character, setting and dialogue. In week two, we will focus on revision. Through group discussions and an individual instructor conference, we will consider the strengths and weaknesses of the work we produce and identify revision strategies. Students will leave this course with lots of ways to generate new writing as well as tactics to move their work to the next level.


Alex Chambers (session 1); Carolyn Zaikowski (session 3)

Course Description

In this workshop, we’re going to make poems, and we're going to do that by laying out maps, mixing up words, sketching dreams and listening to clouds. We’ll draw monsters and make them answer poetic questions. We’re likely to play surreal games. We will excavate memories from the substrata of our minds, and feelings from our toes and fingernails (figuratively, at least). We will also read and talk about other writers’ poems, to figure out what a poem is and can be. We’ll spend much of the first week being surprised by our own creations and finding what moves us in published poems. In the second week, we will consider how to talk about each other’s poems as we work toward putting together a collaborative book of our writing.


Maureen Buchanan Jones

Course Description

What is poetry? Is a song lyric a poem? Is a grocery list? Is a sonnet better poetry than spoken word? Are there limits to who can be a poet? Does poetry have rules? What happens if a writer breaks those rules? This course will discuss these questions and more. We will explore both traditional and nontraditional poetic forms and examine how poetic elements combine to create successful poetry. We will experiment through our own writing generated and shared in class. The class will also analyze poetry from the sonnet to spoken word as a way to understand how meaning is shaped. We will learn while we write and while we search through others’ writing. We will learn while we have fun.


Joy Baglio

Course Description

Do you write (or aspire to write) fiction unencumbered by what’s “realistic”? Are you inspired by fairytales, mythology, fantasy, science fiction, ghost stories or dreams? Do your characters sometimes have magical abilities? This workshop is for writers interested in exploring modes of storytelling other than realism while simultaneously learning how to strengthen all of the traditional elements of fiction. The first week, we’ll generate new work in response to a number of imaginative prompts and writing exercises. We’ll also look at short, masterful excerpts from authors who challenge realism, with special attention to the types of fabulist distortions used and the real-world truths they get at. We’ll turn an eye to questions of craft: What makes a compelling plot? How do we create characters so alive we can feel them breathing? How do we build tension from the first lines? The second week, you’ll receive feedback from the group on one story, and we’ll focus on revision and next steps in your writing journey. You’ll leave with lots of new work as well as tools and techniques that will help you continue to write and explore reality-bending stories on your own.


Rebecca Hart Olander

Course Description

In our workshop, we’ll approach writing as a playful endeavor, exploring epistolary poetry (poems as letters), ecopoetry (poems as activism for the environment), ekphrastic poetry (poetic responses to visual art), some fun new poetic forms, writing inside and outside in inspiring places, and writing in collaboration with each other. We’ll cultivate our imaginations while experimenting with our own writing and responding to the work of others. In the poems we create in workshop, and in the poems that we read and listen to together, we’ll investigate and appreciate originality, heart, music, the use of beautiful, interesting language, and the ways in which poems can represent us and take a stand for the things we hold dear and the things we want to change.


Morgan Sheehan

Course Description

In this two-week course we will focus on the elements of fiction that make us love what we read. We will develop dynamic, passionate main characters who drive the plot through their own actions—plots that challenge our main characters and sweep the reader breathlessly through the story. We will work on world building, an essential element of fantasy and science fiction and helpful to all genres. We will create multidimensional villains who are smart and ruthless enough to bring out the best in our heroes and possibly even wring some sympathy from our readers. The first week we will generate material and look at excellent examples from modern and classic authors of YA fiction. The second week we will workshop the manuscripts to bring out the best in our peers’ work. The goal of this course is to give writers the tools they need to be successful in writing for young adults and to have students leave with a collection of shorter works and one longer piece.


Peter Sapira

Course Description

Think of your all-time favorite characters: the ones you admired, the ones you wanted to be friends with, the ones you wanted to be. Whether they come from books, movies, or TV shows, all the best stories revolve around a unique, complex, and fascinating main character. In this two-week workshop, we will do a deep dive into your protagonist’s psychology: their quirks, obsessions, fears, and favorite condiments. You will also learn how to surround them with equally dynamic cast members: friends and enemies, cashiers and co-workers, family members and pets; some who try to help, some who try to hinder, and some who do both. Finally, we will learn how to craft the perfect container for these characters by exploring plot. You will learn the best place to start your story, how to sustain tension in the middle, and how to create a satisfying end. After our two weeks together, each student will have a first draft of a short story or a chapter from a novel, dozens of ideas for other stories, the tools to revise and to write on their own, and deep connections with a supportive writing community.