Creative Writing Program
The Creative Writing Program in the Department of English offers UConn undergraduates and graduate students the opportunity to develop their skills in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, nature writing, and writing for children. Students can choose from a range of courses while enhancing their studies with frequent visits by award-winning and emerging authors.
About Creative Writing
The Creative Writing Program offers undergraduate-level writing courses in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, nature writing, and writing for children. Classes range from beginning to advanced levels and are open to students from any major. Undergraduates from any major can also elect to pursue a 15-credit sequence of courses leading to the Concentration in Creative Writing.
Students are also encouraged to participate in UConn’s thriving creative writing community. All students are invited to submit their work to the Department of English’s numerous writing awards and contests, as well as to the Long River Review, UConn’s nationally award-winning art and literary magazine.
The Department of English teaches a range of creative writing courses at the Storrs and Stamford campuses. During fall 2021, the Department offers multiple sections of the following courses:
- ENGL 2701: Creative Writing I
- ENGL 3701: Creative Writing II
- ENGL 3703: Writing Workshop
- ENGL 3711: Creative Writing for Children and Young Adult Readers
- ENGL 3715E: Nature Writing Workshop
Certificate of Concentration in Creative Writing
The Department of English offers a Certificate of Concentration in Creative Writing to students who have completed fifteen or more credits in creative writing and/or related courses. The concentration is open to students from any major.
The concentration is designed to give participants a firm artistic and critical foundation in one or more creative writing genres. It allows students to hone their writing skills closely over the course of several semesters with different members of the writing faculty. It is an excellent preparation for students hoping to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in writing degree. A student fulfilling requirements for the Concentration will receive a letter of certification from the English Department following graduation.
The Creative Writing Program offers several opportunities for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experiences in editing and writing in many genres. These experiences can complement your education and help you build important professional skills for whatever path you pursue after graduation. Opportunities include:
- Undergraduates may apply for positions as editors of the Long River Review, UConn’s student-run literary magazine. Students who wish to work on the magazine must register for ENGL 3713, offered every spring. Please see the list of spring English courses during the fall advising period and contact the instructor of the course to arrange an interview. Students can also submit their work to the publication for the chance to get published in the next issue.
- Students can participate in Poetic Journeys, a mass transportation poetry project featuring the work of UConn students.
- Undergraduates can submit their work to the Department of English’s numerous writing contests and awards.
- Undergraduates interested in working for the program may apply for one of the several internships available each semester. These give students experience in writing press releases and public service announcements, developing public relations materials, and organizing visiting writer events. Interested students should contact the Director of the Creative Writing Program.
The UConn Department of English is a unique place for graduate creative writers, offering them a chance to participate in an active writing community while working toward a more traditional scholarly MA or Ph.D.
For decades the Department has fostered a unique group of graduate creative writers. Some have MFAs and return to complete an MAs or Ph.D. in literature; some arrive with publications or manuscripts in progress; others simply welcome an environment in which they can continue to write creatively as they work toward their respective degrees.
While we do not currently offer an MFA or Ph.D. in creative writing, the Department of English has in the past allowed a few exceptional students who have already been accepted into the MA or Ph.D. literature program to write a creative thesis or dissertation after completing their coursework and exams. These students have usually applied to the English Graduate Program with an MFA or significant publications already in hand. For more information about the creative dissertation, please contact Professor Penelope Pelizzon.
Graduate Student Teaching Assistants from the Department of English are invited to apply for the position of Creative Writing Program Assistant Director/Director of Poetic Journeys. Graduate Students who enter the Program with an MFA may also apply to teach courses in the undergraduate Creative Writing sequence.
Courses and Workshops
The Department offers graduate creative writing workshops, generally one per semester. Different genres are offered on a rotation, and workshops are open to students from departments other than English on a space-available basis.
Some recent graduate Creative Writing workshops and seminars of particular interest to creative writers include:
- 6600: Writing Workshop/ Writing into the Feminist Archives, Darcie Dennigan, fall 2021
- 6650 Seminar in Digital Humanities/ Reading and Writing in the Age of Digital Distraction, Kyle Booten, fall 2021
- 6500: Seminar in Lyric Theory, Charles Mahoney, spring 2020
- 6600: Writing Workshop/ Hybrid Narratives, Ellen Litman, spring 2019
- 6600: Poetry off the Page: Poets’ theatre & creative practice, Darcie Dennigan, spring 2018
- 6750: Seminar in Prosody, 15th-21st centuries, Penelope Pelizzon, fall 2017
- 6600: Writing workshop/ Hybrid Narratives. Ellen Litman, spring 2017
- 6500: Seminar in Lyric Theory, Charles Mahoney, spring 2017
- 6600: Writing Workshop/ Beauty and Terror, Penelope Pelizzon, fall 2016
- 6600: Writing Workshop/ Radical Forms of Kindness, Darcie Dennigan, spring 2016
- 6640: Seminar in Romantic Poetry, Charles Mahoney, Spring 2015
- 6600: Writing workshop/ Poetics of Space, Penelope Pelizzon, fall 2014
- 6700: Seminar on Marianne Moore & Elizabeth Bishop, Penelope Pelizzon, spring 2014
For more information about recent and upcoming graduate courses, please see the UConn Graduate Catalog.
Community and Engagement
Graduate students interested in creative writing may participate in a creative writing community that serves to supplement their degree programs and their writing lives.
- The Creative Writing Program sponsors the Long River Reading Series, featuring the work of graduate and undergraduate student writers.
- The accomplished work of graduate student writers also appears frequently in Poetic Journeys and the Long River Review, a literary magazine sponsored by the Creative Writing Program.
- They can also submit their work to the numerous writing contests open to UConn graduate students.
- Graduate students are encouraged to attend guest author readings that take place several times a month on campus. Students are also offered the opportunity to meet with guest authors in a more informal setting.
- Finally, graduate student writers at UConn are encouraged to join the Graduate Writers Activities Committee, where they can participate in small writing workshops and other social activities.
For more information about graduate-level creative writing at the University of Connecticut, please contact the director of the Creative Writing Program.
Alumni of the UConn Creative Writing Program go on study at some of the top MFA and MA/Ph.D. programs both nationally and internationally; have published novels, collections of poems, and memoirs; and work in a wide array of industries such as higher education, publishing, and nonprofit organizations.
Events and Programs
The Creative Writing Program sponsors several events each academic year, including the following annual programs:
The Mark Twain Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Program
The Mark Twain Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Program began in 2019 with funding from the Bloom Endowment Fund which was established by Lynn and Martin Bloom. Lynn was the former Aetna Chair of Writing and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in English and Martin was Professor Emeritus of Social Work at the University of Connecticut. The Program invites a nationally or internally-known prose author to campus for a two-day residency every other fall semester in October. The author gives a public reading of their work and offers one-on-one tutorials with undergraduate and graduate student prose writers. Recent authors are Justin Torres and Alexander Chee.
The Aetna Writer-in-Residence Program
The Aetna Writer-in-Residence Program began in 2003 with funding from the Aetna Chair of Writing. The Program invites a nationally or internationally-known poet to campus for a two-day residency every other fall semester in October. The poet gives a public reading of their work and offers one-on-one tutorials with undergraduate and graduate student poets. Recent poets include Ilya Kaminsky, Camille Dungy, Jericho Brown, Kimiko Hahn, Tara Betts, Eduardo C. Corral, G.C. Waldrep, and Shara McCallum.
The Creative Sustenance Reading
The Creative Sustenance Reading usually invites Connecticut-based prose writers, poets, and playwrights to give a reading or performance. This event is usually held in November as a benefit for the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic, Connecticut and audience members are invited to make a donation or bring canned goods.
The Writers Who Edit, Editors Who Write Series
The Writers Who Edit, Editors Who Write Series, as the title states, invites a writer to give a public reading of their work, to discuss how they balance their roles as both writer and editor, and holds a Q&A with the audience. This reading is particularly useful and exciting for English majors who are considering careers in editing and publishing. Past readers include Camille Dungy, Jennifer N. Baker, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Allison Joseph, Heidi Lynn Staples, Matvei Yankelevich, Matt Hart, Nate Pritts, and Benjamin S. Grossberg.
The Wallace Stevens Poetry Program
The Wallace Stevens Poetry Program began in 1964 with funding from The Hartford to honor Modernist master poet Wallace Stevens, a former Vice-President at that company. In the years since then, the Program has brought a roster of the most important national and international poets of the last five decades to Connecticut.
The Aetna Celebration of Creative Nonfiction
The Aetna Celebration of Creative Nonfiction honors a literary master whose work has shaped the essay canon. It also recognizes the undergraduate and graduate winners of a student essay contest. It’s a festive occasion for the University community to celebrate both an established presence and emerging voices. Past writers include Stephen Kuusisto, Emily Rapp Black, M. T. Anderson, Ginger Strand, and Rigoberto González.
Poetic Journeys Release Party
Poetic Journeys was developed in 2000 by the Creative Writing Program and inspired by the New York MTA’s Poetry in Motion series, itself inspired by London’s Poems on the Underground. The Poetic Journeys Release Party unveils excerpts of poems or poetic prose written by UConn students, faculty, and staff on placards designed by students in the University’s Design Center Studio.
Long River Review Release Party
The Long River Review was established in 1998 and is the UConn English department’s award-winning annual art and literary magazine run by undergraduate students with the assistance of a faculty advisor. The Long River Review Release Party celebrates the recent issue of the journal which is designed and typeset by students in the University’s Design Center Studio.