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The Creative Writing Program

Five books. Countless national publications.  

Prestigious fellowships and awards.

An abiding love of language and literature and teaching.

That’s what Sweet Briar College’s creative writing faculty has to offer. And unlike many colleges where accomplished authors work primarily with graduate students, novelist John Gregory Brown, fiction writer Jeff Martin, essayist Nell Boeschenstein, and poet John Casteen all mentor students from the beginning to the end of their four years of college.

These writers offer small, intimate workshops that enable students to work closely with their professors and with their classmates in an environment that is both challenging and supportive. And the creative writing faculty work one-on-one with each senior major as she completes a portfolio of her best work.

As part of an annual series, visiting writers offer readings and visit classes throughout the academic year. Recent visiting writers include United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, poets D.A. Powell and Rachel Zucker, essayists Jesse Dukes, Ander Monson, and Lia Purpura, and novelists Barbara Kingsolver, Azar Nafisi, Salman Rushdie, and Yiyun Li.

Outside of the classroom, Sweet Briar’s creative writing students have many opportunities to pursue their love of writing. Students publish a literary magazine, Red Clay, and undertake internships in fine-press printing at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center. Twice each year, our faculty partners with Sweet Briar's Outdoor Program for a reflective writing retreat at a wilderness cabin in Shenandoah National Park.

Annual awards offer cash prizes for the best student stories, poems and creative essays. Sweet Briar’s English and creative writing majors have received fellowships to many of the country’s most distinguished graduate creative writing programs, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Pittsburgh, while others have pursued graduate degrees in literature, education, communications, law and library science.