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Creative Writing FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the Creative Writing Minor

Q: Do I need any background or experience to take CRWR 218 (the introductory course in poetry and fiction writing)?

A: No. CRWR 218 has no prerequisites and assumes no experience on the part of students. It's a good course for total beginners as well as students who have written in one genre but not the other; it also, of course, welcomes those who have tried both and want to develop further as writers.

Q: Do I have to officially declare the minor?

A: No. But it is to your advantage to do so. Declaring the minor gives you preference in admission to creative writing classes, secures a minor advisor for you, and enables us to keep you informed of literary events on campus. To declare the minor, make your intentions known to Professor Susan Perabo ( or Professor Adrienne Su (

Q: How often will the required courses be offered?

A: Several sections of CRWR 218 are offered every semester. CRWR 317 and CRWR 319 are offered once every semester. CRWR 219 is generally available every semester. Always check the current course schedule, however, for possible changes in a given year.

Q: I took an advanced creative writing workshop and loved it so much, I want to take the same course again. Can I do that?

A: Yes! We constantly change the literature content of CRWR 317 and 319,  and the student writing under discussion is always new, so you can repeat these courses as many times as your schedule, and space in the workshop, allow.

Q: What does "CRWR 219: Topics in Creative Writing" mean?

A: CRWR 219 is a creative writing workshop in a genre other than fiction and/or poetry. Recent offerings include Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Screenwriting, and Creative Nonfiction: Writing about Food.

Q: Do I have to be an English major to do the Creative Writing minor?

A: No. The minor is open to all students, regardless of major.

Q: Can Creative Writing courses double-count for the English major and/or distribution requirements?

A: CRWR 218 counts as an elective in the English major. It also fulfills the Arts requirement for graduation. Certain versions of CRWR 219 count toward other programs; check Banner and talk with your advisor to confirm what counts for an individual course.

Q: Does CRWR 218 meet the Writing-Intensive requirement for graduation?

A: No.

Q: What about study abroad? Can I transfer classes from other institutions?

A: Yes. But courses taken at other institutions, abroad or domestically, must be approved in advance by Professor Su or Professor Perabo. In every case, the final determination of credit is the decision of the faculty, so be sure to secure approval before you take the course.

Q: Can I take CRWR 218 and CRWR 317 or 319 in the same genre simultaneously?

A: No.

Q: Can I take CRWR 317 or 319 even if I’m not completing the minor in Creative Writing?

A: Yes, provided there is room in the class (declared minors have priority) and you have taken the prerequisite (CRWR 218).

Q: If I took a creative writing course in high school, and/or have done a lot of creative writing on my own outside the classroom, can I skip 218 and go directly into the advanced workshops?

A: No. You must take 218 prior to 317/319, regardless of your previous experience in creative writing. Instruction in the advanced workshops builds directly on the instruction the introductory workshop.

Q: I have a score of 4 or 5 on the AP English: Literature exam. Can I count that as my literature course for the minor?

A: Yes, but we strongly recommend taking literature alongside your creative writing workshops when you can, to make you the best possible writer.

Q: Does the Creative Writing department offer prizes and awards?

Yes, the Creative Writing department awards the Moorehead-Timberlake Prize each spring to the student judged to have written the best short story, poem, play or piece of creative non-fiction.

Each spring, the department runs the Academy of American Poets College & University Prize. This contest is open to all currently enrolled Dickinson students and will be judged by poet John Kneisley. The winner will receive $100 and a one-year membership to the Academy. Winning entries will also be considered for publication by the Academy. 

The winner of the spring 2024 Academy of American Poets College & University Prize is Lily Bibro ’24 for her poem “1 Gillot Road.” Honorable Mention goes to Vanessa Abraham ’25 for her poem “July.” The judge was John Kneisley. Congratulations to Lily and Vanessa! You can read their poems here (scroll to bottom).

The winning poet in this annual contest receives $100 and a one-year membership to the Academy of American Poets. The winning poem is also published on the Academy’s website, and winners 23 years of age or younger are considered for the $1,000 Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award.

More information about the history of this prize and a list of prominent poets who won it in their early years is available here.

1 Gillot Road

Not a downpour, but a short spit that
barely dews- like perfume misting cold wrists,
like hot breath wetting flushed cheeks. 

It’s smaller than I imagined.
A cubicle of red brick, yard spattered with
green weeds and cigarette filters.  

‘A spot of a house’, my aunt says coyly,
small droplets slide off the umbrella and
wash the salt from her eyes. 

She points to each window, outlining the room
that my grandmother’s siblings were cursed
to share, three heads to a bed. 

‘The neighborhood was as bad as it is now', she says,
sneaking a furtive glance down the dead end. We stay
close to the car, best avoid getting in a spot of trouble. 

I picture my grandmother’s delicate skin
tearing against the sidewalk, her brother,
the future boxer, tripping her on cracked pavement.  

I picture her mother, who exists only in anecdotes,
inviting the postman in for a spot of tea, the
gas cooker already boiling tea leaves dark. 

I picture my grandfather, half-fluent and
fully smitten, chasing the swish of my grandmother’s
dress up creaky carpeted steps to heaven. 

Dead still in a spot of rain, my aunt remembers
what I imagine. The empty damp clings to the two
of us, alone, gazing at graffitied walls and plywood windows. 

I picture my father between us. Maybe crying,
maybe laughing, maybe missing his mother.
I wipe my eyes and call for a spot of lunch.  

after Victoria Chang  

July 20th, 2021—————————innocence died in
no sense I know sex like I know satin I know the enamel
benches behind the only ice cream place open beyond
eight in my god-fearing town there are four seamstresses
on a bench bound by our linked pinky fingers humidity
dotted with secrets dribbling down our chins I have
never liked rawness never liked the word fuck it is July a
year ago & I am pinned on my back with a hand
clamping my breast & I’m only being nice so I can fuck
& have you ever noticed the tenderness with which
the wind kisses the leaves silent? it is summer again &
the women nod tenderness is our hands folding laundry
tucking sleeves hemming dresses we alter fabric to
belong to the body we alter the body I am sewing a
starburst to my left breast sinew as thread the sharpness
of shame blossoming into a needle call it hunger call it
chasm four seamstresses rise from the bench & observe
women’s work the irony of adolescence as the ripping of
love’s seams as a boy taking & taking & taking