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 year's judge was Antoinette Brim-Bell, who is currently the poet laureate of the state of Connecticut. This prize is open to all full-time Dickinson students.

The winner of this year’s Academy of American Poets College & University Prize is Lily Bibro ’24 for her poem “In That Yellow Light.” Honorable Mention goes to Maura Lyons ’23 for her poem “A Recollection of Seventh Grade.” The judge was Antoinette Brim-Bell. Congratulations to Lily and Maura! 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.

In That Yellow Light

I think of you here
When it storms
And always catch you lurking
Reflected in puddles
Illuminated by streetlamps,
Fighting against midnight rain.

I wonder how you manage to shine so clearly
Through the mud, through my footsteps
Whose waves distort your image.
Through the cigarette butts and loose change
That cover your nose and dimple your cheeks
Puddle after puddle
You stare forth undaunted
Ushering me home.

I invite you in,
A cup of water from the kitchen
Eagerly accepts your reflection.
Cradling you in porcelain,
I stand in the meager light
Watching your dimples fade

I remember that night
When we sat on the pavement,
Cracked and loose like biscuit dough
Welting our skin and blackening our soles.

We ran just far enough,
From your mom,
From anyone else,
Together, feeling dangerous.
The lone streetlamp fluttering
Softly, on that July night
Your eyes turned green
In that yellow light.

I remember that day
Face masks and hummus in my twin bed.
Smoke furling out the window
Nothing left undiscussed.

We sat in the bathroom,
You hunched over me sat on the sink
And I perched on my desk chair, as you
Softly patted makeup onto my eyelids
Under fluorescent sunshine.
So atrocious it was, that only laughter
Could make it beautiful
In that yellow light.

I remember being girls together
We sprawled on young grass, hands clasped
Before it all.

When you look up at the sky outside the studio,
Do you pray for rain?
Or do you savor daylight
And beg for drought?

I wander out to the back patio some nights
And sit on the wet, smooth ground
Searching for you in the dampness
Water drips down chrome bike spokes
That glimmer under the beaver moon
You flash by in that yellow light

A Recollection of Seventh Grade

Potato bread is middle school to me, squished in tin foil with two pieces of deli ham, wet
air thick, hot, humid, halfway real people
packed in cramped classrooms, juvenile funk filling out every corner.
The art room though, it always smelled sterile, of paint and glue, less bodily, less organic
styrofoam cups of too bright, melting around the edges, foamy strawberry ice cream,
from hot lunch on Wednesdays,
“hot dog or pizza,” boiled or broiled. Brisk days mocked me,
breeze sauntering down the alley, dancing past windows, just whispering through
wilting posters covering walls, elephants in Africa, tigers in Asia.
Tape damp, pleading for escape
from its post between cinderblock and vinyl,
Sisyphus, each start slapped back up, every end slouching off
again implored to hang in there,
kitty says so.
Finally the end of day announcements, communal Hail Mary blue and white
like the sky we walked under towards home.

Ella, remember our everyday walk home from school,
freedom in cool clear blacktop air, released.
Fresh air crisp in my lungs, crisp on my greased skin.
A renewal, true and earned,
savored each day more than the last.