The Creative Writing Department was established in 1990 to support the growing need at Douglas Anderson for more outlets for written expression. Its mission was to advance the art of writing as an essential part of the artistic spirit. Today the program provides a disciplined and nurturing environment for the serious writer who is passionate about language and ideas. The curriculum includes a wide range of course offerings: fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, journalism, screenwriting, portfolio work, as well as skill-based courses in digital arts, publication, copyediting, speech, and oral interpretation. Classroom work includes theory, close reading and study of contemporary and classical literature, conferencing, mentoring, and workshops in small groups that focus on revision, self-evaluation, and individual improvement.
Writing students have many opportunities during the year to have their work read and heard. The department sponsors Elan, a literary magazine of student work published twice a year. Coffee Readings are held quarterly and each features a different grade level. The annual and ever-popular Coffeehouse, is a student-produced evening of original work, is open to all arts areas, and combines theatre, dance, visual art, and music. The Poetry Harvest is an annual week-long event designed to encourage all DA students to write poetry. Creative Writers visit English classes to provide instruction on writing poetry. By the end the week original works are posted all over the campus to be read by peers. Students are invited to the Media Center during lunch for readings and to eat their words (letter-shaped cakes).
Guest artists are invited to DA throughout the year. They provide hands-on sessions for our students in workshops and residencies. The 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, Franz Wright, and the 2005 National Magazine Award in Fiction, Robert Olen Butler, are among the many artists who have enriched the instruction for our students. The annual Writers’ Festival features writers from all over the country during a weekend of varied writing activities. The Festival’s seven years have included Mark Doty, Chitra Divakaruni, Marie Howe, Mark Winegardner, David Kirby, Al Letson, Ian Mairs, and many others–including former DA students who have become published authors!
Our students get incredible opportunities normally only afforded to graduate students in writing. The department has grown to produce many talented young writers who have gone on to win awards, to teach, to publish. DA students have won the National VOYA Award in poetry, the National Arts Recognition and Talent Search, Scholastic Art and Literary Awards, Southern Voices, Boditch Award in Poetry, Essay and Fiction, and numerous local awards in writing. Our students have been published in literary magazines across the Southeast and in anthologies. A 2000 graduate published his first book of poetry in 2004 and was mentioned in a May, 2005, Newsweek Magazine article. Our students graduate with a full knowledge base and the inspiration and encouragement necessary to enter post-secondary education with energy, passion, and reverence for the written word.