Creative Writing

Five College Creative Writing supports collaboration and community among writers on all five campuses.

The Five Colleges have always been home to a vibrant literary community, counting legendary figures like James Baldwin, Emily Dickinson, and Sylvia Plath as some of their own. That tradition continues today, stronger than ever, through bountiful writing course offerings, celebrated faculty, and a wide variety of resources, events, and opportunities for community. 

On this page, you will find information about current faculty in creative writing, upcoming courses, events calendars, and resources for those hoping to learn more about creative writing on the campuses and in the greater Valley area.


On This Page

Faculty and Staff

Judith Frank, English, Creative Writing Center
Kirun Kapur, English, Director of the Creative Writing Program
Shayla Lawson, English, Creative Writing Center
Min Jin Lee, English, Writer-In-Residence
Thirii Myint, English, Creative Writing Center
Catherine Newman, Department Coordinator - Creative Writing Center
Rebecca Olander, English
Dennis Sweeney, English, Creative Writing Center

Faune Albert, Writing Instructor
Nathalie (Nell) Arnold, Anthropology, Literary Arts, African Studies
Alejandro Cuellar, Director of the Writing Program
Nathan McClain, Creative Writing, African American Literary Arts

Rachel (Afua) Ansong, Africana Studies
Lucas de Lima, English
Anna Maria Hong, English
Andrea Lawlor, English,
T Kira Madden, English
Elliot Montague, Film Production

Jennifer Blackburn, Program & Outreach Coordinator - Boutelle-Day Poetry Center
Leila Chatti, Writer-In-Residence 2022-23
Floyd Cheung, English Language and Literature, American Studies
Arda Collins, English Language and Literature
Carole DeSanti, English Language and Literature
Matt Donovan, English Language and Literature, Director - Boutelle-Day Poetry Center
Andrea Hairston, Theater, Africana Studies
Sarah London, English Language and Literature
Art Middleton, English Language and Literature
Ruth Ozeki, English Language and Literature
Susan Stinson, English Language and Literature

Abigail Chabitnoy, English, MFA for Poets & Writers
CA Conrad, MFA for Poets & Writers
Martin Espada, English
Peter Gizzi, English, MFA for Poets & Writers
John Hennessy, English
Noy Holland, English, MFA for Poets & Writers
Jennifer Jacobson, Associate Director - MFA for Poets & Writers
Francis Lo, Coordinator - MFA for Poets & Writers
Edie Meidav, English, MFA for Poets & Writers
Hoa Nguyen, MFA for Poets & Writers
Jeff Parker, English, Associate Director - MFA for Poets & Writers
Jordy Rosenberg, English, MFA for Poets & Writers
Betsy Wheeler, Director - Juniper Summer Writing Institute, Institute for Young Writers, and Juniper Young Writers Online

Annual Events

Five College Prose & Poetry Prize

Formerly Five College PoetryFest, the Five College Prose and Poetry Prize celebrates the quality and range of student creative writing, with two writers representing, respectively, Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the Care Center/Bard Micro-College. PoetryFest was created in 2003 by Lorna Peterson, former executive director of Five Colleges, Inc., and Ellen Doré Watson, former director of the Smith College Poetry Center, and originally recognized student poets chosen by faculty nomination. 

In 2022, a collaborative decision by creative writing faculty and staff on each of the campuses reimagined the event, the Five College Prose and Poetry Prize, as a celebration of all genres of creative writing, with an open submission call and winners chosen by a panel of judges from the MFA for Poets and Writers at UMass Amherst. 

This year's reading and reception will take place at 7pm on April 18th, 2024, at the Harold F. Johnson Library, Hampshire College.

Photo of the inside pages of a PoetryFest booklet


Amherst’s annual literary festival celebrates the College’s literary life by inviting distinguished authors and editors to discuss the pleasures and challenges of verbal expression — from fiction and nonfiction to poetry and spoken-word performance.

View the 2023 schedule.

Glascock Poetry Competition

The Glascock Intercollegiate Poetry Contest honors Kathryn Irene Glascock, a promising young poet who died of pneumonia. 

Poet-contestants from invited institutions are nominated or chosen by their own schools. The poetry contest is judged by a panel of three distinguished poets. 

The competition weekend includes a series of public events over the course of a weekend: a Conversation With the Judges, the Student Poetry Competition, and the Judges’ Reading and Announcement of the Contest Winner. 

Many Glascock contestants have gone on to literary renown, such as Muriel Rukeyser, James Agee, James Merrill, Kenneth Koch, Diana Chang, Sylvia Plath, Donald Hall, Katha Pollit, and Maggie Nelson. 

View the 2023 schedule.

The Care Center/Bard Micro-College

Bard Microcollege Holyoke is a tuition-free college for women, inclusive of trans and non-binary students, whose education has been interrupted by parenting, financial challenges, and other family responsibilities. Developed in partnership between Bard Prison Initiative and The Care Center in Holyoke, the unique program allows students to earn a Bard College Associate in Arts Degree by taking courses at The Care Center, a community-based organization with a long tradition of bringing higher education to young mothers and their families. They also provide the necessary support services such as transportation and childcare. 

With its curricular emphasis on writing and the humanities, Bard Microcollege Holyoke extends The Care Center’s tradition of placing liberal arts at the center of the student experience. Students from both Bard Microcollege and The Care Center benefit from workshops in poetry and creative writing, and publishing opportunities such as Nautilus II Magazine. Through dedicated arts and literary programming, The Care Center brings poet laureates and awarded authors, both internationally and nationally, to read, speak, and work with young writers in the program. 

In 2012 The Care Center was selected as one of twelve in the country to receive the Presidential Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.  In 2019 The Care Center was awarded the Commonwealth Award, the highest honor given to cultural organizations in Massachusetts.  

Five College faculty often take part in readings and other literary programming at the Care Center, and Bard Microcollege and Care Center students participate in the Five College Prose and Poetry Prize.

Learn more.


Ray Rennard, Director of Academic Programs