As one of the oldest writing programs in the United States, the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh has an excellent record of not only producing talented creative writers but also developing the writing skills of undergraduates who go on to work in a variety of professions, including journalism, law, and publishing.
We created the Minor in response to a number of students saying they were passionately interested in writing but their main major required too much of a commitment for them to take on a second major. The Minor in Creative Writing fulfills a need that is different from the certificate in Public and Professional Writing, with its particular focus on writing in business, nonprofit, government, and legal environments, and the Writing Major, which requires a more substantial commitment of time and study.
We know from many different sources (CEOs, personnel and graduate school committees) that those students who write well, no matter what their major might be, are the students who get noticed by employers. The kind of self-examination that the practice of writing encourages, as well as the ability to organize information into narrative, expressive and communicative forms, will always make candidates stand out. We hope, as a side effect, to also attract students who might want to work at the intersections of, say, Neuroscience and the Humanities, or students who want to think about and articulate the kind of complex relationships a more connected world creates.
Come to Pitt and work with our nationally-acclaimed authors and poets, a roster that includes six outstanding writers who have recently joined our faculty and made Pitt their home.
Angie Cruz is the author of two novels, Soledad (Simon & Schuster 2001), which she has adapted into a screenplay, and Let It Rain Coffee (S & S 2005), which was also a finalist in 2007 for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She has published short fiction and essays in magazines and journals, including Callaloo, a journal of African Diaspora, The New York Times, Kweli, Phatitude, and South Central Review. Currently she is finishing her third novel, In Search of Caridad. More >
Joining us in fall 2014: Yona Harvey is the author of the poetry collection, Hemming the Water (Four Way Books 2013), and the recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation. Her poems can be found in jubilat, Gulf Coast, Callaloo, West Branch, and various journals and anthologies, including A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry (Ed. Annie Finch).
Terrance Hayes is the author of Lighthead (Penguin, 2010), which won the National Book Award for Poetry; Wind in a Box (2006); Hip Logic (2002), which won the 2001 National Poetry Series and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and Muscular Music (1999), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He has received a Whiting Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, three Best American Poetry selections, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Guggenheim Foundation.
William Lychack is the author of a novel, The Wasp Eater, and a collection of stories, The Architect of Flowers. His work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, The American Scholar, Life Magazine, and on public radio’s This American Life. More>
Michael Meyer is the author of the acclaimed nonfiction book The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed. He first went to China in 1995 with the Peace Corps, and for over a decade has contributed from there to The New York Times, Time, the Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Architectural Record, Reader’s Digest, Smithsonian, and many other outlets. Michael’s next book, In Manchuria will be published by Bloomsbury in 2014. More>
Peter Trachtenberg has written about genocide tribunals in Rwanda, funerary rituals in central Borneo, the Book of Job, and marriage and missing cats. He's the author of Another Insane Devotion, The Book of Calamities, and 7 Tattoos: A Memoir in the Flesh. His honors include Whiting and Guggenheim fellowships and a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center. More>
Discipline by Dawn Lundy Martin, selected for publication in 2011 by Fanny Howe, recently won the 2009 Nightboat Books Poetry Prize.
Fanny Howe writes:
“These poems are dense and deep. They are necessary, and hot on the eye. I was reminded of Leslie Scalapino, the sensitivity to the surrounding arrangements and to human suffering. There is no distance from Martin’s subject, but immersion and emotional conflict. Discipline is what it took to write such a potent set of poems.”
For more information on Dawn Lundy Martin, an Associate Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program, please visit her faculty biography.
How do we encounter the many hours past twilight? We understand
that the light is something other, that / it catapults us toward a desire or two if we’re lucky. But, lately, daylight eats itself, and is percussive/ in its chewing, a carnival of curses and thumps. Nothing is wrong. In / the hours after the whinny of the long train passing, we continue to/ think, how special we are, how born and cosmic, how just plain indi-/vidual, but it is not enough. Nothing out there. Everything out there./What does it matter then, if the body climbs into a plastic car, drives/into a deserted driveway and becomes another self? Elsewhere: One/body found. One policeman shot. One 4-year-old girl shot. Teeter,/ tweeter, la, la, la, la, la. I am the I watching the I lift. Roads are short/with darkness. I think, this is what they mean when they say, Savage.
The Writing Program is pleased to announce that Eugene Cross (MFA Fiction, 2006)is the winner of the 2009 Dzanc Prize for Excellence in Literary Fiction and Community Service. Cross was selected from more than 100 applicants for both the quality of his fiction writing, as well as his proposal to set up and run a progressive series of creative workshops for refugees from Nepal, Sudan and Bhutan-in Erie, PA. The $5,000 prize is awarded annually to a writer working toward completion of a novel or short story collection who is also interested in bettering their community through literary community service. You can find out more about Eugene, his project, and Dzanc Books here.
Pitt Alumnus John Temple (MFA Nonfiction) writes about Ken Rose, a North Carolina attorney fighting to save the wrongfully convicted in Raleigh, North Carolina, in his newest book The Last Lawyer.
From the Publisher's Weekly review:
For years, lawyer Ken Rose has fought to save wrongly-condemned prisoners; chronicling the story of Rose and death row inmate Bo Jones, author Temple (Dollhouse: Life in a Coroner’s Office) finds high drama in Raleigh penitentiaries, North Carolina backroads, cramped law offices, and sweltering courtrooms. Investigators, criminals, judges, witnesses, and attorneys are all finely, vividly drawn in this disturbing account of a justice system hijacked by officials whose prime interest is finding criminals to execute: “[E]ven if Bo Jones wasn’t one of the worst of the worst, they pursued him because he was one of the ones they could get.” Reviewing the original 1987 murder, the consequent trials and endless hearings, Temple creates an intimate portrait of Rose and his Center for Death Penalty Litigation as they trudge through a decade of work on this case, a typical example that pits the odds and public opinion against them: “To question capital punishment was to appear soft on crime… In court, one well known district attorney sported a golden lapel pin shaped like a hangman’s noose.” Ultimately, Temple’s account is a stand-up-and cheer account of one man standing up for justice.
John Temple is currently an associate professor of journalism at West Virginia University. He teaches reporting and writing courses and serves as the associate dean of the P.I. Reed School of Journalism.
David James Keaton's (MFA Fiction, 2010) short story "Nine Cops Killed For A Goldfish Cracker" appears in the new Comet Press dark crime anthology The Death Panel. His online publications in 2009 included fiction in Thuglit, Espresso Stories, Big Pulp, Six Sentences, Pulp Pusher, and Crooked. A review of his work is available here.
Two essays by Joshua Schriftman (MFA Nonfiction, 2010) have just been accepted for publication. "How to Build Your Own Labyrinth" was accepted for publication in The Pinch, and "On Silence" was accepted by The Ninth Letter.
Emily Testa (MFA Fiction, 2009) breaks down Papirmasse Magazine for The Walrus.
"Eschaton," by Jonathan Callard (MFA Nonfiction, 2010) has been chosen for publication in an upcoming issue of Arts & Letters.
An essay by Emily Stone (MFA Nonfiction, 2010), "On the Occasional Importance of a Ceiling Fan," was recently cited among the "Notable Travel Writing of 2008" in The Best American Travel Writing 2009, edited by Simon Winchester. "On the Occasional Importance of a Ceiling Fan" was also included in the Best Travel Writing 2008, published by Travelers' Tales.
"Clear Blue Michigan Sky" written by Robert Yune (MFA Fiction, 2008) will appear in volume 23 of Green Mountains Review.
An essay by Lois Williams (Lecturer, Department of English), “The House of Provisions,” published by Granta (Issue 103), has been honored with a Notable Essay selection in the 2009 issue of The Best American Essays, edited by Mary Oliver.
From the department website:
Lois Williams teaches poetry, reading, and writing in the Department's undergraduate curriculum. She writes about landscape, family, and migration and is currently at work on a nonfiction book about the invention of home. Her essay “The House of Provisions” appears in the October 2008 issue of Granta.