This extremely well-funded two-year creative writing M.F.A. program, whose home is the Jackson Center for Creative Writing, emphasizes an individualized approach. To the 20-24 Creative Writing M.F.A. students enrolled in the program, books are essential nourishment, and reading them is inextricable from writing them.
The creative writing (M.F.A.) students, like the professors, are unusually committed to a diversity of voices and literatures, contemporary and across the ages. They work successfully in and across every genre, including poetry, short fiction, novels, and creative nonfiction.
Students and professors at Hollins enjoy an intimate, supportive community with amazing guest readers and opportunities for editorial experience, introducing and giving public readings, writing-based service work in the community, travel and research funding, and time to read and write. In addition, our beautiful location in Roanoke, Virginia offers an excellent setting to recharge, with the city’s small-scale, bustling culture, where it’s easy to explore the wildness of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains right from your door.
Creative Writing M.F.A.
This two-year creative writing M.F.A. program, whose home is the Jackson Center for Creative Writing, emphasizes an individualized approach. The 24 students enrolled in the program have a strong interest in and aptitude for writing and literary study. They work successfully in every genre, including poetry, short fiction, novels, and creative nonfiction.
A National Reputation
The Hollins creative writing M.F.A. program has one of the highest publishing records of any graduate school in the country. Among the many outstanding writers who have graduated from the creative writing program are:
- Pulitzer Prize winners Annie Dillard, Henry Taylor, and Natasha Trethewey
- Novelists and story writers Madison Smartt Bell, Kiran Desai, Tony D’Souza, David Huddle, Adam Ross, and Jill McCorkle
- Poets and essayists Adrian Blevins, Jenny Boully, Scott Cairns, Wyn Cooper, Kevin Prufer, and Mary Ruefle
- Novelists and memoirists Richard McCann and Karen Salyer McElmurray
- Photographer Sally Mann
- Filmmaker George Butler
- Non-fiction author Beth Macy
Our professors don’t just teach — they create. They’re accomplished writers in their own fields — novelists, poets, essayists, and so much more. If we teach you anything, it’s to be you. Learning from professionals who have been there helps you grow that much more.
“We do not really teach creative writing. We do not produce writers who write a certain way. We do provide the guidance of professionals, and we do everything we can to make the program what the students here need.”
– R.H.W. Dillard, professor of English
A family affair
Kelly Stephenson M.F.A. ’20 finished Hollins’ graduate program in creative writing this spring, while his daughter Clare (class of 2023) completed her first year as an undergraduate.
The Roanoker magazine says: “The Roanoke Valley has a history of being writer-friendly, primarily because of the presence of Hollins University, which has been called ‘Pulitzer U.’ Annie Dillard, Henry Taylor, and most recently, U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey have won the U.S.’s top writing prize.”
Meet the director
Elizabeth Poliner, director of the Jackson Center for Creative Writing; associate professor of English; M.F.A., American University; J.D., University of Virginia; A.B., Bowdoin College
Her novel, As Close to Us as Breathing, captured the 2017 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. In May 2017, the book was named a finalist for the 2017 Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award. Last November, As Close to Us as Breathing was selected as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Editors’ Picks for 2016 and was an Amazon Spotlight Pick in Fiction for March of that year.
She is also the author of Mutual Life & Casualty, a novel in stories, and What You Know in Your Hands, a poetry collection. Her stories and poems have been published in literary journals nationwide, and her awards include numerous individual artist grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, fiction fellowships to the Wesleyan and Sewanee writer’s conferences, and artist residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.