Creative Writing (BFA)
If writing is your passion and you have an affinity for the arts, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Creative Writing from the University of the Arts is for you. As a Creative Writing major, you will be immersed in poetry and fiction and gain writing experience in many different genres. Learning from award-winning published authors, you'll collaborate with your peers in an inspiring artistic environment. Your undergraduate study will culminate in a finished collection of poems or a series of short stories—your unique portfolio with potential for publication. You'll study a wide range of genres—from Speculative Fiction and Creative Nonfiction to Screenplay Adaptation and Graphic Storytelling—in workshop setting, and have the opportunity to take general arts electives such as music, theater and dance.
The Anthropocene is the current geological age: the age defined by humans, our presence and impact, our greatness and our badness. This 10th Anniversary Issue of Underground Pool features prose, poetry, and visual art exploring the implications of our presence on this earth, on what we have deemed (and perhaps doomed) to be our own.
This collection exists in the Anthropocene, its many corners and open fields. It will take you down city streets, through forests, inside apartments,
and into some places accessible only to the human in its own world, only translatable through language and art. Although Anthropocene is a word often invisible to humans, it is our ever-looming presence whose effects exist in every moment. There is concrete as well as nature—at some points, the concrete nearly becomes the nature. This is our reality.
Zach Savich is director of the Creative Writing program at UArts. He is also the author of the poetry collections Full Catastrophe Living (University of Iowa Press, 2009); Annulments (Center for Literary Publishing, 2010); The Firestorm (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011); Century Swept Brutal (Black Ocean, 2013); The Orchard Green and Every Color (Omnidawn, 2016); and Daybed (Black Ocean, 2018). He is also the author of a book of prose, Events Film Cannot Withstand (Rescue Press, 2011), a chapbook, The Man Who Lost His Head (Omnidawn, 2011), and a memoir, Diving Makes the Water Deep (Rescue Press, 2016).
He has received the Iowa Poetry Prize, the Colorado Prize for Poetry, the Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s Open Competition, Omindawn Publishing’s Chapbook Award and recognition from the Poetry Society of America. Savich earned a BA in English from University of Washington and MFAs from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has taught creative writing and literature courses at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand; University of Washington’s Creative Writing Seminar in Rome; University of Iowa; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Iowa Summer Writers Festival; and Shippensburg University. He has also worked extensively in community settings and with K–12 students, including through the Kenyon Review’s Young Writers Workshop and University of the Arts Pre-College programs. He has taught in the BFA Program for Creative Writing at University of the Arts since 2013.
Emily Famularo '17 (Creative Writing) is the founder of the popular online music magazine, The Hook Journal, for which she received a $2,500 innovation grant from UArts' Corzo Center.
Her short story "The Bad Outside,” written for one of her UArts fiction workshops, was published in the literary magazine Philadelphia Stories.
Emily was later nominated by the Philadelphia Stories editors for the prestigious PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.
She is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction Writing.
Quarantine is a rich study of family ties, romantic failings and cultural disconnection told in crisp, clean prose.
- Kirkus Reviews
Rahul Mehta is the author of the novel No Other World, published by HarperCollins in March 2017. His short story collection, Quarantine (HarperPerennial), won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Debut Fiction and the Asian American Literary Award for Fiction.
Rahul’s fiction and essays have appeared in the Kenyon Review, Epoch, The Sun, Noon, the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, Marie Claire India, and on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times.
In 2011, Rahul was included in the “Out 100” list of inspiring individuals published by Out magazine.
I write the type of stories that you love to read as a kid. And I never limit my creativity.
Mikayla Morell is from Woodstown, NJ. From the time she could hold a pencil, she would draw a picture in her right hand, color it in with her left, and tell her family a story about what she was drawing. She has known she wanted to be a writer since she was nine years old, after being diagnosed with celiac disease. She discovered the power of what stories can do, and the magic of being invited into one, when she picked up Harry Potter. She forgot what it was like to be a 3rd grader with a disease and started to create her own magic with a pen and paper.
In fiction, Mikayla writes magic realism and speculative fiction, but she doesn’t limit herself to only those genres. Her poetry covers topics of family, politics, and personal experience. Her poem “To Girls Everywhere: I am with You” appeared in Brine Literary. She works as a writing tutor with middle school students at FACTS Charter School.
"I write the type of stories that you love to read as a kid. And I never limit my creativity. I take my characters to places that readers have never been to–where people have pet brains and spend their free time shaving cats. J.K. Rowling said, 'If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.' The reason I write is to be that 'right book' for someone."
A testament to University of the Arts’ fostering of interdisciplinary study, the annual Visiting Writers Series gives students and visiting writers alike a distinct creative opportunity.
For each series event—which occur in both the fall and the spring each year—accomplished writers share their work through readings and discussions with students. Since the onset of the series in 2013, Illustration students have created posters to advertise each event and to represent the writer and often, their work.
Carlos Rios BFA ’14 (Writing for Film and TV) returned to UArts in March, further underscoring the cross-collaboration that’s characteristic of UArts: The series features two screenwriters per year, benefiting Screenwriting students in addition to Creative Writing majors. A Universal Pictures Emerging Writers Fellow, Rios has written for the TV series Colony on USA Network and is currently working for the forthcoming On Becoming a God in Central Florida.
For the poster promoting Rios’ visit on March 19, Illustration major Melita Tirado took inspiration from his inclusion in the 2016 Black List—a list of the most-favored screenplays not yet in production, voted on by Hollywood executives—for a Western-themed screenplay titled Let the Evil Go West.
“What I wanted to do with the poster was capture that Western look, as well as desolate space,” Tirado says. “And I decided that I wanted it to kind of resemble the person … so I created the environment to be a part of him.”
Tirado delivered a few sketches to Matt Curtius, associate professor of Illustration, who leads the collaborations each year. He selected a sketch, delivered some feedback and sent Tirado back to work.
At UArts, how we promote an arts event is itself a work of art. – Zach Savich, program director, Creative Writing
“I’ve had Matt before as a professor, so we know pretty well how we work with each other,” Tirado explains. “He had some feedback on placements and creating hierarchy, and from there I finished the piece.”
Given the general lack of visual attention afforded most writers, the experience of portraiture is likely a novel one. Creative Writing Program Director Zach Savich says visiting writers are usually surprised by the posters, which they receive when they visit. Savich has recently begun documenting writers’ reactions to students’ interpretations of them.
“These posters show that at UArts, how we promote an arts event is itself a work of art,” Savich says. “The posters help remind us that writers can inspire new ways of seeing. A literary reading isn't just a chance to see an author—it's an invitation to a live imaginative act that ripples across the arts.”
The next event in UArts’ Visiting Writers Series—Immigrant Voices: p.e. garcia, Nimisha Ladva and Afaq Mahmoud, moderated by author and Senior Lecturer Rahul Mehta—will be held April 11 at 7 p.m. in Terra Hall’s Connelly Auditorium. Learn more about this year’s Visiting Writers.
My very first writing piece was even before classes started. I wrote a spoken word piece for Orientation’s Open Mic Night and read it passionately in front of all my peers before they even knew my name. The support in the room was overwhelming and I just felt at home.
— Maggie Malachi Lily BFA '17
Since graduating in the first Creative Writing class in 2017, alumna Maggie Malachi Lily traveled to Cape Town, South Africa as the winner of the 2017 Techno Township Experience created by the VICE Network in partnership with AirBnb.
Through that experience, she worked with South African musician Spoek Mathambo, a writer, rapper and producer at the forefront of that country’s electronic music movement. The VICE Experiences each offer a dive into hard-to-access subcultures that most travelers will never see.
Maggie currently works in Philadelphia as a talent agent for the Barnes Foundation, one of the leading art museums in the U.S., and as a freelance writer, illustrator and curator. She has been a featured guest artist/performer at the NYC Poetry Festival and has shared her poetry and Active Imagination workshops with numerous galleries and venues around Philadelphia, including the Kitchen Table Gallery, Berks Warehouse, Icebox Project Space and The Common Room.
As a student in a truly arts-centered University, you’ll have many opportunities to collaborate with students in other majors. You might work with Illustration and Graphic Design students on our popular undergraduate literary magazine, Underground Pool. A poet or fiction writer might team up with a music major to create a joint artistic work in our Writing and Collaboration course. Creative Writing majors can also take advantage of our affiliation with the nationally renowned American Poetry Review and their student internships, housed right here at UArts.
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Sample Courses in the Creative Writing Major
The Writing Life
Introduction to Contemporary Poetry I
Introduction to Contemporary Poetry II
Introduction to Short Story I
Introduction to Short Story II
Intermediate Short Story Workshop
Intermediate Poetry Workshop
The Linked Short Story Collection
Poetic Translations & Adaptations
Big Fat Famous Novels
Art of Song Lyric
Literary Editing & Publishing
Advanced Workshop Poetry or Short Story
Art Criticism & Reviewing
20th Century American Writers
Senior Seminar Poetry or Short Story I
Senior Seminar Poetry or Short Story II
Writing for the Web
Writing for Television
Film Story Analysis
About the Curriculum
The Creative Writing major prepares students for professional writing careers. Within the major, 45 of the 60 credits are dedicated exclusively to writing courses including small, intensive workshops in poetry and fiction. Students also take craft seminars focused on specialized writing forms and genres, literature courses, a hands-on course in publishing, and a cross-disciplinary course requiring close collaboration with a student in another artistic field.
Graduates of the Creative Writing program are expected to:
- Understand the elements of the poem and the short story and be able to use them, skillfully and deliberately, in their own work;
- Be close and careful readers, able to analyze text with a writer’s eye;
- Demonstrate knowledge of significant books, writers and trends in the contemporary landscape, as well as the context for the development of these models and traditions;
- Write ably in a range of forms and genres;
- Critique writing usefully and productively, delivering detailed, well-supported verbal and written peer feedback;
- Find and articulate connections between their writing and other artistic disciplines;
- Demonstrate practical knowledge of producing a literary magazine;
- Hone public speaking skills by reading work aloud, introducing visiting writers, and participating in public readings and other presentations;
- Engage in thorough, substantial revision of written work;
- Demonstrate a mature awareness of their own process of writing and revising, both in written self-assessments and exit interview;
- Produce a final portfolio of professional-quality writing;
- Have something to say.
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