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Creative Writing

We all have stories to tell and unique ways of viewing the world; the Oakland University creative writing program provides you with the opportunity to develop your vision. Our focus on literary history will ground you in the traditions thousands of years old as well as the work writers are producing today.
No matter what you do in life, it will help to be able to communicate clearly and succinctly. A focus on writing will provide you with language and editing skills that are easily transferable to any other profession or area of interest.

Advising Contacts
Creative Writing offers major and minors in poetry, fiction, and screenwriting. The coursework is grounded in a combination of workshops and literature courses. The workshops are designed to hone your ability to comment on, learn from, and revise creative work. The literature courses ensure that students are sophisticated readers of texts with a keen awareness of all the various tools authors use to affect readers. Creative writing students will develop many skills that will be useful for the rest of their lives, whether they pursue a career in creative writing or end up in a different field:
  • CREATIVITY: Creative writing majors will write and revise many poems, short stories, plays, screenplays or television scripts. We all have stories to tell and unique ways of viewing the world; the Oakland University creative writing program provides you with the opportunity to develop your vision.
  • CRAFT: Students will receive a grounding in the craft of writing. Strong poetry and prose certainly requires inventiveness, but it also involves disciplined training in language, form and structure.
  • COMMUNICATION: No matter what you do in life, it will help to be able to communicate clearly and succinctly. A focus on writing will provide you with language and editing skills that are easily transferable to any other profession or area of interest.
  • COMMUNITY: The creative writing community tends to be tight-knit. Sharing personal work forges close bonds between people, bonds that can last decades and provide you with lifelong readers for your writing.
  • MENTORSHIP: Creative writing majors receive lots of close interaction with professors. Classes are small and there are many opportunities for one-on-one mentorship.
  • HISTORY: We believe that in order to be a successful writer, it’s crucial to be steeped in literary history. Our cognate literature courses will ground you in traditions thousands of years old as well as the work being written today.
  • LITERARY APPRECIATION: By spending time evolving your own poems and stories, you can understand how great literature works from a writer’s point of view. It’s hard to understand how difficult it is to write a great work until you’ve tried it yourself.

Jeff Chapman, Fiction and Comics
Jeff is Associate Professor of 
English and Creative Writing and is currently writing and drawing a graphic novel about the poet Ovid. His interests include comics, mythology, classical Greek & Latin, and contemporary fiction. Thirty of his short stories, graphic stories, and essays have been published in anthologies and magazines, including *South Dakota Review*, *Black Warrior Review*, *The Florida Review*, and *Cutbank.* He received his M.F.A. in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and his Ph.D. in creative writing and literature from the University of Utah. In 2015, he received a Kresge Artist Fellowship.

Natalie Cole, Creative Nonfiction
Natalie is a scholar of Victorian 
literature with expertise in Dickens studies and Neovictorian fiction. Her interest in creative nonfiction began in 2003, and she has studied this genre with eminent creative nonfiction writers including John D'Agata, Dinty Moore, Anne Marie Oomen, and J.D. Dolan. She is currently writing a memoir of her sister's life in Louisiana and Texas from the 1950s through the 1990s. She is passionate about teaching how experiences of illness, medical practice and caregiving, shape identity. She received her Ph.D. in English literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo and her M.A. from Michigan State University.

Kitty Dubin, Playwriting
Kitty is Special Lecturer in Theater 
and has been teaching beginning and advanced classes at Oakland University for the past eighteen years. In that time, over one hundred of her students' plays have been produced, received staged readings or won awards. Her own plays have been produced at theaters throughout Michigan, including the Purple Rose, BoarsHead, Performance Network, and the Fourth Street Playhouse. She is Playwright-In-Residence at the Jewish Ensemble Theatre where she has had six plays produced. She has also had her work performed in New York City, Austin, Los Angeles, and Chicago and she is a frequent speaker at writers conferences. This August, her play,* CUTTING IT CLOSE*, will be performed at Boxfest, a one act festival in Detroit where all the plays are directed by women. Kitty got her B.A. from Case Western Reserve University, a M.A. in English from Wayne State University and a M.A. in Guidance and Counseling from Oakland University.

Annie Gilson, Fiction (literary and fantasy) (
Annie is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing and the director of the Creative Writing Program. Her first novel, *New Light*, came out from Black Heron Press (second printing, 2010). Annie also writes Young Adult fantasy novels and is represented by Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She reviews contemporary fiction for a number of periodicals, including *Publishers Weekly, Rain Taxi*, and *American Book Review*. She received a B.A. in creative writing from Bard College and a Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century Literature from Washington University in St. Louis.

Ed is Distinguished Professor of English 
Literature and Creative Writing. His book *Blood Prism* (Ohio State University Press, 2011) won The Journal/Charles Wheeler Award and was a finalist for The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize. He has also published two other books of poetry, entitled *Ancestral Radio* (Word Press, 2008) and *Rain through High Windows* (New Issues, 2000), as well as the critical study *Echoes and Moving Fields: Structure and Subjectivity in the Poetry of W.S. Merwin and John Ashbery* (Bucknell UP, 1994). He received a Ph.D. in Modern Letters from the University of Iowa.

Peter is Special Lecturer in Creative Writing; he 
has also taught for 20 years as a writer-in-residence with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project. He is the author of a novel, *Bob, or Man on Boat*, as well as five other books of fiction, the most recent of which is *The Fish and the Not Fish*, a Michigan Notable Book of 2015. His fiction has appeared widely in anthologies and journals including *Chicago Review, Iowa Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Black Warrior Review, Quarterly West, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review*, among many others. He received his B.A. from University of Michigan and his M.F.A. from Western Michigan University. In 2012 he was awarded a Kresge Arts in Detroit fellowship.
Links to Peter’s work: Novel excerpt:, short
and review:

Alison is Assistant 
Professor of English and Creative Writing. Her first collection of poems, *On the Desire to Levitate*, was selected as the 2013 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize winner and published by Ohio University Press in March 2014. It was selected as one of "Thirty Amazing Poetry Titles for Spring 2014" by the *Library Journa*l and reviewed by Scott Russell Sanders for the inaugural issue of *Middle West Review*. Powell's work and her first collection were recently featured on PBS NewsHour's Weekly Poem < complexity/>edition. Her poetry has appeared in journals including *Boston Review, Guernica, AGNI, Women's Studies Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Antioch Review* and others, and in the anthologies *Best New Poets 2006 *and *The Hecht Prize Anthology, 2005 - 2009.* She has been
awarded fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center of Provincetown, Vermont Studio Center, Millay Colony for the Arts, Writers at Work and Byrdcliffe Artist's Guild. Alison also recently served as a Guest Editor at *Crazyhorse*, Assistant Poetry Editor at the *Indiana Review*, and performed as an interpreter in Tino Sehgal's "This Progress"
<> at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, New York. She completed her Ph.D. in English at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) and received her M.F.A. in Poetry from Indiana University.

DAVID SHAERF, Screenwriting
Dave is Assistant Professor of Creative 
Writing and Cinema. His research focuses on narrative studies relative to documentary film and the depictions of niche interest groups in those films. He also works as a screenwriter and filmmaker. He has written, directed and been the producer of award-winning short films and theatre productions in both the United Kingdom and New Zealand. His first documentary feature film, *The Love for the Game*, investigates the community of professional Backgammon players in the United States. Currently, he is in production of his second documentary feature film, *Call Us Ishmael*, a documentary about *Moby-Dick* and the community of fans who are linked to Melville’s classic novel. He has a Ph.D. in Film Studies from the University of Exeter.

Vanessa is Special 
Lecturer in English and Creative Writing. She is the author of a chapbook of poems, Cosmology (dancing girl press & studio), and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in *American Literary Review*, *Beloit Poetry Journal*, *Cimarron Review*, *CincinnatiReview*, *North American Review*, *West Branch*, and other journals. Her MFA thesis, *Chiaroscuro*, was a semifinalist for the Yale Younger Poets prize. She is currently working on a collection of poems about the work of French sculptors Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel. She completed her M.F.A. in poetry and her Ph.D. in creative writing and literature at the University of Houston, where she held Michener, Cambor, and Krakow Poetry Seminar fellowships. In 2014, she was awarded Oakland University's Excellence in Teaching Award.

Creative Writing
Internships for credit are available during fall and winter semesters. Students should apply for an internship for any particular semester at least one-to-two months before that semester begins. Students are free to make their own arrangements to intern with an organization or a business not on the 2013-14 Internship PDF list, but they still must fill out the paperwork in the semester before the anticipated internship in order to receive credit. In addition to filling out the forms (which are also available on the door of 542 O'Dowd and in 544 O'Dowd, the English Department main office, as well as PDF files), students must register for the course. Do so by contacting Annie Gilson. Please provide her with an unofficial copy of your transcript pasted into an email, as well as the names of two OU English professors with whom you have studied.

Opportunities for engagement with larger writing communities include:

OU Creative Writing Club

The vibrant OU Creative Writing Club, advised by Prof. Jeff Chapman (, gives our students a biweekly meeting place to discuss their work, the work of writers who inspire them, and to share ideas that can help strengthen the program. Join us on facebook.

OU Screenwriters’ Guild

The OU Screenwriters’ Guild, advised by Prof. David Shaerf (, brings together aspiring screenwriters and film-makers. It also offers opportunities for those interested in writing film scripts to get together and workshop, attend lectures, and pitch scripts to filmmakers to get made! No experience necessary. Contact faculty advisor David Shaerf ( for additional information.

The Oakland Arts Review (The OAR)

The Oakland Arts Review, also known as *The OAR*, is a journal put out by the Creative Writing Program devoted to undergraduate writing (first issue in Winter 2016). Genres we publish include fiction, scripts, nonfiction, poetry, and comics (can include excerpts of graphic novels). Students may also submit images for cover art. The journal is overseen by Prof. Alison Powell; students interested in working on the journal should write her at Submit to The OAR at

Annual Reading Series

Every semester the Creative Writing Program sponsors readings and craft talks by fiction writers, poets, screenwriters, and creative nonfiction authors. Readings range from the avant grade to traditional. We regularly host roundtables on publishing and editing as well as workshops on publication and on teaching creative writing in the public schools. These events take place on the OU campus. Up-to-the-minute information is available on facebook.


Three contests run yearly: *OU Flash Fiction Contest* (two separate contests, one open to current undergrads, one to everyone who is not an undergrad); *OU Ekphrasis Poetry Contest* (two separate contests, one open to current undergrads, one to everyone who is not an undergrad); and *OU Screenplay Award* (open to undergrads).

Mentoring Program

Our Mentoring program pairs employed alums with English major juniors and seniors, to help students make the transition into the working world. But our students also maintain a thriving OU English Alumni Association. This network is for you: we could host reading groups on campus, talk shop and job searches, and even set up readings and writing groups for alumni! Alumni are also welcome to attend meetings of the Creative Writing club. Join us on facebook.


The Creative Writing Program prioritizes student involvement in volunteer and internship activities and in writing groups around the area. Students intern in a wide cross-section of literary venues, including Dzanc Books (small press), Wayne State University Press, 826Michigan (literacy and creative writing outreach program), *Midwestern Gothic* (literary journal), InsideOut Detroit (creative writing workshops in Detroit public schools), Baldwin Center and Common Ground (community help centers), and Write A House (Detroit literary nonprofit). Students are also free to design their own internships.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Currently, students can take Fiction and Poetry Workshops at The University of London, London, UK and at the University of East Anglia, UK.