Launched in 2020, Watershed Lit: Center for Literary Engagement and Publishing Practice prepares students for professional pathways in the arts and teaches them how to build communities around literature. Over the years, Mason Creative Writing has created, nurtured, and entered into partnerships with entities that share our passion for the literary arts and complement our mission as an arts program. Today, these partners have come together to form Watershed Lit so that our students (MFA and BFA) have unprecedented opportunities to develop a variety of publishing skills and deepen their commitment to literary citizenship.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018, Fall for the Book has mushroomed into a multi-day literary extravaganza on campus and in Fairfax. It features nearly 150 of writers representing multiple genres, including Mason alumni. The festival attracts 15,000 people and turns the entire area into a literary mecca for readers and writers from around the region.
A spring-time event, the New Leaves Writers' Conference features some of that semester’s Visiting Writers to Mason and focuses on all aspects of writing: the craft, the business, and the life of the writer.
Founded in 2014 by creative writing program alumni, Stillhouse Press is one of the county’s few “teaching presses,” an operational imprint publishing books by writers from across the country and managed by students with the guidance of industry experts. Its first title was Helen on 86th Street and Other Stories, by late Mason MFA alumnae Wendi Kaufman. Today, Stillhouse typically publishes two titles per year plus a contest winner rotated among genres.
After the untimely death of long-time faculty member, author, and critic Alan Cheuse, the Cheuse Center for International Writers was established specifically to host diverse writers from around the world while developing opportunities for Mason students to conduct research abroad. Among its many activities, the center also coordinates an annual “Day of Translation” event on campus.
The graduate literary journals phoebe and So To Speak, in partnership with the Office of Student Media, publish work by writers from across the country in both print and digital editions.
In the early 1970s, Richard and Robert Bausch started phoebe during their pre-MFA-program days, then immediately folded it into the new degree program. phoebe prides itself on supporting up-and-coming writers whose style, form, voice, and subject matter demonstrate a vigorous appeal to the senses, intellect, and emotions of its readers. It publishes one print and one online issue per year.
So to Speak was founded in 1993 by an editorial collective of women MFA candidates and has served as a space for feminist writing and art for more than 25 years. As the journal has evolved over the years, so have its editors’ outlooks on feminism; they believe in an intersectional feminist outlook that includes, advocates for, and amplifies the perspectives and experiences of marginalized women and nonbinary people.
Since 1997, Poetry Daily has been an online reading space that brings news and information about poetry, poets, and the world of poetry publications to thousands of readers. In early 2019, the Creative Writing Program and University Libraries announced a partnership with founding nonprofit Daily Poetry Association to relocate the journal’s curation, publication, and administration to Mason. A significant pedagogical component was developed for students and a new website was launched in April 2019, unveiling a more robust, more user-friendly experience.