Welcome 'Poets & Writers' Readers

Welcome, Poets & Writers readers, and thank you for checking out George Mason University’s Creative Writing Program.

samlieselsofiaMany MFA programs offer financial support to attract students, but at Mason we also believe in providing opportunities to support students during their time here and after they graduate. Pictured here are two recent alumni of the program—Sam Ashworth and Liesel Hamilton, both MFA ’18—and one current student, Sofia Puente-Lay (center). Sam and Liesel both received travel grants from the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center to pursue research in France and in Germany and Poland, respectively, during their third year in the program; read about their travels and their projects here. Sofia was the first recipient of the Robert Raymond Scholarship, recently formed to celebrate diversity in our student population; read an interview with Sofia here

In another example, an alumna recently contacted us with the news that she was accepted to a writer’s retreat, which would allow her the time and space to complete her manuscript. She lacked the financial resources to attend, but we were able to provide support for her to take advantage of the opportunity and finish her book.

Mason students don’t just join a program, they become part of a community that supports each other long after their degree is finished.

As a three-year graduate program in creative writing, Mason offers myriad opportunities for students to become both better writers and smarter authors—honing their craft inside the classroom while learning the art of editing and publishing.

Mason houses a student-run, nonprofit literary press, Stillhouse Press, whose mission is two-fold: publishing “voice-driven works from writers both emerging and established” while also providing opportunities for student to earn firsthand experience “soliciting, acquiring, producing, and marketing titles”—perfect skills for opportunities in publishing as well as other fields after graduation.

MFA students also have opportunities to work behind the scenes at several award-winning student-produced journals, including Phoebe, which has been publishing original poetry and prose since 1971, and So To Speak, which has served for a quarter-century as a space for feminist writing and art.

Mason’s creative writing program is both a magnet for literary activity and a bridge for reaching beyond campus. We’re home to Fall for the Book, which for twenty years has connected avid readers with excellent writers for one of the country’s premiere literary festivals and other events throughout the year. The Cheuse International Writers Center--named in honor of long-time faculty member, acclaimed author, and cultural commentator Alan Cheuse--celebrates the art of creative writing as a means of international dialogue, education, and understanding. Mason Writers in the Schools helps young writers find their voices when time to think and write creatively in the classroom has been reduced.

In addition to providing these opportunities for students to improve their writing and enhance their experience in the publishing world, and engage with literary communities, Mason offers several kinds of financial support and assistance. Nearly half of all MFA students work as teaching assistants, receiving stipends and tuition waivers while also earning valuable experience toward future teaching careers. Grants, scholarships, and other awards are also available, such as those received by Liesel, Sam, and Sofia above; learn about other initiatives and programs here.   

Lastly, what truly sets a fine arts program apart is its faculty, and Mason boasts a rich history and current team of award-winning writers. Fiction faculty include Courtney Angela Brkic, Steve Goodwin, Helon Habila, Tania James, and Susan Richards Shreve. Nonfiction faculty include Tim Denevi and Kyoko Mori. And poetry faculty includes Jennifer Atkinson, Sally Keith, Eric Pankey, Peter Streckfus, and Susan Tichy. Full bios of each author are available on the program’s faculty page.

We invite you to explore the creative writing website, or to reach out to Gregg Wilhelm, Director of Creative Writing, with any questions or concerns.

Thank you for checking out George Mason University—and if you’re ready to become a Mason student yourself, you can apply here! 

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