Creative Writing

Creative writing at Luther is messy, lovely, rigorous, alive. It means being immersed in a community of working writers – your classmates and your professor. 

It means pouring over a Mary Gaitskill story, performing your own poetry on stage, drinking coffee and scribbling in your journal. It means stumbling across a metaphor that thrills you. It means finding your own path to the risk, delight, and discovery of the writing life in your own words and your own voice.

It means getting to know visiting writers who can look at your work and talk to you about the writing life. Poet and memoirist, Nick Flynn, signs a copy of his book for a student. In the image slideshow, a few of the writers who have visited Luther in recent years to read their work and encourage student-writers are below.

The English major can prepare you for spending your leisurely time writing for the rest of your life, and some students choose to take creative writing courses and/or earn a writing emphasis. Taking creative writer courses can lead students to go from Luther to an MFA program in writing. It can also mean a range of writing skills to be used in a career as a lawyer, pastor, or teacher, or as a writer for companies, foundations, and newspapers. 

It can mean winning a contest, as Hannah Lund did at Narrative Magazine.

It can mean becoming established as a writer, as did our graduate Jill Osier ('96), who was one of two winners of the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize. Her poems were published on the Campbell Corner website.

Course Offerings

English 212: Introduction to Creative Writing (Poetry and Fiction)

English 312: Advanced Creative Writing (Poetry and Fiction)

Luther’s flagship creative writing courses focus on the principles of delight and design by uniting the genres of poetry and short fiction. In the same semester, students hone their craft by reading, completing workshops, discussions, and a series of experiments, discovering not just how their work in each genre can flower, but also how the genres can cross-pollinate! Students of all majors have found their voices through a variety of activities in the introductory creative writing course; including trips to Decorah’s Vesterheim Museum and the publication of class anthologies. Members of the Advanced course submit their work to literary journals and perform their work onstage in an annual concert, “Music in the Shape of a Pear,” staged in collaboration with Luther’s Music Department.

English 213: Creative Writing: The Essay

English 213 explores a capacious and fascinating genre: creative nonfiction, which is now the most controversial and fastest-growing type of writing in America. If you’ve read James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, or Nick Flynn’s memoir of his alcoholic, homeless father, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, you’ve read creative nonfiction – and if you keep a diary, you’ve written it. You may write anything from personal narratives, literary journalism, and nature writing to spiritual essays or family memoirs in this course. What you learn about writing and about yourself will definitely leave you challenged and changed.

Independent Study and Senior Projects:

Students who have completed the appropriate courses in creative writing, may register to do an independent writing project with a faculty member. Students who have completed the writing courses in Plan II of the major often do a senior project in poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction.