Creative Writing at Brigham Young University-Idaho
The BYU-Idaho English department offers three creative writing courses-English 218, 318R, and 418R. (The "R" indicates that the course is repeatable for credit.) In these courses, students write poetry, fiction, and/or creative non-fiction. Occasionally, courses are offered in writing dramas, screenplays, and children's and young adult literature. Instruction in BYU-I creative writing courses typically focuses on literary writing and the reading of literary texts. Creative writing students are regularly expected to share their work in one-on-one conferences with teachers, as well as in classroom peer groups.
English to 218: Introduction to Creative Writing is an exploratory course in which students write in a variety of genres, such as poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.
English 318R: Advanced Creative Writing is a genre-specific course. Each semester courses are offered in poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction, as well as occasional courses in the writing of plays, screenplays, young adult lit., and children's lit.
English 418R: Creative Writing and Publishing is a course in which students choose their genre and regularly workshop writings in peer groups. In addition, students in English 418 edit and publish Outlet: The BYU-Idaho Student Literature and Art Journal. In English 418, students learn about publishing creative writing as they become familiar with contemporary literary journals and publishers.
English Department Faculty Reading
Each semester BYU-I English faculty participate in the Faculty Reading, an event in which they read their own original works to an audience of students, faculty, and the community. Through the Faculty Reading, students see their own teachers model the mantra that "writers write."
Student Writing Retreat
Each semester, English majors apply to participate in the Student Writing Retreat, an off-campus writing workshop led by English Department faculty. Held in the shadows of the Teton Mountains, this retreat allows selected students to work alongside faculty in an intense three-day writing experience. Student expenses for the retreat are paid by the English Department.
Each semester the BYU-I English Department invites one or more published writers to the BYU-Idaho campus. Visiting writers give readings and attend classes to speak with students about writing and publishing. Past visiting writers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Stephen Dunn, novelist Lynn Stegner, and BYU poet Lance Larsen.
Value of Creative Writing
Only a few writers make a living writing novels, poetry, essays, or plays. Most published novelists and poets have other jobs that pay the bills. Fortunately, creative writing courses offer rewards far more certain than the chancy promise of royalty checks. In creative writing courses, students explore and develop their creativity, improve their writing, enjoy the play of language, and learn a good deal about humanity. As with the development of any valuable skill, the benefits come from the balance of work and play, passion and discovery. Students who want to learn about language, literature, and life will find much to gain from the creative writing courses at BYU-Idaho.
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