In times of crisis and change, the poet reimagines the possible and lights a way forward. Our Poetry program, with its ethically-alert curriculum, diverse reading lists, and dedicated faculty, will help you become the poet you’ve dreamed of being.
Rise to the challenge to write for today’s world.
Western’s Poetry program gives aspiring poets the knowledge, skills and vision they need to become confident members of the poetic community. Students with diverse poetic styles come together in a welcoming program that encourages freedom of thought and expression while providing the necessary grounding to help students uncover and develop their talents. You’ll learn to write in the freer modes characteristic of most contemporary poetry and also learn how to make creative use of more traditional poetic forms. Through innovative coursework and close mentoring from faculty, you’ll hone your techniques, elevate your art and reimagine the possible.
Kevin O’Shea reads from his poetry thesis for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Western.
At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.
Career preparation starts your first year at Western and is the primary focus of every degree.
Visit Career Services in Library 120 or online to discover your interests, define your goals, and land the career of your dreams.
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Advance your poetic career in our flexible program.
Western’s graduate Creative Writing program follows a low-residency format. Faculty and students interact online through Zoom and Canvas during the academic year and gather in person on Western’s campus for two weeks each July for intensive classes and to work closely with nationally recognized authors on their writing.
- Residency: MFA students attend three summer residencies. The first prepares students for success in the program; the second focuses on the creation of poetry chapbooks and collections; and the third prepares graduates to present their work in the form of readings and craft talks. M.A. students only attend the first two of these residencies.
- Academic Year: During the academic year, full-time students take two courses each semester. These six-credit courses make use of video conferencing and web platforms for online work. MFA students complete four such semesters, and M.A. students complete two.
- Additional Opportunities: Guests throughout the year compliment course instruction. MFA students also take one class in another creative writing concentration (Genre Fiction, Nature Writing, Publishing or Screenwriting). All students are given guidance on how to enter contests and submit work for publication.
- Matriculation: To complete the MFA, students work on a culminating, book-length poetry manuscript throughout their final year, under the close supervision of a faculty mentor. M.A. students simply complete the coursework of their two academic semesters and two residencies.
Writing for today
Poetry students study diverse contemporary poets and learn to write in both received and experimental forms.
Opportunities and Partnerships
- Study with award-winning writers who are active in the fields of poetry, translation and criticism.
- Get detailed guidance on how to submit work to contests and poetry journals.
- Finish the MFA program with a professional-quality, book-length manuscript.
- Learn about book reviewing, grant writing and editing, and leave with essential career documents, such as a resume and bio.
- Practice teaching, leading workshops and delivering craft talks.
- Get training from a professional voice and performance coach on how to read your poetry for an audience.
- Meet and learn from guest speakers and visiting artists such as Dan Beachy-Quick, Jennifer Hancock, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, David Southward and a host of others.
- Gain experience in the world of publishing by working with our national-level publication, “THINK: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction, Essays, and Reviews.”
- Take a course from the program’s other concentrations: Genre Fiction, Screenwriting for Film and Television, Nature Writing and Publishing.
Poetry that speaks to our times
A student performs during the Martin Luther King Jr. Open Mic, hosted by WordHorde and the Black Student Alliance.
Western Colorado University
Quigley Hall 117
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231