Writers Institute

What Others Say

Visiting Writers:

"Susquehanna University has the best undergraduate writing program in the United States."
- Robert Boswell, author of Century's Son, Mystery Ride and Crooked Hearts

"Susquehanna's writing program is extraordinary in every way—in fact, I've never seen anything like it. The students are wildly talented, deeply committed, and supportive of one another, and faculty are nearly super-human in their rigor as teachers and in their achievement—nationally and internationally—as poets, essayists and fiction writers. This is a rare and wondrous place."
- Lia Purpura, author of On Looking and Rough Likeness

"What Susquehanna offers its undergraduate writers rivals that of any established and exemplary MFA program. It's an amazing program in every way."
- Jill McCorkle, author of Creatures of Habit and The Cheer Leader


"You're in an oasis! I've given scores of readings, but my visit to Susquehanna still stands out. I've never had (or seen) such an informed Q&A. Your students are really impressive, definitely the best students and undergraduate creative writing environment I've encountered." 
Brian Henry, author of Quarantine, Wings without Birds, and Lessness  

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Current Students:

"The opportunities here are incredible, and the passion of the creative writing community makes this program stand out to me. We have countless clubs that celebrate writing and reading: poetry slams in Charlie's, faculty readings and even a GO program for writers. The community here is proof enough that I have a future."
- Sarah Harshbarger '17

"The Susquehanna creative writing department is not simply about preparing students with the tools they’ll need to succeed in all levels of the professional writing world. It’s about teaching students how to see their world differently, find the intricacies that are hidden behind the mask of mundane. The faculty teaches us how to observe, and then, through workshops with our peers and one-on-one conversations, how to critique our attempts at embodying these details on the page with a critical eye. What develops is a lesson on finding a writing voice, one that shows the positive impact that countless faculty conversations, peer critiques, and visiting writer discussions can have on helping writers discover the voice that they were trying to convey all along."
- Regan Breeden '16

"The creative writing program at Susquehanna is nothing you, or even I, could have imagined. When I was coming to this school for writing I thought it would be very similar to my senior English class where we talked about authors and then tried to model their work. I was never more wrong in my life. I started with creative nonfiction. We were given our first assignment and all Dr. Retief told us to do was, 'Write a memoir.' Sure, we looked at some samples from authors, but we had no guidelines for the assignment. We just had to write. The creative writing program treats you like the writer you want to be. They don't coddle you and hold your hand every step of the way. They make you work for the end result you want by giving you a workshop—where everyone in the class looks at your work and tells you how they really feel about it—and then it's up to you from there to make something you're proud of. Being a part of the creative writing program is an experience like no other, and I'm grateful for every minute."
- Liz Flynn '16

"You come to a place like Susquehanna thinking it’s going to be quiet, and maybe even a little boring—and then you spend two days in the Creative Writing department and find that it’s full of brilliant people who are loud, loud, loud in the best way, and who are as eager as you are to grow and learn. And with a dedicated and talented faculty like ours, it’s difficult not to improve."
- Colin O'Donnell '15

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Alumni:

"I entered Susquehanna's creative writing department thinking I was a good writer. I was wrong. It was only through extensive work with the generous faculty that I found my true voice."
- Lauren Bailey '11

"The writing major at Susquehanna is about doing, not preparing to do. We write, we revise, and we revise again, constantly engaging with our work, just like professional writers. We do not sit in class listening to lectures; we share our work with our peers, receiving their feedback and their criticism. In this way, we learn. During my time at Susquehanna, I’ve learned that, at its heart, writing is the study of people and of the world. We have to consider what motivates people to do what they do. We appreciate the array of speech patterns, traditions, body languages, clothing, and anything and everything related to our senses. We learn how those things inform the characters we create and how those things inform the people we know. The professors urge us to observe these things, to take notes about daily life, about anything at all—we are scientists with jazzed-up lab reports. We learn to tell stories and tell them well."
- Theresa Beckhusen '11

"The Writers Institute is a place that is truly a community of writers—professors, visiting writers, and my peers—which provides me with an incredible amount of opportunities for success and exploration in writing, editing and publishing. Everything about the Writers Institute is an active conversation, from the chance to openly discuss my own work and my peers’ in class, to the chance to work as part of a team in editing and putting together a publication, to the opportunity to read work by acclaimed authors and then actually speak with them about their process and learn things from them that I can apply in my own life and work." 
- Samantha Castetter '11

"The community of faculty and peers that I have met at Susquehanna have both changed and facilitated my work as a nonfiction writer. This is an environment that encourages and celebrates writers and their work. I would not be the person I am today if I had not come to Susquehanna."
- Amanda Santangelo '10

"No other creative writing program has such high academic expectations or gives you the same respect, writer to writer, that you will find at Susquehanna. I graduated with a knowledge of the industry - as well as professional connections - that are priceless to me."
- Christina Behnke '08

"Susquehanna writing majors learn by doing, through intense workshops side by side with professional writers and by editing the various literary publications produced by the Writers Institute each semester. If you choose Susquehanna there's absolutely one thing you can be certain of, that when you leave you'll be an exponentially better writer than when you started."
- Sal Pane '07

"Each professor set aside the time to intimately talk to me about my work. Every comment I ever received from a professor was professional and aided the revisions of my work immensely. I came out of the Writers Institute feeling like I came out of grad school because the workshop environment was so organized and fulfilling."
- Dawn Raszcewski ’07

"To be a writer is to be a student of the world and a courier of emotion and experience. I would not exchange my years at Susquehanna University for anything."
- Laurie Hartzell ’06

"The writing program has been most valuable because of the unique chance to earn a degree in Creative Writing while learning through workshops and one-on-one meetings with living, breathing published authors, who are not only respected by their literary peers but also effective teachers respected by their students. Combined with the presence of almost a hundred of my peers in the writing major, this made for a true ‘community of writers’ experience that I don't think I could have found anywhere else."
- Zach Macholz '06

"The writing-secondary education major at Susquehanna allowed me to explore two worlds I love - writing and teaching. I was able to further my own craft and skill in writing, while also learning workshopping and teaching strategies that have become critical in my high school classrooms. Because I have been trained to write, I am better able to teach the writing process and help those of my students who struggle with writing. The literature-based courses have given me a strong and competent grasp of the literary canon and the skills needed for literary analysis, which greatly benefits my students."
- Allison Bankus '06

"I will always be able to open my copy of Ha Jin's Oceans of Worlds and say, 'Yeah, that's where he signed my book, right after I thanked him for the workshop.'"
- Theresa Clark ’01

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