Creative Writing at Colby: A Brief History

Creative writing has been taught at Colby for at least a half century, but the program as it exists today is primarily the result of the energies and vision of poet Ira Sadoff.  Sadoff taught creative writing workshops and literature courses at Colby from 1977 until 1999, when he left the program to teach exclusively in the English Department. In the early 1980s, Peter Harris and Susan Kenney joined the faculty to combine course offerings into a full-fledged program. Colby began offering a concentration within the English major in 1985. A minor available to all students was added in 1989.

A steady influx of teaching poets and writers has amplified Colby's Creative Writing Program throughout its thirty years. Jay Meek, Robert Gillespie, John Mizner, Rob Farnsworth, Steven Bauer, Jane Mead, Mary Ruefle, Heidi Jon Schmidt, Wesley McNair, Richard Russo, Bill Roorbach, and Monica Wood have all taught in the program. Currently Peter Harris, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Debra Spark, Natalie Harris, Michael Burke, and Adrian Blevins teach courses in fiction, poetry, screenwriting and non-fiction at Colby.

Through Colby's Visiting Writers Series, students meet with nationally and internationally  known poets, novelists and creative non-fiction writers who come to Colby to read from their current work and visit classes. Over the years, visitors have included a number of Pulitzer Prize winners, including John Ashbery, Gwendolyn Brooks, Edward Albee, Gary Snyder, C.K. Williams, Yuslf Komunyyakaa and Richard Howard.  The series has also featured such distinguished writers as Tony Cade Bambara, Alice Walker and John Gardner, and more recently, Rodney Jones, Gerald Stern, Tony Hoagland, Francine Prose,  Lorrie Moore and Elizabeth Strout, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize.   The kindness and  generosity of Bill and Karin Stahl helped us launch the Stahl Writer-in-Residence Program in 2006.  By bringing poets and writers to campus for a week to give a reading, visit classes, and work independently with students, the Stahl residency puts students in contact with a wide range of contemporary poets and writers.  The program honors the memory of Kristina Stahl, class of 1999.   Stahl Writers-in-Residence have included Margot Livesey, Steve Orlen, and Dani Shapiro.