Mercer’s Growing Creative Writing Program Experiencing Remarkable Success

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Creative Writing Faculty

Mercer University’s Creative Writing Program challenges students to take their passion for writing to the next level.

The program, housed in the English Department, allows majors to take writing and literature courses to specialize in fiction writing, poetry writing or drama and screenwriting. The program also offers courses in public writing, creative nonfiction and other special topics.

Students have many opportunities to gain experience outside of the classroom, as well, such as internships in marketing and editing with Mercer University Press.

Dr. Gordon Johnston, professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program, said there have been many exciting developments to the program over the past several years.

“The writing program has grown rapidly since it became a major,” he said. “We also offer a minor in creative writing, and last year, we added an introductory 200-level creative writing course. A few years ago, we added a public writing course because students seem drawn to writing as a form of advocacy and a means to healthier public discourse.”

In addition to the new offerings, the program has two new faculty members. Georgia Poet Laureate Chelsea Rathburn and Dr. James Davis May have been excellent additions to the team, Dr. Johnston said.

Rathburn recently received the Eric Hoofer Award for Poetry, and Dr. May won the Rattle Poetry Prize Reader’s Choice Award. Dr. Johnston said their esteem serves as proof of their talents as professors.

“They are committed and enthralling teachers, too, as is shown by the full enrollments in their courses,” he said.

Dr. Johnston also points out that Mercer’s creative writing students and alumni have taken advantage of the skills they have gained in English and creative writing.

“Our graduates have had some remarkable successes,” he said.

Alumna Elizabeth Tammi published two novels during her time as a student in the Creative Writing Program.

Alumnus Jordan Dominy earned tenure last year at Savannah State University, where he is an associate professor of English.

Dr. Sara Pirkle is assistant director of creative writing at the University of Alabama and winner of the Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry for her poetry collection, titled The Disappearing Act.

Jennifer Champagne just earned her MFA from Wake Forest and had her first short story, “Secondary Certification,” published by Porcupine Literary in July.

In the future, Dr. Johnston already has plans for the program’s continued growth.

“One thing we want to do is add some needed courses to our writing curriculum, such as a class on the forms and theories behind different genres of writing,” he said. “We would also like to establish more revolving internships.”

The program also plans to continue helping students get their writing published and fostering a community that draws interested students to Mercer based on the its unique writing offerings.

“Our program offers many opportunities for student writers to grow in their craft, to grow personally and also to grow professionally,” Dr. Johnston said. “We offer students access to the best writers in the country in a setting that feels neighborly and supportive.”