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Creative Writing

Lewis & Clark College has one of the longest-standing creative writing programs in America. We’ve been teaching creative writing for over fifty years, since the earliest years of the discipline. Our faculty members have been recognized for excellence in teaching and have won some of the country’s most prestigious writing awards.

At Lewis & Clark, we view creative writing – poetry, fiction, and non-fiction – within the context of Anglophone literature, past and present. We ask:

What is a literary heritage, both here in America and around the globe?

  • What is the poem today? The short story? The personal essay?
  • Where will the future of creative writing take us?

“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.”

-William Butler Yeats

 The English Department offers an exciting range of writing courses for all levels of experience. (Beyond our poetry, fiction writing, and creative nonfiction courses, other departments offer playwriting and screenwriting classes are available, as well.) While creative writers often major in English Literature, they also come from majors as varied as art, biology, psychology, and music.

The creative writing experience is not limited to the classroom. Students serve as authors and editors for Lewis & Clark’s many publications, publications ranging from The Lewis & Clark Literary Review to Synergia (Lewis & Clark’s gender studies journal), to Polyglot (a multilingual journal of writing-in-translation). We also have a robust speaker series that brings poets and fiction writers from all over the country to read on campus each semester. In addition, Portland is a thriving literary city. Aspiring writers will enjoy here an abundance of bookstores, readings, internships and fellow authors.

Lewis & Clark is also home of the William Stafford Archives, the collected papers of the National Book Award-winning poet and peace activist William Stafford, who taught at the college for decades. As a research destination, Watzek Library Special Collections has hosted scholars from around the world. Several of our students have worked with the Stafford collection, where they’ve taken the first steps toward earning master’s degrees in Library Science or Peace Studies.

Some of our graduates have published books with major presses, gone on to work at New York publishing houses, won awards such as Stanford University’s Stegner Fellowship, earned graduate degrees at prestigious graduate programs such as the Iowa Writers Workshop, and obtained internships at places like Greywolf Press, Literary Arts, Tin House Books, and McSweeneys. Of course, many of our students do not pursue writing as a career but still value the experience they have as part of a community of writers at Lewis & Clark.

Feel free to browse the alumni stories, the class descriptions, and the event listings, here on the site. Email us at with any questions you might have. We invite you to see if you agree, with Flaubert, that “the art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”