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Professor Andrea Ferrigno consults with a student in art class.

Creative Writing

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Chad Simpson

Chair & Associate Professor of English

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401



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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Major, Minor

How we work

1. We treat writing as an exercise in living. Our writers spend plenty of time writing and building their writing practice, honed in the workshop—but they also run reading series, work as reporters for the student newspaper or DJs at the campus radio station, study other languages and cultures, start service projects, hold internships, give whole days over to reading, play music, build sets and sculptures and computer code. 

2. We publish print and online journals. an expanding list of print and online journals. Catch, the oldest continuously published student literary journal in the country and won the 2014 National Program Directors' Prize from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. All our journals—including Cellar Door, Quiver, and Common Room—are student designed and edited.

3. Our students and faculty regularly win major awards and other kudos. One example is the Nick Adams Short Story Contest, which our students have won more than students from any other competing college. Professor Chad Simpson won the University of Iowa’s John Simmons Short fiction award for his story collection. Professor Gina Franco was awarded the 2019 Canto Mundo Prize for poetry. 

4. Our Grads Find Success. Our alumni regularly go on to the nation’s top MFA and Ph.D. programs, edit national journals and run literary presses, publish books, work in journalism, advertising, law, education—any field that demands clear, forceful expression and creative thinking (which is nearly every field). Ander Monson ’97 is an award-winning author of eight books, and founder and editor of DIAGRAM (one of the first online literary journals). Will Boast ’02 won the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and his book, Power Ballads, won the 2011 Iowa Short Fiction Award. Alex Keefe ’06 is a lead news reporter of WBEZ-FM in Chicago and received a National Headliner Award and Edward R. Murrow Award. While pursuing an MFA, Noah Baldino ‘15 was chosen for a residency at the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center, and was recently named a 2019-20 Stadler Fellow at the Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts. Monica Prince ‘12, a choreopoet, is an assistant professor of activist and performance writing at Susquehanna University.

5. We're good at being humble. However, we will go ahead and admit that we’re one of the most active, accomplished, and engaging undergraduate writing programs in the country. (Coincidentally, Poets and Writers magazine agrees).

Supporting Our Work

The strength of the creative writing program at Knox begins with our faculty—gifted authors, poets, and scholars. Many have received major national and international awards, from the Rainer Maria Rilke International Poetry Prize and the Marshall Frankel American Fiction Prize to the Scotsman Orange Short Story Award.

These professors love to share their knowledge and bring out the best in each of our students, whether it's in the classroom, during writing workshops, or chatting over a cup of coffee.

They also work closely with students through Caxton Club—a student-run literary organization—to bring high-profile poets, novelists, and essayists to campus for readings and discussions. A few to visit Knox recently include:

  • Aleksandar Hemon, MacArthur Genius, author of "The Making of Zombie Wars" and "The Lazarus Project."
  • Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, essayist and former U.S. Poet Laureate.
  • Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Novelist, "Lila" and "Gilead." Read Robinson's interview with President Barack Obama from 2015.
  • Osama Alomar, Arabic poet.
  • Ross Gay, poet and editor, "Against Which" and "Bringing the Shovel Down."
  • Beth Charlebois, scholar of Shakespeare and performance.
  • Jaspreet Singh, novelist, essayist, short story writer and a former research scientist.
  • Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, film critic, "Form factor: A non-boring look at the ‘how' and ‘why' of film style."
  • Tisha Turk, Director of Academic Support for Writing and Speaking at Grinnell College, "Fan Videos, Fandom, & Digital Literacy: a discussion on multimedia in the Liberal Arts."
  • Gretchen Henderson, scholar of English and art history, writer, "Poetics of Embodiment: (dis)Ability, Creativity, and the Shape of Space."
  • Reeve Parker, scholar of English Romantic poetry and drama
  • Wendy Hyman, Renaissance scholar, "What Early Modern Scientists Learned from Poets."
  • Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and cultural critic.
  • Annette Wannamaker, scholar of children's literature.
  • Valerie Traub, a leading Shakespearean critic and author of Feminist Readings of Early Modern Culture.

Our students also delve into the works of noted authors, poets, and scholars in Seymour Library's special collections, which include such notable holdings as the Hughes Collection of Ernest Hemingway and the Lost Generation—first editions, letters and rare periodical publications of Hemingway, Cummings, Passos, Eliot, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Pound and Stein. Large videotape and audiotape collections on American and international writers, Shakespeare's plays, and feature films are all available as well.

Works of Galesburg native Carl Sandburg and Edgar Lee Masters, a Knox alumnus, are also among the extensive holdings of Seymour Library—which houses more than 300,000 volumes and 700 periodicals.

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Printed on Monday, October 25, 2021