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The Knox College Program in Creative Writing celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017.

Creative Writing

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Cyn Kitchen

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. And we sometimes even use our own printing pressCatch, 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. Boast was also a Stegner Fellow at Stanford Alex Keefe ’06 is the engagement editor 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. 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:

  • JoAnna Novak, 2020 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest winner, poet and author of, New LifeNoirmania and Abeyance, North America.
  • Caitlin Horrocks, award winning author, author of the story collections Life Among the Terranauts and This Is Not Your CityNew York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice selections.
  • Bruce Fulton, the Young-Bin Min Chair in Korean Literature and Literary Translation, translator, editor, and co-author of What Is Korean Literature?
  • Rachel Swearingen, 2018 New American Press Fiction Prize winner.
  • Laura Donnelly, the 2020 Richard Snyder Prize winner, author of Midwest Gothic.
  • Josh Tvrdy ’17, 2021 Pushcart Prize winner, poet and teacher.

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. Digital and analog collections of video and audio recordings of 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.


We have a policy of recognizing outstanding student work. Each year, the following prizes are awarded by outside judges:

  • The Nina Marie Edwards Memorial Fund: provides assistance to juniors and seniors carrying out independent or Honors projects in English and Creative Writing
  • The Davenport Awards in Poetry, Playwriting, and Fiction: for outstanding original work
  • The Procter Fenn Sherwin Prize in Fiction: awarded to a senior who submits the best original short story
  • The Bev White Prize in Fiction: given to a beginning writer for the most outstanding piece of creative writing
  • Audrey Collet-Conard Prize in Poetry

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Printed on Thursday, February 29, 2024