Creative Writing at Tusculum

 The Tusculum Review

We are one of a handful of colleges in the United States that offers our undergraduate students the opportunity to work for an international literary journal. Our journal allows students to learn and refine their skills as reviewers of literature, critics of visual art, and as editors of the written word. Students learn the ins and outs of navigating a publications office, from database management to pagination and layout. These opportunities provide our students with unique qualifications for graduate studies and employment in publishing.

Awards & Prizes

Our students compete for bragging rights and substantial monetary prizes in an in-house literary competition. The Curtis-Owens prizes, endowed by a distinguished Tusculum College alum, are awarded annually in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and scriptwriting. The prizes are judged by established, award-winning writers who visit the campus to give a reading and to announce their selections at an awards ceremony in the spring. Past judges include playwright David Muschell, poet Sally Keith, fiction writer Kellie Wells, essayist Patrick Madden, poet John Hoppenthaler, and essayist Erin Tocknell, fiction writer Charles Dodd White, and essayist Julija Šukys. In 2016, fiction writer Eric Lundgren will serve as esteemed judge.


Creative Writing in the Classroom

Our students complete workshop intensive courses in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and scriptwriting in addition to introductory and intermediate creative writing courses. Additionally, students present a senior capstone project in a genre of their choosing. Our creative writing students also take interest-based literature courses, including Literature of Conflict, Technology, Science, & Fiction, The Fantastic & the Uncanny in Literature, Literature Abroad, Fairytale, Folklore, & Myth, World Literature, Minority Voices in American Literature,  Genres in Shakespeare, and others, along with hip special topics courses and independent studies created by Tusculum creative writing professors.


Elizabeth McDonnell (’11) reads from her senior capstone project at the Annual Spring Fine Arts Barbecue.

Reading & Travel Opportunities

Courtney Broderick (’12) visits Stonehenge with one of her TC English classes.

The Creative Writing Program sponsors periodic public readings to showcase the creative projects of students. Frequent open mic nights are hosted at the college.  Senior creative writing students are honored annually with a formal public reading as part of Tusculum College’s Humanities Series. We often provide our students with field trips to attend readings, workshops, and craft lectures.


Joseph Borden (’15) mans The Tusculum Review’s Book Fair table at the 2013 AWP Conference in Boston.

Many of our students are rewarded with a trip to the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs convention. Our students have attended and have been honored in theMeacham Writer’s Workshop at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.  Students in our program have been named winners and finalists in the poetry and fiction contests of the Lex Allen Literary Festival at Hollins University.


Creative Writing students pose with visiting poets after a Humanities Series reading: (from L to R) Justin Reed (’13), Ken Robidoux, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Adam Clay, and Alexander Spivery (’12).

Our program also frequently brings visiting writers to campus to read from their works and to visit classes, affording students valuable opportunities to meet and to work with esteemed working writers like Kellie Wells, Nate Pritts, Allison Joseph, Earl S. Braggs, Charles Dodd White, Adam Clay, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Sally Keith, John Hoppenthaler, Matt Hart, Abraham Smith, Tim EarleyEmilia PhillipsPatrick Madden, Julija ŠukysKatie Fallon, Ken Robidoux, Jeff Hardin, David Muschell, Erin Tocknell, D. Antwan Stewart, Kirsten Eve Beachy, Brent House, Nick McRaeAlex Quinlan, Catherine Meeks, Susan O’Dell Underwood, and others.

Additionally, students in our program enjoy opportunities to write and travel abroad.  Most recently, creative writing students have traveled to London, England, Dublin, Ireland, and to Barcelona, Spain.

Justin Reed (’13), runner-up winner in the poetry category of the 2012 Lex Allen Literary Festival at Hollins University, has one of his prizes signed by the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey.

Ben Sneyd (’13), Rob Pollock (’12), Justin Reed (’13), & Drew Baker (’13) explore Chicago during the 2012 AWP Conference.

Student Successes

Students graduating from the Creative Writing Program at Tusculum have been accepted into first-rate graduate programs with excellent financial aid packages, full tuition waivers, fellowships, and teaching assistantships, including (but not limited to): Washington University in St. Louis, Chatham University, Columbia College (Chicago), the University of Central Florida, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Central Arkansas, the California Institute for the Arts, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Florida International University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the University of Memphis, the University of Tampa, and Georgia College & State University.  Other students have followed up their undergraduate work with study in other areas of personal interest ranging from mortuary science to massage therapy.

Some of our students have taken teaching positions around the world; currently, students of our program have acquired  jobs teaching  English in Santiago, Chile, Chungnam Province, South Korea, and Wuxi, China.

Many of our students have won national awards for creative writing and have published in respected literary journals.

Winter 2015 News & Highlights

Lulu McGeorge (’14) was named Head of Marketing at Powell Animal Hospital in Powell, Tenn.

Matthew Pierce (’16) has had two poems — “Flask and Funnel Set” & “Him Who Eats Time” — accepted for publication by Big Muddy.

Justin Phillip Reed (’13) has new work published in issue 15 of phantom.

Fall 2015 News & Highlights

Hannah Berling ('16)

Hannah Berling (’16)

Hannah Berling has been hired as Graphic Design Intern for the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) in Knoxville, Tenn. 

Justin Phillip Reed (’13) was featured in “Paris is Still Burning”, a poetry reading and performance showcasing contemporary LGBT poets of color, in Miami.

Joseph Borden ('15)

Joseph Borden (’15)

Joseph Borden has been hired as Special Projects Coordinator for American Blackguard, Inc. in Nashville, Tenn. Of his new job, Borden says, “The best part is that I’m actually using skills you guys taught me.”

Justin Phillip Reed (’13) was nominated for Sundress Press’s Best of the Net Anthology for – a poem published in Muzzle Magazine.

Matthew Pierce (’16) was awarded an Advanced Research Fellowship in honor of his work as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar.

Macy French’s (’18) poem — “Deviled Eggs” — was accepted for publication by the poetry journal, These Fragile Lilacs. French’s poem — “Germination” — has been accepted for publication in Abbreviate Journal.

Danielle Armstrong ('12)

Danielle Armstrong (’12)

“Elliot Goodacre Survives the Flood” by Danielle Armstrong, a finalist in the January 2015 Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction contest, recently appeared in border crossing literary journal. Armstrong, a recent graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Central Florida where she was a McNair Fellow, has published three short stories from her thesis in border crossing, riverSedge, and the 2015 Savannah Anthology. Armstrong was hired with Performance Technical Documentation Services, Inc., where she has been placed on-site at Epcot; she works with Disney on sustainment in the Department of Technical Publications, updating maintenance manuals for the various attractions at Epcot Theme Park.

Andrew Baker ('13)

Andrew Baker (’13)

Andrew Baker, whose micro essay — “Iron Man” – was published by Cactus Heart Press, served as guest editor for Wuxi Life magazine and The Shanghaiist. Baker recently earned TEFL certification with specializations in Teaching Business English, Teaching Oral Comprehension, Teaching Young Learners, and Teaching One-on-One. He is currently enrolled in MatadorU’s Travel Writing program.Summer 2015 News & Highlights

Jennifer Frost ('16)

Jennifer Frost (’16)

Jennifer Frost’s poem — “Angsty Jewish Poem” — will be published in Sundress Publications’ print anthology Political Punch, due out in February of 2016. Frost also received a fellowship to attend the Sundress Academy for the Arts workshops after her poem — “For the Birds” — was selected to be performed in the OUTSpoken program in Knoxville, TN. 

Cynthia Conte ('15)

Cynthia Conte (’15)

Cynthia Conte’s poem — “Number three star: Fast years” — was published in the literary journal, Really System.

Justin Phillip Reed ('13)

Justin Phillip Reed (’13)

Justin Phillip Reed has received a third-year fellowship and has been named the Jr. Writer-in-Residence in Poetry at Washington University in St. Louis. YesYes Books will release his first chapbook, A History of Flamboyance, in 2015. Reed’s poems have recently been published in Anti-Rattle, Boston ReviewConnotation Press, joINT.pluck!Muzzleand Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color. He will read his work at the River Styx reading series on August 17 in St. Louis.

Emily Waryck ('17)

Emily Waryck (’17)

Emily Waryck’s poem  – “Purgatory” — will be published in the literary journal, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, in October 2015.

Macy French ('18)

Macy French (’18)

Macy French’s poem — “Gethsemane” — was accepted for publication by the new poetry journal, These Fragile Lilacs.

Matthew Pierce ('16)

Matthew Pierce (’16)

Matthew Pierce was awarded a Ronald McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program Summer Pre-Research Internship at East Tennessee State University. Pierce presented on his project — “Words as Social Power” — on July 13, 2015 at ETSU.

Autumn Reynolds ('15)

Autumn Reynolds (’15)

Autumn Reynolds was hired by EPIK (English Programs in Korea) to teach in Chungnam Province, South Korea. She leaves for Korea on August 16.

Ryan Barker ('15)

Ryan Barker (’15)

Ryan Barker has accepted a position at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina as a Communications Specialist. He starts on August 17.

 Spring 2015 News & Highlights

Essayist Julija Ŝukys gave a reading at Tusculum College in which she announced the winners of the Curtis Owens Literary Prizes. Jennifer Frost (’16) won in the poetry and drama categories. Carnes White (’15) won in the fiction category. Cynthia Conte (’15) won in the nonfiction category. Honorable mentions in fiction were Laine Callahan (’17) and Sarah Holly (’16). Honorable mention for nonfiction was Sarah Holly (’16). Honorable mention for poetry was Emily Waryck (’17).

Creative Writing majors Jennifer Frost (’16), Cynthia Conte (’15), Tyler Jinks (’15), Sarah Holly (’16), Matt Pierce (’16), Joshua Fuller (’17), Emily Waryck (’17), & Autumn Reynolds (’15) traveled to Hollins University in Roanoke, VA to attend the Lex Allen Literary Festival. Jennifer Frost was honored as a finalist in the festival’s literary contest for poetry; her work was discussed in front of an audience by a panel of esteemed poets.

Alum Justin Phillip Reed (’13) read with poet Susan O’Dell Underwood at the Old Oak Festival Tusculum Review Launch on Thursday, April 16.

Poet Brent House & fiction writer Charles Dodd White read with the Curtis Owens Literary Prize winners (Cynthia Conte (’15), Jennifer Frost (’16), & Carnes White (’15)) during the Old Oak Festival on Saturday, April 18.

Other News & Highlights

J. Phillip Reed (’13)

Justin Phillip Reed attends the MFA program in creative writing (poetry) at Washington University in St. Louis.

Reed’s poem, “The Saints Look On La Sagrada Familia,” was selected as winner of the 2013 Lex Allen Literary Festival Poetry Award.

Reed’s poems, “Apotropaic of Induced Insiration” and “Apotropaic of Sameday,” were published by Glass Mountain literary journal.

Reed’s “Winter Poem” was published in Mangrove and was subsequently selected to be anthologized in plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing 2012.

Reed’s  “Apotropaic of Giving Roadhead” appears in the Tribute to Southern Poets Issue of Rattle (March 2013).

Reed’s poems, “Testimony” and “What Reconciles Us,” were published in the July 2012 issue of Educe.

Reed’s poem, “Everyone Down Here is Pretty,” was selected by Natasha Trethewey, David Huddle, and Jeanne Larsen as runner-up for the 2012 Lex Allen Literary Festival Poetry Prize at Hollins University.

Connotation Press will publish two of Reed’s poems, “The Locusts of Control” and “The Waking Sex of Brom Bones.”

The Tusculum Review published Reed’s impressive review of Carl Phillips’ Speak Low.

Tusculum College’s alumni magazine published Reed’s feature on using social networking in the classroom.

Ben Sneyd (’13)

Ben Sneyd (’13)

Ben Sneyd attends the MFA program in creative writing at the California Institute of the Arts.

Sneyd’s poems, “what you’ve done here,” “We Were Nuclear, Darling,” and “Drunk in the City, Remembering Home,” were published in Burningword Literary Journal.

Sneyd’s short story, “Riding Reflections,” was named runner-up for the 2013 Lex Allen Literary Festival Fiction Award.  His poem, “We Were Nuclear, Darling,” was selected as a finalist in the poetry category.

Sneyd’s short story, “Guarding Charlene,” was published in Spry Literary Journal.

Austen Herron (’15)

 Austen Herron’s short story, “Vigilar,” was selected as a finalist for the 2013 Lex Allen Literary Festival Fiction Award.

Noelle Rankin (’13)

Noelle Rankin’s short story, “Separation Anxiety,” was selected as a finalist for the 2013 Lex Allen Literary Festival Fiction Award.

Billie Jennings (’13)

Billie Jennings graduated from the MA/PhD program in English at the University of Tennessee—Knoxville.

Jennings’ short story, “Excerpts From a Blizzard Survival Guide” was published in Novelletum.

Jennings’ review of Sarah Addison Allen’s The Peach Keeper has been published on The Tusculum Review’s companion website.

Andrew Baker (’13)

Andrew R. Baker  worked at the Shane English School, where he taught English to children in the city Wuxi (located in the the Jiangsu province of China).

Baker’s micro-essay, “Diosa Respuestas” was published in Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine.

Baker was elected Vice President of Membership for the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE).

Danielle Armstrong (’12)

Danielle Armstrong graduated from the MFA program in creative writing (fiction) at the University of Central Florida with a McNair Fellowship.

Armstrong’s work has been published in Connotation Press, Paragraph Line, and Scissors and Spackle.

Robert Pollock (’12)

Rob Pollock graduated from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in 2013.

Kenneth Wayne Hill (’12)

Kenneth Wayne Hill graduated from the MA/PhD program in English at the University of Tennessee—Knoxville.

Hill’s work has been published in Novelletum and his review of Kim Addonizio’sLucifer at the Starlite appeared in The Tusculum Review‘s companion website.

Joshua Kibert (’12)

Joshua Kibert graduated from the MFA program in writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

Kibert earned TEFL certification with specializations in Grammar, Teaching Business English, Teaching One-to-One, Teaching with Limited Resources, and Teaching Young Learners.  He taught English in Santiago, Chile.

Courtney Broderick (’12)

Courtney Broderick completed the massage therapy program at the Sedona School of Massage in Sedona, Arizona.

Brittany Connolly (’12) attended the MFA program in creative writing (fiction) at the University of Tampa, where she served as Fiction Editor for Tampa Review Online. She has been the Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief  for Connotation Press, where she also wrote the Artisan Review column.

Connolly’s short story “Daphne” has been published in the Sheepshead Review.

Connolly’s work has appeared in Paragraph Line, The Alarmist, Connotation Press, Paper Darts, Scissors and Spackle, and elsewhere.

Connolly’s poetry has been featured in Nicelle Davis’ work for the Poetry in Motion Project in L.A.

Elizabeth McDonnell (’11)

Elizabeth McDonnell is a 2013 graduate of the MFA program in creative writing (nonfiction with concentrations in travel writing & publishing) at Chatham University.  She serves as an Assistant Editor for The Fourth River, and has published an essay in Connotation Press and an art column for the Pittsburgh Quarterly. She currently works as a reader for Creative Nonfiction and as Marketing Intern for Sundress Publications.

David Roncskevitz (’11)

House of Autumn Fire, a play by David Roncskevitz, was published by Connotation Press in its undergraduate feature section.

Amanda Harmon Parks (’09)

Amanda Parks earned a MA in English/Professional Writing from the University of Memphis. She works as a paralegal and writes the fashion blog, The Sequined Spaniel.