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, Eric Lundgren, Meagan Cass, 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, Columbia College of Chicago, 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.

Click here for a list of student accomplishments & news.