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Creative writing workshops allow students to hone their craft

Assistant Professor Sarah Perrier leads a workshop class as part of Point Park's creative writing program. | Photo by Christopher Rolinson
Assistant Professor Sarah Perrier, center, leads a creative poetry workshop, a class format that allows students to hone their craft, polish their work and receive individualized feedback.

April 2011

Point Park junior Scott Romani chose a fiction class as an elective last year simply because he enjoyed writing. Yet, he learned so much in one semester, he said, that he decided to pursue creative writing as a second major.

“I could literally see my improvement,” Romani said about his first writing course. “That’s when I realized that these classes presented me with a great opportunity.”

Romani says he sees students from throughout the University in his writing classes.  Most don’t double major, he says, but they are attracted to the courses.

“The writing classes give students yet another medium to express their creativity,” says the 21-year-old, “especially with the workshop setting.”  

The creative writing program offers introductory and advanced workshops in creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry. The courses allow students to hone their craft, refine individual works and receive informed feedback.

“Before, I would turn to my friends to read things, but they didn’t really know why something worked or not,” says Romani. “Point Park’s workshops really help you learn from your own writing process, and they allow you to get to know yourself as a writer.”

In addition to the workshops, undergrads in the creative writing program take literature courses on literary criticism, British literature, American literature, world literature, popular culture and special topics.

Point Park has three full-time faculty members who teach creative writing classes and workshops: William Purcell, Karen Dwyer and Sarah Perrier. | Photo by Christopher Rolinson
Creative writing faculty: William Purcell, Karen Dwyer, Sarah Perrier

Karen Dwyer, assistant professor, says the hybrid program of creative writing and literary studies is another part of appeal for students. 

“The writing culture has a natural base at Point Park,”  she explained.

Student Stephen Jarrett says he “tested the water” by taking poetry and creative nonfiction courses, and soon knew that Point Park’s creative writing major was the right fit. Equally important, he says, was realizing that he had found mentors in the writers leading the program.

“I approach my writing earnestly, and I was looking to be part of a program that treated writers in a reciprocal way,” says the 24-year-old. Jarrett says he found that and more in Point Park’s program.

Assistant Professor Sarah Perrier, who helped to design the English/creative writing major, was recently the featured poet for PBS NewsHour’s Art Beat. The weekly poetry segment presented Perrier reading at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Washington, D.C. Perrier’s book “Nothing Fatal” (2010, University of Akron Press), won the Editor's Choice, 2009 Akron Poetry Prize, among other honors. Her poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Cimarron Review, Hotel Amerika, the Journal, Pleiades and Mid-American Review.

Perrier is joined by assistant professor and “prose specialist” Dwyer, along with psychology professor William Purcell, in teaching the creative writing courses. 

Jarrett says he has found the advanced writing workshops particularly rewarding.

“The advanced fiction writing workshops really allowed me to move over the amateur writing barrier,” says the writer and musician.