Types of Creative Writing (Poetry & Life Writing)

Course Description

What stories do you want to see uplifted in the world?

Whose perspectives do you believe are missing, underrepresented, or exploited in the literary marketplace?

Toni Morrison famously implored writers: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” This introductory course commits Morrison’s mandate to the genres of poetry and life writing. Students will read, discuss, and compose creative texts on a regular basis in order to learn the basic principles of craft. Through lyric, narrative, and documentary forms specifically, our class will explore the connections between poetry and life writing, reading and discussing the works of published writers in order to expand and refine our expressive toolkit. In the first half of the semester, we will study and practice foundational elements of poetry. In the second half of the semester, we will study and practice foundational elements of life writing, paying attention to how writers of canonical and contemporary life writing texts integrate poetic devices. At the end of the semester, students will present a selection of their original work and our writing community will perform a collaborative reading of the Letter to You in the Future assignment.

Creative writing and community building are the primary modes of learning in this course. We will learn how to show up for our stories and how to build a safe and brave writing community. Whether you are a beginning or practiced writer, this course will allow you to develop your creative writing skills, explore your voice, and participate in a creative community with regular and reliable feedback.


Required Course Materials

Regular and reliable access to the Internet

Students are responsible for checking their hawaii.edu email on a regular basis and knowing how to navigate our Laulima website.

Freewrite notebook

Freewriting will be a regular practice in this course. Please purchase a physical notebook to house your handwritten freewrites and other in-class writing exercises.


  • Amorak  Huey & W. Todd Kaneko,Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology
  • Brenda Miller & Suzanne Paola, Tell It Slant: Creating, Refining, and Publishing Creative Nonfiction (available as Ebook through library)