Being a creative writer in Hawai’i is a thrilling and transformative experience. Our location grounds us in the indigenous islands of Hawai’i and at the vibrant crossroads of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), Pacific, Asian, American, and European literatures, languages, histories, and cultures. The diverse environment (from the beaches to the rainforest, from the city to the ocean), the creative array of local and indigenous foods, and the collaborations between art and activism will enliven your imagination.
We offer a B.A. in English, with a Creative Writing concentration; an M.A. in English, with a creative thesis; and a Ph.D. in English, with a creative dissertation. Our unique position within a dynamic English Department allows graduate students to take a two-year core creative writing curriculum, alongside courses in literary studies, cultural studies, indigenous studies, life writing, oral traditions, and composition.
Our core creative writing curriculum offers a productive mix of workshops, seminars, and craft courses. Graduate students will develop an understanding of literary movements, genres, theories, forms, and techniques, while also cultivating editorial and revision skills. Throughout, students will even have opportunities to hone their performance style, professional development, and creative writing pedagogy.
Our widely published and critically acclaimed creative writing faculty represent an impressive range of academic, aesthetic, cultural, and geographical backgrounds. Our faculty members are passionate teachers, and several are even committed to important social, environmental, and political movements in Hawai’i and the Pacific. Faculty interests include: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and songwriting; literatures of Hawaiʻi, the Pacific, Asia, the United States, India, and Europe; multicultural, postmodern, multilingual, postcolonial, indigenous, and Pacific literary theories.
Distinguished Visiting Writer in Residence
Every Fall semester, we sponsor a Distinguished Visiting Writer in Residence. This appointment brings an accomplished writer to our campus for an entire semester to teach two creative writing/literature courses, to perform at a public reading, to conduct a professional development workshop, and to become involved in our literary community.
We believe that creative writers have the power to educate, entertain, inspire, empower, heal, dignify, humanize, remember, and imagine. Thus, we ask our graduate students to consider these questions: What is our responsibility, as writers, to communities outside the university? How can we, as writers, deepen discussions on climate change, militarization, colonialism, and capitalism in the 21st century?
Professional Development Workshops
Each semester, our visiting and core faculty conduct professional development workshops related to creative writing. Workshop topics may include, but are not limited to: pursuing grants, awards, and residencies; attending festivals and conferences; preparing submissions for publication or literary prizes; creating a social media profile; seeking academic and non-academic jobs; managing reading tours and publicity; and more.
Community-Engaged Creative Writing
An important component of our creative writing program is our commitment to community-engaged creative writing projects. Graduate students are encouraged to participate in literary projects that benefit communities outside our university. Previous and current projects range from writing workshops for youth, women prisoners, and senior citizens, to literary readings at public libraries, the Hawaiʻi Book and Music Festival, and the Bishop Museum.
Spoken Word & Oral Poetry
We believe there is a connection between traditional orature of Hawai’i and the Pacific and the contemporary literary arts of spoken word, amplified poetry, and oral poetics. We offer courses in oral poetics and workshops on performance. Students can also experience traditional Hawaiian and Pacific chanting and song through various events that occur on campus. Lastly, we support various spoken word projects, poets, and events on campus and throughout Hawaiʻi.