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Creative Writing on the Move

New minor, journal, and faculty enhance highly successful program
September 8, 2015

Professor V V Ganeshananthan image

Professor V V Ganeshananthan image
New Creative Writing assistant professor V. V. Ganeshananthan

In this the 20th year English has offered the MFA in Creative Writing, the Creative Writing Program is celebrating not by looking back on stellar accomplishments but by leaping forward into the next.

A creative writing minor is available for the first time this fall to both English majors and undergraduates from across the University. Professors Maria Fitzgerald and Julie Schumacher wrote a proposal and advocated for the minor as a response to the sustained popularity of undergraduate creative writing courses. "For English majors," Fitzgerald notes, "the minor allows the expansion beyond the study of literature to the practice of creative writing. A sequence of multi-genre courses allows a deep focus on the craft of writing and revision.

"But the department and the program are also reaching out to undergraduates across campus," continues Fitzgerald, "inviting them to explore an area in which they may have a keen interest. This sequence of reading and writing courses will encourage them to develop their skills and achieve an accomplished portfolio of imaginative literary works."

This past spring, program director Peter Campion was approached by the longest running literary journal in Minnesota, The Great River Review. Would Creative Writing, asked longtime editor Robert Hedin, be interested in a friendly takeover of the magazine? Started in 1977 by writer Emilio DeGrazia, Great River Review had been published for two decades by the Anderson Center, an artist retreat in Red Wing. Campion assented with enthusiasm, and nurtured the transition as the new co-editor (with Professor Schumacher). A graduate seminar centered on the journal's production begins next spring. "Great River Review will not only provide editorial experience for graduate students in English and Creative Writing," Campion declares, "but also serve, we believe, as the premiere literary journal published in the Twin Cities."

Finally, V. V. Ganeshananthan (above) joins Creative Writing faculty as the third new hire in the past four years, after poet Campion in 2011 and creative nonfiction writer Kim Todd in 2014. With degrees from Harvard, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Ganeshananthan writes both fiction (the novel Love Marriage) and journalism (she's been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Washington Post). She talks about her first writing teacher (that same Post) and her novel-in-progress here.