More on Diversity in Creative Writing Programs (updated 11/3/16)

Last March, I published this list of resources addressing how to make Creative Writing programs more inclusive at the programming and curricular level. Since then, good things have happened. David Haynes has formed an AWP Committee on Inclusion for which I’m serving as librarian, until a list of resources can be posted on the AWP web site itself. Here’s a revision including updates from David. Please comment or contact me if you have further suggestions–I’d love to see it grow. As I wrote at the close of my March blog, this list emphasizes race and ethnicity–subjects on which hard work remains to be done–but we also have to keep talking about sexuality and gender, disability, and the economics of higher education. Students face many invisible impediments while seeking degrees, and too many talented people never get a chance to learn and thrive.

  • Online essays about race, culture, diversity, and the creative writing MFA:

“Why I’m Done Talking About Diversity” by Marlon James, Literary Hub, October 2016

In Our Way: Racism in Creative Writing” by Claudia Rankine, Writer’s Chronicle, October 2016

Ferguson, Whiteness as Default, & the Teaching of Creative Writing” by David Mura, Writer’s Chronicle, October 2016

“Addressing Structural Racism in Creative Writing Programs” by Kazim Ali, Writer’s Chronicle online, October 2016

“Towards a New Creative Writing Pedagogy” by Fred D’Aguiar, Writer’s Chronicle, October 2016

“Challenging the Whiteness of MFA Programs: A Year of Confrontations at UW” by Kristine Sloan, The MFA Years, April 2016

“Degrees of Diversity: Talking Race and Diversity” by Sonya Larson, Poets & Writers, September/ October 2015

“Dr. Craig’s 11-Step Program to Curing ‘Mainly White MFA’ Sickness” by Craig Santos Perez, October 2015

“They Pretend to Be Us While Pretending We Don’t Exist” by Jenny Zhang, Buzzfeed Books, September 2015

“Not a British Subject: Race and Poetry in the UK” by Sandeep Parmar, Los Angeles Review of Books, December 2015,

“If We Want Diverse Books, We Need Diverse MFA Programs” by Hope Wabuke, The Root, September 2014

“MFA vs POC” by Junot Díaz, New Yorker, April 2014

“It felt like a door had opened: An Interview with Cornelius Eady” by Joshua Barnes,Sampsonia Way, June 2011

“Growing Diversity in Graduate School” by Rochelle Spencer, Poets & Writers Nov/Dec 2007, p.77-82.

Also see an excellent list of additional pieces collected by Erika Meitner and Sarah Gambito: David Fenza’s PowerPoint on race in education will also be of interest: educational-attainment-2015.

  • On craft and inclusion

“‘PURE CRAFT” IS A LIE’ by Matt Salesses:  and

Can Black Art Ever Escape the Politics of Race?

“Why write a novel about a race that’s not your own? The case of ‘Ginny Gall’”

  • Reading race

“White bro reading: Yes, I’m reading men and women equally — but they’re still mostly white”:

Fighting “Erasure”

GrubStreet’s “What An Author Looks Like: On Race & Writing” Series, featuring Brando Skyhorse, Aminatta Forna, Mia Alvar, Celeste Ng, and many others:

Toni Morrison. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination.

  • On teaching and inclusion

GrubStreet podcast: What Makes a Good Workshop Citizen:

Report from the Field: Gone from My Heart: Violence and Anger in the Poetry Workshop:

We Need A Decolonized, Not A “Diverse”, Education:


Writing Culture Has An Ableism Problem:

  • On literary climate

Marlon James: Why I’m Done Talking About Diversity:

Claudia Rankine: Why I’m spending $625,000 to study whiteness:

GrubStreet’s “Writing & Publishing As a Person of Color” Series, featuring prominent authors, agents, and editors of color:

GrubStreet’s “Writers React” Series:

Video: GrubStreet’s Writers of Color Roundtable 2016:

Write-up of GrubStreet’s Writers of Color Roundtable 2016 in LitHub:

  • On publishing

“You Will Be Tokenized”: Speaking Out about the State of Diversity in Publishing | Brooklyn Magazine:

How Chris Jackson Is Building a Black Literary Movement

“We’ve Been Out Here Working”: Diversity in Publishing, a Partial Reading List | Brooklyn Magazine:

“Bare Lit Festival, for Minority Writers, to Make Debut in London”:

The PW Publishing Industry Salary Survey, 2016

Why Publishing Is So White

Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey Results

  • On Lionel Shriver’s speech

Lionel Shriver’s full speech:

Festival keynote attendee Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s response here:

Festival organizer Rod Nordland’s New York Times coverage®ion=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=3&version=internal&

Lionel Shriver’s response to the backlash:

Sonya Larson’s NYT chosen response to Shriver’s op-ed:

Kaitlyn Greenidge’s breaks down “Who Gets to Write What”:

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s LA Times piece, “Cultural appropriation: It’s about more than pho and sombreros,” here:

What Are White Writers For?

  •  Other resources on building and nurturing creative writing programs (advocating for multiculturalism but not exploring the issues at length):

AWP Guidelines and Hallmarks:

“Policies and Practicalities: Examining the Creative Writing Doctorate” by Kroll, Jeri and Webb, Jen. New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing9.2(2012 July): 166-178.

  • On diversity in higher education (with some relevance to academic creative writing):

Tiffany Martínez, “Academia, Love Me Back”

Lisa M. Stulberg and Sharon Lawner Weinberg, eds. Diversity in American higher education: toward a more comprehensive approach. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Darrell Cleveland, ed. When “minorities are strongly encouraged to apply”: diversity and affirmative action in higher education. New York: Peter Lang, 2009.

TuSmith, Bonnie and Reddy, Maureen T., eds. Race in the College Classroom: Pedagogy and Politics. New Brunswick, NJ,  Rutgers UP,  2002.

  • History/ background of creative writing as a discipline:

Paul Dawson, Creative Writing and the New Humanities, New York: Routledge, 2005.

Tim Mayers, (Re)Writing craft : composition, creative writing, and the future of English studies. U of Pittsburgh P, 2005.

D. G. Myers. The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing Since 1880. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996.


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