The Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing Program invites industry professionals—agents, editors, producers, publishers, and literary managers – to help students with career development. These professionals come from all corners of publishing, film, and theatre and share their expertise and offer advice, tools, contacts, and other resources.
Betsy Amster, Agent, Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises
Betsy Amster is president of Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, a literary agency in Portland, Oregon. She is a former editor at Vintage and Pantheon. Her clients include bestselling writers Maria Amparo Escandon, author of Esperanza’s Box of Saints (Scribner), and Joy Nicholson, author of The Tribes of Palos Verdes (St. Martin’s); Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Sandi Ault, author of Wild Indigo and three other titles in the Wild mystery series (Penguin Group) among many other titles.
Mitch Horowitz, Editor-in-Chief, Penguin/Tarcher
Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (Crown). His previous book, Occult America (Bantam), received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence. Horowitz is vice president and editor in chief at Tarcher/Penguin, the division of Penguin books dedicated to metaphysical literature. He frequently writes about and discusses alternative spirituality in the national media, including CBS Sunday Morning, Dateline NBC, All Things Considered, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, BoingBoing, Time.com, and CNN.com.
Rhonda Hughes, Publisher of Hawthorne Books
Rhonda Hughes is the publisher at Hawthorne Books in Portland, Oregon. Now in its 16th year, Hawthorne has published literary fiction and nonfiction to consistent/critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Oregon Book Award, Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writer Award, The Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, the Langum Prize for Historical Fiction, and many others. Film options and publishing rights to Hawthorne’s works have been sold worldwide.
Kirby Kim, Agent, Janklow & Nesbit
Kirby Kim represents both literary and commercial authors. His commercial interests include thriller, horror, speculative and science fiction, young adult, and middle grade. He also represents a range of nonfiction working with leaders and journalists in the areas of science, culture and current affairs. He’s also known for representing pop culture, in particular music and comedy. Kirby is currently a board member of the Asian American Writers Workshop. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two kids.
Betsy Lerner, Agent, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency
Betsy Lerner worked as an editor for 16 years before becoming an agent. She mostly works with non-fiction writers in the areas of science, psychology, history, cultural studies, biography, current events, and memoir. Lerner was the recipient of the Tony Godwin Publishing Prize. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and is the author of Food & Loathing, The Bridge Ladies, and The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers.
PJ Mark, Agent, Janklow & Nesbit
P. J. Mark’s authors regularly receive awards and honors, including, on multiple occasions, the “5 Under 35” honor by the National Book Award Foundation, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Art Seidenbaum Award by the Los Angeles Times, the Rome Prize by the American Academy in Rome, multiple awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, a “20 Under 40” honor by The New Yorker, The Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism, the Guardian First Book Award, the MacArthur “Genius” Grant, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and National Book Award finalist medals.
Angela Rinaldi, Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency
Angela Rinaldi has extensive previous experience as an editor at NAL/Signet, Pocket Books, Bantam Books, and as manager of book publishing for The Los Angeles Times. She has taught publishing programs at UCLA and was a member of the California Arts Council. She has been on the board of PEN is a member of AAR.
Amy Scholder, Editorial Director, Feminist Press
Amy Scholder has been editing and publishing progressive and literary books for over twenty-five years. Her visionary style has brought high visibility to her authors, and has been praised for its contribution to contemporary literature and popular culture. She has served as editorial director of the Feminist Press, editor-in-chief of Seven Stories Press, US publisher of Verso, founding co-editor of HIGH RISK Books/Serpent’s Tail, and editor at City Lights Books.
Ira Silverberg, Senior Editor, Simon & Schuster
Ira Silverberg is a Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster and has been a literary agent and editor in the New York publishing business. He worked as a literary agent at Donadio & Ashworth, as Editor-in-Chief at Grove/Atlantic Press, and as editorial and publishing director at Serpent’s Tail’s U.S. projects, High Risk Books and Midnight Classics. He also founded the marketing and public relations firm, Ira Silverberg Communications. This firm has attracted clients like The Academy of American Poets, William S. Burroughs, the estate of David Wojnarowicz, Dennis Cooper, City Lights Publications, and Re/Search Publications.
Linda Villarosa is a freelance writer and editor. Formerly, she edited the health pages for the New York Times, where she redesigned and expanded health coverage for Science Times and the newspaper at large. Linda was also both the executive editor and senior health editor of Essence Magazine. She has contributed articles, profiles and reviews to a number of national publications, including Glamour, Health, Latina, the New York Times Book Review, O Magazine, Vibe and Woman’s Day. She has won awards from several organizations, specifically The Arthur Ashe Institute, the American Medical Writers Association, Lincoln University, the New York Association of Black Journalists and the National Women’s Political Caucus. Linda is the author of Body & Soul: The Black Women’s Guide to Physical Health and Emotional Well-Being.
Elizabeth Wales, Principal Agent of Wales Literary Agency, Inc.
Elizabeth Wales, owner and principal agent, began her career in publishing at Oxford University Press in 1980. She also worked at the Strand Bookstore and in trade sales and marketing at Viking Penguin in New York. A graduate of Smith College, she did graduate work in Literature at Columbia University. Member of Association of Author’s Representatives, Inc.(AAR) and the Authors’ Guild.
Michael Wiegers, Executive Editor, Copper Canyon Press
Michael Wiegers is the Executive Editor of Copper Canyon Press. His reviews and criticism have appeared in American Poetry Review, Publishers Weekly, Rain Taxi, The City Pages, The St. Paul Pioneer Press, and Portlandia, among other publications. He has edited three anthologies — Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry, The Poet’s Child, and This Art: Poems on Poetry.
Advisors in the MFA in Creative Writing Program are award-winning professionals who actively write, publish, and produce new work, in addition to teaching. Your advisors will provide detailed editorial feedback, offer support and insight into your writing process, and give you reading suggestions to stoke your creativity.
You will work closely with one advisor each semester. You may choose to work with a different faculty member each term, or you may prefer to work with just two or three over the course of your MFA. In your final semester, you’ll also have the benefit of a “second reader,” a faculty member who will read and provide additional feedback on your thesis as a whole.
At Goddard, advisors don’t try to impose a style on you or dispense the one-size-fits-all type of writing advice you could get from a book. Instead, they strive to help you realize your own unique creative vision.
The MFA in Creative Writing Program supports students writing in the following genres:
- Creative Nonfiction / Memoir
- Libretto Writing
- Television Writing
- Graphic Novel Scriptwriting
- Cross-Genre / Hybrid
The Low-Residency Model
The low-residency model removes the barriers between living your life and learning. Each semester begins with an eight-day residency in Vermont or Washington. Residencies offer seminars, meetings with your advising groups, workshops, one-on-one meetings with an advisor, and presentations. You will also connect with faculty, practitioners, activists, and artists, and your fellow students.
Following the residency, students return home for 16 weeks of independent work in close collaboration with a faculty advisor.
Students in the MFA in Creative Writing Program may choose to attend residencies in either:
- Plainfield, Vermont, on Goddard’s historic main campus, located just outside Montpelier, the state capital. It’s a former farm with a manor garden, surrounding forests, and period architecture.
- Port Townsend, Washington, on our Fort Worden campus, a former Victorian-era Army base with beaches, trails, and a vibrant, seaside arts community on the Pacific Coast, north of Seattle.
When you apply, you’ll select one of these two sites for the duration of your studies.
Goddard College programs operating in Washington State are authorized by the Washington Student Achievement Council. For more information, please refer to Accreditation and Approvals.
The Residency Week
Residency weeks offer an array of classes, readings, lectures, screenings, presentations by visiting luminaries, and formal and informal social gatherings. You’ll join a diverse, passionate, and welcoming community of writers of all ages and walks of life. With these other writers, you’ll immerse yourself in conversation, instruction, and discovery that will ignite your writing process.
Upon arrival you’ll receive a schedule of classes and events in all genres. All offerings are open to all Goddard students, regardless of genre.
- Master classes
- Keynote addresses on each residency’s theme
- Workshops and small seminars on individual texts, authors, forms, and theories
- Take Ten, a ten-minute play festival produced entirely by students (VT campus only)
- Classes and panels with industry professionals from the writing, theater, and publishing worlds
For a preview of the wisdom and advice you can expect at a residency, check out Alchemy of the Word, a collection of past residency keynotes and commencement addresses by our faculty.
At each residency, you’ll be paired with a faculty advisor with whom you’ll meet throughout the week, both in workshop and individually to craft your study plan. This documented plan consists of your semester’s assignments and reading list — all tailored to your specific interests and intentions for your thesis. It will provide the deadlines and guidelines you need to sustain your writing process and achieve your goal of completing your thesis project.
The residency week offers both freedom (an open schedule of classes, with mini “writing retreats” for each genre) and an intense focus on the craft of writing. The residency week is endlessly varied: challenging, invigorating, and inspiring. Best of all, it will launch you into the semester, ready and eager for the work to come.
Monthly “packet exchanges” allow you to sustain an ongoing dialogue with your faculty advisor about your work throughout the semester. Every packet contains your work — creative pages, critical essays, and/or other degree requirements. Packets also include a process letter in which you raise any artistic concerns or questions about your work and life as a writer.
You’ll submit four written packets to your advisor each semester, on specific due dates, and your advisor will respond with detailed margin notes, a comprehensive response letter, and an engaging dialogue about how your critical explorations can assist you in bringing your creative work closer to your vision. In addition, you’ll engage in a “virtual packet” midway through the semester, consisting of a one-hour virtual meeting or phone call with your advisor.
The core focus of your MFA studies is your creative work. The intellectual rigor you gain through reading and critical analysis will help you develop your craft and voice. You’ll have many opportunities to share your work in readings and workshops, and you’ll deepen what you’ve learned by applying it in your Teaching Practicum.
Your thesis project consists of a complete book, play, script, or libretto. To help you progress toward that goal, you’ll be expected to engage actively in creative writing throughout each semester. Our students are encouraged to experiment with different genres and methods at each residency and during their first semester, and by their second semester, select a particular genre for their final thesis and concentration.
By the end of your final semester, you are expected to produce a unified creative thesis of professional quality, conforming to standard industry length. You will share an excerpt from this work at a public reading during your commencement residency.
Close reading is the foundation of the critical work you’ll do at Goddard. Close reading means avidly exploring the construction of the text and moving beyond general impressions to note specific authorial choices and to consider their implications.
Each semester you will work with your advisor to create a reading list that reflects the themes, technical/craft issues, and literary traditions you choose to explore in depth. Your selections will be informed by your own personal experiences, educational background, and reading habits, with attention to such factors as gender, genre, and multiculturalism.
In response to your reading, over the course of your MFA you’ll complete 45-60 annotations, two five-page critical papers, and one twenty-page critical paper.
As a terminal degree, the MFA in Creative Writing is a credential for faculty positions in higher education. To offer you the skills necessary to confidently enter the classroom as a teacher of creative writing, you are also required to complete a “teaching practicum,” as described in the next section.
Unique among MFA programs, Goddard has created a model that gives you:
- the freedom to shape the creative writing course that best serves your goals
- your choice of location and student populations
- your choice of craft topics
- an opportunity to expand your resume
- a way to give back to your community
With a minimum of just three students, our students have offered creative writing courses at colleges, grade schools, retirement communities, libraries, juvenile detention centers – even coffee shops!
You can be involved in all aspects of publishing, from editing to layout, with these opportunities:
- The Pitkin Review: the literary journal written and edited by Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing students
- Clockhouse: the national, Pushcart-mentioned literary journal, edited and published by Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing alumni
- The Writer in the World: the Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing blog for students and alumni
Visiting Writers & Professionals
At residencies, you’ll meet a diverse range of visiting writers and professionals from the worlds of book publishing, theater, and film and television production.
- Our Visiting Writers Series is one of the most anticipated aspects of each residency. Recent guest writers include Chris Abani, Lynda Barry, Nilo Cruz, Meghan Daum, Mary Gaitskill, Pablo Medina, Dinaw Mengestu, Ruth Ozeki, and Dani Shapiro.
- Our Visiting Professionals Series will introduce you to professionals from the publishing and production industries. Recent guests include editors and agents from Penguin/Tarcher, Hawthorne Books, Janklow & Nesbit, Feminist Press, Simon & Schuster, and Copper Canyon Press.
- Our Alumni Readers Series celebrates the professional achievements of our alumni. Recent alumni readers include Mark Doty, Justin Hall, Cara Hoffman, Simone John, Matthew Quick, and Selah Saterstrom.
- Our Playwrights’ Enrichment Series is unique among MFA writing programs. Once a year, on our Vermont campus, we welcome a visiting luminary from theatre or film. Recent guests include playwrights, librettists, and dramaturgs, as well as literary managers and directors from theatrical powerhouses, such as The Public Theater, HowlRound, Lark Theater, Dramatists Guild, Eugene O’Neill Theater, and the Sundance Institute.
Social Justice Book Club
We are a community of creative writers who are also serious readers—readers who want to be engaged, entertained, and enlightened. We come from a rich array of backgrounds and experiences.
It is this diversity that makes the residency a special place where we can explore books about race, gender, immigration, sexuality, or other topics related to social justice. The resulting conversations allow us to develop our identities—that is, who we are and what we want to say as writers in the world.
Some of the books the SJBC has chosen recently are: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates, Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum, All the Names by Dinaw Mengestu, Fun Home: A Tragicomedy by Alison Bechdel, and Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong.
Scholarships and Funding
Learn more about all the scholarships we have available for students.