Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey was SBC's 2019-20 common read, paired with Madeline Miller's Circe

Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey was SBC's 2019-20 common read, paired with Madeline Miller's Circe

Students receive a 12-week subscription to The New Yorker as the class text for CORE 120: The Mindful Writer

Students receive a 12-week subscription to The New Yorker as the class text for CORE 120: The Mindful Writer

Students draw inspiration from the beautiful and expansive campus

Students draw inspiration from the beautiful and expansive campus

Read. Think. Explore. Imagine. Write.

English and Creative Writing

The English and creative writing program at Sweet Briar College employs a studio curriculum with an emphasis on project-based learning.

Special topics classes across genres — and in new and evolving genres — ask students to engage in directed readings and sustained individual creative projects. We train students to engage with texts in the way that working writers do, dissolving the boundary between critical engagement and creative response and helping students discover that they grow as writers, as readers, and as human beings through explorations of both canonical and contemporary works of literature and through creative practice.

The reading and writing of literature are always in dynamic conversation, and we encourage students to produce work that references both the historical traditions of literature and the contemporary climate. As working writers, our faculty engage in projects that shift and develop over time and are informed by what we’re reading and what we discover as we write, as well as by the changing world around us. We prepare students to live and work as writers and to be more empathetic citizens and competent communicators, no matter what subjects they go on to study or what careers they pursue.

Literary Events

As many as 400 artists a year enjoy residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Fellows, as they are known, frequently visit SBC classes, and each month, the Center hosts an evening Salon Series, in which two or three Fellows are invited to campus to present their work to the community.

Please join us on October 4 as we welcome VCCA Fellows Lina Zylla and Chisom Ogoke to campus.

Lina Zylla‘s artistic practice focuses on the manipulation of reality and revolves around the question of how this is triggered and preserved. In her installations and performances, she reacts to the respective spaces in a painterly visual-acoustic way. The glass drawings offer the possibility of dissolving the immanent concept of painting and creating a walk-in picture through its threedimensionality. Her glass and sound installations are an approach of painting in space, with deformed and painted glass panels leaning against the walls. The sound in connection with the works in the room adds a narrative level and concentrates on musical memory. In doing so, Lina Zylla‘s superimposed voice and singing oscillates between the spiritual and ironic understanding of reality and gives no definition. (Lina Zylla photo by Enid Valu)

Chisom Ogoke is a Nigerian American writer who hails from Plano, Texas. She enjoys long walks, beautifully sunny days, adventure movies, and well-told stories. She recently graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing and—even more recently—returned from a ten-month independent study in Barbados through the U.S. Student Fulbright Program. During those ten months, she studied Bajan (BAY-JUN) and West African-influenced oral storytelling techniques.

Learn more about the VCCA and their events here on their website.

The VCCA Salons are FREE and open to the public. Just check in at the guard gate and let them know you are here for this event. SBC also offers campuswide FREE parking.

A reading by Kristina R. Gaddy, author of Well of Souls: Uncovering the Banjo’s Hidden History and Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis. She is a Baltimore-based writer and fiddler and has received the Parsons Award from the Library of Congress, Logan Nonfiction Fellowship and a Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Rubys artist award. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Goucher College and her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Baltimore Magazine, Washington City Paper, Baltimore Sun, Narratively, Proximity, Atlas Obscura, OZY, Shore Monthly and other smaller history and music publications.

Following Kristina R. Gaddy’s reading as part of the 2023-24 Writers Series, we invite the campus community to join us for refreshments and a jam session at the bandstand in the Center Dell. Please bring your own instruments. Spectators welcome. Rain location: Pannell Gallery.

until 12:00am on October 10

An evening with writer Leslie Jamison. Leslie Jamison is the author of the essay collections The Empathy Exams, a New York Times bestseller, and Make It Scream, Make it Burn, the memoir The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath, and the novel The Gin Closet, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, and the Oxford American, among other publications; she is a columnist for the New York Times Book Review and teaches at Columbia University, where she directs the nonfiction concentration.

Photo Credit: Beowulf Sheehan

A reading by poet Edgar Kunz.

Edgar Kunz is the author of the poetry collections Fixer (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2023) and Tap Out (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2019), a New York Times New & Noteworthy pick. He has been a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, a Teaching Fellow at Vanderbilt University, and a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. New poems appear in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, POETRY, American Poetry Review, and Oxford American. He lives in Baltimore and teaches at Goucher College.

Chloé Cooper Jones is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. In 2020, Chloé was a
Pulitzer Prize finalist in Feature Writing for ”Fearing for His Life,” a profile of Ramsey Orta, the man
who filmed the killing of Eric Garner. She was the recipient of the 2020 Whiting Creative Nonfiction
Grantand the 2021 Howard Foundation Grant from Brown University. Both grants are in support of her
forthcoming book Easy Beauty, a memoir which finds the author—after unexpectedly becoming a
mother—embarking on a journey across the globe to reclaim the spaces, both physical and emotional, that
she’d been denied and denied herself. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

A reading by poet and novelist Lisa Russ Spaar.

Lisa Russ Spaar is the author of a novel, Paradise Close (Persea, 2022); six acclaimed collections of poetry, including Madrigalia: New & Selected Poems (Persea, 2021), Orexia (Persea, 2017), Vanitas, Rough (Persea, 2013), Satin Cash (Persea, 2008), Blue Venus (Persea, 2004), and Glass Town (Red Hen Press, 1999); and two poetry chapbooks, Blind Boy on Skates (1986) and Cellar (1983).She is also the author of The Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry (Drunken Boat Media, 2013), a collection of poetry history and criticism, and she was a 2014 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. She has edited four poetry anthologies, including More Truly and More Strange: 100 Contemporary American Self-Portrait Poems (Persea, 2020), Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poets on Jefferson (University of Virginia Press, 2016), All That Might Heart: London Poems (University of Virginia Press, 2008), and Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems (Columbia University Press, 1999). Spaar has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Library of Virginia Award for Poetry, and a Rona Jaffe Award, among other honors and awards. She is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, where for many years she directed the MFA program.

“Easy Beauty” Named the Common Read

Sweet Briar College’s 2023-24 Common Read is Easy Beautyby Chloé Cooper Jones. This powerful memoir is a moving account of the author’s journey through life in a body that is different.

read more