Weber State University has appeared on collegerank.net as part of their “35 Best Bachelor’s in Writing” lineup. WSU scored No. 2 nationwide for the creative writing emphasis program, an optional supplement to the Bachelor of Arts in English degree.
“There’s a lot of great stuff going on in creative writing right now,” Abraham Smith, a codirector of creative writing at WSU, said. “That’s why we are in the process of rebranding our program.”
Smith, primarily a teacher of poetry, has been with WSU since 2017 and also teaches the Intro to Creative Writing, or ENG 2250, courses. He and Ryan Ridge have codirected the program for the past three years.
One-hundred-thirty-one students are currently in the program. “It’s always been pretty robust, but this is the highest it has been in 10 years,” Ridge said of the count.
Ridge is a writer of fiction and poetry and describes himself as “more of an experimental writer.”
“I have taught everything from Intro to Writing up to graduate fiction writing workshops,” Ridge said.
The two came into a program that was already thriving in a number of ways, Smith said, and have maintained the positive momentum while adding some new elements.
Smith began an open mic night that he says is a vital aspect of creating community among writers, as well as expanding upon the Visiting Writers guest speaker series. Open mic night was moved to Zoom because of the pandemic, but Smith said it will be back in person in the fall.
Ridge spearheads Metaphor, the WSU student fiction magazine, and other community projects such as a flash fiction writing contest, the winners of which read their winning pieces at special open mic night events.
According to Smith and Ridge, these two endeavors have paved the way to the program’s success by creating a community environment and encouraging professionalization in students through Metaphor and guest authors.
“We have been working diligently to help our students as they graduate to move on to the next level, which in creative writing students would be a Master’s of Fine Arts,” Smith said.
In the past two years, five students have graduated from the creative writing program and moved on to top-tier Master of Fine Arts programs across the country, according to Smith.
Riding the momentum forward, Smith and Ridge plan to bring all the elements of the program and larger writing community together in the form of a regional writing center. “We are still working on the name, but we will be moving forward on that very soon,” Ridge said.
The creative writing department faculty has published over 25 books, held esteemed fellowships, won literary and teaching awards, and routinely performs their work on national stages, a draft of a brochure for the new writing center states.
Leading the next round of WSU’s Visiting Writers series on Sept. 14 is Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Forrest Gander. Gander won the prize in 2019 for his poetry volume “Be With.”
Smith encourages interested students to “hop into our 2250 and take it from there.”
Students wanting to get involved in creative writing at the university can also “submit to the magazine, but also help to run the magazine,” Ridge said, referring to Metaphor. You don’t have to be a creative writing student to get involved.