English 251: Introduction to Creative Writing                                                                      quick link to schedule
Instructor: Bryan Fry
Office: Avery 371
Office Hours: MWF 10:00-11:00 a.m.
AND Friday 2:00-3:00 p.m. (4th floor of the CUB)


Course Description:

This class introduces students to the three major writing genres--poetry, fiction, and nonfiction--and challenges the literary landscape with the goal of centering multicultural and diverse narratives. We will learn to speak and listen in a community-oriented atmosphere, and we will share our experiences through various forms of writing. Although students will be required to complete written prompts throughout the semester, much of the course will focus on performance-based work meaning we will practice the delivery of writing, or voicing work from the page. Because of our multicultural theme this particular creative writing course also lends itself to examining various forms of social constructions of gender, race, and ethnicity and how they operate in American culture.

Required Material:
  • Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux, The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry
  • Patricia Smith, Incendiary Art
  • Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
  • Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds
  • A Writing Journal
Major Requirements:

Participation (10%): Each week I will assign you a participation grade that reflects how involved you are in the class. This includes bringing your books and writing journals to class, participating in class discussion, and sharing your work (or supporting the work of others; if you don't want to read, that's okay, but you will need to provide some strong finger snaps). Your participation grade will be the average of these grades. 

Writing Prompts (20%): You will complete twelve writing prompts during the semester. These prompts will help you prepare for poetry readings and group slam activities. They will also give you ideas on how to enter a poem, how you navigate its heavy pull, how to find its proper shape. There are twelve prompts due during the course of the semester. I'm gonna say you can throw out two at the end of the semester because I understand life happens and you get busy. The other ten prompts need to be typed and ready to hand in when they are due. I will accept late work with penalty, but I probably won't provide comments. 

Writing Journal (20%): You are all writers this semester and need to keep your writing (at least the early drafts) in one place. You could do this on a laptop, but nope. We're going to use pencil and paper. Listen, I'm not telling you this because I read a study or have some scientific proof about the damages of writing poems on a computer, but writing with a pencil feels different and it's just got to change the way your brain processes information. I'm not saying one way it better than another, but we're going to do some of our writing in a journal. So get a journal (a good size is 6x9 inches) and make sure to write in it and bring it to class every day.

Incendiary Art Poem (10%): You will write an imitation of one of Patricia Smith's Incendiary Art poems and we will turn them into a class anthology at the end of the semester. Everyone will get a copy of the anthology.

Group Slam Performance (20%): You will break into groups of four, construct a slam poem, and present it as a group at the end of the semester. We will work on these poems in class workshops so pay attention to the schedule and note the days we meet to work on group slam activities.

Portfolio/Final Performance OR Portfolio/Cover Letter (20%): At the end of the semester everyone will turn in a portfolio of work that samples your writing from two genres (poetry, fiction, or nonfiction). In addition to your portfolio of work, you have an option to perform on of your pieces at the end of the semester (this can include a group slam) or write a 3-5 page cover letter that explains your revision process and your vision as a writer. If you chose to perform, you are welcome to perform as an individual as well as in a group, but honestly I don't even know how I would calculate that into your grade yet. So assume there will be some form of extra credit. If you are struggling in this class, you can complete the performance and the cover letter, but make sure to talk to me first. 


Regular Attendance: Because we depend on each other's support, attendance for this class is crucial. Students are allowed three unexcused absences without penalty. This includes absences due to illness, death, and imprisonment. The only unexcused absence is a school-related absence, which means you have to be on the volleyball team or something. After three unexcused absences, I will deduct 10% of the final grade. After six absences, students will receive an F in the course. Every three tardies equals an absence. It is your responsibility to let me know when you are late. Otherwise, you will be marked absent.

WSU Accomidation Policy: We are committed to providing assistance to help you be successful in this course. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. Please visit the Disability Resource Center (DRC) during the first two weeks of every semester to seek information or to qualify for accommodations. All accommodations MUST be approved through the DRC (Admin Annex Bldg, Rooms 205). Call 509 335 3417 to make an appointment with a disability counselor.

WSU Safety: Classroom and campus safety are of paramount importance at Washington State University, and are the shared responsibility of the entire campus. WSU urges students to follow the "Alert, Assess, Act" protocol for all types of emergencies and the "Run, Hide, Fight" response for an active shooter incident. Remain ALERT (through direct observation or emergency notification), Assess your specific situation, and ACT in the most appropriate way to assure your own safety (and the safety of other if you are able).

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