Creative Writing and Poetics

Creative Writing and Poetics //
Master of Fine Arts (In-Residence Program)

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Naropa University, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics unveiled a new MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics curriculum. Highlights of the new curriculum include:

  • Cohort course: develops a strong sense of community among MFA students and hosts visiting writers in the classroom.

  • Revised workshops and poetics seminars: reflects both Jack Kerouac School history and our ongoing commitment to innovative writing (smaller class sizes).
  • Expanded thesis experience: introduces thesis work in community, followed by a semester of independent work with mentoring faculty advisor.
  • Additional features: includes more funding via teaching opportunities, clearer focus on contemplative writing and practice, support around professional development and career goals, plus expanded reading series and events!

The MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics is a two-year, 48-credit, in-residence creative writing degree program. Students typically enroll in 9 credit hours per semester and 12 credit hours in the Summer Writing Program (over two summers).


The program offers an open genre curriculum within a contemplative academic environment, providing MFA students maximum flexibility within the degree. Graduate students are encouraged to take classes across genres, enabling them to investigate a personal, intensely original writing process and style. We challenge the notion of safe or generic works and create a space for radical exploration and experimentation.

The Kerouac School offers specialized creative writing workshops that focus on innovative prose, poetry, and cross-genre composition. In addition to these workshops, students have the opportunity to broaden their scope by taking courses in publishing, letterpress printing, pedagogy, and contemplative practice. Students are able to design a unique curricular path that resonates with their literary and artistic goals.

See part one of the video here!

In addition, students take workshops with visiting faculty in the Kerouac School’s renowned Summer Writing Program. Over 50 guests visit each year, offering our MFA graduate students occasion to be in dialogue with a community of writers. Participants work in daily contact with some of the most accomplished and provocative writers of our time, meeting individually and in small workshops.

During the thesis process, students receive on-going faculty mentorship toward the realization of the MFA Thesis: a book-length creative manuscript with a critical research poetics essay.


The MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics is one of the only graduate writing programs in the country that focuses explicitly on poetics in addition to creative writing. Poetics refers to a contemplative and theoretical framework for writing in any genre, creating a discourse between aesthetic praxis and critical inquiry.


  • Anne Waldman, Allen Ginsberg, and Anselm Hollo Graduate Fellowships, awarded annually to three incoming MFA Creative Writing and Poetics students. 
  • Graduate assistantships and teaching opportunities, plus scholarships and awards available.
  • Summer Writing Program: a colloquium of Jack Kerouac School and visiting faculty who teach workshops, give lectures and readings, as well as mentor students in one-on-one conferences.
  • Numerous events and visiting faculty: What Where Series, Jack Kerouac School Symposium, [Dis]embodied Poetics Conference, Allen Ginsberg Visiting Fellow, Leslie Scalapino Lecture in Innovative Poetics, Embodied Poetics (collaboration with MFA Theater program), Women of Naropa reading, and the 4x4 Student Reading Series. 
  • Contemplative opportunities in courses such as meditation, yoga, ikebana, aikido, or Contemplative Poetics.
  • Innovative classes: Notes on Architecture, Memoir/Anti-Memoir, Performance Art & Writing, Translation, Text and Image, Documentary Poetics, Cross-Genre Forms, Writers Practicum with the Allen Ginsberg Visiting Fellow, or Writers Practicum with Anne Waldman.


  • 9 credits of writing workshops
  • 9 credits of poetics seminars
  • 12 credits of the Summer Writing Program (workshops, lectures, readings)
  • 3 credits of contemplative practice
  • 3 credits of professional development (teaching or publishing)
  • 6 credits of electives (workshops, interdisciplinary courses, etc.)
  • 6 credits of thesis (faculty mentorship on book-length creative manuscript and critical research poetics essay)