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Teaching Philosophy

Utilizing a workshop model that has served students of writing for nearly a century, the Creative Writing major is designed to cultivate the creative powers of young writers. Close reading of student and published work is at the heart of the program, guiding students along the process of drafting and revising poetry and prose. In the individual workshop, close attention is turned to student writing, which is thoroughly reviewed and discussed by both peers and faculty. Additionally, all students experiment and explore many different genres of creative writing. One-on-one tutorials further guide writing majors through their individual pursuits to discover and hone their unique skills and voices as writers.


The Creative Writing curriculum teaches the craft of writing, introduces the discipline of close reading and practical criticism, and prepares students for college and the many paths a professional writing life may take. In addition to the study of literature and literary history, writing majors explore all literary genres through a variety of practical courses, which include poetry, prose (fiction and nonfiction), publishing, and dramatic writing. While the Poetry & Fiction Workshop allows students to engage with each other’s writing, Literature for the Writer highlights a wide range of published writing, representative of the diverse and exciting body of literature in English and in translation, both classic and contemporary.


All students have the opportunity to collaborate with other IAA departments to see their work adapted for the stage or the screen. Through our literary journal and a series of public readings, writing majors can share their work with other writers and readers. Our regular faculty and frequent distinguished guest teachers and masterclasses encourage and challenge writing majors to take the risks that lead to authentic creativity.

  • Parallax
  • Working with prominent composers when they premier their works at Idyllwild Arts
  • Masterclasses
  • Option for film/Adaptations
  • Stage Production of Playwriting
  • Public Readings
  • Masterclasses
  • ‘The Writing Life’ Guest Writer Series
Academy Courses
  • Poetry and Fiction Workshop
  • Advanced Poetry and Fiction Workshop
  • Literature for Writers
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Publishing
  • Playwriting and Performance
  • Screenwriting
  • Senior Seminar
  • Genres of Creative Writing
  • Individual Tutorial
  • Novel Writing Workshop
Summer & Auxiliary Courses
Guest Teachers of Masterclasses have included

Claudia Rankine, National Book Critics Circle Award, Los Angeles Times Book Award, and NAACP Image Award winner for Citizen: An American Lyricauthor of Don’t Let Me Be Lonelyprofessor of Creative Writing at Yale University, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets

Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander, Paint it Blackand Revolution of Marina M.

Jane Wong, author of Overpourpublished in Best American Poetry series, professor at Western Washington University

Allison Benis White, author of Self-Portrait with Crayon, Please Bury Me in This, Small Porcelain Head, professor of Creative Writing at UC Riverside

Natashia Deon, author of Grace, practicing attorney, law professor, UCLA Creative Writing professor

William Lucas Walker is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer whose television credits include Frasier, Will & Grace and Roseanne. He co-created the critically-acclaimed one-hour Showtime comedy series The Chris Isaak Show. He regularly blogs for The Huffington Post in his column Spilled Milk, the first recurring humor column by a gay parent to appear in a major U.S. publication.

Ruth McKee is a founding member of the Ovation-Award winning theatre company Chalk Rep, and serves as the Literary Manager for the Black Dahlia Theatre. She is a member of the Los Angeles Playwrights Union, and teaches playwriting and screenwriting at Cypress College and the California Summer School of the Arts.

Richard Bausch, novelist and short story writer: Rebel Powers (Random House 1997), Violence (Random House 1997), Good Evening Mr. & Mrs. America And All The Ships At Sea (Harper Perennial 1997), In The Night Season (Harper Perennial 1999), Hello To The Cannibals (Harper Perennial 2003), Thanksgiving Night (Harper 2006), and Peace (Vintage 2009); and the story collections Spirits (Penguin 1988), The Fireman’s Wife (W.W. Norton & Co. 1991), Rare & Endangered Species (Houghton Mifflin 1994), SomeoneTo Watch Over Me (Harper Perennial 2000), The Stories of Richard Bausch (Harper Perennial 2004), Wives & Lovers (Harper Perennial 2004), Something Is Out There (Knopf 2010). His novel, The Last Good Time(Vintage 1995) was made into a feature-length motion picture, directed by Bob Balaban, starring Armin Meuhler-Stahl, Maureen Stapleton, and Lionel Stander, released in April 1995, and Peace was awarded the 2010 Dayton International Literary Peace Prize. Editor of The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction.  Professor at Chapman University.

Curtis Perdue, poet and editor: You Will Island (H_NGM_N 2012).  Poems have appeared in Bateau, Horse Less Review, LEVELER, Vinyl Poetry, Willow Springs, and elsewhere. Founder and editor of Inter|rupture(

Nate Pritts, poet and editor: Sensational Spectacular (BlazeVOX 2007), Honorary Astronaut (Ghost Road Press 2008),The Wonderfull Yeare: a shepherd’s calendar (Cooper Dillon Books 2010), Big Bright Sun(BlazeVOX 2010),Sweet Nothing ( Lowbrow Press 2011). Founder and editor of H_NGM_N and H_NGM_N BKS.

Hilary Plum, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor: They Dragged Them Through the Streets (FC2, 2013). Co-director of Clockroot Books, consulting editor with the Kenyon Review.

Laura Wetherington, poet and editor: A Map Predetermined and Chance (Fence Books 2011). Poems appear in Sonora Review, BathHouse Hypermedia Journal, Fence, Levure Littéraire, OtolithsVerseEleven ElevenBombay GinOxford Magazine, and Just Magazine. Co-founder and editor for

Joshua Marie Wilkinson, poet, editor, filmmaker: Lug Your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk (University of Iowa Press 2006), The Book of Whispering in the Projection Booth (Tupelo Press 2009), Selenography(Sidebrow Books 2010), Figures For a Darkroom Voice (Tarpaulin Press 2007), Suspension of a Secret in Abandoned Rooms (Pinball Publishing, 2005).  Tour documentary about the band Califone: Made a Machine by Describing the Landscape (IndiePix Films 2011). Founder: Rabbit Light Movies, Letter Machine Editions.Editor: 12X12: 21st Century Poetry and Poetics (with Christina Mengert), Poets on Teaching, (both University of Iowa Press). Editor: The Volta.  Assistant professor, University of Arizona.

Kazim Ali, poet, novelist, essayist: Orange Alert (University of Michigan Press 2010) The Far Mosque (Alice James Books 2005), The Fortieth Day (BOA Editions 2008), The Disappearance of Seth (Etruscan Press 2009), Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities (Wesleyan 2009), Quinn’s Passage (BlazeVox Books 2005).  Co-founder: Nightboat Books.  Recipient of Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. Poetry featured in Best American Poetry. Columnist for the American Poetry Review.  Contributing editor for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ Writer’s Chronicle. Professor at Oberlin College.

Zach Savich, poet: Full Catastrophe Living (University of Iowa Press 2009, winner of the 2008 Iowa Poetry Prize and recipient of a New American Poet honor from the Poetry Society of America), Annulments(University Press of Colorado 2010, winner of the 2010 Colorado Prize for Poetry). A chapbook, The Man Who Lost His Head, will be published by Omnidawn.  Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

David Shook, poet, translator, reviewer, editor: co-founder and managing editor of Molossus: an online broadside of world literature. Poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in Oxford Magazine, Poetry, PN Review, World Literature Today, and many other publications.  A chapbook of his translations of Isthmus Zapotec poet Víctor Terán is available from the Poetry Translation Centre. Idyllwild Arts alum.

Chase Twichell, poet, publisher: Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), The Snow Watcher (Ontario Review Press, 1998), The Ghost of Eden (Ontario Review Press, 1995), Perdido (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1991), Northern Spy: Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981), Dog Language (Copper Canyon Press, 2005),The Odds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986). Editor: The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach (edited with Robin Behn: HarperPernnial, 1992),founder of Ausable Press. Winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, among others.

Lehua Taitano, fiction writer, poet: appalachiapacific (Merriam-Frontier award-winning chapbook, University of Montana), A Bell Made of Stones (forthcoming from TinFish Press). Featured in: The Fiction at Work Bi-Annual ReportUSO’s on Freeways: Anthology of Pacific Island Writers in/from the U.S.Micronesia Anthology: Indigenous Writers of Micronesia, and Transpacific Poetics.

Oliver Mayer, playwright: Author of over twenty plays, including his two newest plays, Fortune is a Woman and Members Only, the sequel to his groundbreaking play Blade to the Heat. Professor at USC.

Chard deNiord, poet: The Double Truth (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), Night Mowing (The University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), Sharp Golden Thorn (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), Asleep in the Fire (University of Alabama Press, 1990).  Associate professor at Providence College.

Alba Cruz Hacker, poet, translator: No Honey For Wild Beasts (Plain View Press, 2008). Served as Managing and Poetry Editor for The Pacific Review and as a Faculty Advisor for The Coachella Review and Planet Mexicali Magazine.

Daniel Rabuzzi, novelist: The Choir Boats (ChiZine, 2009), The Indigo Pheasant (ChiZine 2012). Executive at Year Up in New York City.

Kate Durbin is an artist, writer, and filmmaker from Los Angeles, California. Her books include Hoarders (Wave Books), E! Entertainment (Wonder), The Ravenous Audience (Akashic Books), and ABRA (1913 Press).

College Matriculation
  • American University
  • Bard College
  • Bennington College
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Chapman University
  • Emerson College
  • Hendrix College
  • Kenyon College
  • Mills College
  • New York University
  • Reed College
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • School of the Arts Institute, Chicago
  • Sewanee: The University of the South
  • St. John’s College
  • UC Berkeley
  • UC Irvine
  • UC San Diego
  • USC
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of Montana
  • University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Parallax Literary Magazine

2022 Issue:

Parallax Literary Magazine has been published by the Creative Writing department of Idyllwild Arts Academy since 1997. Created, designed, and run by students, Parallax has always championed the high school writer by publishing the best of Idyllwild students’ creative writing and visual art.Parallax Online publishes the best work by high school students around the globe. Work is selected, edited and published by Idyllwild Arts Creative Writers.

Visit Parallax Website

2020 Issue:

Parallax Literary Magazine has been published by the Creative Writing department of Idyllwild Arts Academy since 1997. Created, designed, and run by students, Parallax has always championed the high school writer by publishing the best of Idyllwild students’ creative writing and visual art.Parallax Online publishes the best work by high school students around the globe. Work is selected, edited and published by Idyllwild Arts Creative Writers.

Visit Parallax Website
Fiction & Poetry Scholarship Contest
IdyllwildArts Creative Writing Contest

Idyllwild Arts Academy Contest Guidelines

The Fiction & Poetry Contest Deadline Date is December 31, 2022

1st place winner – Boarding = $25,000
1st place winner – Day = $10,000
2nd place winner – Boarding = $15,000
2nd place winner – Day = $5,000

Once finalists are chosen, they will be asked to apply to Idyllwild Arts Academy; upon acceptance winner will receive their award as specified above. Additional need-based aid may be provided. All finalists will be considered for admission and need-based aid.

  • Open to high school students going into 9-12 grade
  • Submit one story or up to three poems. Double-space fiction. Use a readable font. Include page numbers. Please submit files as .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf.
  • Do not include your name or contact information on the story or poem. You will include this information in the online submission form.
  • First page of manuscript should include the title only.

Winners will be chosen by Idyllwild Arts Academy faculty. If no works meet the judges’ criteria, Idyllwild Arts Academy reserves the right to select no winner and offer no scholarship.

Note: If you miss our contest deadline, we will have another contest in the future. Please sign up to be notified of future contests by sending an email with “Future Contests” in the subject line to

Submit Your Work
Application Portfolio

Candidates must submit a portfolio that includes several representative writing samples. The portfolio must include some poetry and fiction, but may also include work from other genres such as nonfiction and dramatic writing. The submission should be 10-20 pages total. Applicants are evaluated on overall academic achievement as well as writing skills and experience. Due to the large amount of reading required, applicants should have a high level of reading comprehension.

For specific questions regarding the Creative Writing Admission Process, please contact: Dominique Trammell at 951.659.2171 x2347 or at

Writing at Idyllwild is an exploratory, self-motivated process. The teachers are there to guide you, but when it comes down to it, you’re in charge of what you create. In that way, anything and everything you do becomes yours. The writing program at Idyllwild taught me to try everything, and worry about taste and preference later. Risk is the greatest component to that education.

– Isaac Dwyer, Class of 2013, Creative Writing


Idyllwild Arts Academy’s Creative Writing teachers have had a novel published with Little, Brown and Company, a theatrical work performed at the Kennedy Center, a full-length book of essays published with HarperCollins, a nomination for the Pushcart Prize, books of poetry published, and short fiction featured in The Kenyon Review, Tin House, New South, The Southeast Review, River Styx, and elsewhere.

Learn More…

Featured Alumni

Bella Koschalk, ‘22
Class of 2026 School of the Arts Institute Chicago, 2022 Poetry Society Award Winner; “Spoons” Columbia University Journal

Rome Smaoui ‘20
Editor, “Days of Summer” Narrative Magazine

Emily Clarke ‘18
Cahuilla poet, journalist, editor

Ana Garcia ‘14
Translator and Digital Content Writer

Amber Morrell ‘11
Author and Librarian* Debut novel, The Alchemy of Letting Go, releases March 2023

Jordan Bonner ‘10
Poet and Video Game Writer

Kathleen Jones ‘08
Playwright, actor, co-founder of Good Pilgrim Theatre Company

Zack Kaplan ‘07
Coordinator for International Relations at Foreign Affairs Division, Niigata, Japan

Amrita Khalid ‘07
Technology & Politics Reporter

Carey Powers ‘07
Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe

Meredith Mantik ‘04
Film Editor

David Shook ‘04
Poet, translator, and editor

Jasmine Johan ‘03
Senior Executive in Social Innovation

Molly Mapel ‘01
Director of Marketing, IAA

Angelina Burnett ‘97
Producer and TV Writer, Writers Guild

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