Knight Fellowships become reality for Creative Writing Program

America’s top writers have a new reason to choose FIU.

The university’s Creative Writing Program has received a $150,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge, to develop a graduate fellowship program in creative writing.

“In addition to training in writing, the Knight Fellowships will prepare students to become teachers in creative writing and be Miami’s next generation of arts administrators and cultural entrepreneurs,” said James M. Sutton, chairman of the Department of English. “For more than 20 years, the Creative Writing Program has been a beacon of success for FIU, and an invaluable seedbed for the literary arts in Miami. This award further validates our success.”

The fellowship program will couple education with community engagement. The Knight Fellows will receive an annual stipend for three years as they participate in a range of community activities including coordinating community reading series and representing FIU and South Florida at national writers conferences. The first generation of Knight Fellows will develop and implement a writers-in-the-schools program at local public schools, and every fellow will perform a semester-long internship with a local arts organization during their second year in the master’s program.

“This program will not only bring more top writers into South Florida, but also help engage the community in a love for literature and the written word,” said Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president/arts.

As early as 1995, FIU’s Creative Writing Program was recognized as one of the top 10 programs in the nation by the Dictionary of Literary Biography. The program’s faculty have made their mark in nearly every conceivable literary genre, collecting nominations for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, as well as awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Mystery Writers of America, Gold and Silver Medals from the Florida Book Awards and a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship. Alumni have published more than 80 books, from poetry to short stories and novels to memoirs.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge is a five-year, $40 million initiative to bring South Florida together through the arts. The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU also received a Knights Art Challenge grant to integrate new media and technologies into exhibits.

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