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Center for creative writing boston

About Us

EmersonWRITES is an urban, creative writing program offering FREE college-style workshops to students grades 8-12 enrolled in a Greater Boston public or charter school. Our teachers are graduate students in Emerson’s MFA/MA program in Writing and Publishing, and have been trained to teach college-level writing in the award-winning Writing Studies/First-Year Writing Program. EmersonWRITES is guided by the principle that writing is essential to intellectual engagement, self-representation, and access to opportunity. Our program seeks to foster individual voice and empowerment through the written word.

Course Offerings include:

Fiction, including the short story, YA, sci-fi, fantasy, the graphic novel and other alternative forms of storytelling.

Poetry, including spoken word poetry, found poetry, traditional verse forms, and more.

Nonfiction, including personal essay and memoir, journalism, humor writing.

EmersonPUBLISHES: For students enrolled in EmersonWRITES, each year we offer a four-week workshop in January and February on what it takes to publish a literary anthology. Students learn publishing software, revision and copy-editing skills, and visual design, and work on a small team to help create the annual anthology, SPINE.

Enrichment Workshops and College-Access Programming: Students enrolled in EmersonWRITES will have access to extra workshops and sessions that vary each year, with no extra sign-up necessary. Sessions in the past have included:

Writing the College Admission Essay – Co-taught by Admission Officers and graduate MFA students

Hosting a Radio Show – Taught by a radio host at WERS

Spoken Word and Slam Poetry – Taught by MFA alum and host of Mr. Hip Presents, a local poetry reading series

Getting Published – A guide to sending your work to journals and magazines, taught by current graduate MFA students

Understanding Financial Aid – Taught by Financial Aid Officers from Emerson

Annual EmersonWRITES Showcase: The end of each year, students present their written work in open-mic style showcase for friends, family and the Emerson College community. This free event is held on campus and each attendee will receive a copy of the SPINE publication.

Community Service – Children’s Book Drive: Not only do our student love writing words, they love giving the gift of literacy to local children. In 2015, we collected 200 gently used children’s books from EmersonWRITES students to donate to a local organization! In 2016-2019, we donated books to the Reach Out and Read Organization at Tufts Medical Center and The Robbins Center at Emerson College.

Course Schedule

Courses run from October through the end of February, and are offered both virtually on Zoom during after-school hours and in person on Saturdays. Students work toward completion of a revised portfolio of writing, and the publication of their work in our annual anthology, SPINE.

EmersonWRITES Mission Statement

EmersonWRITES is a free creative writing program for students in Greater Boston public and charter schools, co-sponsored by the Offices of Enrollment/Student Success and the First-Year Writing Program at Emerson College. EmersonWRITES is guided by the principle that writing is essential to intellectual engagement, self-representation, and access to opportunity. Students in the EmersonWRITES program engage in college-style creative writing classes on campus at Emerson College, where courses are structured to build writing and critical thinking and to guide students toward negotiating a range of writing genres and rhetorical situations. EmersonWRITES seeks to foster individual voice and engagement with the world through the written word.


Mary looks into the camera in front of a bright background.

Mary Kovaleski Byrnes is a senior lecturer in the WLP Department and a co-founder and curriculum director of EmersonWRITES. Her debut collection of poetry, “So Long the Sky” was published in 2018 by Platypus Press. She is a recipient of the 2015 Alumni Award for Teaching Innovation.

Livia smiles with her hair down wearing a blue lace top and a silver necklace.

Livia Meneghin is the Program Coordinator for EmersonWRITES. She helps with organizing program recruitment, running our website, and planning projects/events. If you have any questions on these items, or have other concerns, please email her at [email protected]

She is the author of Honey in My Hair. Her writing has found homes in BOAAT, The Academy of American Poets, Entropy, Tinderbox, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. She was born in Italy, grew up in New York, and writes about wherever she goes.

Nihal stands in the Boston Public Library garden wearing hijab and a denim jacket.

Nihal Mubarak leads our Intergenerational Narratives Project. She is a writer whose poetry and prose center on Sudanese and Sudanese-American characters and their stories. She is influenced by writers such as Leslia Nneka Arimah, Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie, Hanif Abdurraqib, and Yaa Gyasi. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Solidago, The Gordian Review, Copper Nickel, Mizna, and elsewhere.

Alayne Fiore leads the EmPUBLISHES Program, creating our SPINE publication each year.


Christopher Grant – Founder of EmersonWRITES, Associate Director of Student Success, Emerson College
Christina Daly
– Director, Retention and Student Success, Emerson College
Steve Himmer – Senior Lecturer and First-Year Writing Program Director, Emerson College
Tamera Marko – Director, The Elma Lewis Center, Emerson College
Stephen Shane – Instructor, First-Year Writing Program, Emerson Colllege
John Trimbur – Professor and First-Year Writing Associate Director, Emerson College

Center for creative writing boston

Creative Writing Workshops

During February and April school breaks, 826 Boston offers free workshops on everything from mythical creatures to time travel to sports writing.

826 Boston’s Creative Writing Workshops provide fuel for the imagination. Our class offerings have ranged from sock puppet theater and slam poetry, to sports writing and restaurant reviewing. Ensure your students’ writing skills stay sharp during February and April break by checking out our upcoming course offerings—there’s a little something for everyone, at every age.

Registration for Creative Writing Workshops typically opens 4 weeks ahead of each workshop series.

Registration for Creative Writing Workshops typically opens 4 weeks ahead of each workshop series.

Get a glimpse of GrubStreet’s new literary center in Boston’s Seaport

Enter writing center GrubStreet’s new building at the Seaport, and you are greeted by the sight of colorful titles on display at a bookstore, on the ground level. Nearby, is a café that is still yet to open, but from the windows you can see the waterfront, speckled with boats. Head upstairs to see the space’s iconic red typewriter, exhibited beside a sign that reads, “Grubbies, Invade Thy Seaport.” There are classrooms that range in size, suitable for small seminars or a gathering of just a few. The nooks and crannies are ideal for writers who want to get together to work or just spend a few moments alone.

This is GrubStreet’s new location. Originally based on Boylston Street, in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the incubator for creative writing has moved to the southeast side of the 50 Liberty Drive building, facing the marina and the Institute of Contemporary Art.

(The unveiling of the new center arrives as the organization is dealing with the fallout from a viral story about two writers who met at GrubStreet and for years have been engaged in a legal battle.)

GrubStreet is a writing center that offers workshops, seminars, consultations, and more to anyone who opts to use their services, with or without a membership. They also offer scholarships, to make their programs more accessible to the public. While GrubStreet will not hold an official opening, some classes are beginning to be held in person.

The new GrubStreet lobby area on the second floor. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Executive Director Eve Bridburg said that while GrubStreet was facing mounting pressures in its former location, it became evident that change was necessary. “We’re a mid-sized arts non-profit. In our history, we have moved probably every five to six years and have been increasingly worried about the rising cost of rent in Boston,” said Bridburg. “Our building was sold, and the new owner made it clear that we were not going to have a home when our lease ran out.” She added that GrubStreet had significantly grown, no longer being the “small, quaint, non-profit with a few people coming in and out” that it was before, and landlords were not as interested in housing them. “We really started to feel like, we need to either buy our own building or partner with another organization, or do something dramatically different, if we want to stay in Boston, which felt and feels really important to us.”

Beginning in 2018, GrubStreet kicked off an $8 million capital campaign, which engaged over 300 individual people and foundations. Gifts ranged from $5 to $2.5 million. Some money came from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, while the Calderwood Charitable Foundation gave the lead gift of $2.5 million. Bridburg anticipates that GrubStreet will be staying in the space at the Seaport for some time, as they have a 35 year lease.

The podcast booth at GrubStreet. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The building on Liberty Drive has a number of new features. The bookstore owned by Porter Square Books opened this month. Some bookcases are “Harry Potter” style, according to founder of Merge Architects Beth Whittaker, and can spin around to create more space. A new café will offer coffee, breakfast and lunch, and potentially wine and beer on tap. Bridburg said that the team at GrubStreet had envisioned having a cafe and bookstore for some time, to create a convivial a literary home for writers. The ground level features a performance space with a circular stage, accessible by a ramp, and it will be open for readings, and potentially film festivals. On the second floor, there are classrooms, a kitchen for staff and students to use, a podcast studio, a common area, and numerous hangout spots. While the upstairs space is reserved for students, instructors, and guests of GrubStreet, the cafe and bookstore will be open to the public. Whittaker said it was her intention to make the design look warm, accessible, and modern.

“Our work is always contemporary,” said Whittaker. “We knew that they wanted to have this new, fresh space, but it was also very important that it felt like GrubStreet and their community, which is very down to earth, very diverse, natural. We looked at materials that felt very simple, like wood and concrete, and warm.”

The entryway from the street into Porter Square Bookstore on the first floor of the new GrubStreet space in the Seaport. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

David Sandberg, owner of Porter Square Books, said that GrubStreet’s mission of cutting through lines of race, ethnicity, and economics resonated with him, and he hopes that working together, they will foster a space that is supportive of people’s creativity. Literary performer, instructor, and board member Regie Gibson said that he admires the egalitarian approach of the center and hopes that it will continue to empower emerging writers.

“What GrubStreet does is it takes people who are novices, those who feel like they don’t have a voice, and it takes them through finding the many voices that they actually do have, but also bringing them into a space where they can feel more confident in getting those voices out to other people,” said Gibson. He added, “It allows for exchange of ideas through story, through narrative. And I think we need a lot more of that. I love the promotion of literary citizenship, the idea that there is a thing we owe one another. And one of the things we owe one another is to listen. So I appreciate that.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7 p.m. Tuesday to include details on GrubStreet’s announcement it is seeking an independent investigator to review events involving two writers connected to the center whose conflict went viral in a recent New York Times magazine story.

This article was originally published on October 12, 2021.

Shira Laucharoen Arts Writer
Shira Laucharoen is a contributor to WBUR’s arts and culture section.