by Sarah Ingerson, Editorial Assistant, Three Rooms Press


Jeff Bens, Director
Undergraduate Creative Writing Program
Manhattanville College

Manhattanville College’s creative and professional writing program is not for wannabes. It is for serious writers. “We are interested in filling the pages, not talking about filling the pages,” says Jeff Bens, Chair of the English Department and Director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program. In other words, Manhattanville College, in New York’s Westchester County, is where you go to actually write, not just to talk about it.

Bens notes that Manhattanville College is ideal for writers who want a quiet literary retreat with easy access to a literary metropolis. Situated 30 miles outside New York City, Manhattanville College enables its students to have time for quiet reflection. It gives them a break from the hustle and bustle of the city so they can focus on what they are learning.

The writing program is fairly large, but classes are relatively small. While over 200 students enroll in a writing class every semester, each class is limited to 12 to 15 students. The topics vary from journalism to poetry to new media, so every student can find something that interests them. Students often help choose many of the classes’ reading lists. 

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The curriculum is a markedly balanced one. Half the courses focus on reading and half on writing. This two-pronged approach creates well-rounded writers capable of appreciating and contributing to the craft. 

However, one of the best ways to learn does not involve a classroom, according to Bens. “Simply read,” he insists. While some people recommend esoteric texts, Bens’s advice is simple. Look for writers who “speak” to you.  Look for “those writers who excite, inform and embolden.” Look for writers you admire and who inspire you. If you think you want to be a writer, read. Reading is one of the best ways to enhance your own voice.

To find out more about the Manhattanville College program, check out the article here.

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