Since 1986, the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Creative Writing has provided time, space, and an intellectual community for writers working on a first book of poetry or fiction, while developing their skills as instructors in one of North America’s top-ranked creative writing programs. Since 2012, we have also considered applicants who have published only one full-length collection of creative writing prior to the application deadline, although unpublished authors remain eligible, and quality of writing remains the near-exclusive criterion for selection. Altogether, our poetry and fiction fellows have published more than 150 full-length collections and novels, many of them winning major national honors.
At present, the Institute offers up to five internationally competitive nine-month fellowships each year. Typically, we award two fiction fellowships (the James C. McCreight Fiction Fellowship and the Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellowship), and two poetry fellowships (the Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship and the Ronald Wallace Poetry Fellowship). Additionally, the Institute offers one third-year MFA fellowship — the Hoffman-Halls Emerging Artist Fellowship — to a current student of UW-Madison, through a closed competition.
Each of these fellowships carries with it a stipend of at least $39,000 paid in 9 equal installments beginning October 1, generous health benefits, and a one-course-per-semester teaching assignment in undergraduate creative writing. Since this is a residential fellowship, we expect fellows to live in the Madison area, to hold no other teaching, graduate study or fellowship obligations, and to participate fully in the life of the Madison writing community during the fellowship period.
Fiction and poetry fellows are asked to give one public reading during the fellowship year. Additionally, all fellows participate in determining the recipients of the annual Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry, as well as the Program in Creative Writing’s undergraduate writing contests. Along with faculty, fellows also serve on the committees selecting the following year’s Institute fellows.
Details and frequently asked questions regarding the fellowships can be found on the applications page of this website. Applications to the poetry, fiction, and HEAF fellowships must be submitted online between January 1 and March 1.
The current administrators of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing are Sean Bishop and Ron Kuka. Please read this page and the application page in detail before contacting the administrators with questions.
The Halls and Wallace Poetry Fellowships & the McCreight and Houck Smith Fiction Fellowships
Poets and fiction writers who have completed or will have completed an MFA or a PhD in creative writing by August 15th of the fellowship year are eligible to apply for a Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing poetry or fiction fellowship, provided they have not yet published more than one full-length book of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or other creative work by the March 1 application deadline. Details and frequently asked questions regarding these fellowships can be found on the fellowship applications page of this website. The HEAF is the only Institute fellowship for which current students of the UW MFA program are eligible to apply.
The Hoffman-Halls Emerging Artist Fellowship
The Hoffman-Halls Emerging Artist Fellowship (the HEAF) is awarded to a second-year MFA candidate in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Creative Writing MFA program, to fund a third year of study prior to graduation. Poets and fiction writers are eligible for the HEAF in alternating years. In January and February 2022 we are considering HEAF applications in fiction only.
The recipient of the HEAF will be determined by an outside judge. The name of this judge will be withheld until the HEAF has been announced. Details and frequently asked questions regarding these fellowships can be found on the fellowship applications page of this website. The Institute may decline to give the HEAF award in any year it deems appropriate.