The Shapiro Creative Writing Center Exists

Email irode[at]wesleyan[dot]edu with a FABULOUS NAME for  animal-cracker-filled bear-- and like the Shapiro FB page-- and if your name is the best, you'll win a prize!

Like the Shapiro FB page and message us with a FABULOUS NAME for animal-cracker-filled bear and if your entry is the best, you’ll win a prize! [You can like the Shapiro Center on Facebook to stay updated here.] —Professor Bloom

In 2009, two alums, Shonni Silverberg ’76 and John Shapiro ’74 donated approximately one shit-ton (followed by another $3 million pledge last year march) to establish the Shapiro Creative Writing Center at Wesleyan. We should all send them a thank-you note, because even though a young entity on campus, the Shapiro Center is wonderful. In regard to the second gift:

“We were gratified that the university moved quickly and got this program launched and established,” Shapiro said. “I’ve had good feedback from people both at Wesleyan and elsewhere. It has generated a bit of a buzz.”

Bit of a buzz, yes. Enough of a buzz, no. More on what you can do at Shapiro after the jump!

Shapiro is run by three people: Kim-Frank Writer-in-residence and Director of the Shapiro Center Amy Bloom ’76, Senior Fellow Izzy Rode ’14, and Junior Fellow Amanda Distler ’15. They are Shapiro’s backbone, arms and legs, and heart, respectively: Professor Bloom’s in charge (and chose the smart wall art and blue-painted walls). Izzy stocks the coffee and snacks. Amanda spends a ton of time there and answers questions with the most grace. A note from Amy Bloom:

Good news, writers and readers! If you are enrolled in any creative writing class at Wesleyan (from sonnets to screenplays), you are eligible for access to the wonderful Shapiro Center, an oasis for studying, a great place for group meetings and home to some of the best classes around. If you want Wescard access, please contact Izzy Rode ( or Amy Bloom (


Worthwhile things that happen at 167 High:


1. Table Talk with Amy Bloom– begins Thursday, February 6th

Once Table Talk begins each semester, it is held every Thursday at 5pm. Table Talk is a chance to sit with Professor Amy Bloom, peers, and a table full of quality snacks and discuss any writing on which you may be currently working. No further description required. It’s different every week. I’ve gone and heard from peers writing television scripts, badass graphic novel senior theses (hey-oh Jason Katzenstein ’13/love of my life), and fiction pieces about absurd subjects. No pressure to talk, just students bouncing ideas and notions off of Professor Bloom and each other.


2. Game Night– begins Monday, February 3rd

Once a week, the Shapiro Center welcomes every student to come over, play word games, and win prizes. The list of games:

Apples to Apples

The prizes are bought and mixed up every week. Examples of the fillings of the prize bucket: Moleskine notebooks, a box of sidewalk chalk, fancy chocolate, fuzzy socks, games (like Farkle or Uno)… The winner of every game played that game night– and team in the case of Taboo– wins a prize!

Last semester game night was run by the one-and-only Eliza Kingsley-Ma ’15. This semester two freshmen known for killin it, Zach Smith ’17 and Rosie Wilkin ’17 will be running game night.


3. The Offices of/Classes with Visiting Writers


This year, the Shapiro Center brought two great visiting professors to campus and their offices were located and class held in Shapiro. Fall semester, Alex Gilvarry visited Wesleyan to teach Techniques of Fiction and it was a great success. This semester, Porochista Khakpour‘s office will be in Shapiro and she’ll be teaching Techniques of Nonfiction. You should definitely check her out on Twitter.


4. Masters Classes

New this academic year, the Shapiro Center is hosting a Masters Class each semester. The classes consist of three meetings throughout the semester with a well-known writer. Plus, dinner’s provided. Fall 2013 featured award-winning poet Mark Doty. This spring, Michael Cunningham (back after a great talk in 2011) will join 12 lucky students to talk about fiction. Here’s some feedback from students in the Mark Doty Masters Class last semester:

“I had an overwhelmingly positive experience in the Mark Doty Master Class (he’s brilliant).  I always looked forward to class.  The space felt intimate, inviting, and informal without ever being unimportant — there was a sense that what we were doing, discussion, reading and writing really mattered.”

“It was really nice to be able to write work and share it with others to get feedback. Also helpful to get feedback and suggestions from Mark. The coolest part was being able to hangout with him and talk about his work.”

The folks that work there invite you to stop by. It’s a cozy study space on campus that often gets overlooked.

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3 thoughts on “The Shapiro Creative Writing Center Exists

  1. Kenzie

    Maybe holding open writing workshops might be more conducive than sitting around and playing scrabble. Just a thought

    1. M '15

      Conducive to what? To learning and writing? The goal of game nights seems to be to foster a community and unwind and have fun and give our brains a break… not necessarily to help you write your paper. (Though having fun with wordplay can, I have found, help out with creative pieces!)

      And there already ARE writing workshops, organized by the writing center, that meet in various locations around campus. They’re great and you should check them out. :)

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