Arts Academy Boarding School: Creative Writing Major

The creative writing program at Interlochen Arts Academy boarding high school provides guidance, support and numerous opportunities for young writers. Students in the creative writing program study and create poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, hybrid genres and screenwriting with a faculty of writer–educators. The goal of the program is to help young writers cultivate their talents and broaden their command of the writer's craft at all levels.

Students hone and polish their unique voices through readings, discussion, writing exercises, group critiques and individual tutorials with the faculty. Writers also develop their skills by studying masterworks in a variety of traditional and contemporary genres. Literature and craft-based electives are offered to help the student tailor the experience to their own needs and interests. Students leave the program with a portfolio of carefully revised work in a variety of genres.

Each year, students edit and produce a quarterly literary magazine, The Red Wheelbarrow, and an annual online literary journal, The Interlochen Review. Students also showcase their work with public readings and various collaborative performance opportunities. An impressive list of nationally renowned writers visits each semester, giving public readings and offering fresh perspectives on the writing craft in question and answer sessions.

How to Apply

  1. Prepare the materials listed here: portfolio requirements
  2. Complete the online application
  3. Submit your portfolio materials in the Academy admissions community

Students are may begin at the Academy in ninth grade, or transfer in as a sophomore, junior, senior, or post-graduate.

Though not required, a campus visit is recommended. You can tour the campus, visit classes, and possibly take in a performance or reading. You can meet and talk with students who are living the Academy experience. You may also arrange for a portfolio review.

Our admission counselors are here to help you in any way they can. If you wish to talk with someone about Academy programs, the application process, a campus visit, portfolio presentations, or other topics, they will be happy to work with you. Simply call 800.681.5912 or 231.276.7472 or email

Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship Competition

The 2019 Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship contest is now closed.

The contest is open to students in grades 8-11. The winner will receive a full-tuition scholarship to Interlochen Arts Academy for each year they attend Interlochen!

View the Submission Guidelines

After Graduation

Graduates go on to attend a wide array of small liberal arts colleges and larger universities. Recent graduates have attended Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Stanford University, Columbia College Chicago, New York University, Emerson College, Knox College, Oberlin College, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Bard College, Reed College, Agnes Scott College, Barnard College and Boston University, among others. 

Awards and Recognition

Nineteen Interlochen Arts Academy Creative Writing students have been named Presidential Scholars in the Arts. Writers from Interlochen regularly earn national recognition in contests including the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts' youngARTS competition and The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Recent graduates have won the Gold Portfolio Awards in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards contest and been selected as finalists in the youngARTS competition, as well as placing in numerous regional and national contests for high school writers. 

Notable Alumni

  • Julie Buntin, novelist
  • Brittany Cavallaro, poet and Young Adult novelist
  • Kea Wilson, novelist
  • Mary Stewart Atwell, novelist
  • Alex Kahler, Young Adult novelist
  • Mohammed Naseehu Ali, author
  • Terry Apter, author
  • David Blum, journalist and editor
  • David Bowman, author
  • Karin Gottshall, poet
  • Julia Lieblich, author
  • Jennifer Lynch, film director
  • Jay Peterzell, investigative reporter
  • Lisa Powers, art director/designer, Newsweek
  • Josh Rathkamp, poet
  • Teresa Scollon, poet
  • Paula Sharp, novelist
  • Faith Shearin, poet
  • David Shenk, author
  • Doug Stanton, author
  • Jeffrey Taylor, journalist
  • Pamela White Hadas, poet

The Writing House

The Writing House provides an inviting and spacious home for the creative writing program and offers students comfortable quiet writing spaces complete with indoor and outdoor fireplaces and a kitchen, wireless internet access, a literary publications room with computer and printing stations, and a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system for guest, faculty and student readings. 360-degree virtual tour.

Recent Visiting Writers

  • Terrance Hayes, MacArthur fellow and author of four poetry collections including Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award, and Wind In a Box.
  • francine j. harris, author of two poetry collections, allegiance, a finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Open Book Award, and play dead.
  • Stuart Dybek, MacArthur fellow and author of five collections of short fiction, including Paper Lantern, I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago.
  • Tyehimba Jess, author of leadbelly and Olio, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize.
  • Garth Greenwell, Interlochen Arts Academy graduate and author of the novel What Belongs to You, winner of the British Book Award for Debut of the Year and a New York Times top 10 book of 2016.
  • Elena Passarello, author of the essay collection Let Me Clear My Throat and recipient of a 2015 Whiting Award.
  • Alexandra Kleeman, author of the debut novel You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine and Intimations, a short story collection.
  • Danez Smith, author of Don’t Call Us Dead, a finalist for the National Book Award.
  • Carolyn Forché, author of four poetry collections including The Country Between Us and Blue Hour
  • Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter, author of Angels in America
  • Kwame Dawes, Emmy-winning Jamaican poet and writer, author of 16 poetry colletions, including Back of Mount Peace and Hope's Hospice
  • Peter Matthiessen, New York Times bestselling author of The Snow Leopard and winner of the National Book Award for Shadow Country
  • Antonya Nelson, author of numerous short story collections and novels including Bound and In the Land of Men
  • Barry Lopez, winner of the National Book Award for Arctic Dreams
  • Brady Udall, author of The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint and Letting Loose the Hounds
  • Dorianne Laux, author of four poetry collections including Facts about the Moon
  • Cornelius Eady, author of six collections of poetry, including The Gathering of My Name, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize
  • Lia Purpura, acclaimed author of 3 poetry collections and the essay collections Rough Likeness and On Looking, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

Student Publications

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Mika Perrine

Interim Director and Instructor of Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Academy

M.F.A., Creative Writing, University of Michigan; B.A., English Literature (with honors), Brown University; Interlochen Arts Academy

Joe Sacksteder

Director of Creative Writing, Interlochen Center for the Arts (effective June 1, 2019); Instructor of Creative Writing, High School Fiction and Nonfiction, Interlochen Arts Camp; Instructor of Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Academy

Ph.D. Candidate, English Literature and Creative Writing, University of Utah; M.A., Creative Writing, Eastern Michigan University; B.A., Creative Writing and Music Composition, St. John's University

Dr. Brittany Cavallaro

Instructor of Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Academy; Faculty, Interlochen Novel Writing Institute

Ph.D, English literature, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; M.F.A., creative writing, University of Wisconsin-Madison; B.A., American literature (magna cum laude), Middlebury College; high school diploma, creative writing, Interlochen Arts Academy

Lesley Alicia Tye

Instructor of Motion Picture Arts and Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Academy

M.F.A., Creative Writing with emphasis in Screenwriting, National University; B.F.A., Filmic Writing, University of Southern California; Interlochen Arts Academy alumna


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