EmersonWRITES is an urban, creative writing lab 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 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, 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, 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 on Saturday mornings from 11am-1pm, with lunch from 12:30pm to 1:30pm.  Courses are held on Emerson's campus on the second floor of the Ansin Building, 180 Tremont Street, Boston. Courses and lunch are free.  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 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.

Christopher Grant is an Associate Director in Enrollment Management and the Office of Student Success at Emerson, focusing on pipeline programming, and is a co-founder of EmersonWRITES. He has been awarded the New England Association for College Admission Counseling IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Education, Access and Leadership) Award at the NEACAC 2014 Annual Meeting & Conference.


Lunch Program Coordinator Brandon Melendez is a graduate of the WLP Department at Emerson where he received an MFA in poetry. His first collection of poetry, Gold that Frames the Mirror, was published in 2019 by Write Bloody Publishing. A former teaching-poet at UC Berkeley, Brandon has received awards from Poets.org, Adroit Journal, and elsewhere.


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