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Susan Gager Jackson '68 and her husband, John Jackson

Swannanoa Hall

Swannanoa Hall, home of the Jackson Center for Creative Writing


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The Jackson Center for Creative Writing is home to Hollins' esteemed undergraduate and graduate writing programs, which have produced dozens of writers of national and international acclaim, including Lee Smith '67 and Pulitzer Prize winners Annie Dillard '67, M.A. '68; Henry Taylor M.A. '66; and Natasha Trethewey M.A. '91. Trethewey was named U.S. Poet Laureate in June 2012. Kiran Desai M.A. '94 won both the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The fiction of Madison Smartt Bell M.A. '81 has been recognized by a Strauss Living Award, and numerous other Hollins writers have received NEA, Guggenheim, and countless other grants and awards for their poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, contributing to the cultural life of the nation disproportionately to the program's size.

While the graduate program, founded by Louis D. Rubin, has existed for more than 50 years and Hollins has offered classes in creative writing for even longer, the Jackson Center was initiated in 2008 through a $5 million gift from Hollins alumna, Susan Gager Jackson '68 and her husband, John Jackson, of Far Hills, New Jersey.

Susan Jackson is herself a published poet, author of Through a Gate of Trees: Poems (2007) and the chapbook, All The Light In Between (2013). "I am so appreciative of how my love of literature and writing were shaped at Hollins," she said. "It is an honor to be able to give something back." The Jackson Center for Creative Writing supports the annual Jackson Poetry Reading, promotion for the programs, as well as the Susan Gager Jackson Endowed Chair in Creative Writing, currently held by Professor R. H. W. Dillard. Professor Dillard is the author of many stories, poems, essays, and literary translations. He has received both the O. B. Hardison and Hanes poetry prizes, is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and was named the 2007 winner of the Association of Writers George Garrett Award, given to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional generosity to writers.

The Jackson gift endows graduate and undergraduate fellowships and scholarships. Thorpe Moeckel, associate professor English, directs the Jackson Center for Creative Writing. The author of a forthcoming trilogy of long poems, Arcadia Road, as well as a book of nonfiction, Moeckel has been lucky to teach in the rigorous, nurturing community of Hollins since 2005.

Article (PDF) reprinted from Roanoke Business magazine: "'Sacred ground for writers' - Hollins University program ranked among nation's best."