About the Creative Writing Program


The Creative Writing Program at Grossmont College fosters the development of creative writers at all skill levels in a supportive, professional, and dynamic atmosphere. It is our mission to serve and engage students, faculty, and the community actively through a rich variety of readings and other literary events that are always free and open to the public. The Creative Writing Program seeks to cultivate a diverse literary community and to celebrate and promote literature and its vital role in our culture.





The Creative Writing Program at Grossmont College fosters the development of creative writers at all skill levels in a supportive, professional, and dynamic atmosphere. It is our mission to serve and engage students, faculty, and the community actively through a rich variety of readings and other literary events that are always free and open to the public. The Creative Writing Program seeks to cultivate a diverse literary community and to celebrate and promote literature and its role in our culture.



After completing two or more creative writing courses a student will:

  1. Create literary works, employing the elements appropriate to one or more chosen genres, in an authorial voice that demonstrates authenticity, aesthetic ability, and literary sensibility.
  2. Practice–at a high level of efficiency–the habits of a writer, including frequent writing, revising, and reflecting.
  3. Read and infer like a writer, that is, recognize and analyze the dynamic relationship between content and form in the literary works of classic, contemporary, and new literary voices.
  4. Use skills as a critic to contribute to and benefit from a writers’ workshop.
  5. Value and support the local and greater writing community through attendance and/or participation in various literary arts activities and performances.



There are as many good reasons to enroll in a Creative Writing class as there are stories and voices to share, but participating in the structured and nurturing environment of our classes helps you

  • discover and cultivate your voice in a supportive atmosphere;
  • study the craft of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and/or drama writing with diverse, experienced and qualified instructors;
  • share your writing with a variety of writers in dynamic writers’ workshops where you will receive excellent constructive feedback;
  • work extensively in one genre for up to four semesters;
  • learn how to screen, organize, and submit work for publication: the Acorn Review, as well as national and international literary journals;
  • refine your writing for submission to a publication or a Master of Fine Arts program;
  • apply units towards professional development;
  • become actively involved in the greater San Diego literary arts community;
  • form lasting connections and friendships with fellow writers.



All courses focus on the reading of established, contemporary and emerging authors, and provide the opportunity for extensive feedback on original work, attendance of literary events, publication in the college literary journal, Community Service Learning, and participation in student readings.


Courses listed in red are not offered every semester. Check the current Class Schedule for course availability.



Introduction to the basic elements of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and drama writing, including study and analysis of techniques in works by diverse writers. Practice in writing in the four genres as well as introduction to the workshop method. Transfers to CSU, UC.


ENGLISH 130-131-132-133

A four-course sequence of workshops focused on the study, analysis, and application of fundamental tools, techniques, and forms used by diverse authors of short fiction. Transfers to CSU, UC (credit limited).


ENGLISH 134-135-136-137

A four-course sequence of writers’ workshops offering study, analysis, and application of forms used by diverse creative nonfiction practitioners, including memoir, the personal essay, literary journalism, cultural criticism, and others. Transfers to CSU, UC (credit limited).


ENGLISH 140-141-142-143

A four-course writers’ workshop to develop poets’ skills as writers and critics of contemporary poetry; includes the study, analysis, and application of the poetic tools, techniques, and forms of poetry. Transfers to CSU, UC (credit limited).


ENGLISH 145-146-147-148

A four-course practicum in reading, selecting, editing, proofreading and arranging manuscripts for publication in the campus’s official literary journal. Transfers to CSU (credit limited)


ENGLISH 160-161-162-163

A four-course script writer’s workshop for the composition and revision of writing intended for dramatic production; includes analysis of genre, structure, dramaturgy, and style. Opportunities to participate in local productions. Transfers to CSU, UC (credit limited).


ENGLISH 175-176-177-178

Repeatable writers workshop focused on the composition and revision of novels and other long-form writing, as well as an analysis of construction, character development, plot outline, scenes, and themes. Transfers to CSU, UC (credit limited).




Grossmont College is one of the few community colleges in California to offer an Associate Degree with an English major that fulfills lower division requirements at most four-year colleges and universities and thus provides a broad-based foundation for transfer.


Any student who completes 24 units in the courses for this major, and chooses to complete 6 additional units from our Creative Writing Program's upper-level workshop courses (see below), qualifies for a Certificate of Achievement in English–Creative Writing. An official request must be filed with the Admissions and Records Office prior to the deadline as stated in the Academic Calendar. Note: All courses must be completed with a letter grade of “C” or higher.


Qualifying courses and workshops for a degree certificate in Creative Writing:

Select SIX (6) additional units from the following:


Course Number

Course Title

3 English 130 Short Fiction Writing I
3 English 131 Short Fiction Writing II
3 English 132 Short Fiction Writing III
3 English 133 Short Fiction Writing IV
3 English 134 Creative Nonfiction Writing I
3 English 135 Creative Nonfiction Writing II
3 English 136 Creative Nonfiction Writing III
3 English 137 Creative Nonfiction Writing IV
3 English 140 Poetry Writing I
3 English 141 Poetry Writing II
3 English 142 Poetry Writing III
3 English 143 Poetry Writing IV
3 English 145 Acorn Review: Editing and Production I
3 English 146 Acorn Review: Editing and Production II
3 English 147 Acorn Review: Editing and Production III
3 English 148 Acorn Review: Editing and Production IV
3 English 160 Drama Writing I
3 English 161 Drama Writing II
3 English 162 Drama Writing III
3 English 163 Drama Writing IV
3 English 175 Novel Writing I
3 English 176 Novel Writing II
3 English 177 Novel Writing III
3 English 178 Novel Writing IV

24 units for English Major plus 6 units needed to earn Creative Writing Certificate, 30 units total (plus General Education and Elective requirements)





Sacramento native Julie Cardenas co-coordinates Grossmont College’s Puente Program and teaches Creative Writing and Chicano literature. She also serves as advisor to the student-produced literary journal, Acorn Review, for which she also teaches English 145-148: Acorn Review: Editing and Production. Julie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Spanish from California State University, Sacramento, and a Master’s Degree in English from the University of San Diego. In addition to having served as the faculty advisor of a college newspaper for two years before coming to Grossmont, she edited a variety of professional newsletters and trade journals. Her writing career includes the publication of news and feature articles, poetry, and short fiction.



Fiction writer, poet, San Diego native, and former Grossmont College student, Enrique Cervantes holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. Enrique’s writing has appeared in Aztec Literary Review,The Writer, The Blue Agave Literary Journal, San Diego City Beat, as well as the anthology The Far East: Everything Just As It Is. His novel-in-progress is about dancing, the border, and ghosts. Enrique leads the Short Fiction Writing workshops during the fall semester.



Publisher/editor/poet Adam Deutsch teaches composition, creative writing, and poetry classes for Grossmont. He also operates from out of his own home Cooper Dillon Books, a poetry press for writers and poets (www.adamdeutsch.com). Adam has also been instrumental in the launch of Chest-O-Drawers Press, the official press of the Grossmont College Creative Writing Program. He has held editorial positions on a variety of small presses and journals, including Ninth Letter and Barn Owl Review. His poems have appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, Forklife OH, Thrush, Ping Pong, Arsenic Lobster, Across the Margin, Spinning Jenny, andTypo as well as other journals. Adam is one of three co-coordinators of the Creative Writing Program and teaches Poetry Writing workshops during the fall semesters.


Rich Farrell


Part-time Novel Writing instructor Rich Farrell is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In addition to leading workshops on narrative for San Diego Writers, Ink, he is the Creative Non-Fiction Editor at upstreet and a Senior Editor at Numéro Cinq. His work, including fiction, memoir, essays, interviews and book reviews, has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Potomac Review, Hunger Mountain, New Plains Review, upstreet, Descant, Contrary, Newfound, Numéro Cinq, and elsewhere. His first novel, The Falling Woman, was released in summer 2020 on Algonquin Books. Rich leads our sequence of Novel Writing workshops


Ryan Griffith


Ryan Griffith holds an MA degree in Creative Nonfiction from Fresno State and an MFA degree in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. He served as resident storyteller for The Lounge on KPBS radio, where he read from his acclaimed series, The Midnight Pharmacy. His stories and poems have also appeared in a variety of literary journals, and in 1997 Ryan received the Editor’s Choice prize for best fiction in The Beacon Street Review and an Honorable Mention in the 1995 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. Wigleaf Magazine selected his story “Thrill of Fire” as one of the top fifty short stories of 2012. During July 2012, he served an artistic residence at the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony in Woodstock, NY, where he worked on a novel, and, during the 2015-2016 school year, Ryan took sabbatical leave to work on his novel while living abroad in Iceland, Russia, Turkey, and other countries. His acclaimed multimedia art house narrative installation, Relics of The Hypnotist War, has exhibited in San Diego and Los Angeles. Ryan is an instructor of our Short Fiction Writing workshops.


Raul Sandelin


Raul Sandelin is a proud product of the El Cajon public school system, attending Johnson Elementary, Emerald Middle School, and Grossmont High. Later, he studied here at Grossmont College, working as an English tutor and T.A., before moving on to complete both his B.A. and M.A. in Literature at University of California San Diego. Raul has taught Writing and Cultural Theory for 25 years. He has written dozens of articles for publications such as the San Diego Troubadour and San Diego Union-Tribune. A passionate filmmaker, Raul has written/directed/produced four feature-length documentaries and numerous short films. He continues to write and record songs for his band The Flying Sandolini. He is a co-organizer of the Lester Bangs Archive and the annual Lester Bangs Memorial Reading here at Grossmont College. Currently, Raul teaches Creative Non-Fiction (ENGL 134) in the Grossmont Creative Writing Program.


Karl Sherlock


Karl teaches English 140-143: Poetry Writing during the spring semesters and co-coordinates the Creative Writing Program at Grossmont College. His queer and disability themed poetry and literary nonfiction appear in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Cream City Review, Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature, Matador Review, Dickinson Review, Far East: Everything Just As It Is, The Radvocate, The James White Review, Assaracus, Lime Hawk, Santa Fe Writers Project Quarterly, Embodied Effigies, Easy Street, Tinge Magazine, and others. His memoir, ”Clear,” about his own same-sex marriage and his husband’s gay conversion therapy experience as a teen in the Battle Creek Sanitarium, was a 2014 finalist for Sundress Publication's "Best of the Net.” Karl teaches the Poetry Writing Workshop in spring semesters.


Daniela Sow


Daniela co-coordinates the Grossmont College Creative Writing Program and teaches English 126: Creative Writing. She received her Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing (Poetry) from San Diego State University, and her Post-secondary Reading and Learning Certificate from California State University, Fullerton. Her poetry has been published in San Diego Poetry Annual, A Cappella Zoo, Encompassing Seas, and Overachiever Magazine. As a spoken word artist, Daniela has competed in the National Poetry Slam. She also coordinated events as VP of Publicity on the Greater San Diego Council of Teachers of English, celebrating and awarding talented young writers through the annual CATE Creative Writing Contests.




Student Readings and Performances

Students enrolled in our Program's workshops and courses receive opportunities to participate in our campus events showcasing their original writing.

New Voices: A Student Reading

The semesterly student reading is a Grossmont College tradition that is almost as old as the college, itself. At the end of each semester, our Creative Writing Program faculty select students from their courses who have composed stand-out original works, and invite them to participate in an evening of readings. The event is free of charge as well as open to the public, and students typically invite family members, friends, instructors and peers, making it one of the more popular literary events. During the spring semester, the New Voices reading is included in our Literary Arts Festival program, permitting students a rare opportunity to be showcased in the same events calendars as nationally and internationally recognized poets and writers. The event features a New Voices booklet containing the printed versions of their works that let audiences read along and participating students take home a keepsake of the evening. Students selected for inclusion in the New Voices program are also given priority consideration for the campus literary journal, which is edited and produced by students under the advisorship of Creative Writing Program faculty member, Julie Cardenas.

Specialty Readings and Events

Our Creative Writing Program often collaborates with other campus agencies, programs, student organizations, or clubs to offer special events for which students are selected to participate as presenters or readers. These are often occasional events or themed readings for which select students may be privately invited to participate. Some past examples:

  • African American Read-in (Black History Month)
  • At Rise! Student One-Act Dramas (Literary Arts Fest)
  • Celebration of Banned Books (Fall Readings Series)
  • Literary Careers Night (student-organized special event)
  • Sounds of Solidarity (Student Empowerment Organization)
  • Student Slam Competition (Literary Arts Festival)
  • Why Literature Matters (Literary Arts Festival)

Writing Contests

The Creative Writing Program offers a variety of writing competitions typically, but not exclusively, offered during the annual Literary Arts Festival held each spring. Competitions can vary from year to year in genre emphasis or can be open to multiple categories. Most are open to any Grossmont College student, but some are designed to appeal to specific circumstances, backgrounds, or skill levels. Winners receive awards, recognition, and opportunities to participate in literary events such as readings. Here are some examples:


LAF Writing Contest

The annually sponsored LAF Writing Contest draws inspiration from the literature and lives of visiting Literary Arts Festival authors and challenges students enrolled in transfer-level composition classes to compose essays or narratives on selected themes. Participating manuscripts are collected into a Festival 'zine, and select students win prizes and receive opportunities to meet keynote Festival authors; Grand Prize winners read their winning manuscripts at important Festival events.


Genre Writing Contests

The Creative Writing Program offers Grossmont College writers in every major genre opportunities to compete in contests that pose creative and thoughtful challenges. One example, Photo Gets Lit (offered in spring 2015), required student writers to compose poetry, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, or short works of drama as interpretations of original photos by photographer Aaron Sarafino. Another, a Flash Fiction contest (offered fall 2013), asked students to write stories no more than 250 words in answer to the question, "What are you most afraid of?"; compositions had to contain a minimum of three elements from a unique list of seventeen ranging from a note in a book or a depressed hamster, to fake beards, or even blue teeth. Other contests have showcased specialized topics in poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction, in all their variety of expression.

Other Opportunities

Enrolled Creative Writing students frequently have behind-the-scenes access to the organization and staging of our literary events, but they also receive invitations to craft lectures, master classes, and workshops not available to the public: the award-winning poets and authors featured in our Fall Readings Series or Literary Arts Festival mentor students about their own writing, discuss their craft as writers in a more intimate venue, and provide other inspiring learning opportunities that can only come through directly engaging with living authors.

First Book Contest

The Creative Writing Program periodically conducts a FIRST BOOK CONTEST for writers who have taken one or more creative writing courses at Grossmont College in the past twenty years and who have a sufficient writing portfolio for a book-length manuscript in one of the following genres: literary fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry.

The winner of the 2016 First Book Contest, Douglas Payne, published his first collection of poetry, Salted Rook, on the official press of the Grossmont College Creative Writing Program, Chest-O-Drawers Press.