UNO Creative Writing Workshop Hosts Welcome Party in Mid-City.


Photo credit: Parrish Carpenter From Left - Emma Seely, Barb Johnson, Matt Knutson, Jake Budenz, Isabelle Barany.

The University of New Orleans is home to the Creative Writing Workshop, a Master’s Program in Creative Writing for both campus and low residency students.

On Saturday, Aug. 25,  the program had its annual welcome party at the Mid-City Yacht Club. Organized by Program Director Neal Walsh, among others, the party took place in the private room in the back of the establishment, and spilled out to the back patio and front bar. The Welcome party was a chance for incoming and continuing students, alumni and teachers to get together, make connections and have some fun before hunkering down to write for another busy year.

The Welcome party had a free bar and buffet, complete with signature New Orleans food including pulled pork sliders, crawfish pasta, salad and crab balls. The spread of food and drink allowed guests to enjoy some local favorites.

The Creative Writing Workshop has been running at the University of New Orleans for more than 25 years. The Creative Writing Workshop low residency graduate program was just ranked the top online MFA program in the country by Best College Reviews. The Creative Writing Workshop program prides itself on providing a supportive, tight-knit community, and the welcome party was no exception. Program founders Rick Barton and John Gery were in attendance, as well as former student, now tenured professor of the program, Barb Johnson. Poetry professor Carolyn Hembree was also there, returning after a year sabbatical upon winning a an ATLAS grant. First, second and third-year students, as well as many alumni, showed in full force sharing in the food, drink and conversation. As the program covers fiction, non-fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting, the party was an opportunity for all these students to co-mingle.

Layth Sihan, a second year fiction student from Louisiana, said, “ It’s a good community experience. We got to know each other and just started looking ahead, figuring out what to expect. Just bonding in all the right ways.”

Greta Hayer, a second-year fiction grad from Iowa, had this to say: “Orientation events like this are a great way to bond with other students in the program. I still remember my first year and the conversations I made turned into real friendships. This year I got a chance to get to know quite a few of the new students and reconnect with my old friends. Plus, the food was great.”

Upcoming events like the monthly reading series Gold Room at Pelican Bay, the first of which happens on August 30, will be other opportunities for the students to convene. For now, the Welcome Party at Mid-City Yacht Club was a great way to kick off the semester.