Established in 1993 by friends and students in memory of Elliott Coleman

Image Credit: George H. Cook/Sun Photo In 1947 ELLIOTT COLEMAN founded the Hopkins Writing Seminars, which was only the second such program in the country. Dr. Coleman, who published 18 volumes of poetry and essays, continued to chair the department until his retirement 30 years later. He was a mentor to many American writers who later gained prominence, including Russell Baker, A&S 1947, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Growing Up, and John Barth, A&S 1951, 1952 (MA), who won the National Book Award for Chimera.

Son of an Episcopal minister, Professor Coleman studied theology at Oxford University and the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He was ordained a deacon in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, but shortly after his father's death, Dr. Coleman entered the publishing business. He went on to become a prolific and admired writer, as well as beloved teacher. Professor Coleman died in 1980.


"I have admired Elliott Coleman's short poems and his long poems; most of all I admire his longest-running poem: the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, over which his benignant spirit still very much presides."
John Barth, Alumni Centennial Professor Emeritus in the Writing Seminars


DAVE SMITH, Elliott Coleman Professor in the Writing Seminars, is also the chair of the department. He is the author of numerous works of fiction, criticism and poetry. His most recent works are Little Boats, Unsalvaged (2005) and Hunting Men: A Life in the Life of Poetry (2006). Former co-editor of The Southern Review, Dr. Smith was awarded fellowships from the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. A member of the Writing Seminars since 2002, Dr. Smith observes: "That a poem should tell a story, however long or short, seems to be as right as that it should look and sound like the most intense lyrical speech we can imagine."