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Creative Writing

Books -- CUNY Catalog

If you are using the library to conduct background research for your creative writing, you could of course be searching for anything. This guide covers the more predictable reasons you might use the library (books on craft of writing, books on craft of teaching creative writing, style manuals, books on publication and the publishing industry) as well as a general outline of the infinite other topics you might explore here. At the end, there is a list of websites particularly useful to writers.

Subject Headings:

“Creative writing” is a subject heading, however, it seems it's most often used from an educational perspective. Subject headings for books about the craft of creative writing tend to end with “authorship.” You will find MANY titles if you do a search within your genre this way:

  • Authorship
  • Autobiography—Authorship
  • Children's literature—Authorship
  • Fiction—Authorship
  • Journalism—Authorship
  • Poetry—Authorship
  • Translating and interpreting

Call Numbers:

  • P306+ — Language, linguistic theory—translating and interpreting
  • PN1059-1065 — Poetry—theory—technique
  • PN1660-1653 — Drama—technique to dramatic composition
  • PN3355-3373 — Prose fiction—technique, authorship

The Craft of Writing: A small sampling of craft books at Queens by genre:

On Poetry: PN1059—

The eye of the poet : six views of the art and craft of poetry / David Baker
PN1059 .A9 E93 2002
Towards the open field: poets on the art of poetry 1800-1950
PN 1064 .T68 2004
An exaltation of forms: contemporary poets celebrate the diversity of their art
PN 1064 .E94 2002
Conversations with Rita Dove / Rita Dove
PS3554 .O884 Z467 2003
What is found there: notebooks on poetry and politics / Adrienne Rich
PS3535 .I233 W45 2003

On Literary Translation: PN306—

The translation studies reader / Lawrence Venuti
P306 .T7436 2000
Translation and creativity: perspectives on creative writing and translation studies / Eugenia Loffredo
P306.2 .T73589 2007
Can these bones live? : translation, survival, and cultural memory / Bella Brodzki
PN241 .B67 2007
Why translation matters / Edith Grossman
PN241 .G75 2010
The art of translating poetry / Raffel Burton
PN1059 .T7 R34 1988
Reading Rilke: reflections on the problems of translation / William H Gass
PT2635 .I65 Z72 1999

On Fiction: PN3355—(novel) PN3373—(short fiction)

Fiction writer's workshop : the key elements of a writing workshop / Josip Novakovich
PN3355 .N68 2008
Story logic and the craft of fiction / Catherine Brady
PN3355 .B68 2010
On writing short stories / edited by Tom Bailey
PN3373 .O52 2000
On the origin of stories: evolution, cognition, and fiction / Brian Boyd
PN3451 .B68 2009

On Playwriting: PN1661—

Playwriting master class: the personality of process and the art of rewriting / Michael Wright
PN1661 .P63 2000
How plays work / David Edgar
PN1661 .E34 2009
Playwriting / Sam Smiley
PN1661 .S65
Building your play: theory and practice for the beginning playwright / David Rush
The playwright's muse / edited by Joan Herrington.
PS350 .P57 2002

Style Manuals

The elements of style / Strunk, William
Art Reference Level 6: PE1408.S772 2000b
The Oxford style manual
Art Reference Level 6 PN147 .O88 2003

On Publishing

The Writers Directory Reference Level 3 - PS 1 .W73

Note: Most print directories of agents and editors are now pubished online. See the Website section below for resources.


We have a print periodicals section on the first floor (two below ground) which might prove more creatively inspiring than electronic databases because you can see the context in which the articles originally appeared. To find print journals in the CUNY Catalog select “journal title search” in the orange banner to conduct a search only for journal titles. You can also peruse the section (which is arranged alphabetically) in person.


You might be searching for articles on any subject imaginable to support your creative writing. Here are some handy tips to discover which database might be best for you.

  • Check out the research guides section, which provides lists of useful resources in each discipline.
  • After you click the database tab on the library's homepage, note that you can limit your search by field using the dropdown tab in the center of the screen.
  • Here is a tutorial on general searching.

Feel free to come in and ask a reference librarian for help. There is someone in the reference office, located across from the circulation desk, during the hours the library is open.


The Oxford English Dictionary
The OED is the authoritative dictionary of the English language and provides both current and historical definitions of over 500,000 words. Includes etymological notes and extensive quotations documenting the usage of words over time.


As mentioned, you could be doing research on any subject imaginable to support your creative writing. Encyclopedias are useful for finding quick and interesting baseline facts about a subject you are unfamiliar with. You can limit your search in the databases to only encyclopedias by using the scroll down box and selecting “encyclopedias.” We have MANY, but here are a few examples of encyclopedias in widely different disciplines:

Oxford Reference Online Premium
Subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries in a variety of disciplines.
Encyclopedia of Life Sciences
Peer-reviewed encyclopedia articles in all areas of the life sciences. For topics such as biochemistry, ecology, evolution, genetics, immunology, microbiology, morphology, and virology.
Dictionary of Art Online
A comprehensive visual arts encyclopedia, with full text of The Dictionary of Art (1996), regularly updated coverage, articles and bibliographies. Searchable art images and maps; links to other art resources; lesson plans, timelines, and thematic guides.

You may also be interested in Gale Virtual Reference Library, a multidisciplinary collection of encyclopedias that you can search all at once.

A short list of intriguing databases:

We subscribe to hundreds of databases here at Queens, any of which might be useful to your studies. To discover databases useful to your topic of study, you can narrow your search by using the dropdown box and searching by discipline. Here is a small selection of databases that seem particularly conducive to creative inspiration:

New York Times Historical
Indexing begins in 1851 through 2007, with images of the original news clippings and the full page for a sense of context. It's possible to search for only advertisements or only obituaries, and more. Excellent resource for original reporting on 20th century America.
Digital library of nearly one million images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences, with a set of tools to view, present, and manage images for research and teaching.
Pop Culture
It's all around us and influences our lives every day. This collection provides useful information for any researcher in a social science, history, art or liberal arts course. This collection is made up of more than 100 subject-appropriate full-text periodicals.
For academic articles, JSTOR indexes 500+ core journals in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Cover-to-cover full-text from a journal's first issue until about five years ago.


This is an incomplete list of websites which cater specifically to writers. While there is of course overlap, these websites are organized by the function they'll serve in your writing life.


American Literary Translators Association
A place to look for conferences, grants, and awards.
Association of Authors' Representatives
They maintain a directory of member agents.
Author's Guild
Professional advice on all things writerly.
AWP: The Association of Writers and Writing Programs
They hold an annual writer's conference.
CLMP: Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Publishes an annual directory of literary journals who are CLMP members; this organization also holds frequent readings and provides practical advice for anyone starting up a new literary journal.

Trade Magazines:

Publisher's Weekly
A trade magazine for the publishing industry, this magazine reports on publishing trends and new book deals.
Poets & Writers
They publish monthly contest, grants, and writer's retreat deadlines. They also have the largest database of literary journals, both print and online, and a database of agents.


National Endowment of the Arts (NEA)
The NEA produces annual grants in the arts; they also publish a magazine.
PEN American Center
They publish an annual list of grants and awards; they also hold fantastic readings, conversations, lectures, and conferences.


Center for Book Arts
They teach book making classes, have a museum and bookstore, and rent studio space.
Chapbook Festival
An annual event planned by CUNY's the Center for Humanities, CUNY's Creative Writing Affiliation Group, Poetry Society of America, Center for Book Arts, Poets & Writers, and Poet's House.
Poetry Society of America
Lists annual awards and presents an annual chapbook fellowship; they also list poetry readings in NYC.


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