About the Center
A home for creative writing and the literary arts
Your center for creative writing education and programs
Established in 2003 with a historic gift from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University (ASU) is a non-academic university center dedicated to offering talks, readings, classes, workshops, and other literary events and programs for the larger community.
We are a center for literary exploration. We believe the power to document what is and to imagine what could be belongs to everyone. Through classes, events, and publications, we create brave spaces where individuals can discover and claim their stories.
What We Do
Whether you're a lover of literature or a practicing writer, we offer so many ways to engage with the literary arts.
The Distinguished Visiting Writers Series
Author talks and readings
The Distinguished Visiting Writers Series presents iconic writers alongside emerging voices for talks, readings, and other innovative and multi-genre engagements. During their visits, authors also host small workshops in partnership with the Piper Writers Studio, engage in intimate craft talks with undergraduate and graduate students in the Creative Writing program, visit ASU classes, and more. As the Piper Center is committed to ensuring that all individuals have the ability to participate in the literary arts, these momentous events are always open to the public and free, and are held in a range of community venues throughout the Valley
The Piper Writers Studio
Classes and workshops for the community
The Piper Writers Studio is dedicated to supporting and developing an active writing culture in the greater Phoenix area by offering a diverse array of creative writing classes, workshops, and other in-depth educational opportunities across multiple genres, subject areas, and levels of skill. Through a dynamic workshop approach that encourages innovation, improves craft, and offers inspiring discussion and feedback, writers are guided and nurtured in developing the tools they need to meet their goals. Individual classes range in length, and are offered throughout the year in both in-person and online settings. Class sizes are intentionally small to ensure that each person's work is honored with the care and attention it deserves.
The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference
Three days of literary craft and community
Every February, the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference brings together over 300 writers for three days of literary craft, culture, and community. Featuring over 75 craft talks, workshops, and other activities across a wide variety of genres and forms. As a teaching conference, it covers the craft of writing and the nuts and bolts of being a writer by offering practical advice for editing, professional development, and navigating the literary marketplace.
Teaching artists, writing circles, and community partnerships
In recognition of the value of creative writing as a tool to build resiliency, the Piper Center has developed an array of new community connections and innovative programming, including key partnerships to serve veterans, LGBTQIA+ communities, youth, and more. Teaching artists are paid for their work, and are selected because they reflect the communities they serve.
Student and Faculty Fellowships
Enriching education and advancing research
One of the most important aspects of a creative writing craeer is the ability to access professional development education and opportunities, including presenting at conferences, attending residencies, teaching in new environments, and conducting research. Virginia G. Piper Fellowships provide funding support for graduate students and faculty in these endeavors. These programs empower writers to put their education into practice while giving back to the community, setting them up for long term success in the professional literary field.
What we believe
The Piper Center strives to hold ourselves accountable to the communities we serve by ensuring our events and programs are equitable, inclusive, accessible, and diverse.
Indigenous land acknowledgment
The Piper Writers House and ASU’s four campuses are situated on the unceded ancestral lands of the Akimel O’odham (Pima), Pee Posh (Maricopa), and many other Indigenous peoples. We recognize the original stewards of this land and honor those living here today, including the Gila River Indian Community, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.
Indigenous lives, knowledge, and stories have been rooted here long before the university came to be. They remain central to the past, present, and future of this land, and to the Piper Center’s current mission and literary communities. As an institution that serves writers and readers both within and beyond Arizona, we commit to challenging narratives that obscure this history, and to using our resources to support and celebrate the voices of Native American and Indigenous writers.
Black lives matter
Black lives matter
The Piper Center worksto create spaces where people of all backgrounds, identities can come together, develop relationships, and learn. It should not take the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Dion Johnson, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, or countless other black and brown lives for institutions to have conversations about more effective, equitable policies for marginalized communities.
For us, what is vital is to enact a continuing commitment to nurture the discussions that are so sorely needed in our communities. As we move forward, we pledge to use our platform as a literary center to share articles, interviews, books, and other content and resources that actively engage in anti-racist thought and give greater prominence to black and brown writers and curatorial processes that center the perspectives of people of color.
Maintaining a safe and welcoming environment
The Piper Center is committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all community members to enjoy our programming, to learn from each other, and to participate in creative writing and the literary arts. As such, we ask all individuals to be respectful of each others’ thoughts, opinions, ideas, and beliefs. Bullying, aggressive behavior, or other actions that deny the rights of individuals are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Additionally, we would ask all audience members to be respectful and aware of authors’ time and personal space. If you experience or observe any behavior that violates this policy, please contact a Piper Center staff member immediately. Together, we can create a climate that’s safe for all.
Participation for all abilities
The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing is committed to ensuring that all individuals have fair and equal access to our events and programs.
All venues are accessible to individuals with mobility challenges, hearing loss, or other forms of disability.
ASL interpreting services, printed versions of presentations, large print handouts, translations, and alternative forms of materials for classes, workshops, or other programs are available with two to three weeks advance notice (upon request).
To request materials or contact the Center with any other questions or concerns, call the Center directly at 480.965.6018 or send us an email at email@example.com.
The Piper Writers House
Originally constructed in 1907, the Piper Writers House served as a home for the presidents of ASU—Arthur John Matthews (1904-30), Ralph W. Swetman (1930-1933), and Grady Gammage (1933-59)—until it became the Alumni House and Alumni Executive Office (1961-72) and, most recently, the University Archives (1972-95).
In 2005, the building underwent extensive renovations, including the addition of a back patio and several surrounding gardens, to house the newly established Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
Today, the house serves as an office for staff, provides classrooms for creative writing students and community members, and a gathering space for readings, receptions, and other events.
Along with University Club and Old Main, the Piper Writers House is one of the last remaining historic buildings on the ASU Tempe campus. The house is also one of the last buildings designed by territorial architect James Creighton, who designed the original Arizona State University Normal School.
For more information about the Piper Writers House, view the house's record on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you are interested in making a reservation to use the Piper House for your community event, click the button below and email Christie Swedbergh at firstname.lastname@example.org a brief description of your event once the form has been submitted.
Virginia G. Piper
Our center proudly bears the name of Virginia Galvin Piper, one of the most respected and influential philanthropists in the Southwest. Her charitable legacy has transformed the state of Arizona, and her life, values, and passion for the written word are at the heart of all we do.
In 2003, The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust founded the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing with a historic gift to ASU in 2003. Today, the Trust is the largest private foundation in Arizona, enriching and improving the lives of people across Maricopa County through arts and culture, healthcare, education, and more.
To learn more, you can visit the Piper Trust's website or read Virginia Piper's biography.
Read our annual report
Our annual report is the story of our service to the community. As we turn the page from this year to the next, all of us at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing are reflecting on the moments that have brought us together over the last year.
To read this year's annual report, you can download a pdf.
Meet our staff
Alberto Álvaro Ríos (he, him, his), born in 1952 in Nogales, Arizona, is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir. His books of poems include The Dangerous Shirt, The Theater of Night, winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Ma
Christie Swedbergh (she, her, hers) manages the budgetary, financial, and human resource activities for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. She has over 16-years of experience in higher education business administration as well as a background in non-profit financial management.
Coordinator for Educational Programs
Joy Young joined the Piper Center in 2021 as the Coordinator for Educational Programs. They hold a bachelor's degree in Women and Gender Studies and Liberal Studies which has shaped the ways they approach creating inclusive, dynamic programming.
Find Your Way
The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing is located at 450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281 in the historic quarter of Arizona State University, just Southeast of University Club and Old Main.
The closest parking is the Fulton Center Parking Structure on the Northeast corner of University Dr and College Ave (300 E. University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281), less than a five minute walk away
The closest light-rail stop is College Avenue and Veterans Way, about a ten minute walk away.
To learn more about getting here, you can view the information below.
Directions and Parking
Just off the Loop 202
ASU is located just a few minutes off the Loop 202 via exit 6 or 7 (Priest Drive / Center Parkway and Scottsdale Rd / Rural Rd, respectively).
Park at the Fulton Center
Park in the Fulton Center Parking Structure off University Blvd (just east of College Ave on the North Side of University). The Fulton Center is the closest lot to the Center and less than 5 minutes away. Please note that, while parking in the Fulton Garage is generally available, it can become more difficult during football games or other local events.
Parking is $3 an hour or $15 all day Monday through Friday and free on the weekends.
If the Fulton Lot is full, we recommend Visitor Lot 67 off S Forest Ave near the University Towers garage or Visitor Lot 20 on S Mill Ave and W 9th St. Outside of these lots, parking at ASU can be difficult and time-consuming.
Please be aware that ASU and the City of Tempe are also extremely vigilant about parking enforcement, ticketing, and towing.
For more information about parking, you can visit ASU's page about parking on the Tempe campus.
Close to the Light Rail
Valley Metro light rail service is available throughout Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa (with additional service to and from Sky Harbor International Airport at 44th St and Washington).
College Avenue and Veterans Way
Our light rail stop is College Ave and Veterans Way. To get to the Piper Center from this stop, simply walk south down College Avenue until you come to the traffic light at University Blvd. Arizona State University will be directly in front of you. Cross University Blvd and head slightly left / southeast, where you’ll see a large fountain in the middle of a plaza. University Club will be located on your left to the east. Old Main will be located in front of you to the south. The Piper Writers House is located between these two buildings to the southeast just a few hundred feet away.
Other Public Transportation
For more information about public transportation, download a Valley Metro system map, view the light rail schedule, or visit the Valley Metro website. You can also visit the Transportation page at Arizona State University.
Please note: we are not the Creative Writing Program at Arizona State University
While the Piper Center works closely with the Creative Writing Program at Arizona State University by offering various educational opportunities and other forms of support to faculty and students, the Piper Center is a separate unit from the Creative Writing Program. Many of our classes and workshops are open to the public and are not for credit.
If you have questions about for-credit classes, degree programs, or other matters of academic enrollment, you can visit the Creative Writing website.
To learn more about our student programs and services, you can visit our student services and programs page.