Life of a Writer: Late Summer Edition

Exciting news & updates from students, alumni, faculty and staff.

STUDENTS

Joy Neighbors‘s (PW) book, The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide, was recently picked up by Penguin Random House.

ALUMNI

Donna Gay Anderson (PW ’18) will premiere three songs from her upcoming musical about the life of Susie Scott Krabacher in a fundraiser for children of Haiti. The Christman Opera Company has announced its Afternoon of Music concert to benefit the nonprofit organization HaitiChildren at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, October 26, at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church (921 Madison Avenue, New York, NY). The Music Director for the concert is Keith Chambers, Artistic Director of New Amsterdam Opera. Featured singers will include Kelly Griffin, soprano; Madison Marie McIntosh, mezzo-soprano; and Steven LaBrie, baritone. The new musical, currently in development, is being adapted from the memoir Angels of a Lower Flight by Susie Scott Krabacher, the founder of HaitiChildren, with music by Theodore Christman and book by Donna Gay Anderson.

Kristin Brace‘s (F ’12) first full-length poetry collection and recipient of the 2018 Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize, Toward the Wild Abundance, was released on July 1 from Michigan State University Press. Her second poetry chapbook from Finishing Line Press, Each Darkness Inside, came out earlier this summer.  You can follow Kristin at www.kristinbrace.com

Erin Chandler’s (CNF ’17) new book of essays, Cinderella Sweeping Up and Other Essays, was released in June. Erin lives in Versailles, Kentucky, and teaches playwriting and screenwriting at the Carnegie Center and creative writing privately. She is on the Speakers Bureau for the Kentucky Humanities Council, and she has a weekly column in the Woodford Sun and a second novel, Nervous Blood, in the works. The book is available on Amazon, from Ingram Publishers or at Rabbit House Press.  

Alice Jennings (P ’14) is excited to announce that four of her poems have been accepted for online publication in The Academy of Heart and Mind and her poems “At Ristorante Ottava Nota, Palermo” and “Exhausted Soil” are forthcoming in the next issue of Foreign Literary Magazine.

Hugh Moffat’s (SW/PW16) short play “The Mome Raths” has been selected for performance (staged reading) by The Topanga Actors Company on September 29. Fourteen plays were selected from over 600 submissions. Hugh reports that he submitted to the competition because fellow alum Jeffrey Fischer-Smith (PW ’17) posted a notice on the Spalding Dramatist Facebook page.

Ben Newell’s (F11) first full-length poetry collection, Fuzzball, was recently released by Epic Rites Press.  

Mary Popham

Mary Popham (F ’03) read from her novel The Wife Takes a Farmer at the Fairfield Homecoming in June, at the Spalding Homecoming Celebration of Recently Published Books in May, at the Woman’s Club of Louisville and Carmichael’s Books in April, and at the Metro Book Club in March. She presented her program, “Writing Your Life Story,” at The Woman’s Club of Louisville in June. Her review of Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape, by Richard Taylor

Lori Christiansen Siekmann’s (PW 18) 10 minute play, Killing Bambi, which she wrote as part of the application process to Spalding and revised under the tutelage of Charlie Schulman at her first residency, received such an enthusiastic response from her workshop mates that she followed the advice of fellow alum Jeffrey-Fischer-Smith (PW ’17), and began submitting it to 10 minute play festivals. Killing Bambi was chosen for 2 different festivals in 2017 – one at the Towne Street Theatre at the Stella Adler Theatre Center in LA, and the other one was the Short + Sweet Festival in Dubai, UAE. At the Dubai festival, the play made it all the way into the final round, as each week the audience voted for their favorites. Fast forward two years later. The group in Dubai decided to put on a “greatest hits” festival called Shorter + Sweeter, choosing the most popular plays from the past few years, including Killing Bambi. She was amazed to learn that Killing Bambi had stayed in the festival’s memory for that long. She is now holding her own mini-10 minute play festival this spring at Concordia University (Irvine), featuring all Spalding playwrights.

Jonathan Weinert (P ’05) won the 2019 Saturnalia Books Editors Prize for his second full-length manuscript, A Slow Green Sleep (forthcoming 2021). Jonathan’s poems have recently appeared in MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing and Southwest Review. In 2017, Jonathan contributed to Renga for Obama, a linked poem published by Harvard Review and featuring over 250 American poets in celebration of our 44th president. Jonathan’s biography of the poet H.L. Hix appears in American Writers, Supplement XXIX (Scribner’s 2018). He has poems forthcoming in Goliad Review and Beloit Poetry Journal. Follow Jonathan at jonathanweinert.com/

Matt Wohl’s (SW ’13) new feature film, SCOOTER, will receive its World Premiere in Miami Beach on September 12. Dramatic Writing Faculty Charlie Schulman recently interviewed Matt on the process of bringing this project to fruition, and the interview can be found on the Spalding blog.

FACULTY & STAFF

Dianne Aprile (CNF faculty) read as part of the Jack Straw Writers Series on August 30 at Los Pajaros Gallery in Redmond, Washington. http://www.raspread.com/. She has an essay published in the newly released Boom Project: An Anthology (Butler Books), whose co-editors are MFA alums Kim Crum (CNF ’03) and Bonnie Omer Johnson (F ’04).

Gabriel Jason Dean’s (Dramatic Writing Faculty) play Entangled has three nominations from The New York Innovative Theatre Awards. He also recently announced the world premiere of Our New Town, part activism, all musical theatre, on October 10, 11, 12, and 13, 2019, at Wagner College, Staten Island, New York. Our New Town was developed through Wagner College Theatre new works program Originals@Wagner, as an immersive play that puts the audience at the center of an American crisis. Lyrics and book by Gabriel Jason Dean and Jessie Dean, music by David Dabbon, directed by Theresa McCarthy, music direction by Wendy Feaver.

Silas House’s (F ’05, Fiction Faculty) most recent novel, Southernmost, was just released in paperback.  The book was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, won the Weatherford Award and the Judy Gaines Young Award, and showed up on the Best of the Year lists of publications such as PasteThe AdvocateGarden and GunBooklistSouthern Living, and The American Library Association.  House’s writing has appeared recently in TimeThe AdvocateGarden and Gun, and Oxford American. His 2012 novel, Same Sun Here (co-written with Spalding faculty member Neela Vaswani) was recently given a seven-year contract for a new Scholastic Book Club edition. House has been chosen by the University Press of Kentucky to edit the manuscript of a novel by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, who will be the first enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokees to ever publish a novel by a large press. Follow him at www.silas-house.com, Facebook:  @silashouseofficial, Twitter:  @silasdhouse, Instagram:  @silashouse

Photo Credit: Alix Mattingly

Erin Keane (P ’04, Poetry and Professional Writing Faculty) has been named Editor-in-Chief of Salon.

Bruce Marshall Romans

Bruce Marshall Romans (SW19) has joined the Spalding MFA Screenwriting Faculty. Bruce, whose television writing and producing credits include Hell on Wheels and Marvel’s The Punisher, will deliver a lecture about writing for TV at the upcoming November residency before taking on full teaching duties with the Spring 2020 semester, when he will lead a writers’ room workshop at the May residency and mentor screenwriting students in independent study.

Charlie Schulman’s (Dramatic Writing Faculty) recent play, A Funny Play for Troubled Times, was recently performed at the Cincinnati Lab Theatre’s 2019 New Works Festival, which presented two fully staged workshop productions and two original play readings in a rotating festival repertoire over two weekends, July 19 – July 28. A Funny Play for Troubled Times was directed by Elizabeth A. Harris. Through satire and allegory, the play explores commerce, media marketing, and the disconnected of the connected. 

Maggie Smith (Poetry Faculty), award-winning poet and teacher, has joined Spalding’s poetry faculty. She will deliver a poetry lecture during our Fall 2019 residency, November 15-24, and will mentor students in independent study. She joins award-winning poets Douglas Manuel, Keith S. Wilson, Debra Kang Dean, Lynnell Edwards, Erin Keane, Greg Pape, and Jeanie Thompson on faculty.

Katy Yocom‘s (F ’03, Associate Director) debut novel, Three Ways to Disappear, was named a Barnes & Noble Top Indie Favorite and featured in Indian publications the Times of India and Firstpost as well as locally in Insider Louisville and on WHAS-11 TV’s morning show, Great Day Live (you can view the segment here). She published an article about tigers in fiction in LitHub and an essay about her research in Necessary Fiction. Her interview with Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan (F ’03) appeared in this blog’s July 14 post. Kaylene also reviewed Katy’s book for North American Review. Other reviews have appeared in Foreword Reviews, U.S. Review of Books, and LEO Weekly. Katy is currently couch-surfing her way around the country. Her book tour has taken her to Florida (thanks to all the alums and friends who came out!) and Texas. Upcoming stops:

  • PORTLAND, OREGON: 7 p.m. October 4, Another Read Through, 3932 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227
  • SEATTLE: 7 p.m. October 8, The Process reading series, Phinney Books, 7405 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
  • SEATTLE: 7 p.m. October 9, reading and conversation with Dianne Aprile, Hugo House, 1634 11th Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98122
  • NASHVILLE: 3 p.m. October 12, Southern Festival of the Book, Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St, Nashville, TN 37219
  • CINCINNATI: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. October 26, Books by the Banks festival, Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
  • LEXINGTON, Ky.: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. November 16, Kentucky Book Fair, 4089 Iron Works Pkwy, Lexington, KY 40511
  • LOUISVILLE: 5:30 p.m. November 18, Celebration of Recently Published Books, Spalding University

She hopes you’ll come out and say hello if she’s in your neighborhood!

Sam Zalutsky’s (Screenwriting Faculty) revenge thriller, Seaside, was released digitally on August 20 by Gravitas Ventures. The film is Zalutsky’s second feature film, following his psychological horror movie You Belong to Me, for which he was shortlisted for the Independent Spirit Award’s Someone to Watch Award. Seaside stars Tony nominee Ariana DeBose in her feature film debut. An original cast member in Broadway’s Hamilton, DeBose will be seen next as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s highly anticipated remake of West Side Story. Also featured in the film are Broadway stars Matt Shingledecker (RentLes Misérables), Steffanie Leigh (Mary Poppins), and Sharon Washington (The Scottsboro BoysJoker).