Interview by Caitlin McCann, Originally appeared in StorySouth, Back Issue #41
Kathleen Driskell’s most recent book, Next Door to the Dead, is a Kentucky Voices selection published by The University Press of Kentucky. In this collection of poetry, Driskell reflects upon the experience of living next door to a graveyard. A graveyard she was initially led to believe was full, essentially inactive. She quickly discovered the opposite was true when one afternoon she had to bring in groceries while a funeral was being held next door—a moment she recounts in “Living Next to the Dead Acre.” Then there are also the teenagers who think themselves to be bold and cool to creep around a cemetery in the middle of the night, which she writes about in “What Haunts” But Driskell does not stay on our plane of existence for very long. The poems shift into the perspectives of the graveyard’s inhabitants, thus creating a community that would not otherwise exist. Each neighbor’s resurrected voice is distinct, relatable, and poignant. Driskell’s ability to make the 167-year-old death of a mother and her infant in “Markers” feel fresh and personal is astounding. Driskell writes of her neighbors with such tenderness and reverence. She is able to transcend the book’s focused location to deftly speak on themes and societal issues like love, war, fried chicken, and the female mummy in “Tchaenhotep: Mummy at the Kentucky Science Center” who is doomed to be the subject of the male gaze. Driskell’s voice as a poet is admirable—there is strength in its quietude, and it is this subtle strength that allows Next Door to the Dead to resonate long after you have read the last poem. Continue reading “Finding Love in Loss: An Interview with Kathleen Driskell”
By Katy Yocom
With summer residency in Scotland behind us, it’s time to look ahead to special sessions on the slate for the Fall 2017 Spalding MFA residency, November 10-19 in Louisville. Continue reading “A Sneak Peek at the Fall 2017 Residency”
Here’s what Spalding MFA students, alumni, faculty, and staff have been publishing, producing, and doing since our last update!
Continue reading “LIFE OF A WRITER”
Neela Vaswani, Spalding MFA Faculty, Fiction
I would venture that most writers find reading healing. Find solace in words and craft and the quiet of turning pages. I usually feel that way. But at various points in my life, when I’ve been in need of healing—from trauma or loss or illness—I’ve found myself incapable of reading. I can’t get my eyes to move horizontally across sentences. And the literary fiction I normally find comforting feels inedible. Continue reading “Books for the Dented Self”
Seeing your name in print is exciting. Seeing your name in print beside your published work is even better. But where to start? There are so many journals in existence, deciding which one is the best fit for your work can feel like drinking from a firehose. There are reading periods and closed reading periods and themed issues and page count guidelines and print vs. online and submission fees and submission managers and simultaneous submissions. There is fear—fear of rejection, fear of publication (“Oh my gosh, my mom/son/ex is going to read this!”), fear of doing the wrong thing.
Continue reading “THE ART OF THE LITERARY SUBMISSION: A Beginners’ Guide to Submitting Your Work”
by Jason Hill
Spalding MFA Coordinator of Student Services and Marketing
MFA in Writing, Spalding University
The truth is, I agreed to do a blog entry almost without thinking.
Katy Yocom suggested I write something on Denis Johnson, who died shortly before the start of the Spring 2017 residency in Louisville. No doubt she’d heard me and others talking during residency about his recent death, and because I opened my big mouth during the closing faculty and staff meeting to suggest that faculty looking for post subjects could turn to current writing-related events like Hulu’s premier of A Handmaid’s Tale or Johnson’s death. There are a lot of writers I admire, and nearly as many that I’ve stolen from as I try to craft my own style. But there are very few writers whose use of language and approach to their subjects has given me as much motivation for close study as Johnson. Continue reading “YOU START OUT CONFUSED & END UP MYSTIFIED: An appreciation of Denis Johnson”
I’m a big fan of ambiguous endings. I have no problem with being left in the middle of things in the last scene. In fact, I find pleasure in lingering with a range of possibilities after the final page is turned. I have no quarrel with a novel or memoir that closes with its main character teetering on the brink of change—rather than safely ensconced on the other side of it. Continue reading “NO EXIT: When Endings Disappoint”
By Katy Yocom
Spalding MFA Associate Administrative Director
The Spalding low-residency MFA in Writing program is gearing up for its spring residency, May 26-June 4 in Louisville, Kentucky. The residency features dozens of special events and sessions, acclaimed guest speakers, faculty craft lectures, and a special performance by the nationally acclaimed Louisville Leopard Percussionists.
In addition, the MFA program is pleased to welcome a new faculty member in writing for children and young adults, as well as a special guest workshop leader in poetry.
For Spalding MFAers who write creative nonfiction, the George Getschow Scholarship provides funding to attend the 2017 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, July 21-23, in Grapevine, Texas.
The $800 scholarship is available to Spalding MFA students and alums, regardless of area of concentration. The scholarship is made possible by the MFA program and a generous donation from an anonymous MFA alum. Others are welcome to make a tax-deductible donation to the fund. Continue reading “GEORGE GETSCHOW SCHOLARSHIP FOR MAYBORN CONFERENCE BENEFITS SPALDING MFA STUDENTS, ALUMS”
By Kira Obolensky
Spalding MFA faculty, playwriting
Greetings, fellow writers. I write to you from the distant fields of my own particular revision process; the mud pit of the second draft. Most of the writers I know talk about revision without saying the word. When I ask a writer friend about her revision, her response is, “Knee deep. I’m putting the damn thing in first person now.” Continue reading “RE-VISION: Wright-ing; Erasure, Embroidering; the tweak”