By JULIE BRICKMAN, SPALDING MFA FICTION FACULTY
On August 23, 2017, the author Susan Vreeland died. She was 71 years old and died from the consequences of the illness that launched her mind into composing her best work. Continue reading “Goodbye, Darlin’: A Tribute to a Great Writer.”
Leslie Daniels, Spalding MFA Fiction Faculty
This is not my #MeToo post. With a 500 word limit, where would I begin? With the convict who held a knife against my 11 year old stomach? Or the psych professor in grad school 20 years later who pressed me for dates? With the decades in between of sidewalk ass grabbers or party gropers and worse, experiences of weirdness, of intimate violence, of trespass? How about the silencers, the ones who urged me not to speak of it, the shamers?
Continue reading “This Is Not My #MeToo Post”
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”
Many people want to know, “What does an MFA in Writing at Spalding get me?” So we asked our alums of all ages and from all over the world to help us out.
Forty-eight graduates, 19 men and 29 women, starting with the first class of 2003 to the present, responded to our open question: How did the Spalding MFA in Writing low-residency program impact you professionally, creatively, and personally? Their responses extol and probe both surprising and not surprising reasons to pursue an MFA in general, and a Spalding MFA in particular. Continue reading “WHY DO AN MFA IN WRITING, AND WHY AT SPALDING UNIVERSITY?”
Leah Henderson, who graduated from the Spalding MFA program in 2011 with a concentration on Writing for Children and Young Adults, has just launched her first middle grade novel, One Shadow on the Wall, which takes place in Senegal and centers on an eleven-year-old boy named Mor. After Mor’s parents die, he becomes head of household and must keep his two younger sisters safe. But it is not easy for someone so young to shoulder such a burden. And the world can be very cruel. The book is a gripping read that explores themes of loyalty, faith, and redemption. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Leah about her first (surely of many!) publications. Continue reading “PATIENCE, PROCESS, PUBLICATION: Lesléa Newman & Leah Henderson”
(originally published 2012)
I’ve heard that one of the great parts of being a dad is that you can recapture what it’s like to be a kid again. Relive your childhood.
But I don’t think my childhood ever ended. Not really. Not where it counts. I think it’s more like watching how my childhood got started. Because the processes I developed back then are still the processes I use right now.
Continue reading “AN INFINITELY RECURSIVE CHILDHOOD”
As both a writer and teacher, I’ve been obsessed with the question of influence, both nonliterary and literary. It’s informed my scholarly work as well as my fiction and nonfiction, not to mention the kinds of courses I’ve designed, such as Forms of Fiction, Sudden Fiction, Short Story Cycle, Literature of the American Dream, Shakespeare, The American West in Film and Literature, and Family Systems in Film and Literature. A couple of years ago, I taught a special topics course for MFA students at Iowa State University entitled The Ecstasy of Influence, in which the students and I explored what we talk about when we talk about literary influence. It is one of my favorite courses—and one that helped me reshape the kinds of questions I now focus on for most of my other creative writing and literature courses. Continue reading “WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT INFLUENCE”
Right now I’m finishing up Seaside, a microbudget feature which I wrote, directed, and produced. I’m so eager and excited for people to see it. But the filmmaking process is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. Maybe it’s a little like what happens when you are waiting for a book to be published. Postproduction can be particularly challenging. The immediacy and control of pre-production and shooting are replaced with a much slower and less intense schedule. And sometimes it feels like nothing is happening. Argh! Continue reading “LIVING IN LIMBO: How to Stay Focused & Motivated on Large Projects”
When you pack your bags for your next trip, whether a few hours from home or as far away, to an American traveler, as Buenos Aires, Rome, or Edinburgh, take along your travel writer’s sensibility. You’ll already have the tools in place—pen and paper, laptop and camera—so making a record of where you go, what you see, eat, and learn, is not a practical but perceptual challenge. Our senses become heightened by the excitement of travel, the allure of different landscapes, languages and foods. As writers we note it all in colorful detail in our journals and e-mails home. But how can we shape this material into articles or personal essays for a larger audience? Here are some tips—and questions—to keep in mind. Continue reading “REFLECTIONS ON TRAVEL WRITING”
Spalding Screenwriting student, Cassie Brower, is currently the Director of Original Programming at Disney Junior in Los Angeles. Cassie has overseen the hit shows Sofia the First, The Lion Guard, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, as well as several short series. I had the pleasure of working with Cassie as her mentor during her first semester at Spalding. We inevitably discussed time-management and daily practice during our time together. And since those are topics I’m asked about by almost all the Spalding students I mentor, I reckoned a blog post was in order. But rather than just espousing what works for me, I thought it might also be beneficial to hear from Cassie, arguably one of Spalding’s busiest students. Continue reading “TAPPING INTO THE “FOREVER EMPTY”: A Conversation between Mentor & Mentee”