Looking Back on the Brink of Looking Forward

Karen Mann, Co-Founder & Administrative Director of Spalding low-residency MFA

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At the MFA residency this fall, we are honoring Sena Jeter Naslund as she retires from the MFA program at the end of the year and turns her attention to new creative projects. Leading up to the residency, I have been thinking not only about what’s brought us to this point in the MFA program but I have also been anticipating the future! Continue reading “Looking Back on the Brink of Looking Forward”

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Finding Love in Loss: An Interview with Kathleen Driskell

Interview by Caitlin McCann, Originally appeared in StorySouth, Back Issue #41
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Kathleen Driskell

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”

Books for the Dented Self

Neela Vaswani, Spalding MFA Faculty, Fiction

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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”

THE ART OF THE LITERARY SUBMISSION: A Beginners’ Guide to Submitting Your Work

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Ellyn Lichvar, Managing Editor, The Louisville Review
Coordinator, Spalding University MFA in Writing

Louisville Review
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”

YOU START OUT CONFUSED & END UP MYSTIFIED: An appreciation of Denis Johnson

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”

WHY DO AN MFA IN WRITING, AND WHY AT SPALDING UNIVERSITY?

by Jody Lisberger
Spalding MFA faculty, Fiction

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?”

PATIENCE, PROCESS, PUBLICATION: Lesléa Newman & Leah Henderson

by Lesléa Newman
Spalding MFA faculty, Writing for Children and Young Adults

Leah HendersonLeah 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. OSOTW CoverAfter 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”