The Spalding School of Writing’s second all-virtual residency kicked off on Saturday with an especially exciting curriculum for our professional writing students, including digital storytelling, the inside scoop on the publishing world, and an exclusive viewing of a performance from Actors Theatre of Louisville. Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing is unique in enhancing graduate professional-writing studies with carefully curated experiential learning in creative writing and exploration of the arts.
by Katy Yocom, Associate Director, Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing
In 1909, while working for the Insurance Institute in Prague, Franz Kafka wrote a report titled “Preventative Measures Against Accidents Caused by Mechanical Brushes.” It’s accompanied by illustrations, including a drawing of a hand missing its index and middle fingers. The hand is truncated with a hard line at the wrist, as if it had never been attached to a human arm.
In a way, that severed hand is Kafka. He bewailed the six hours a day he spent at the office, six days a week, spending his writing energies penning pamphlets about accidental amputation. He had already discerned that creative writing was his purpose in life. “Naturally, I did not find this purpose independently and consciously, it found itself, and is now interfered with only by the office, but that interferes with it completely,” he wrote. “ … For me in particular, it is a horrible double life from which there is probably no escape but insanity.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky.(October 9, 2020)—Spalding University’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, the state’s largest fall-spring reading series, announces its fall line-up, featuring readings by faculty of the low-residency programs of Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Kevin Willmott makes a special appearance to accept the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature. The festival takes place Tuesday, November 10, through Friday, November 20, as part of the School of Writing’s fall residency, which is being conducted virtually due to Covid-19.
All events take place virtually and are free and open to the public, but you must register separately for each event in order to receive the link to attend. Each session has a unique registration link, listed below.
By Lynnell Edwards, Associate Programs Director, Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing
On good days, mere chaos seems to swirl around us like smoke; on bad days it feels like we are staring down the apocalypse. Everywhere: the body oppressed and rent by violence, the body sickened (by virus, by fire, by flood) the body “distanced” or “essential.” Literature and the arts have always been part of healing in troubled and transitional times, but documentary poetry, with its arc beyond the interiority of the lyric and toward the external realities of the material world, has an especial urgency in these difficult days.
I am struck by how many of my students write beautifully in the midst of very dense lives. Some are working extremely hard on other jobs, some have young families, or run their own businesses, or care for elderly parents.
I ask them when they write. Some get up at four AM, or write after everyone has gone to sleep. Some write on their lunch hours.
Don’t wait for the right time to write. It won’t come. If you look around and there is no competition for your writing time, no one to knock and demand that you come out and play, no one to need you, you may have shut the door too firmly on life. Crack it open!
When times are tough, and frankly, they couldn’t be tougher, I turn to poetry. More specifically, I turn to formal poetry. There is something about molding language into prescribed patterns to express unwieldy emotions that I find incredibly soothing. Focusing on rhythm, rhyme scheme, syllable stresses and counts, as well as imagery, simile and metaphor, can be a great distraction. On the other hand, going over and over and over a poem as I try to get it right brings me closer to my emotions. This tension works its way into the poem and (hopefully) provides a rich reading experience.
For me, poetry is a balance, or a vacillation, between overthinking a thing until I’ve ground it to dust, and floating on the air, letting the writing happen. One translation of this happens when I try not to think at all, to the extent that that is possible, and write, and then follow that up later by looking at every last detail as I edit.
Kevin Willmott, screenwriter of BlacKkKlansman, visits residency to receive Spalding Prize
By School of Writing chair Kathleen Driskell
Due to the continuing Covid-19 crisis and out of an abundance of caution for the health of our students, faculty, and administrators, Spalding University has placed a moratorium on faculty travel to and from campus for the foreseeable future. This means the School of Writing directors and faculty will convene our Fall 2020 residency through virtual platforms.
We can’t pretend a virtual residency is the same as meeting in person, but I want you to know directors, faculty, and staff are working very hard to bring students a rich and thought-provoking curriculum. The School of Writing is building on our successful virtual residency experience last spring and will continue to innovate, taking advantage of the best synchronous virtual pedagogy and technology available. We’re also having fun planning social hours for you at lunch and in the evenings.