by Katy Yocom
Spalding MFA Associate Administrative Director
A priceless Shakespeare first folio, the new and improved Speed Art Museum, and a musical interlude with the Louisville Orchestra all figure into the Spalding low-residency MFA in Writing program’s Fall 2016 residency. The residency will include dozens of special events and sessions, acclaimed guest speakers, faculty craft lectures, and a special focus on “Will in the Ville.” Residency takes place November 11-20 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Sessions for everyone:
Each residency, we feature a rotating focus on one of our genres. This fall, poetry takes center stage:
Native Guard, a poetry collection by Pulitzer Prize-winner Natasha Trethewey, is the Program Book in Common. At the residency’s opening session, Associate Program Director Kathleen Driskell leads a group discussion of the collection, which confronts the racial legacy of the Deep South. Later in the week, Trethewey, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate, will speak to the group in an open session, followed the next morning by a Q&A session reserved for MFAers only.
Faculty emerita Molly Peacock turns inspiration inside out by showing how the biography and lifestyle of a poet affects form, and how poetic form can demonstrate new ways to live, in a talk titled “The Poet’s Progress.”
Program Director Sena Jeter Naslund delivers a plenary cross-genre lecture focused on poetry, and later in the residency all MFA students, regardless of genre, visit the newly renovated Speed Art Museum and write a poem based on an art object. Sena also delivers a plenary craft lecture titled “Stylistic Modalities,” which was perhaps the single most important lecture I heard in my time as a student.
Continuing the poetry emphasis, Molly Peacock and poetry alum Chris Mattingly join Kathleen Driskell and Maureen Morehead on a panel to discuss their favorite examples of ekphrastic poems.
The MFA program’s genre focus rotates each residency. In preparation for the spring residency’s focus on writing for children and YA, Edie Hemingway delivers “The Lifelong Power of Children’s Literature” for all students.
Beyond our poetry focus, more special events are on offer:
November marks a citywide “Will in the Ville” celebration, and we’ll attend a lecture by renowned Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro, author of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? We’ll travel to the Frazier History Museum to view one of the world’s most treasured books at a national traveling exhibit called First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare. Afterward, we’ll continue down Main Street to the Kentucky Center for the Arts for an orchestra performance of “Shakespeare in Music.” To round out our Shakespeare focus, fiction faculty Kenny Cook investigates the intersection of craft and artistic obsession in a lecture on the “wonderfully problematic text” that is Hamlet.
Our Editing & Publishing sequence examines different aspects of the business of writing at each residency. Alum Corrine Jackson’s session “To Tweet or Not To Tweet: Twitter for Beginners” includes a live demonstration, as well as tips on using Twitter for writerly networking with everyone from agents to librarians to indie bookstores and more.
Faculty members or guests in each area of concentration discuss the path to publication or production in a faculty book/script in common discussion. This time, fiction students hear Administrative Director and program co-founder Karen Mann discuss her novel The Woman of La Mancha, and creative nonfiction students read A Pearl in the Storm, by none other than Spalding University President Tori Murden McClure, who also happens to be an alum of the Spalding MFA program.
Our Celebration of Recently Published Books features faculty members Kirby Gann with his John Knowles’ A Separate Peace: Bookmarked; Rachel Harper with her novel This Side of Providence; John Pipkin with his novel The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter; Jeanie Thompson with her poetry collection The Myth of Water: Poems from the Life of Helen Keller; and alum Jim Wayne (F ’12) with his novel The Unfinished Man (Fleur-de-Lis Press).
Genre-specific guest lectures:
In addition to the above sessions, each residency features dozens of genre-specific lectures by Spalding MFA faculty and graduating students. In addition, we have three guest lecturers discussing matters of creative nonfiction and writing for children and YA. Students may sit in on lectures outside their genre; all are welcome to attend.
Ed Boland discusses his journey from teacher in a tough New York City public high school to New York Times bestselling author with his memoir The Battle for Room 314.
Alum Marjetta Geerling talks about how character-driven stories can gain all the urgency, physicality, and resonance of a plot-driven story in her lecture “From the Inside Out,” using examples from children’s and young adult literature.
And Lamar Giles, author of young-adult novels, discusses the ins and outs of choosing the right narrator for your story.
Yet more offerings:
Residency also features a special reading by Kentucky poets; readings by faculty members and post-grad residency assistants; lectures and readings by graduating students; and SpaldingCon, our annual alumni conference, which brings MFA alumni back to campus for advanced curriculum during the second weekend of residency.
Katy Yocom’s fiction, poetry, essays, and journalism have appeared in The Louisville Review, New Southerner, Open 24 Hours, the blog StyleSubstanceSoul, Louisville Magazine, LEO Weekly, 2nd & Church, and Food & Dining, among other publications. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University. She is a recipient of grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Kentucky Foundation for Women and was writer-in-residence at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and at ISLAND Hill House.