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.
Because the residency curriculum again will be offered mostly in real time, please continue to block off the residency days on your calendars, with slight modifications: we will begin with a school community meeting on Saturday morning, November 14 and will end early evening after our graduation events on Saturday, November 21. (Playwriting students please also block off Friday, November 13; we may need to schedule a professional reading that day. Look for more information coming on that soon.)
For your convenience, and as we did last spring, we will record a number of faculty lectures and sessions so you may view them later if needed given your home schedule; however, to have the best learning experience if you plan to be at residency, you must commit to attending your workshop sessions in real time and do all you can to attend required plenary sessions.
The Residency Curriculum and Events Schedule will be released, as usual, on the Monday before residency begins, but please refer to the preliminary general schedule, posted in Preparing for the Residency on the SCPW portal page to help look ahead. If you are in another time zone, please plan accordingly.
As you already know, we have rich and layered workshopping experiences planned for you this fall: Most students will not only attend genre area workshops, but will also attend generative special topics workshops with another faculty leader. The students in Erin Keane’s Editing & Publishing residency course stay with her all week but will have guest speakers and a rich curriculum to soak up from Saturday to Saturday. (Here’s another reminder that all students are required to attend their Introductory Workshop session, Sunday, October 25, 1-3 EDT.)
We have limited each workshop to no more than 8 students in order to ensure the best internet connectivity for you and your student colleagues. Still, you must plan ahead and make sure you have internet access that will allow you to participate fully.
The area in common for Fall 2020 residency is in Writing for TV, Screen, and Stage. Our featured distinguished writer is screenwriter, teacher, and activist Kevin Willmott who will visit residency to talk about his important work and to receive the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature. Kevin is a co-screenwriter with Spike Lee for several prominent films, including our Film in Common BlackkKlansman. Please watch it as well as Kevin’s films Destination Planet Negro, CSA – Confederate States of America, and the recently released Da 5 Bloods. More viewing details are posted on the portal under Syllabi, Packet Dates, Residency Info; then click into the link Preparing for the Fall 2020 Residency.
Here are some other sessions we’ll be offering this fall to help you improve your writing:
Our cross-genre assignment involves adaptation for the screen or stage and will be meaningful and fun.
Artistic Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville and friend of the program Robert Barry Fleming will present a talk on the state of American theater in these times of pandemic and BLM protests. Students and faculty will view the play Where Did We Sit on the Bus? presented virtually by Actors.
As a community, we’ll all participate in the practice of translation through the instruction of faculty member Jeremy Paden who will introduce us to that creative process.
Lynnell Edwards will present a Literary Explorations lecture on Modernism.
My craft lecture series will take students through an exploration of structural strategies to help us unify our narratives, and which a writer can adapt to any genre.
Being virtual does have its advantages for students. A larger than usual faculty—around 25 members—will be on hand across all genres to provide workshop leadership, lectures, panel discussions, cross-genre support, and readings during this Fall 2020 residency.
And I’m happy that Spalding’s upper administration has agreed to again give a $300 tuition discount to each student for the residency course as we did in the spring since we won’t be able to take in-person field trips or share community meals.
There will be other fun treats for you that I’ll keep to myself for now, but as you can see, there’s a full rich residency in store for you this fall.
I hope each of you and all of your loved ones are safe and healthy. I do look forward to being with everyone again, albeit virtually, but no matter how we come together, it’s important, essential, that we are in a creative community to support each other’s important imaginative work.
We’ll send along more details as we know them. Please let us know your questions and concerns. We are always happy to hear from you.
Kathleen Driskell is chair and professor of creative writing at Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing. She is the author of four books of poems most recently Blue Etiquette from Red Hen Press. She currently is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the largest national organization for writers and creative writing programs.