Fall 2020 Spalding School of Writing Residency News for SCPW Students, Alums, and Faculty

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.  

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Coronavirus: After the Fall

By Fenton Johnson, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing, Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Faculty

I spend part of these quiet days imagining how we will be together again. Is it possible that, once shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted, life will resume exactly as before? A dear friend, a Holocaust survivor, once pointed at the news on television and said flatly, “You see these things and you know we have learned nothing.” But I am an American, imbued with American mythology, and cannot so easily let go of the notion that we might learn from experience.

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Playing with Story Structure

By Nancy McCabe, Creative Nonfiction and Fiction Faculty, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

My forthcoming book, Can This Marriage Be Saved? A Memoir, took me thirty years to write. I’m not kidding. It’s not like I was working on it every day for thirty years; I put it aside for long periods. But it didn’t fully take off for me until I embraced approaches I had long resisted, playing with extended metaphors and borrowed forms as shaping devices.

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The Story Behind the Publication: An Alum’s Journey to Shondaland

by Katy Yocom, Associate Director, Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing

On March 16, 2020, most of America shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. One month later, on April 16, Shondaland published an essay titled, “What It’s Like Working at a Grocery Store during COVID-19.” Its author was Spalding MFA alum K.B. Carle (F ’16).

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SpaldingCon Workshops Go Virtual November 18-20

By Kathleen Driskell, Chair, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

The School of Creative and Professional Writing faculty at Spalding University is delighted to offer more than 20 three-day generative workshops in a virtual format to alumni through SpaldingCon, our post-graduate writers’ conference. Offering the workshops virtually allows our writers to generate new work from home during the Covid-19 crisis.

The workshops offer superb advanced instruction by our master teachers and provides participants with opportunities to begin new projects, refocus on works in progress, or gain new professional development.

Choose from Douglas Manuel’s “Poetry of Witness in the Time of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter,” Fenton Johnson’s “Reading and Writing as Spiritual Practice,” John Pipkin’s “10 Prompts for 10 Stories: A Fast-paced Generative Writing Workshop,” Lesléa Newman’s “Read It Again: The Art of Writing Picture Books,” Jeremy Paden’s “Translation as a Generative Practice Workshop,” or one of the other fabulous offerings you’ll see below.

Each workshop meets remotely for two hours a day in small groups to ensure optimal internet connectivity and meaningful group discussion. SpaldingCon attendees also have the opportunity to attend streamed or recorded lectures, readings, plenary events, and social events in addition to their special-topic workshops. The cost for SpaldingCon is $475.

No workshop calls for submission of a worksheet before meeting, but some ask participants to complete pre-reading assignments before attending. Each description below will offer specific details.

Erin Keane, Editor-in-Chief of Salon.com

Alumni and MFA grads from other institutions may also be interested in a longer professional writing workshop that meets Saturday to Saturday, November 14-22, during residency, and offers opportunities to add skills needed in the professional writing workplace, including content development, grant-writing, document design, social media and press relations. Alternatively, alums and grads from other MFA programs may attend a full-residency (Saturday to Saturday) interactive editing and publishing workshop led by Erin Keane, Editor-in-Chief of Salon.com. Erin’s workshop provides a terrific and unique opportunity to learn about the world of publishing and editing for commercial and literary presses from the inside. Email us for costs and more information about these professional writing workshops at schoolofwriting@spalding.edu.

Read on for special-topic workshop descriptions.

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Beyond the Self in Creative Nonfiction

By Jason Kyle Howard, Creative Nonfiction faculty

Creative nonfiction, like all other forms of creative writing, is a demanding genre. In whichever form the writer may find themselves working—and there are many: personal essay, memoir, lyric essay, meditative essay, literary journalism, immersion, travelogue—the most common thread is the self, the I as the eye, one’s own life and experiences as vehicle for exploration.

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Requiem for a Nest: L.A. Blueswoman Wanda Coleman

by Douglas Manuel, Spalding’s School of Writing Poetry Faculty

When I moved to the L.A. area in 2013, I didn’t know much about Wanda Coleman. I didn’t know she was known as the “L.A. Blueswoman.” I didn’t know she was the low-key, real, unofficial Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. I didn’t know about her Lenore Marshall Prize. I didn’t know about Mercurochrome being a finalist for the National Book Award. I didn’t know about her coming for Maya Angelou (All love and praise due to Maya Angelou though!) and writing that A Song Flung Up to Heavenseem[ed] small and inauthentic, without ideas, wisdom or vision.” Honestly, and this hurts me the most to admit, I hadn’t even read a single poem of Coleman’s before she died on November 22, 2013. And even worse, I didn’t even go to her memorial at the downtown L.A. Central Public Library that January of the following year. What a fool I am, what a fool!

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First Class of Professional Writing Students Completes the First Totally Virtual (and totally real!) Residency in May

I’m still breathless from the whirlwind of our first residency in professional writing.  Our workshop conversations and guest lectures explored the diverse opportunities available to the professional writer: Crisis communication?  We’re on it.   Grant writing? Show me the money.  Technical writing for corporations?  Of course.  Press releases, inclusive language, professional style? Check. Check. Check.

These students have now begun their professional writing independent study, bringing with them a variety of professional interests. During independent study, they will explore opportunities for on-the-job projects as well as freelance opportunities in review writing, travel writing, and table-top gaming.

Listen to them discuss their experiences at the residency and their independent study plans in this short video. 

The School of Creative and Professional Writing offers both a one-semester Certificate in Professional Writing and a 35-hour Master of Arts in Writing that includes a semester in editing and publishing. Current MFA students may also take professional writing as an out-of-genre residency or full semester. Feel free to contact me directly for more information: ledwards02 [at] spalding [dot] edu.


Lynnell Edwards is Professor of English and Associate Programs Director for Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing.  Her fifth collection of poetry, This Great Green Valley, was recently released by Broadstone Books.