Living and Writing and Faith: Dispatch from Self-Isolation, Day 30

By Elaine Neil Orr, Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Faculty

Since I wrote this short essay about Covid-19 and sliding into depression and finding a way out, I’ve felt depressed again, more than once. I’m seeing a pattern and learning how to pull myself up. But I’m also trying to be patient with myself. Today after my graduate seminar, I told my students I love them. It’s true. I do love them. But I would not say that in “normal times.” I’m saying it now that we are all more aware of how fragile life is. My students’ faces registered real joy when I spoke that sentence: “I love you.”

I hope we can make it permissible to find the good that this period of our lives yields up.

Maybe this blog can yield up some grace in your day.

Living and Writing and Faith: Dispatch from Self-Isolation, Day 30


Elaine Neil Orr is the author of five books, including her memoir, Gods of Noonday: A White Girl’s African Life, and the novel, A Different Sun. Her latest novel, Swimming Between Worlds captures the moral imperatives of integration in the early 1960s and was a finalist for the 2019 Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication Book Award in Fiction. She has been honored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She serves on the faculty of English at N.C. State University as well as the faculty of the Spalding University School of Creative and Professional Writing.


Finding Balance in the Epicenter

By Dianne Aprile, Creative Nonfiction Faculty, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

Many thanks to my brother Kevin Aprile, an editor in Ohio for the Chronicle-Telegram, who invited me to write about living at the epicenter of Covid-19 in its early days. What follows is an updated version of the original column that ran on March 29.

My husband and I have a longstanding breakfast-table ritual. Over coffee and toast, we routinely and enthusiastically interrupt each other’s private thoughts as much as possible by calling out surprising or outrageous headlines ripped from the pages of one of the two print newspapers we read each morning.   

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THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT LIFE BEFORE THE VIRUS

[First appeared in New Verse News]

By Lesléa Newman, Writing for Children & Young Adults Faculty, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

I.
I remember shaking hands:
damp, sweaty hands and dry, scratchy hands,
bone-crushing handshakes and dead-fish handshakes,
two-handed handshakes, my hand sandwiched
between a pair of big beefy palms.
I remember hairy hands and freckled hands,
young smooth hands and old wrinkled hands,
red polished fingernails and bitten jagged fingernails,
stained hands of hairdressers who had spent all day dying,
dirty hands of gardeners who dug down deep into the good earth.

Continue reading “THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT LIFE BEFORE THE VIRUS”

Writing in Times of Uncertainty

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

This post originally appeared as a Facebook post on March 21, 2020.

Spalding students, I hear some of you are having a hard time writing in this time of uncertainty. Me, too. And this is exacerbated by the fact that your worksheet submissions are due April 22. But here’s something I know you’ve learned in Spalding’s program: All writing is born from other writing. The other thing I know you’ve gained from this program is at least one writing friend.

Reach out to that friend and reawaken the lost art and appreciation for letter writing. What would the world of writing be like—what would the world be like—if we didn’t have the letters of Virginia Woolf, Rilke, Keats, Audre Lorde, Flannery O’Connor, Dickinson?

Connect with at least one writing friend (maybe create a circle of three or four) and begin a serious correspondence. Ask each other open-ended questions about the art of writing, your own writing, the world around us—focus on asking questions surrounding our senses or about experiences we are having or remembering in this time of isolation. Commit to meaningful challenging conversation in letters. Hold each other accountable. Encourage one another to spin off into other writing when these letters surprise us with wonderful ideas and observations.

Remember, all writing, every aspect of it, is about connection.


Award-winning poet and teacher Kathleen Driskell is the MFA Chair and Professor of Creative Writing at Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing, Home of the Low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. Her newest poetry collection Blue Etiquette is available from Red Hen Press. Next Door to the Dead, winner of the 2018 Judy Gaines Young Book Award is available from UPKY. Follow her @kathdriskell or visit her blog at kathleendriskell.blogspot.com.


It’s National Poetry Month! Have you got your poem for today?

By Lynnell Edwards, Associate Program Director, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

The first time I tried a “poem-a-day” challenge in April for National Poetry Month I had already blown it before I even started.  From my journal that year, I see the first entry is Monday, April 3.  But I had given myself a few rules to make the whole endeavor slightly more humane and if maybe I actually didn’t remember it was April until the 3rd, then okay.  Monday is still kind of like a first day so I went forward.

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THE UNINVITED

By Lesléa Newman, Writing for Children & Young Adult Faculty member

[Originally posted in The Nerdy Book Club by CBETHM on 11/12/2019. Reprinted here with permission from The Nerdy Book Club.]

Head shot by Mary Vazquez

I have been invited to hundreds of schools as a visiting author over the last several decades. And there are hundreds (thousands!) of schools who haven’t invited me. But I have never been uninvited to a school. Until now.

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A New Twist on our School of Writing Graduation Celebration

By Kathleen Driskell, Chair, School of Creative and Professional Writing

In recent residencies, we’ve noticed that fewer graduating students and their families have joined our farewell dinner buffet after the graduation ceremony. We’ve worried the added cost to include loved ones may be prohibitive for some, and we understand others may simply want to get away and have dinner on the town in Louisville. Besides, twenty years is a long time to keep doing the same thing, so the School of Writing team put our heads together and have asked the talented chefs of the Brown Hotel to shake things up a bit.

This spring, immediately after the graduation ceremony, we are delighted to invite graduates to bring a guest to our Gala Graduation Reception, where they can join other Spalding students, faculty, and alums for a champagne toast, and feast at the spectacular Grazing Tables the Brown will spread out before us.

The reception will allow those with off-site dinner plans to nibble and toast to your newly earned degrees before heading out. Those staying in should find enough to make an evening meal from the crudites, charcuterie boards full of chorizo, capicola, prosciutto, country ham and cheese boards with Derby Sage, Drunken Goat, smoked gouda, and baked brie. And nuts. And bruschetta. And charred asparagus. And shrimp cocktail. And sesame-crusted tuna. And roast beef. And fresh berries. And trust me, there’s more. Expect some beautiful desserts: lemon panna cotta, bites of Derby Pie, and chocolate mousse. A cash bar will be on site as well.

Again, each graduating student is invited to bring one guest to jolly up the celebration. Graduating students can buy $20 tickets for each additional guest they’d like to have join the reception. Children 12 or under may attend at no charge. And—because all of us are celebrating the graduates—there is no charge for our other enrolled Spalding students. Guests of (non-graduating) students or alums who wish to attend the Gala Graduation Reception may buy $20 tickets as well. Information on how to RSVP and buy additional tickets can be found in the residency survey that the SCPW will email out soon.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!


Award-winning poet and teacher Kathleen Driskell is the MFA Chair and Professor of Creative Writing at Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing, Home of the Low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. Her newest poetry collection Blue Etiquette is available from Red Hen Press. Next Door to the Dead, winner of the 2018 Judy Gaines Young Book Award is available from UPKY. Follow her @kathdriskell or visit her blog at kathleendriskell.blogspot.com.


A new live storytelling series in Eastern Kentucky has Spalding roots. Here’s how to get involved.

By Natalie Axton, Spalding MFA alum

I remember the first time I heard a story told for a live audience. I was a young girl, maybe ten or eleven, not yet in charge of my logistical destiny. It was fall. My parents had packed me and my brother into the car to head to some kind of Halloween happening.

Continue reading “A new live storytelling series in Eastern Kentucky has Spalding roots. Here’s how to get involved.”