On Possibility

By Keith S. Wilson, Poetry Faculty

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.

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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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Under the Ocelot Sun: The Making of an Illustrated Book

By Jeremy Paden, Spalding School of Writing Poetry Translation Faculty

The Bestia.
[Illustration by Annelissa Hermosilla]
[The Bestia is the name that migrants have given to the train that runs from southern Mexico
to northern Mexico. It’s known as The Bestia because of how dangerous it is.] 

His name is Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez. Propublica tells us Carlos was just sixteen years old when he died of the flu in a cell at a detention center in Weslaco, Texas in May 2019. He was from the Mayan highlands of Guatemala and the fourth minor to have died while in the custody of the Customs and Border Patrol Agency of the United States in 2019. He had followed his brother north, hoping that a new country would give him opportunities his own could not provide. The other children who have died in custody this year are also Guatemalan: the eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo, the not-yet-three-year-old Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vázquez, and the sixteen-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez. In 2018, two minors died while in custody, both girls: Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, a ten-year-old El Salvadoran, and Jakelin Caal Maquín, a seven-year-old Guatemalan.

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On Muriel Rukeyser

By Robin Lippincott, Fiction & Creative Nonfiction Faculty, Spalding’s School of Creative & Professional Writing

 The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser

Because it’s almost National Poetry Month as I write, and may already be April by the time this post appears, I want to repost a freshened-up version of an earlier blog—a tribute to the late, great poet Muriel Rukeyser.

I was fortunate enough to see Rukeyser and to hear her read, in 1978, less than two years before her death. This was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at Harvard University, in the Woodberry Poetry Room, as I recall, and the place was packed. Stratis Haviaras, director of the Poetry Room and later a teacher of mine, must have introduced her, but I don’t remember that.

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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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Three Poems of the Last Decade for the New Decade

By Douglas Manuel, Spalding School of Writing Poetry Faculty

The fact the decade was ending snuck up on me, much as old age often does: no impact at all, and then, suddenly, one’s perspective on flights of stairs changes, and one’s lower back finds the key of pain a little more often. I quote T.S. Eliot far too often: “I grow old … I grow old.” So yes, because of the stupors of routine and/or the acute observation fatigue I often feel (Our current political situation is a heavy stone I remove from my chest daily.), I did not feel the sighing swirls of decade’s end until the onslaught of end-of-decade lists saturated my television time with my family and my internet time as I turned tight, slow corners through the roads of my online neighborhoods. It was then, as cultivated nostalgia fed my senses, that I took my eyes from my screens and to myself, to those weathered roads of memory where the skyline is mostly foggy and the rain is cold enough to sting a bit but light enough to feel like mist. 

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Ohm’s Law

By Debra Kang Dean, Spalding School of Writing Poetry Faculty

For any circuit the electrical current is directly proportional to the voltage and is inversely proportional to the resistance.

As a consequence of my bewilderingly high scores in the electronics section of the battery of tests I had to take before enlisting in the Air Force, I was recruited into the field of ground radio repair. It turned out to be a poor match since I never really got beyond being able to read schematics; I console myself by believing that one need also have mechanical sense to do well, and my scores on that part of the test had been dismal.

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