All Things Alumni: The Many Benefits of the Spalding MFA Alumni Association

August 18, 2022


By Marjetta Geerling, Spalding MFA Alumni Association Director


Each year, as our alumni population grows, so do our Spalding MFA Alumni Association offerings. We have so much going on, it can be hard to keep track of all the opportunities available, so here it is at long last—a breakdown of all things Alumni Association. Hold on to your hats and glasses, folks, because it’s a long list!



Programs

Homecoming: Reconnect each year at Homecoming! Offered at Spring residency both in person in Louisville and virtually, participation in Homecoming events is free for all alumni. Lectures, alumni readings, literary chats, writing sprints, and generative sessions are led by alumni. Keep an eye on your inbox in the winter for the call for presentation proposals!

International Travel: Alumni have the opportunity to travel abroad with the Summer residency. All the fun of residency abroad, none of the deadlines! Watch your email and News from Home for sign-up information every year.


SpaldingCon is a professional development opportunity offered every Fall residency. Alumni join faculty-led workshops, either in person in Louisville or online, for an intensive three-day study. Take a workshop outside the genre you focused in, sign up for a generative workshop, join a partial or full manuscript workshop, work with a favorite faculty member—or a faculty member you didn’t get the chance to work with but wish you had. SpaldingCon offers you the opportunity to reignite and refine your writing practice!

Alumni Gatherings around the country, ad hoc: Prior to the pandemic, alumni around the country hosted local events. Now that we’re doing more things in person again, we hope to revive this tradition. From a simple meet-up at a restaurant to multi-day retreats, alumni are invited to plan get-togethers where they live. Past events include readings, meet-ups at book fairs, and lectures followed by happy hour/mingling. Future events are limited only by our imaginations. Contact me if you want to talk about getting a group together in your area.

The Business of Writing Seminars are virtual curriculum offerings for current students, but alumni can participate in two ways. For a nominal fee, alumni can participate in the full-day seminars, which focus on the business side of writing. You may also choose to propose a seminar in your area of expertise. Keep an eye on News from Home for more information.

Alumni Celebration of Recently Published Works showcases alumni accomplishments in the areas of publishing, play production, and filmmaking. Faculty, students, and alumni are invited to celebrate the success of Spalding graduates through participation in readings and screenings. The evening culminates with an opportunity to purchase alumni works during a meet-and-greet with the authors and filmmakers. Held annually at Homecoming and as needed virtually. Look for selection criteria and deadlines on social media and the alumni website.



Ongoing Education and

Engagement Opportunities

Online workshops/writing groups: Twice per year, an Alumni Association representative sends out an email asking if you’d like to join an online writing workshop. You have the choice of staying in your genre or exploring other genres and participating in partial or full manuscript workshops. Once responses are in, groups are formed. Each group decides its own rules, including how often to exchange work, whether or not to meet virtually, and how long the group will stay together.

PGRA positions: Help out at a residency in Louisville or abroad by volunteering to be a Post-Graduate Residency Assistant. PGRAs help residencies run smoothly by doing all the behind-the-scenes work that make for a memorable student experience. PGRAs receive a room at the Brown and may have the opportunity to sit in a workshop alongside current students. They are also included in all residency activities and meals. Contact Katy Yocom, associate director of the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing, if you’re interested.

Spalding's campus in fall.

Residency-only is an opportunity for alumni to continue their studies in the academic setting. Residency-only alumni attend residency alongside current students, benefiting from the School’s advanced curriculum to further their personal writing goals. Contact Karen Mann for more information.

Post-master’s Certificate in Writing Enrichment: The School offers a 15-hour, one-semester Post-master’s Certificate in Writing Enrichment to study creative writing or professional writing and editing. School alumni, as well as graduates of other programs holding the PhD, MFA, or MA with creative writing theses, may enroll. Financial aid may be available, and the certificate may prove a useful credential for career advancement. Contact Karen Mann for more information.

Writing at the Brown is a writers’ retreat that takes place at each Spring and Fall residency. The retreat provides alumni with space to write in quiet, pleasant surroundings at the Brown Hotel or in the Mansion on campus. Participants also have the option to attend residency sessions, such as faculty and guest lectures. Keep your eye on social media and News from Home for more information.

Write with Me sessions are designed to inspire you to rekindle or maintain a regular writing practice. Hop on a Zoom link and check in with the group, then mute your mic and camera, and write away. At the end of the session, check back in to celebrate getting words on the page! We currently offer three sessions, held on different days for different lengths of time to accommodate different schedules:

  • Sundays, 6 – 9 p.m. ET / 3 – 6 p.m. PT, hosted by Chella Courington

  • Tuesdays, 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT (30-60 minutes), hosted by Jill Cox-Cordova (F ’17)

  • Fridays, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT (for around 75 minutes), hosted by Terry Price (F ’06), who will begin the session with an inspirational thought.


You can find links to these sessions on the Spalding MFA in Writing Alumni Association closed Facebook group. Don’t see a session that works for you? Contact me to volunteer to host your own Write with Me sessions for alumni.


Spalding Water Cooler, hosted by Mervyn Seivwright (P ’19) and Cristina Trapani-Scott (F/P ’09), is a supportive space to discuss the challenges and joys of the writing life. Held every third Sunday of 2022 on Zoom, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT. Watch social media for the registration link!

But wait, there’s more! Keep reading . . .



Communication

MFA in Writing Alumni Facebook & Alumni Association Twitter: The Alumni Association has a presence on both Facebook and Twitter. Please join our closed Facebook group for Alumni Association news and updates. It’s also a great place to celebrate good news, ask for advice, and connect with other alumni! You can find us on Twitter at @Spalding_MFA_AA.

News from Home: News from Home is a quarterly newsletter Katy sends out to keep alumni informed about all the opportunities available and to share alumni good news through Life of a Writer. Formatted to skim, each short entry links to more information about each item in the newsletter. Please make sure Katy’s email address is in your contact list so you’ll never miss an issue. News from Home is the best way to keep up with all that’s happening at Spalding and with the MFA Alumni Association.

Faculty/Staff Blog: Stay inspired by reading the faculty/staff blog that is now part of Good River Review. Posts include discussions of craft and the writing life.

Website: Our alumni-run website is meant to be a resource for all alumni. Currently under construction, the website will hopefully be up and running by Fall 2022.

Emails from Staff: Make sure all staff members’ email addresses are in your contact list so that emails from the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing don’t get sent to spam or bounce.


Other Benefits

Spalding Email: You have lifetime use of your Spalding email address, which includes access to the portal and all the faculty lecture audios from the past few semesters.

Free registration for AWP: We are awarded a limited number of registration waivers for each Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) yearly conference. Katy Yocom announces them in News from Home and on social media. They are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, so email Katy as soon as you see the call.


Opportunities to Serve

Hosting Local Events: Missing your time at the Brown? Want to connect with other alumni in your area? Consider organizing an alumni gathering where you live. Contact me for help getting your event up and running.

Your Ideas! Our Alumni Association is so wonderful because our alumni are so wonderful! Everything we offer was once someone’s wild idea, so we welcome your thoughts about how to keep the Alumni Association active and relevant. Feel free to reach out to Katy or me with your ideas!

Recruitment: Remember we don’t have alumni without having students graduate from the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing first! Bringing in new students keeps the program strong and strengthens the value of our degrees. If you know a writer who’d be a good fit, please reach out to them and encourage them to apply. As an added incentive, new students referred by alumni are offered a $2,000 Alumni Select Scholarship.

Every year, alumni are invited to propose Homecoming sessions for the following Spring Homecoming. Alumni offer a variety of programs: lectures, generative sessions, literary chats, writing sprints, and more. If you have an idea you’d like to pitch, keep an eye on your inbox for the Call for Proposals, which will outline criteria, format, and deadlines.

As mentioned above, the Business of Writing Seminars are twice-yearly virtual curriculum offerings for current students. Alums can propose a Business of Writing seminar in your area of expertise. Keep an eye on News from Home for more information.

Donate: One way to give back is to literally give back. Whether you choose to support programming for alumni or donate to a scholarship fund, you can decide how your donation will be used. Check out the opportunities to give:



Wherever your writing journey leads you, the MFA Alumni Association is here to support you in staying connected to your art, the program, and each other. There’s no expiration date on your membership—it’s never too late to jump back in! You are always welcome at any Alumni Association offering.


If you have any questions or ideas to share, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.



with love,



Marjetta Geerling, W4CYA ’11

Director, Spalding MFA Alumni Association