top of page

Announcing Residency Book in Common, Cross-Genre Area for Upcoming Residencies

By Kathleen Driskell, Chair, Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing, Spalding University


Poetry is our cross-genre focus area for the spring residency on campus—and for our very first virtual summer residency. I’m delighted to announce that poet Kevin Prufer will serve as our Distinguished Visiting Writer and will visit both residencies to present talks on his latest collection, The Fears, and his work as a poet, editor, and critic.


All spring residency and summer virtual residency students in all areas of concentration read The Fears before attending residency to prepare for a community discussion and Kevin’s visit.  


For those who aren’t poets, sometimes the borders between poetry and other genres can seem less porous than between fiction and creative nonfiction or playwriting and screenwriting. Though poetry does use some of the same terminology as the other genres, such as imagery, description, and metaphor, admittedly poetry uses more specialized language as well—language that often seems alienating to nonpoets. But the study of poetry is important for all Naslund-Mann students. On the most practical level, because MFA grads are credentialed to teach in the academy, each graduate needs a foundational understanding of the oldest literary form in cultures both East and West.


But even for those who believe they won’t ever teach (though you should beware of this proclamation; it’s one I’d made for myself during my MFA study), engaging with the elements of poetry can enrich your writing in new and exciting ways. Poetry can help all writers understand what’s possible beyond literal language. Readers of poetry are exposed to strategies that provide more flexibility with language and a more dynamic sense of what’s possible in a sentence, as well as the wonders of syntactical modification. And—this is especially important, I think, in a world where genres are blurring—poetry can help writers of other genres explore the forms their writing might take.


There’s so much more that poetry can offer all writers, but I’ll leave you to make other discoveries you can share with our literary community when we come together the first day of on-campus or virtual residency to discuss The Fears.


The Fears is Kevin’s ninth collection, just out from Copper Canyon Press, and is already receiving wonderful buzz. I’ve long admired Kevin’s work, first encountering his groundbreaking collection National Anthem, which was unlike anything I’d read before. The Fears is lyrical, innovative, full of juxtapositions between the classical and contemporary worlds, and just the sort of challenging collection I’m delighted to have our graduate students of creative writing read and think about.


Other Cross-Genre Sessions:

Virtual Pre-Lecture on Poetry, Sunday, April 21, 2 p.m. Eastern Time


Before you come to residency, I’ll present an hourlong virtual pre-lecture on the cross-genre focus area, poetry, at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, Sunday, April 21. Naslund-Mann faculty members have presented these enriching pre-lectures for years to help students read deeply as they turn through the pages of a book or script that may not be in their primary area.


All spring and summer residency students are required to attend the pre-lecture, but if your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend on April 21, you can view a recording of the lecture that will be posted in the portal shortly after I’ve presented it live via Zoom. All students attending the spring or summer residency complete a lecture report for this presentation. The Zoom link and the link for you to submit your lecture report will be sent to your email address shortly before the live lecture.


On the first day of residency, whether you’re attending the spring or summer residency, we’ll begin our curriculum with a discussion of The Fears. Later in the residency, Kevin visits us on campus or via Zoom in real time to talk about his work. Each visit will include a Q & A session with our students and faculty.


During residencies, I’ll present a cross-genre lecture that requires students to complete a short exercise in writing poetry. We’ll share those efforts with each other near the end of the residency.


Pre-Reading Assignment for All


I’ll also be presenting the Literary Explorations lecture on Lyrical Ballads With a Few Other Poems, the ground-breaking collection co-authored by Wordsworth and Coleridge; critics widely believe that the publication of Lyrical Ballads in 1798 gave birth to the Romantic movement in literature. If you don’t own a copy of Lyrical Ballads,  you can access an electronic copy on the Project Gutenberg website. Thumb through the collection to find Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” but before coming to my lecture, take the time to read “The Female Vagrant,” “We Are Seven,” “The Idiot Boy,” “Old Man Traveling . . . ,” and “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.” I believe, as many others do, that Lyrical Ballads continues to have a large influence on contemporary literature. Thus, it’s important for all writers to know more about this collection and its enduring effect.


The faculty books in common for Spring and Summer residencies will be announced soon on the Preparing for Residency pages on the student portal. In the meantime, enjoy reading The Fears and dipping into Lyrical Ballads. I look forward to discussing the writing of both books with you soon. I’ll see you on campus during spring residency, May 25-June 1, or virtually during summer residency, June 22-29.



Kathleen Driskell is Chair of Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, where she and her husband live in a country church built before the American Civil War. Her essays and poems have appeared in The New Yorker, River Teeth, Southern Review, Shenandoah, Appalachian Review, and other literary magazines. Goat-Footed Gods, her sixth collection of poetry, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2025.



bottom of page