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Announcing the Fall 2022 Distinguished MFA Alumni Lecturer; Calling for Spring 2023 Proposals

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

Marjetta Geerling to present Writing for Children & YA lecture to Naslund-Mann School of Writing

On behalf of the Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University, I am delighted to announce that the inaugural Distinguished MFA Alumni Lecture will be presented by Marjetta Geerling. The lecture takes place Thursday, November 17, in the Egan Leadership Center’s Troutman Lectorium on campus. In 2011, Marjetta was awarded her MFA from Spalding with a concentration in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Marjetta’s lecture “The Eye of I: First-Person Narration in Young Adult Literature” will explore the use of characters’ worldviews to build engaging first-person narration. As young adult literature relies heavily on the immediacy and intimacy of first-person narration, in her presentation, Marjetta analyzes what makes a successful first-person narrator and offers strategies for elevating the language of first-person narration, demystifying voice by examining the relationship between character and language and how an in-depth understanding of a character’s worldview will naturally create a stronger, more compelling narrative voice. Marjetta will apply literary philosopher Kenneth Burke’s theory of terministic screens and M. M. Bakhtin’s theory of discursive language to a variety of models, including Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints of Nothing, to illustrate how a strong connection between character construction and language choice creates a unique narrative voice.

Marjetta Geerling

Marjetta Geerling is the author of Fancy White Trash (Viking Children’s Books, 2008), selected for American Library Association’s 2009 Best Books for Young Adults and for the 2009 Rainbow List. Cold Nose, Warm Heart (2020), A Tail for Two (2020), and Paws for Love (2021)—romance novels for adults—were published by Sourcebooks-Casablanca under her pen name, Mara Wells. She has a novella forthcoming in the anthology Wedding Tails, scheduled for release in February 2023. Marjetta lives in Hollywood, Florida, where she is an associate professor of English at Broward College.

We wish to express gratitude to those alumni who also sent very good lecture proposals for consideration for the Fall 2022 residency.

Call for Proposals: Writing for TV, Screen, and Stage Spalding MFA Alumni, for Spring 2023 Lecture

The Naslund-Mann School invites MFA alumni who graduated in playwriting or screenwriting to submit proposals for an hour-long craft lecture in the area of Writing for TV, Screen, and Stage. The lecture will be presented at the Spring 2023 residency, May 27-June 3. The deadline for proposals is February 18.

Alumni may propose to lecture on craft or on an important figure or school of writing in the featured area. The best proposals will focus on distinct concerns of Writing for TV, Screen, and Stage but present information that will be useful to writers of all genres. While the lecture may engage the audience with exercises, at least forty-five minutes of the hour should be presented in lecture form.

Each proposal should include the alum’s name, the lecture title, a description (at least 150 and no more than 200 words) to be included in the Residency Lecture Descriptions document, as well as the thesis of the lecture, a rough outline of the lecture, and the goals of the lecture, describing the main takeaways for the audience.

We encourage alumni to revisit their ECEs, graduation lectures, or topics for their small group discussions for possible subjects.

Each semester, the chair and directors, with faculty input, choose one lecture to be presented as part of the Distinguished MFA Alumni Lecture series at the upcoming residency on Spalding’s campus. The selected lecturer will present a one-hour lecture and be compensated a $500 honorarium, a one-night stay at The Brown Hotel, travel expenses to and from residency, and a per diem for meals.

This lecture will be open to the community as well as to students and faculty at the residency in Louisville.

The lecture proposals are due no later than the midsession deadline of the previous fall or spring semester. Forthcoming deadlines:

Spring 2023: WTVSS, proposal deadline February 18, 2023.

Fall 2023: Fiction, proposal deadline August 28, 2023.

Spring 2024: Poetry, proposal deadline February 18, 2024.

Fall 2024: Creative Nonfiction, proposal deadline August 28, 2024.

Spring 2025: W4CYA, proposal deadline February 18, 2025.

To submit a proposal for a WTVSS lecture to be presented at the Spring 2023 residency, May 27-June 3, send your proposal to the Naslund-Mann School of Writing with the subject line “last name, first name, SPRING 2023 Alumni Lecture Proposal.”

We hope to award the WTVSS Distinguished Alumni Lectureship for Spring 2023 no later than March 15.

For more information, please contact Kathleen Driskell, chair, Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing.


Kathleen Driskell is chair of the Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s the author of four collections of poetry including Blue Etiquette, a finalist for the Weatherford Award; Next Door to the Dead, winner of the 2018 Judy Gaines Young Book Award, and Seed Across Snow, a Poetry Foundation national bestseller. Her chapbook The Vine Temple is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in many magazines including Shenandoah, Symposeum, Southern Review, and Red Tree Review, and have been featured in anthologies and online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and American Life in Poetry. She has work forthcoming in The New Yorker and Appalachian Review. She is currently chair of the Board of Directors of AWP.


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