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Announcing the MFA residency in Santiago, Chile

By Katy Yocom, Spalding Low-Residency MFA Associate Director

Each summer, the Spalding MFA in Writing program travels overseas to study creative writing while exploring literature and art across cultures. In July 2019, our residency takes us to Santiago, Chile.

Santiago Skyline

Chile is home to literary giants, foremost among them Pablo Neruda, who has been called the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language. Neruda received the Nobel Prize in Literature, as did Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American to receive the prize. In an upcoming series on this blog, Spalding MFA faculty member Jeremy Paden will provide an overview of Chile’s most important prose writers, poets, and dramatists. Watch for it here.

Situated against the Andes Mountains beneath the stars of the Southern sky, Santiago (population 5.6 million) provides a dramatic setting for our residency. July is midwinter in the Southern Hemisphere, and though the mountains will be snow-capped, in the city, temperatures will be moderate, ranging from the 30s to the 60s. Once a Spanish colony before gaining independence in 1810, Chile offers the opportunity to speak Spanish or, if you like, prepare for independent study in translation.

Our group will stay in the heart of the city, five minutes’ walking distance from the Barrio Bellavista, a neighborhood of restaurants, cafés and bars. Twenty minutes’ walk away, we’ll find our classroom space at the Universidad de Chile, the oldest and most prestigious university in the country (and alma mater of both Neruda and Mistral).

Barrio Bellavista

In Summer 2019, Program Director Kathleen Driskell leads our group and delivers plenary lectures. Faculty-led workshops form the backbone of residency, as always, though this time they’re offered in a new format: faculty lead multi-genre workshops that will help students develop further mastery in literary elements. Students submit worksheets as usual in their major areas of concentration but opt to participate in the Narrative, Lyric, or Dramatic Writing workshop. Upper-level students may opt instead for a teaching seminar:

* Students who wish to submit worksheets in fiction, creative nonfiction, middle grade, young adult, or new adult register for the Narrative workshop with faculty leader Rachel Harper.

* Students who wish to submit worksheets in poetry, lyric essay, or picture books register for the Lyric workshop with faculty leader Dianne Aprile.

* Students who wish to submit worksheets in playwriting, screenwriting, spoken word, or dramatic poetry register for the Dramatic Writing workshop with Gabriel Dean.

* The Teaching Seminar in Creative Writing, led by Lynnell Edwards, will also be available to students who have met the ENG-623 prerequisite and receive permission to register. Space is limited.

Students also attend craft lectures, generative writing sessions, readings, and sessions on the profession of writing; read and discuss South American literature; and complete a cross-genre exercise.

After residency, students who are enrolled in the independent study course work one-on-one with a faculty mentor focusing on fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, playwriting, or screenwriting. Upper-level students may spend their independent study working in translation.

Universidad de Chile

Guided cultural explorations include a half-day in Santiago, visiting the Pablo Neruda home and the Violeta Parra Museum (Parra was a Chilean composer, songwriter, and folklorist known as the “Mother of Latin American folk”); a daylong excursion to the colorful port city of Valparaiso, including a stop at “La Sebastiana,” Neruda’s home and museum there; a wine tour and tasting; and our welcome and farewell dinners at notable Santiago restaurants.

Pablo Neruda Home and Museum, Valparaíso

MFAers may also opt for a guided visit to the Human Rights and Memory of Violence Museum, which pays witness to the abuses of the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Travelers may plan to arrive early for the July 2 total solar eclipse in the Elqui Valley, 465 miles north of Santiago, or stay in country after residency to take advantage of the outdoor adventures available in Chile.


July 8: Arrive in Santiago after an overnight flight from the States. Gather for our welcome dinner.

July 9: Students have the morning free to explore our neighborhood. Classes kick off at Universidad de Chile with our opening session in the afternoon.

July 10: Full day of classes.

July 11: Morning classes, followed by an afternoon tour of the Pablo Neruda home in Santiago and the Violeta Parra museum, honoring the Chilean composer, songwriter, and folklorist.

July 12: Full day of classes.

July 13: Full day of classes.

July 14: Full-day cultural excursion to Valparaíso, a port city overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Built on forty-one hills, Valparaíso is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its vibrant architecture and street art. We’ll visit the Pablo Neruda Home and Museum, then stop at a vineyard for a wine tasting and tour on our way back to Santiago.

July 15: Full day of classes.

July 16: Free day for exploring on your own. MFAers may take an optional tour of the Human Rights and Memory of Violence museum. Or you may choose to go hiking or visit a penguin rookery using a local outfitter.

July 17: Final classes, graduation ceremony, and farewell dinner.

July 18: Return home or continue your Chilean travels.

What’s included in the travel package?

* A shared hotel room for 10 nights at the Crowne Plaza Santiago in the city center. Single-room upgrades are available for an additional charge.

* Welcome and farewell dinners; breakfasts daily.

* A half-day tour of the Pablo Neruda home and Violeta Parra museum, both in Santiago.

* Full-day cultural excursion to Valparaíso by motorcoach, including “La Sebastiana,” Neruda’s home and museum.

* Wine tour and tasting.

* Airport transfers on July 8 and 18.

* Customary gratuities for local guides and assistants.

* Basic trip insurance at no extra charge.

International flights are not included, but you can book flights through WorldStrides, our travel provider, if you like.

Crowne Plaza Santiago

What about pricing and payment?

Tuition is the same as in spring and fall semesters: $570 per credit hour, or $8,550 for the semester. For graduating students, tuition for the residency is $2,850. Graduate Certificate in Writing students register for 15 credit hours ($8,550); financial aid is available for both Graduate Certificate and MFA students.

Travel pricing is separate from tuition. The ground travel package listed above is priced at $3,013, but current students who sign up for travel by January 9 qualify for a special $450 discount. Incoming students who sign up for travel by March 10 receive the same discount.

By special arrangement, alumni and guests who enroll for travel by January 9 qualify for a discount of $150.

Travelers may upgrade to a single room for $747.

Most students, including graduating students, can use student loans to cover both tuition and travel expenses. It is your responsibility to ensure you have enough in loans coming to cover your costs.

Are scholarships available?

Yes. WorldStrides offers a $3,000 higher ed traveler scholarship to one student. Spalding offers one-time partial scholarships to incoming students and graduate assistantships to returning students.

What’s the deadline to sign up for travel?

For current students, the early-bird discount deadline is January 9; final deadline is February 1.

For prospective students, the application deadline for admission to the MFA program is February 1, and the early-decision discount deadline to sign up for travel is March 10. March 22 is the final day to enroll for travel.

Are there pre-residency requirements?

Yes. An introductory workshop and Workshop Book in Common session convenes via Zoom videoconference on Sunday, June 9 (time TBA). Students should ensure they can attend this mandatory meeting before registering for the residency. In addition, all graduating student lectures will be delivered online.

How do I sign up?

Registration opens soon! Current students will receive an email with registration details, and both current and prospective students are welcome to contact me with any questions.

Valparaíso Sunset

Katy Yocom’s novel Three Ways to Disappear (Ashland Creek Press, forthcoming 2019) won the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature. She is a 2019 recipient of the Al Smith Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Salon, The Louisville Review, decomP magazinE, StyleSubstanceSoul, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University and is a grantee of the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.



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