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February 2016

Life of a Writer: News and Events

February 2016


Shawna Downes (F) was recently offered her first teaching position at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon. She will teach Literary Journal Production this Spring.

Jeffrey Fischer-Smith’s (PW) short play, “A Dog Dreams,” was produced in December by Smoked Apple Theater Group in Louisville, Kentucky, as part of its celebration of black theater “6’10: A Showcase of African American Theater” and in early February by Short + Sweet Theatre Melbourne in Australia. “A Dog Dreams” will be produced in late February by The Greenhouse Ensemble in New York as part of its “10 Minute Play Soirée” and in June in the 11th Annual InspiraTO Festival, Canada’s largest ten-minute play festival. “A Dog Dreams” also has been selected as a semifinalist in Lakeshore Players’ 12th Annual Ten-Minute Playwriting Contest. Fischer-Smith’s one-act play, “The Great Hope,” was chosen as one of twenty finalists in Shakespeare in the Burg’s One-Act Playwriting Competition, an annual festival in Middleburg, Virginia.

Jessica Love Kim’s (W4CYA) second young adult novel, In Real Life, will be published on March 1st by St. Martin’s Griffin and will be available wherever books are sold.

Heather Meyer (PW) was a finalist for the KCACTF Region 5 National Ten-Minute Play Award. She received a week-long workshop of her work and a concert reading. Heather’s show Women’s History Month: The Historical Comedybration (with fabulous prizes) is performing again this March and April. This marks the fifth production run of this play in four years. Heather is teaching sketch comedy writing and improv at the Brave New Workshop Student Union, the oldest satirical comedy theatre in the nation, and is also the Interim Director for this organization.

Hugh Moffatt (SW) has a new CD coming out in February. It is his eleventh album overall and his second duet album with his sister, Katy Moffatt. The title of the album is Now and Then and is made up mostly of standard songs from many styles of music that the two of them have sung, separately or together, for many years but never recorded. In conjunction with this release, the brother/sister duo will tour in Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands from March 31 through April 17. For more information see their websites: or

Hugh also has a children’s picture book series, Dissolvo Dog, that is being represented by the Thompson Literary Agency ( The books are illustrated by Nashville author/illustrator, Julie Sola ( The first three volumes are complete and were starting to be presented to publishers the first week of February.

Marc Tretin’s (P) poetry manuscript, Pink Mattress, has been accepted by New York Quarterly Press. Publication is anticipated for the late fall or early spring.

Faculty and Staff

Kirby Gann has stories forthcoming this spring/summer: Ploughshares will publish “The Obscening of Engine Kreuter,” the story from which he read at the fall residency, in its next issue, scheduled to for the first week of April. Post Road magazine plans to include “Les Abandonnées” in summer. His nonfiction work, Bookmarked: John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, is also due to appear in April, as one of the two titles launching a series entitled Bookmarked; these are brief books in which an author focuses on one famous work of literature that left a powerful impression on his/her development as a writer. Look for coverage in Poets & Writers magazine and Salon later this spring.

Roy Hoffman’s essay, “How to Be Liberal in Lower Alabama,” was on The New York Times op/ed page, January 11, 2016, and for several days was listed as one of the top ten e-mailed pieces by Times readers. His review of 98-year old Diana Athill’s memoir, “Alive, Alive Oh!,” was in The New York Times Book Review, February 14, 2016. Roy led an audience discussion of the movie Phoenix after its screening in the Mobile Jewish Film Festival, January 12, 2016, and received an honor from his high school in Mobile, UMS-Wright, on February 4, 2016, installed in its alumni arts hall of fame.

Robin Lippincott gave readings from his new book Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell, in Orlando, Florida, at Gallery at Avalon Island (in conjunction with Bookmark It), in Coral Gables, at Books & Books, in Boca Grande, at the Johann Fust Community Library, and in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at Porter Square Books. Great thanks to everyone who came out.

Lesléa Newman has just received the Association of Jewish Libraries 2016 Sydney Taylor Award (picture book category) for Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed. The award is given for the best children’s book of the year that exemplifies the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The book has also been acquired by Hyoronsha Publishing Company who will translate it into Japanese and make it available in Japan. Lesléa’s book, My Name is Aviva, received the 2015 Sugarman Family Children’s Book Award for the best Jewish children’s book of the year. And finally, the title poem of her newest poetry collection, I Carry My Mother, has recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


Lynda Archer’s (F ’05) debut novel, Tears in the Grass (Dundurn Press), will be released in March.

Priscilla Atkins (P ’08) has poems “Hi Poochie” and “Break a Cup” in Upstairs at Duroc (Paris) issue 16, 2016. Her book, The Café of Our Departure, is on the American Library Association 2016 Over the Rainbow list of books that include “authentic expression of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experiences.”

David Carren’s (SW ’05) new original screenplay, The Clever Girl, has won Best Feature Screenplay in the 2015 Paris Independent Film Festival and is an Official Selection in the 2016 Richmond International Film Festival. His play, Hollyweird, is also a semi-finalist in the 2016 Eugene O’Neil National Playwrights Conference.

Nancy Jo Cegla (PW ’07) has had her poem entitled “Brackish-water Crab,” accepted for publication with Star 82, June 2016 edition.

Alice Covington’s (F ’13) “Pigeons and Panthers,” a story based on the novel that was her creative thesis, was published in the spring 2015 issue of Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, and “Sanctuary,” a story inspired by her January 2015 trip to India with Helena Kriel and other alumni, appears in the fall 2015 issue of FLARE: The Flagler Review.

Joan Donaldson (CNF ’08) recently spoke to a creative non-fiction writing class at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, about the craft of writing. The students had read from Donaldson’s essay collection, Wedded to the Land.

Nivi Engineer’s (F ’15) play, Jaathi, has been selected to be workshopped by Playwrights Local 4181, and a staged reading of the revised work will be performed during the group’s Playwrights Festival in Collinwood, Ohio, on Sunday, April 17 at 3pm. She will be working with fellow Spalding alum, Arwen Mitchell.

Mark Ervin’s (SW ’15) play Golgotha will be performed at Aloysius College in Pennsylvania this spring. The production marks the 30th performance since the play’s writing in 2001.

Karen George (F ’09) had a poem published in Rogue Agent, and in Accent Publishing’s Circe’s Lament: Anthology of Wild Women Poetry. Her short story “Taking Count,” which she worked on at Spalding, was published in The Adirondack Review. Her prose poetry chapbook, The Fire Circle, the first book in Blue Lyra Press’s Delphi Poetry Series, is available at She was invited to visit a class at Thomas More College to discuss publishing poetry, and her poetry collection Swim Your Way Back from Dos Madres Press.

Joe Gisondi’s (CNF ’06) book, Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot, was released by University of Nebraska Press in December. Joe has appeared on several radio shows in both the United States and Canada, and his book has garnered stories in several Illinois and online newspapers.

Vanessa Gonzales’ (F ’12) novel, The Light in the Sound, was recently released by Bread and Beauty Publishing. For more information or to follow her blog on writing, teaching, and being thirty-something, she can be found at Vanessa and her husband, Josh, are currently traveling the U.S. in a solar-powered vintage RV that they renovated. Anyone interested in following their adventures can find their travel blog at

J. Gumbs (F ’09) entered NaNoWriMo and completed a first draft of a new novel.

Colleen S. Harris-Keith (P ’09) won the American Library Association’s Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Publication, one of the association’s highest awards for published research. She will accept the award in January at the Midwinter Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. (More information can be found at

Dave Harrity (P ’07) recently received the William Alexander II and Lisa Percy Fellowship from the Rivendell Colony in Sewanee, Tennessee. He has two books of poetry out this year: These Intricacies (Cascade Books) and Our Father in the Year of the Wolf (Word Farm).

Lynn Hoffman’s (W4C&YA/SW ’15) poem, “Walking on Water,” has inspired a dance ensemble to be performed in May 2016, at the Westminster School (CT). Also in May, Lynn will conduct a 5-week narrative-writing workshop for 5th-graders at the Renzulli School for Gifted & Talented students in Hartford (CT) through the Bushnell Performing Arts Center’s “Partners in Arts and Education Program.”

Alice-Catherine Jennings (P ’14) is pleased to announce that four of her poems inspired by epic poetry have been accepted by “the quint: an interdisciplinary quarterly from the north” published by the University College of the North in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada, and her poem “Woman Crossing A River In Oaxaca, A Sketch” is forthcoming in Ounwapi, the first print literary journal of Oglala Lakota College, a tribal college in South Dakota. In addition, her debut chapbook Katherine of Aragon: A Collection of Poems is now available for preorder from Finishing Line Press at

Bridgett Jensen’s (CNF ’08) essay “It Could Be Reverence” was published in the winter creative non-fiction issue of Literature and Belief. Her essay, “What We Made,” was published in the January issue of Literary Mama. You can read it at

Marci Rae Johnson’s (P ’05) second full-length collection of poetry, Basic Disaster Supplies Kit, was released by Steel Toe Books in January. Marci’s poems have recently appeared in Englewood Review of Books, Books & Culture, the Curator, and Rock & Sling. She will be a panelist/featured reader at a number of venues this year, including the Midwest Conference of Christianity and Literature, the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College, the Small Presitvus Festival sponsored by Blotterature Magazine, and Easter Mennonite University.

Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan’s (CNF ’03) book, Our Perfect Wild, was released by the University of Alaska Press. The website for the book is

Mary Knight (W4CYA’13) is proud to announce the publication of her middle grade novel, Saving Wonder, by Scholastic in February. In a recent review in School Library Journal, Saving Wonder was called “a remarkable debut novel by an author to watch.” It was selected for the Spring 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List.

Kelly Martineau (CNF ’10) offered three sessions of a free community workshop entitled “Motherhood on the Page: Read and Write the Mothering Experience” in fall 2015. She currently authors a quarterly Motherhood on the Page newsletter featuring reading recommendations, local events, publication opportunities, and a writing prompt. In 2015, she received an Honorable Mention from New Millennium Writings for her essay, “A Grief Unraveled” as well as Third Place in the 2015 Northern Colorado Writers Personal Essay/Creative Nonfiction Contest for her essay, “Notes on Machinery,” which was originally published in The Louisville Review. Most recently, her essay, “Fury” was published by Blue Mesa Review as a Finalist in the Summer 2015 Creative Nonfiction Contest.

Mary Lou Northern (F ’11) received notice from New Millennium Writings Competition that her story, “Summer Heat: 1936,” was selected as a semifinalist. “Only about 10% of submission make it this far, and we think that’s worth celebrating….” The Tuscany Prize Committee designated her story, “That Other Me,” notable fiction. In 2015, she was accepted into Vermont College’s Postgraduate Conference where she studied with Lee Martin, Andre Dubus III, and other distinguished writers.

Nancy O’Connor (W4CYA ’08) just published seven books with Eleanor Curtain Publishing, an Australian educational publisher. These fiction and non-fiction stories will be marketed in the U.S. by Okapi Educational Publishing to schools for reading instruction as part of a program called Flying Start to Literacy. The stories include A Pizza for Bear, The Silliest Scarecrow, The Smallest Smudger, Frost, The Too-tight Tutu, Animal Show-offs, and Meerkats at Work. Nancy was invited to present on her books at the Okapi national sales meeting in New Orleans in January.

 Mary Popham (F ’03) published an article, “Something New in Southern Food” featuring fellow MFA alum Aimee Zaring and her award-winning book, Flavors from Home in the Southern Food Issue of 2nd & Church magazine, in January 2016. She was a fiction finalist with her short story, “Three Secrets,” and it was published in the 2015 New Southerner Anthology. She reviewed Nana Lampton’s poetry book, Wash the Dust from My Eyes, in December 2015, and reviewed When We Were Young in Africa, by Carol Claxton Polsgrove, both on the Literary Labors blog, in November 2015. She read an excerpt from her lecture, “Entering Through the Kitchen: Building Character and Setting the Scene” at the 3rd Anniversary Celebration of Kimberly Crum’s Shape & Flow Writing Services held at The Bard’s Town, Louisville, in November 2015.

Paul Alan Ruben’s (F ’14) short story, “A Minor Adjustment,” part of his collection, Terms of Engagement: Stories of the Father and Son, has been accepted for publication in the July 2016 issue of Connotation Press.

Alan Samry’s (CNF ’12) poem, “Beauty Scars,” will be published by Oracle Fine Arts Review, the University of South Alabama’s annual literary journal this spring. Alan continues to offer quarterly creative writing workshops at Fairhope Public Library, where he is employed as a reference library technician. “A Crash Course in Creative Writing” is a three class series with assigned readings from three different genres, and brief instructive and fun writing exercises. The class structure uses Spalding’s encouraging, nurturing, and positive model. Alan is currently enrolled in the University of Alabama’s online Master of Library and Information Studies program. A below-knee amputee, Alan shares his amputee, library, and writing life at Stump the Librarian.

Kat Shehata (W4CYA ’12) signed a three-book contract with Limitless Publishing for her debut romantic thriller, Russian Tattoos. The first book in the trilogy, Obsession, was released on January 12 and landed on the Amazon Bestseller List in the International Crime & Mystery category. Her novel also achieved bestseller status in the same category on Amazon’s international websites in Canada, U.K., and Australia.

Amy Watkins (P ‘06) is the new art editor for Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine.


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