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Good Things to Come: Highlights of Fall 2023 Residency

by Kathleen Driskell, Chair

We’re all busily planning lots of wonderful sessions for our fall 2023 residency coming up soon, November 11-18. It will be great to have students, faculty, and alumni back on campus for seven days of enriching workshops, lectures, readings, panels, and more.

We’ll kick off our studies on Saturday, soon after all arrive, with the residency book-in-common discussion. Our focus is on Professor Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s marvelous novel The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois. You can learn more about that book selection and its Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature award in my previous post. Do come to campus ready to participate in our kick-off session.

We’re pleased that the Louisville Free Public Library is partnering with us to present Professor Jeffers, our Distinguished Visiting Writer for Fall 2023, mid-way through residency on Wednesday, November 15, at 6:00 p.m. at their main branch on York Street, close to campus and the Brown Hotel.

In addition to our usual readings by faculty and students, we’ll have a pre-residency virtual reading on Wednesday evening, November 8, featuring faculty members K. L. Cook (fiction), Lamar Giles (children & young adults), Silas House (fiction), Ellen Hagan (children & young adults), and Gabriel Jason Dean (playwriting). A link will be sent out before the reading.

Our Celebration of Recently Published Books takes place at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, November 12, at the Brown Hotel. It will feature readings from faculty with new publications: Rachel M. Harper, The Other Mother; Maggie Smith, You Could Make This Place Beautiful; Lee Martin, The Glassmaker’s Wife; Lesléa Newman, Always Matt: A Tribute to Matthew Shepard, and I’ll be reading poems from The Vine Temple. Carmichael’s Bookstore will sell books for this event on site, and book signings will follow the reading.

In addition to our distinguished visiting writer, other fall residency guests providing lectures include screenwriter Susan Elizabeth Kelly, who runs a mini-workshop on the short film; screenwriter Stu Pollard, who talks about how to successfully bring ghosts to life on the screen; and playwright Zac Campbell-Hoogendyk, who shares his experience researching and writing a play based on one character.

MFA alums will visit to guest lecture as well: Kelly Creagh presents “When Worlds Collide: Exploring Techniques for Integrating an Alternate World with Reality in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction” and Nathan Gower presents “The Music of a Scene: Balancing Tension with Consonance, Dissonance, and Narrative Interludes.” Both alums have new books just out or coming soon.

Kelly Hill

And speaking of alums, I’m delighted to announce that fiction alumna Kelly Hill has been named the Distinguished MFA Alumni Lecturer for the fall 2023 residency. Kelly presents the talk “(Re)writing History: The Historical Novel as Resistance,” which includes a quick writing assignment. Congratulations to Kelly on this honor. (Poetry alumni, get ready to present your proposals for the Distinguished MFA Alumni Lecture for spring 2024.)

As our cross-genre area for fall is fiction and we’ll spend a good deal of time talking about the novel The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, I want to make sure we discuss the other important fiction form, the short story. My plenary lecture “The Power of the Short Story Form” explores the roots of story, but we’ll also look carefully at Sherwood Anderson’s “Death in the Woods,” Octavia Butler’s “Speech Sounds,” and Alice Munro’s “Floating Bridge.” Links to all texts can be found on the portal.

My craft lecture this fall “Bang!—Dash—Monkeyt@il: Punctuation Strategies for Writers,” is one of my favorite talks to give. We’ll look at some rules (yawn!) but I’m more interested in exploring the figurative and stylistic possibilities punctuation offers a writer. And you’ll get to muse about your own punctuation strategy, answering for yourself, “Am I closed or loose?”

I hope we’ll find some synergy when thinking about pacing, rhythm, figurative strategy, and about the form of the story when we all attend our interrelatedness-of-the-arts event, Giselle, presented by the Louisville Ballet on Sunday afternoon. This dance performance takes place at the Brown Theatre, very close to the Brown Hotel. Click here for more information on the ballet and its history.

This residency we’re happy to present another interrelatedness-of-the-arts event. Lynnell Edwards, Associate Programs Director and faculty member, collaborates again with Aaron Lubrick, Professor of Painting at Spalding, to present “Reverse Ekphrasis,” a program that features readings by MFA poetry students and paintings by Spalding art students inspired by those poems.

Workshop Leaders for Fall: Rachel M. Harper, Lee Martin, Keith S. Wilson, Karen Salyer McElmurray, Leslea Newman, Kira Obolensky, Charlie Schulman.

Spalding School of Writing faculty workshop leaders for spring will present the following lead lectures with follow-ups:

  • Rachel M. Harper (fiction), “Flying, Gliding, Soaring: How to Pace Your Narrative”

  • Keith S. Wilson (poetry), “Golden Language: Meter & Scansion with Gwendolyn Brooks and Rio Cortez”

  • Karen Salyer McElmurray (creative nonfiction), “The Space Between: Silences on the Page”

  • Lesléa Newman (writing for children and young adults): “Every Story Happens Somewhere: Creating a Sense of Place in Picture Books”

  • Kira Obolensky (playwriting): “Narrative Devices for the Stage: Considering Narrative Frames, Framing Stories, and Breaking the Fourth Wall”

  • Charlie Schulman (screenwriting): “The Ten Most Common 101 Screenwriting Mistakes: (And How to Turn Them into Opportunities to Improve Your Screenplay)”

We’re delighted that Lee Martin will also lead a fiction workshop this fall and has agreed to present the creative nonfiction lecture “Characterization in Creative Nonfiction.”

During the residency, other faculty will pop in to give lectures and read. We look forward to being with Dianne Aprile, Leah Henderson, Angela Jackson-Brown, and Maggie Smith.

And, of course, we look forward to a vibrant group of lectures presented by our graduating MFA students, presented online or at the graduation lecture symposium, Monday, November 13, during residency.

On Friday of residency, faculty from each genre take part in the panel discussion “Exploring Form and Content,” which promises to be a lively discussion that asks why a writer might choose to tell a “true” story through fiction or a poet might choose an open form rather than the sonnet or villanelle. Why might a screenwriter opt to cast a script in a feature film rather than an episodic TV series? Picture book or middle-grade novel? A non-linear or a conventional plot? Students will have time to ask questions after each faculty member has given a short presentation.

Remember on Sunday, October 22, students are required to attend two virtual sessions in preparation for residency: at 2:00 – 3:00 pm ET, you’ll meet with your workshop leader and workshop student-colleagues for an introductory workshop session; at 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET, you’ll join the faculty book in common session for a discussion of a text in your residency workshop area. Click here for a post that includes your faculty book in common assignments.

Do keep checking the Preparing for the Fall Residency page on the portal for added information about lectures and events we’ll feature this November.

And remember, your Residency Curriculum and Events Schedule is not released until the Monday before residency in order to provide you with the most accurate document we can.

Happy preparation for Fall 2023 residency at Spalding! The faculty and staff look forward to welcoming you back to campus soon.


Kathleen Driskell, Chair of Spalding University’s Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing and Professor of Creative Writing, is an award-winning poet and essayist. Her work has recently appeared in The New Yorker, River Teeth, Appalachian Review, and Water-Stone Review. She is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Next Door to the Dead, winner of the Judy Gaines Young Book Award (University Press of Kentucky), and Blue Etiquette (Red Hen Press). Her chapbook The Vine Temple was published by Carnegie-Mellon University Press in 2023. She served as Chair of the Board of Directors to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs from 2019 to 2022.


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