We are delighted to welcome six guest and visiting faculty to the Spring semester and a new staff member to the School of Writing team! Joining us as guest workshop leaders for the Spring residency are newly appointed Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson and New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash. Four visiting faculty members will mentor students for Spring and Summer semesters: Angela Jackson-Brown (fiction), Scott O’Connor (fiction), Catherine Rush (playwriting), and Synthia Williams (playwriting). Renée Culver joins the staff as student services coordinator. We're particularly pleased that six of the seven are already family: they're alumni of the Spalding MFA program.
Guest workshop leaders at Spring residency
Novelist Wiley Cash will serve as a guest workshop leader in fiction at the Spring residency. Cash is the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Ballad, A Land More Kind than Home, and This Dark Road to Mercy. His new novel, When Ghosts Come Home, is due out in September. Honors include American Library Association Book of the Year, Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017, Southern Book Prize, Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Weatherford Award, Bloodroot Mountain Prize, Thomas Wolfe Book Prize, and Appalachian Writers Association’s Book of the Year. Cash has received the Pat Conroy Legacy Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Alliance, among other prizes. He holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from UL-Lafayette, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a B.A. in Literature from UNC-Asheville.
Crystal Wilkinson will serve as guest workshop leader in fiction for the Spring residency. Wilkinson was recently appointed 2021-22 Kentucky Poet Laureate and will be the first Black woman to serve in that role. A USA Artist Fellow, she is author of the novel The Birds of Opulence, winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence, and short-story collections Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries, winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. Her fourth book, Perfect Black, is forthcoming from University Press of Kentucky in August. Her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, STORY, Agni, Emergence, Oxford American, Southern Cultures and elsewhere, and her work has been nominated for the John Dos Passos Award, the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. She teaches at the University of Kentucky, where she is Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. Wilkinson received her MFA in Writing from Spalding University (F '03).
Visiting faculty mentoring in Spring and Summer semesters
Angela Jackson-Brown will mentor fiction students in the upcoming Spring and Summer semesters. Jackson-Brown is an award-winning writer, poet and playwright who teaches creative writing and English at Ball State University. Her novel When Stars Rain Down was released in April from Thomas Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins. She is the author of a previous novel, Drinking from a Bitter Cup, and a poetry collection, House Repairs, which won the 2021 Alabama Authors Award in poetry from the Alabama Library Association. Her short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Louisville Review and Appalachian Review. Her plays have been included in the IndyFringe DivaFest, the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, and OnyxFest. She holds an MFA from Spalding University (F '09) as well as degrees from Troy University and Auburn University.
Scott O’Connor will mentor fiction students in the upcoming Spring and Summer semesters. O’Connor is the author of A Perfect Universe: Ten Stories, the novels Zero Zone, Untouchable, and Half World, and the novella Among Wolves. He has been awarded the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, and his stories have been shortlisted for the Sunday Times/EFG Story Prize and cited as Distinguished in Best American Short Stories. Additional work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, Zyzzyva, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He teaches creative writing at Cal State Channel Islands and in workshops around Los Angeles. He holds an MFA (F '16) from Spalding University.
Catherine Rush will mentor playwriting students in Spring and Summer. Her play The Loudest Man on Earth, named one of the top ten plays of 2013 by the San Francisco Chronicle, won the Edgerton New American Play Award. Her award-winning play MagPie will open when theater-going is safe again. Other full-length productions include Chilmark, Losing the Shore, This Island Alone, and A Nice Place to Live. Her one-act play The Sum of Me won the Arts and Letters Award for Drama at Georgia College and State University. She’s a two-time winner of the New American Voices Festival at the Landing Theatre in Houston, a North American Voices Competition finalist in London and a New Play Festival finalist at Fullerton College, California. She was part of a team translating Twelfth Night into American Sign Language with the ASL Shakespeare Project. She has been awarded artist fellowships at Yaddo, Leighton Artist Colony at the Banff Centre, and Arteles, in Hameenkyro, Finland. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an MFA from Spalding (PW '12).
Synthia Williams will mentor playwriting students in the Spring and Summer semesters. She lives in the Atlanta metro area by way of Atlantic City, New Jersey. She has worked in every aspect of theatre but her most favorite is as a playwright. In 2009 she co-founded the award-winning New African Grove Theatre Company, where she serves as associate artistic director. Her play Sins of the Father put New African Grove in the national spotlight with its selection into the National Black Theatre Festival. Simply put, she writes to create the worlds the characters inside her head insist on telling her about. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding (SW/PW '08) and a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Radio, Television, and Motion Pictures.
A new staff member
We're also thrilled to welcome Renée Culver to the staff. Culver began in her role as student services coordinator in March. She is an alumna of the Spalding MFA in Writing program (F '06) and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky. She also teaches part-time in the English department at Bellarmine University.
We are pleased and proud to welcome so many talented, experienced teachers and writers—most of them already part of the Spalding family—to our guest and visiting faculty this semester and to our School of Writing staff. Please help us welcome them!