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July 2016

Life of a Writer: News and Events

July 2016


Jeffrey Fischer-Smith’s (PW) short play, “A Dog Dreams,” was produced in June by Theatre InspiraTO, Canada’s largest ten-minute play festival, in Toronto; the Birdhouse Theatre’s Edge Fest in Milledgeville, Georgia; the 2016 National Queer Arts Festival and the United States of Asian America Festival in San Francisco; and the Sandbox Play Festival at the Tipping Point Theatre in Northville, Michigan. Spalding alum Brian Hampton (PW ‘06) performed in “A Dog Dreams” at the Puzzle Theatre Festival, which he produced, at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. The play will be produced by Artists’ Exchange in July in Cranston, Rhode Island, and by Open Space Arts in August in Reisterstown, Maryland. It will also be produced as part of The Grief Dialogues, which will premiere at the University of Washington in September 2017. Several theatres plan to collaborate and/or produce The Grief Dialogues, including in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Bainbridge Island, New York City, Sedona, and Miami. Also, Joe Hasham, who played Edgar in Fischer-Smith’s short play “Reservations” last year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, won Best Actor for the role at the 2016 BOH Cameronian Arts Awards.

Vivian Sanchez (P) published a poem in the literature e-magazine Two Serious Ladies”:  Her poems were also recently included in a poetry anthology in Spain.

Faculty and Staff

Dianne Aprile will spend a one-week residency at the University of Washington’s Whiteley Center on San Juan Island in early July. On August 9 and 14, Dianne is facilitating a two-session ekphrastic writing workshop in the art gallery at the Kirkland Arts Center, sponsored in part by Seattle’s Hugo House. The event will include viewing, discussing, and writing about pieces on exhibition. For more information:

Susan Campbell Bartoletti reports a new contract for a nonfiction book to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In July, she’ll be teaching at the Highlights Foundation Summer Camp (Boyds Mill, Pennsylvania), and later that month she will travel to Los Angeles to participate on a panel and to lead a writing intensive at the annual SCBWI national conference. Her book Terrible Typhoid Mary (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) won the 2016 Carolyn Field Award, an award voted on by Pennsylvania librarians. The award luncheon will take place on October 17.

Rachel Harper recently taught a three-day fiction workshop at the Ocean State Summer Writing Conference, hosted by the University of Rhode Island. Touring the East Coast with her new novel, This Side of Providence, Harper also gave several local readings and participated in an alumni author event at her alma mater, The Wheeler School. For updates on future events, please visit her website:

Robert Lehrman (guest faculty member) announces that Palgrave Macmillan has released his new book, Democratic Orators from JFK to Barack Obama, co-written and co-edited with Andrew S. Crines, David S. Moon, and Philip Thody, and featuring chapters by other distinguished scholars and an engaging foreword by former House Democratic Whip David Bonior. The book is the result of two years spent studying, analyzing, and arguing about the speeches given over a half century by presidents or presidential candidates in the Democratic Party. Find out more at and at

Lesléa Newman has received several awards for her children’s books this spring. My Name is Aviva (picture book) received the 2015 Sugarman Family’s Award for the Best Jewish Children’s Book of the Year. October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard (teen novel in verse) has been placed on the 2017 Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award Master List. Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Jewish Book World. It also received the Association of Jewish Libraries 2016 Sydney Taylor Award and the Cat Writers Association 2016 Muse Medallion for Best Children’s Book, as well as the CWA World’s Best Cat “Litter-ary” Award.

Jeanie Thompson’s The Myth of Water: Poems from the Life of Helen Keller is available now from the University of Alabama Press. A discounted price is offered by the press through October 30. Jeanie will present a workshop on “Writing Historical Persona Poetry” on July 16 at the Alabama Writers’ Conclave in Birmingham. She is officially launching the book at Page and Palette Bookstore in Fairhope, Alabama, on July 28. Other readings and events are posted on her blog at


Joe Baillargeon (F ’14) just learned that his short story “The Gifts of Ratoncito Pérez” won Hunger Mountain’s 2016 Katherine Paterson Prize for middle grade fiction. The story was inspired by the final night of Joe’s first summer residency with Spalding in Buenos Aires in 2010 and an incident from the Book in Common Don Segundo Sombra.

Roy Burkhead (F ’04) edited and published the Fiction issue of 2nd & Church in the summer of 2015 and the Southern Food issue in January 2016. Both issues included work by and about writers and poets from Spalding’s MFA community. (The Fiction issue’s cover featured Sena Jeter Naslund.) Roy remains an active member of the middle Tennessee literary community, attending events and appearing on panels. He also remains an adjunct professor at Western Kentucky University, teaching general education English classes online and face to face. Earlier this year, his essay on the terrorist attacks in Brussels prompted a Flemish newspaper (Het Nieuwsblad) to write a feature story about Roy and his childhood pen pal, Carmen. At the day job, Roy has transitioned from a full-time technical writing position to that of a contract writer, clearing up time to return to his novel (and MFA creative thesis), the e-postle.

Drema Drudge (F ’13) recently had a portion of one of her essays read on the Chicken Soup for the Soul podcast. To date, it remains one of the most downloaded episodes. In August 2016 she will have another essay published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude.

Kathryn Eastburn (CNF ’06) has given up teaching journalism and creative nonfiction writing for now and has moved to the Mississippi Delta to work as a staff writer for the Greenwood Commonwealth. “Two stories a day—murder in the morning, blueberries in the afternoon,” says Kathryn. “It’s fun remembering how to put a story together clearly and concisely and to think hard every day about what story I want to tell. The Delta is beautiful and mysterious with a brutal history, captivating people, and a rich cultural heritage. It’s wonderful to be a writer in a new and surprising place.”

Nivi Engineer (F/PW ’15) has been blogging regularly for GeekMom. Her play, Jaathi, had a staged reading in Cleveland, after being workshopped by fellow Spalding alum Arwen Mitchell (PW/SW/F ‘12).

Catt Foy (F ’13) is pleased to announce that her first novel—completed during Spalding’s MFA program—has been picked up by Zharmae Publishing. Bartleby—A Scrivener’s Tale should be on bookstore shelves sometime in 2017.

Karen George (F ’09) published a poem in the May issue of America Magazine and one in the Accents Publishing’s anthology & Grace: Selections from Lexington Poetry Month 2015. Finishing Line Press has accepted Frame and Mount the Sky, a collaborative ekphrastic poetry chapbook that contains Karen’s poems and those of poets Donelle Dreese, Nancy Jentsch, and Taunja Thomson. Karen’s poems were inspired by Monet paintings she saw in the Musée d’Orsay while on the Spalding MFA program’s Summer 2012 residency in Paris.

Holly Gleason (CNF/F ’15) continues work on Even Cowgirls Get the Blues: Emmylou Harris as Gateway Drug to Hard Country Music for the University of Texas Press American Music series. She will also edit Woman Walk the Line: Women Writers on the Female Country Artists Who Touched Their Lives, also for the University of Texas Press. Holly was recently awarded a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame/Case Western Reserve Center for the Study of Pop Music Fellowship to research the Harris book at the Rock Hall’s library.

Alice-Catherine Jennings (P ’14) is pleased to announce that her poem “Late Autumn in Far West Texas” has been selected to be part of the 2017 Texas Poetry Calendar published by Dos Gatos Press; her poem ”Hell on Earth” has been selected to be published in Violence and Women: An Anthology to be published by Sable Books; and selections from Notations: The Imagined Diary of Julian of Norwich recently appeared in The Sigh Press (Spring 2016, Issue 8), an online literary journal for writers of English in Tuscany. In addition, “Boreas” was featured in the Poetry Leaves Exhibition in Waterford, Michigan, May 2016; and her translation of the poem “I remember my first encounter” by Oaxacan poet Óscar Sandoval appears in Transom—Issue 10: The Aromatic Forest. 

Mary Knight (W4CYA ’13) had the extreme pleasure of discussing and signing her debut novel, Saving Wonder, at more than a dozen elementary and middle schools in Ohio and Kentucky this spring and participated in Spalding’s spring residency as guest faculty for the W4CYA Book in Common and as an alumni contributor to SPLovefest. Mary also completed her first year of mentoring for the Carnegie Center Author Academy in Lexington, Kentucky, and is looking forward to mentoring again next year.

Maryann Lesert’s (F ’03) novel excerpt “The Ultimate Out of Balance” appears in the anthology Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America (Ice Cube Press, 2016). She has been actively researching fracking since 2012, speaking and publishing articles in In These TimesEcoWatch, and The Rapidian. Alongside Michigan author Stephanie Mills and the anthology’s co-editor Stephanie Brook Trout, Maryann has given readings across Michigan. Upcoming events include Michigan Radio’s Stateside with Lester Graham (late July), an August 6 reading at Horizon Books in Traverse City, and guest writer appearances at the University of Michigan’s environmental writing program at the UM Biological Station on August 9. Details on Fracture can be found at

Chris Mattingly’s (P ’10) second full-length collection of poems, The Catalyst and other poems, will be published by Monster House Press in August 2016. Monster House is an independent collective based out of Bloomington, Indiana. They publish essays, fiction, poetry, and comics. You can read selections from this collection in the latest editions of Forklift, OHIO; Trigger; and Monster House online.

Cheri (Thomas) Maxson (W4CYA ’13) was honored with the Shubert Fendrich Memorial Playwriting Contest Award for her play Murder at the Maltshop. Steven Fendrich, publisher at Pioneer Drama Service said, “We love how well you were able to capture the feel of the 1950s, even without the music. The punny names and relatively balanced lines add even more to the appeal of the show.” Maxson’s play is now available on the company’s website. Maxson has submitted several other plays for publication with Pioneer. Maxson will also be hosting her annual Valley Writer’s Guild Retreat at Miller’s Mountain Retreat Center on August 5-7 in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. The retreat will feature guest writers-in-residence Claudia Love Mair and Elizabeth Burton. Participants will enjoy several exciting learning sessions, including a Character Development Workshop, Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Publishing, and Intuitive Writing and Painting.

Heather Meyer (PW ’16) was selected as one of five writers for the Nautilus Music-Theater Composer-Librettist Studio. This program funds writers and composers to collaborate on new musical theater pieces over a sixteen-day period. Also, Heather’s two new plays, “Blazer” and “Snacks,” will premiere at the National One-Minute Play Festival in Minneapolis in July.

Michael Morris (F/PW ’09) participated in a panel discussion with authors Mark Childress and Joshilyn Jackson celebrating the 25th anniversary of Childress’s novel and film Crazy in Alabama. The event, hosted by Books-A-Million, was held at the Lyric Theater in Birmingham, Alabama.

Mary Popham (F ’03) appeared on June 13 with ten other members of the Louisville writers’ group The Cherokee Roundtable in the Indie Lou Author Event—a presentation and book signing in the Centennial Room at the Main Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. On May 19, she read from her novel, Back Home in Landing Run, with fellow Spalding alums at 21c Museum’s “Voices and Vision.” On April 30, she presented a copy of her novel and an hour’s telephone conversation to the winning bidder at the silent auction fundraiser “Night of Vonnegut” for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis.

Barbara Sabol (P ’10) read and had poetry exhibited at Heights Arts in Cleveland as part of their annual “Ekphrastacy: Artists Talk and Poets Respond” program. Her poetry was featured online during Cleveland Public Library’s National Poetry Month program. Barbara also gave readings at Youngstown (Ohio) Lit and at The Poets’ Hall in Erie, Pennsylvania. Her poem “The Harrier” was recorded and set to song by folk artist Sam Sapp. She had poems published in Pudding Magazine, Panning for Poems, and (forthcoming in July) in Comstock Review’s 30th anniversary issue. In June, Barbara attended a workshop with Doriane Laux at the Chautauqua Institute.

Nicholas Siegel’s (F ’13) story “You’ll Let the Storm In” will be published in the online literary journal Literally Stories.

Rosanna Staffa’s (F ’13) short story “Brazil’ is forthcoming in American Fiction 2016. Her “Lacrimae Rerum” is in the latest issue of Story, and “Praying in Suzhou” will appear in The Timberline Review.

Leslie Smith Townsend’s (CNF ’04) essay “A Blessing” can be found in the anthology Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living with Mental Illness.

Jonathan Weinert (P ’05) won the Copper Nickel Editors’ Prize for his poem “Titled City,” which appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Copper Nickel. A brief essay on Ted Hughes’s early poem “Crow Hill” appeared in the Plume newsletter of April 2016 and can be read at his new website, Jonathan has poems in the latest two issues of The Cresset, and two more poems forthcoming in Cincinnati Review. In April, he completed a residency at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming.


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