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Life of a Writer: April 2023



Natalie Axton’s (F ’19) short story “The Flesh Parade” was published in the spring edition of the Santa Clara Review. She recently wrapped up a project funded by the Interledger Foundation, Web Monetization for the Arts, aimed at introducing classical musicians and independent performing artists to the open protocol for streaming payments. She is currently leading the team at Monetized, a no-code tool for creating payment and membership pages from any digital content or product. Contact her to join the beta. In addition, Appalachia Book Company (The ABC), of which Natalie is a co-founder, seeks submissions for its chapbook series, Made in Appalachia. The series is for emerging authors with a connection to central Appalachia. The first book in the series was longlisted for the 2022 Perennial Press Chapbook Award. The deadline is August 31. See The ABC’s Submittable webpage for more information. The ABC is a member of CLMP and has received awards from CLMP, the West Virginia Humanities Council, and the Mountain Association.

Roy Burkhead (F ’04) earned a Post-Master’s Certificate in Writing Enrichment from the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing in March 2023—almost two decades after earning his MFA from Spalding. Studying poetry with mentor Greg Pape, Roy said, “tackling a new genre was equal parts terrifying and satisfying . . . so much so that I’m earning another certificate—fiction this time—to jump-start my second novel.” Find Roy online at

Jason Cooper (CNF ’21) is thrilled to have his memoir essay “Boy Story” included in Coming Out Together: Memoirs on the LGBTQ+ Experience, available now from Open Air Press. Proceeds from the book go to The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

A short story, “Red Firetruck,” by Alice Covington (F ’13), was published in the Spring 2023 issue of Evening Street Review.

Thea Gavin (P ’05) recently had two Grand Canyon poems appear in the anthology Tales from America’s National Parks and Trails: Campfire Stories, Vol. II (Mountaineers Books). In March she had a week-long writing residency at the beautiful Dorland Mountain Arts in Temecula, California. Thea can be found on twitter @theagavin, on Facebook at, and at

Karen George (F ’09) had poems published in the Winter 2023 issue #55 of the Tipton Poetry Journal, Willawaw Journal, and Mayday Magazine. Her short story “Naked” was published in Valparaiso Fiction Review’s Summer 2023 issue. “Naked” is one of the stories in her collection How We Fracture, which won the Rosemary Daniell Fiction Prize and is forthcoming from Minerva Rising Press this fall.

Holly Gleason (CNF/ F ’15) co-authored Miranda Lambert’s Y'ALL EAT YET? Welcome to the Pretty B*tchin' Kitchen (Harper Collins), which has already landed at #1 on several retailer lists prior to its April 25 release. This lifestyle cookbook expands the “home entertaining” concept into a book about multi-generational female strength, fun, friendships, and food that serves as a tribute to her mother Bev andgrandmother Nonny and each of their tight circles. Both inspiration and support for Grammy winner, Y'ALL EAT YET? celebrates how those women, good food, and laughter nourishes more than the body.

Nathan Gower (F ’08) is excited to announce that his debut novel, The Fairchild Girl, will be published by Mira Books / HarperCollins in February 2024.

Laura Johnsrude’s (PrWr ’21) essay “Brown Barrette in My Hair” was winner of Sweet Lit’s 2022 Creative Nonfiction Flash Essay Contest and was published in the March issue of Sweet: A Literary Confection. Laura’s piece “Her Thin Summer Top” is forthcoming in The Examined Life Journal, and her essay “Smoking Guns” is forthcoming in River Teeth. Find Laura on Instagram @Laura.Johnsrude and Twitter @LauraJohnsrude.

Rob Kaiser (CNF ’10) recently published a magazine piece, Ray Zylinski, in Traffic East.

John Maclay (PW ’22) recently signed a licensing agreement for three of his Theater for Young Audiences plays/musicals (Anatole: Mouse Magnifique, Little Piglet Gets a Sister, and Apollo and the Trials of Hercules) with Plays for a New Audience. He will be heading out to the National TYA-USA convention in Arizona in May, as he was invited to perform the song “Worrying” from his newest musical (with composer Brett Ryback) Arthur & Friends Make a Musical. One of his earlier musicals, Nate the Great (also with Ryback), recently began touring with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Following that, Nate will receive a professional run in Bethesda, Maryland, this summer at Imagination Stage. And you can find him in person this July in Manhattan hanging out at a booth at BroadwayCon for another of his musicals (this one with composer Danny Abosch), Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium.

Mervyn Seivwright (P ’19) has had a few selections and publications this quarter, having seven poems published in four journals. The journals were Lumiere Review, Sixfold Poetry Winter Journal, Spalding’s Good River Review, and Pangyrus Lit Review publishing Mervyn’s 75th poem since 2019 (four years), on the foundation of the Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing. He is pleased about upcoming selections to Pembroke Magazine and TAB: The Journal of Poetry and Poetics. Lastly, he is working on the last details for his debut traditional collection, “Stick, Hook, and A Pile of Yarn,” with Broken Sleep Books, to be released September 30 in the U.K.


Dianne Aprile (CNF) is working with The Parklands of Floyds Fork on a project to erect poems at various locations within its 4,000-acre public park. The Parklands runs for twenty-five miles, bordering Floyds Fork, from Bardstown Road to Shelbyville Road. Since moving back to Louisville last year, Dianne Aprile has continued teaching online classes in creative writing with students from the West Coast as well as East Coast and Kentucky. One of her online students from Washington state is now a poetry MFA student at Spalding—the illustrious Joan McBride.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Kathleen Driskell, Chair of the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing, read with poetry faculty member and Associate Programs Director Lynnell Edwards and poet John James on April 20 at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville. All read from their new chapbooks. Kathleen’s chapbook The Vine Temple was recently published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. Her essay “Church of the Goat Man” appeared in the most recent issue of River Teeth, and she was invited to read with other creative nonfiction writers offsite at The Blarney Stone pub in Seattle during the AWP annual conference in March. Her poem “Collapse” will soon appear in Water-Stone Review, a publication of Hamline University’s MFA program. She was happy to appear on Katerina Stoykova’s radio show, Accents, at the end of April.

Lynnell Edwards (P, Associate Programs Director) read with Kathleen Driskell and poet John James from their chapbooks on April 20 at Carmichael’s Books in Louisville in celebration of National Poetry Month. Edwards’s chapbook This Great Green Valley (Broadstone Books) explores, through persona poems and found poems collaged from archival sources, the pioneer history of Kentucky as well as her own childhood growing up on the Kentucky River. She also conducted an interview with Douglas Manuel, faculty in poetry with the Naslund-Mann School, for the Think Humanities podcast, a program of Kentucky Humanities.

Leah Henderson’s (W4CYA) picture book The Courage of the Little Hummingbird is now available from Abrams Books for Young Readers. Kirkus Review gave it a starred review, saying, “Brave the crowds to get this one, wherever you are.” The book has also been adapted into a dance piece, which premiered this Spring at the Kweli Conference at Barnard College in New York City. Leah is the featured author in the National Council of Teachers of English’s journal Voices From the Middle. Her latest essay, “Intellectual Curiosity in Service to a Stronger Community,” is available in the March 2023 issue. You can learn more about Leah and her work at

Silas House (F) is being inducted on April 24 as Kentucky Poet Laureate for 2023-24. He was appointed by Gov. Andy Beshear. Silas is both a faculty member and an alum of the Spalding MFA program (F ’03). The outgoing Kentucky Poet Laureate, Crystal Wilkinson, is also a Spalding MFA alumna (F ’03) and onetime MFA faculty member.

Erin Keane (CNF/P) recently read from her memoir, Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me, in a special AWP edition of the Memoir Monday Reading Series at Third Place Books in Seattle; in Western Kentucky University’s Visiting Writer Series, Lincoln Memorial University’s Appalachian Reading Series, and the Kentucky Great Writers Series at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky. She also appeared in conversation with Janet Boyd, hosted by Louisville’s Women Who Write, and at the SoKY Book Fair in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She was recently named Chief Content Officer at Salon, where her interview with Maggie Smith (P) about her memoir, You Could Make This Place Beautiful, was just published. Her essay “Fantasia on the Dance Floor: Limahl and Miracles of ‘The Neverending Story’” made it all the way to the Elite 8 in this year’s March Fadness Tournament of ’80s One Hit Wonder Songs.

Robin Lippincott's (F, CNF) short story “Chez Isabella, ca 1990,” about the greatest art heist in history, appeared in The Ekphrastic Review on March 15. Robin’s most recent book, Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell, will be republished in June—with a new cover!

Lee Martin (F) recently read from his latest novel, The Glassmaker's Wife, and was in conversation with Ellen Birkett Morris at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville. He then taught a class for the Kentucky Writers Conference and appeared at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green.

Lesléa Newman (W4CYA), along with illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez, was featured on the Teaching Books Blog Tour, discussing their new picture book, I Can Be....ME! which was recently published by Lee & Low Books.

Kira Obolensky’s (PW/F) short story “Marketplace” was recently published in the online journal rollick. “The Lion,” a short film directed by Abigail Zealey Bess and starring Judith Roberts, is in post-production. Kira will be workshopping her new play, “The Funny Ones,” this summer at the Playwrights’ Center with director Addie Gorlin-Han, who is the Associate Producer at the Guthrie Theater.

Greg Pape's (P) new book of poems, A Field of First Things, will be published this coming fall by Accents Publishing. He has an upcoming blog post, “The Plein Air Writer: Writing as an Outdoor Activity,” in Good River Review. In March, he read at the University of Kentucky and visited Erik Reece’s Environmental Writing class. And in April, he read at the Paul Sawyer Public Library in Frankfort in celebration of National Poetry Month.

Maggie Smith’s (P) new memoir, You Could Make This Place Beautiful (Atria/One Signal Publishers), debuted at #3 on the New York Times Best Seller list. It received a starred review from Booklist. Maggie has been touring extensively with the book, with upcoming appearances in Kansas City (April 23), Pasadena (April 28), Corte Madera, CA (April 29), and Beachwood, Ohio (May 8). Find her at


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