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Here’s what Spalding MFA students, alumni, faculty, and staff have been publishing, producing, and doing since our last update!



  1. Morgan Eklund (P) was named a Finalist in the Baltic Writing Residency Kentucky Writers Fellowship and will have her poem, “The Bodies” published at Prick the Spindle in the next month. Learn more about Morgan on Facebook, Twitter, and at her website:


  1. Jeffrey Fischer-Smith’s (PW) full length play “A New Deal” will receive a reading this year in The Road Theatre’s “The Word” series in North Hollywood, California. This play was his Spalding thesis. More information about him can be found on Facebook.

Joy Neighbors

  1. Joy Neighbors (CNF) will release her first book this fall. The Family Tree Cemetery Research Guide will be published on September 22 by F+W Media. Pre-orders for the book are now being taken at Neighbors, an avowed “Tombstone Tourist,” shares cemetery culture, historical finds and genealogy tips in her weekly blog, “A Grave Interest.” She also speaks throughout the Midwest and South about cemetery-related topics like “The Victorian Celebration of Death” and “Symbols: The Silent Language of the Stones.”

  1. Heidi Taylor (P) is a poet and diner cook in Louisville, Kentucky. Her piece “Mayberry On Park Street” was recently featured in Gadfly (Madisonville, Kentucky) and her piece “Owed to a DUI” will be featured in an upcoming issue of Open 24 Hours (Owensboro, Kentucky), due out in June. She was also a guest of Gonzofest 2017 in April with her picture in the Courier Journal the following day. You can find Heidi on Facebook.

  1. The New York Quarterly published Pink Mattress, a collection of poems by Marc Tretin (P). This book is listed on Amazon.


  1. Troy (T. E.) Wilderson’s (F) short story, “God Willing, and the Creek Don’t Rise,” was published by The Roanoke Review in May. Troy’s story will be included in her work-in-progress short story collection Telling Stories. Her full credits can be viewed on her website: She is @MizGolightly on Twitter.


  1. Kate Buckley (P ’10) has been appointed the first Poet Laureate of the City of Laguna Beach, California. She was selected from the field of applicants by juror, award-winning poet, and professor, Grant Hier. Mr. Hier reviewed applications taking into consideration personality, professionalism, educational experience, poetic talent, resume, performance experience, and proposal. Kate’s term will run through April 30, 2018, and her platform will include serving as a brand ambassador for the literary arts—creating content, performing readings, conducting workshops and classes, and leading and coordinating Laguna Beach’s first ever poetry festival. Most recently, she addressed the BFA class at Chapman University, and performed several readings in Laguna Beach in conjunction with Laguna Live! and other Arts Commission events. Learn more about Kate at, on Twitter @katebuckley1, and on Facebook.

  1. Kellie Carle (F ’16) is pleased to announce that her short story, “Them Quiet Hours,” received the first place prize for the 2016 Scribes Valley Publishing Writing Contest and is included in their latest anthology, now available on Amazon. Visit Kellie at her website:

  1. Shawna Casey (PW ’12) heard her new two-act play blue blue moon read for the first time at the Last Frontier Playwright Conference in Valdez, Alaska, on June 14. It went better than she hoped. Alaska is beautiful, and there are so many wonderful playwrights, actors, and directors at the conference. In addition, her new short play Catch was chosen to be part of the What She Said Festival of short plays in Duluth, Minnesota, at the end of June. Find out more about Shawna here:

  1. A staged reading of Ted Chiles’s (F ’13) full-length play, Adele and Tom: Portrait of a Marriage, was performed by Paper Wing Theatre during their 4th Annual Play Reading Series on June 11 in Monterey, California. The play is an adaptation of the novella The Somewhat Sad Tale of the Pitcher and the Crow by Chella Courington.


  1. Annie Frazier Crandell (F ’17) has two pieces of flash fiction freshly published. Read “Nightmares” at Crack the Spine and “Slather” at Cheap Pop. Also, her short story, “Serpentine,” which she worked on with her final Spalding MFA workshop, is out in the Summer issue of Still: The Journal. Follow Annie on Twitter (@anniefrazzr), Facebook, and learn more about her work by visiting her website:

  2. The 2017 McDowell Award Winner is Amanda Forsting (F ’09). She currently works at the University of Louisville for the Kent School of Social Work and is an active member of the University of Louisville Creative Writing Community.

  1. Karen George’s (F ’09) ekphrastic chapbook, Frame and Mount the Sky, that she collaborated on with poets Donelle Dreese, Nancy Jentsch, and Taunja Thomson, was just released by Finishing Line Press: She read April 29 with poets Robert Murphy, Richard Hague, and Pauletta Hansel at Cincinnati Public Library to celebrate the Dos Madres Press anthology, Realms of the Mothers: The First Decade of Dos Madres Press. She also read May 19 with Dos Madres Press poets at the “Love Your Mothers” reading in Cincinnati. Along with fellow editors Will and Crystal Eifert, she released Issue 3 of Waypoints: An Online Literature and Art Journal.


  1. Robert X. Golphin (SW ’13) is attached to direct an independent feature length comedy titled “Freshman Friday.” Principal photography is slated for July in Raleigh, North Carolina. Among the cast is singer/songwriter Brian McKnight, Jr., son of 16x Grammy Nominated R&B recording artist Brian McKnight and International Recording Artist Julie McKnight. The story centers on a group of freshmen as they prepare for the first dance of their collegian journey.

  2. Jeanne M. Haggard (P ’06) was awarded a doctorate in Fine Arts from Texas Tech University on May 19. Her areas of concentration were arts administration and museum studies. Her dissertation is titled The Effects of Power Dynamics and Social Capital on Cultural Services in Mission Viejo, California: A Case Study. She completed her dissertation research in Mission Viejo with the Department of Library and Cultural Services. She also earned a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies.

  3. CoCo Harris’s (F ’06) photograph,“Under the St Simons Island Pier,” was a winner of the London Photo Festival of Abstract Fine Art Photography Competition and will exhibit at The London Bridge in London for three months. Her narrative photographs and photo essays have appeared in literary magazines. “Between Buildings” appeared in Gravel Magazine and “We Pledge Allegiance: A Meditation on the Devotion to Our Stars and Stripes” is in the current Beyond Red and Blue: Voices for America Special Spring Issue of the Stoneboat Literary Journal. Her essays “Getting Closer to Cousin Coffee” appears in the Sun Star Review and “What’s In My Name” appears in the Anchor & Plume Press Kindred Literary Magazine’s Mason Dixon Issue. These two essays are from her multimedia memoir in progress, Grits Cousin Coffee and All Things Familiar. She completed a writing fellowship at the Vermont Studios Center this past spring. Instagram: @_coco_harris Twitter: @tellingrstories Facebook:

  4. Chris Helvey (F ’06) was a Finalist in the 2017 New Millennium Writings Fiction Contest for his short story, “A Portage.”

  5. Lora Hilty (F ’12) received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Jan/Feb New Writer’s Competition for her short story “One Night with Val” ( Since graduating, Lora has taught English at Ohio University and Zane State College. When she’s not writing literary works, she’s ghostwriting, critiquing, and editing for fellow writers. Currently, Lora is scouring literary journals, looking for a permanent home for the story while revising a novel, a collaboration for young adult readers. Links to Lora’s published work can be found by clicking

Alice-Catherine Jennings (P ’14) is pleased to announce her poem “Watching a Clown Frogfish Feed” was selected to be part of the anthology Along The Shore by Lost Tower Publications. In April, she was selected to be in a Poetry Master Class with Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales and UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy at Ty Newydd in Wales. This was followed by an artists’ residency at the Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology in Michoacán, Mexico. For more information on these international opportunities, send her a note at


Nancy Chen Long (P ’13) is elated and grateful to have been selected for a 2017 National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing fellowship ( On May 20, she celebrated the launch of her first book Light into Bodies, winner of the 2016 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry. The Tampa Review interviewed her about the NEA grant and launch of her book. She  read at Spalding’s Celebration of Recently Published Books by Alumni, which she considers to be a second launch ( Nancy gave readings at Bookmama’s in Indianapolis in April and Spalding at 21c: Voice and Vision in June. The radio program Brown County Hour on community radio station WFHB interviewed her. You can listen to the interview here: (There are five folks featured on the show. Her interview is 20 minutes in.) Her recent publications include the following poems: “Orion” in The Briar Cliff Review (Volume 29, 2017)“Christmas, Saigon” in Ninth Letter (Spring/Summer 2017), and three poems in Zone 3 (Spring 2017): “On Seeing A Heronry Of Egrets Nesting In A Tree”, “Heading Home”, and “Wingspan.”

Behr Neighbors
  1. Behr (Brian) Neighbors (F ’16) had an article published in the June 2017 issue of Got Rum? magazine. After attending five intense days at Moonshine University learning about all things bourbon, Behr took a session on rum (to clear his “grainy” palate) and had an epiphany. Rum deserves more recognition that it gets, so with that in mind, he wrote “Discovering Rum” for “The Rum University Campus Voice” column: Behr worked in the wine industry for twenty years as a winemaker and winery owner. He is now the Spirits Industry Liaison for Luckett & Farley Architects and Engineers in Louisville.

  1. Scott O’Connor’s (F ’16) story collection A Perfect Universe will be published by Scout Press/Simon & Schuster in February 2018. He teaches fiction and screenwriting at California State University Channel Islands and is working on a TV adaptation of his novel Half World with Atlas Entertainment. @scottsoconnor

  1. In June Mary Popham (F ’03) presented “Writing Your Life Story” to the Colonial George Reade Chapter of the Colonial Dames XVII Century. She also read from her short story collection, Love Is a Fireplace, at the Spalding Celebration of Recently Published Books by Alumni. In May 2017, she read from the collection at the Nelson County Library in Bardstown, Kentucky, at Sunergos Coffee House, and Carmichael’s Book Store in Louisville.

  1. Diana Raab (CNF ’03) has a regular column on Psychology Today called, “The Empowerment Diary,” which merges writing, psychology, and creativity. She also has a monthly newsletter of musings, published works, information about readings, and book reviews click here to subscribe. Her essays and poetry have been recently anthologized and also published in Thrive Global, Medium, Boomer Café, and Elephant Journal. Her book, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life, is due out in September. The book is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Please contact Diana if you’re interested in reviewing the book:

  1. Cynthia C. Rand‘s (F ’14) short story, “He That Hath Ears,” which she read aloud from during a student reading at a Spalding residency, is now published in Unbroken CircleStories of Cultural Diversity in the South (Julia Watts and Larry Smith, Eds., Appalachian Writing Series, Bottom Dog Press, Inc.). Copies may be ordered from Bottom Dog Press at this link: or through Amazon (Kindle editions are now available).

  1. Atul N. Rao (SW ’16) has been busy in recent months. As head writer of a 26-episode series called “Uma and Devan: Namaste,” Atul is both writing and editing scripts for 11-minute episodes currently in production. This animated series targets ages 4 to 8 teaching about cultural fusion and diversity in a multi-generational family dynamic. Atul has hired three other writers on the project, including a graduate of the MFA program, Heather Meyer, who has had extensive experience in writing for children. The series begins airing in 2018 on international streaming channels (TBA). At the same time, Atul is rewriting a feature film script for Starlight Pictures called “Melusine,” which is a historical/fantasy/drama set during the crusades. The script is based on a novel of the same name. For more information, click here. Upcoming projects include interactive educational videos on Medical Ethics for health ministries around the world. Atul is also working on a 26-episode animated educational series about health for Kids, called “Metaboli,” currently in development with Zest Animation. Production is slated for August 2017.

  1. “A Geometry of Life,” short fiction by Robert Sachs (F ’09), appears in the latest edition of Chicago Quarterly Review and is available for purchase on Amazon and in select bookstores nationwide. His story, “The Catchfly,” will appear in the November edition of The Delmarva Review, and his story, “Vondelpark” (published in The Louisville Review in 2016) has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Visit

  1. Jonathan Weinert (P ’05) has new poems in, or soon to be in, Plume, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Southwest Review, The Cincinnati Review, The Louisville Review, Pangyrus, and The Massachusetts Review. He contributed a tanka, in collaboration with Rebecca Wolff, to “Renga for Obama,” a linked poem published by Harvard Review in celebration of the former president. You can keep track of Jonathan’s doings by visiting

  1. Anna West (F ’10) recently published a literary monograph titled Thomas Hardy and Animals (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Ask your library to purchase a copy!


  1. Susan Campbell Bartoletti (W4C&YA), reports that her nonfiction book They Called Themselves the KKK (Houghton Mifflin 2010) was named one of 50 best YA books of the past 50 years, a list compiled by ALA’s Booklist editors. Check out the entire list here: In other writing news, Bartoletti and Marc Aronson have edited a collection of nonfiction stories about revolution around the world in 1968, to be published by Candlewick next year. Bartoletti also contributed a piece to the collection. She’s happy to announce that the anthology includes two contributions written by Spalding alum. In speaking news, Bartoletti has visited numerous schools and has been guest faculty at the Highlights Foundation workshops (, where she also serves as a trustee of the Foundation. She’s currently at work on a full-length nonfiction book (under contract) and a young middle-grade novel (not under contract). Susan also attended a State Dinner, hosted by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolff and First Lady Frances Wolff in April, to honor accomplished Pennsylvanians. In July she will lead a one-day nonfiction workshop at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

  1. Think Big! Productions in Patchogue, Long Island, will produce  Larry Brenner’s (SW, PW) play Saving Throw Versus Love July 14 through July 16 and July 21 through July 23. For more info and tickets, see

  1. Leslie Daniels (F) has a short story, “Watering Hole,” forthcoming in the literary journal Epoch and another story, “A Recipe for Smoothies,” in the current issue of Stone Canoe. Learn more about Leslie’s work on her website ( ) and follow her on Facebook.

  1. Debra Kang Dean (P) recently discovered that her book-length manuscript of poems, Totem: America, though withdrawn after being accepted by Tiger Bark Press late last year, was yet named a finalist for the 2017 Off the Grid Prize. Her poem “Game” was published this past winter in Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review’s special issue on the sonnet; among the contributors for this issue are A. E. Stallings, Stephen Burt, William Logan, Maurice Manning, and Evie Shockley. “The Banana Tree” recently appeared in Issue 12 of One. On June 17 “Parallel Parking,” a sequence of ghazals written with Greg Pape, went live online in Issue 70 of The Ghazal Page.

  1. Gabriel Jason Dean (PW, SW) was in residence for a week in April at Seattle Children’s Theatre working on his new musical for young audiences, Mario and the Comet, a collaboration with composer David Dabbon. In May, he and his partner, Jessie Dean, were named finalists for the Humanitas Award for their TV pilot We Belong. Also in May, he publicly presented the first draft of a new immersive play with music Our New Town, co-written with Jessie Dean, music by David Dabbon, developed with the Civilians in Brooklyn. In June, his short play Fugue for Amorous Tornadoes was remounted as part of Washington DC’s Source Festival’s “Best of the Ten-Minute Plays.” Also in June, Gabriel hung out with fellow Dramatic Writing faculty Eric Schmiedl in Cleveland, Ohio. Gabriel was there to present a selection Heartland at National New Play Network annual conference. In July, Gabriel will be in residence at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, where Heartland will receive its world premiere in 2018. 

  1. Silas House (F) was recently awarded the 2017 Spirit of Kentucky Award. Read about it here.

  1. Nancy McCabe’s (F, CNF) recent work appears in the anthologies The Guardians of Mediocrity (Foiled Crown 2017) and The Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch 2016), as well as online in Mud Season Review and Punctuate. Additional essays are forthcoming in Brain, Child, and Timberline Review. In July, she will be doing book signings to promote her new novel, Following Disasters, in Wichita, Kansas, Springfield, Missouri, and Fayetteville, Arkansas. She will also give a presentation at Laurapalooza, the fan and academic conference sponsored by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association and organizing a community book signing event and conference author reception involving eight children’s writers and illustrators and Laura Ingalls Wilder scholars in Springfield.

  1. Neela Vaswani’s (F) essay, “Dumb Show” was published in the anthology Waveform: Twenty-First Century Essays by Women (find it on Amazon), edited by Marcia Aldrich. The anthology is wide-ranging in form and content and includes essays from Margo Jefferson, Leslie Jamison, Joy Castro, Eula Biss, Roxane Gay, and Cheryl Strayed, among others.

  1. Sam Zalutsky (SW, PW) was recently the Second Unit Director on the first two episodes of Discovery ID’s A Crime to Remember, Season 5. He also created a video for New York educational nonprofit Prep for Prep about three immigrant families creating their own American dreams, which can be seen here. His short film, How to Make it to the Promised Land, screened at the Winnipeg Jewish Film Festival earlier this month.


Want to see what else the Spalding MFA family has been up to lately? Check out more updates here: Life of a Writer.




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