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Life of a Writer: Late Summer Edition



Andra Laine Hunter (PW) is thrilled to announce her play Nutcracker: Krakatuk has been accepted for publication with Next Stage Press.


Natalie Axton (F ’19) announces open submissions at Appalachia Book Company. The nonprofit press seeks nonfiction and fiction submissions for Made in Appalachia, a quarterly chapbook series. The press also seeks speculative fiction for an upcoming anthology, Appalachia, There Is a Future. The Company’s mission is to preserve and promote the literary tradition of central Appalachia, as defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Emerging writers from the region are encouraged to submit. For details, see the group’s page on Submittable.

Michelle Russell Barger (F ’21, MAW) received a grant from The Cornelia Dozier Cooper Endowment Fund for her chapbook Hensley Holler. Barger was among a group of artists who were presented grant checks in a ceremony held in Cooper’s garden. Cooper is a well-known benefactor of the arts community in Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland Area. PHOTO: Michelle Russell Barger, left, accepts a grant check from Cornelia Dozier Cooper.

Roy Burkhead (F ’04) has been nominated for the Paul Engle Prize for his work with The Writer’s Loft (now known as MTSU Write) and the 2nd & Church literary journal. The annual prize from the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature honors an individual who, like Paul Engle, represents a pioneering spirit in the world of literature through writing, editing, publishing, or teaching, and whose active participation in the larger issues of the day has contributed to the betterment of the world through the literary arts. Roy continues to be an adjunct English professor at Western Kentucky University, and recently he started a new technical writing job (thank you, COVID!) at the Tennessee Department of Education’s IT Department. This summer, he’s a volunteer with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, working at the performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. And, he says, his fiction continues to be rejected by some of the finest literary publications in the country.

Ann Eskridge (PW ’08) is a 2021 Kresge Artist Fellow in playwriting. In addition to a $25,000 no-strings-attached award, Kresge Artist Fellows receive one year of professional development support and inclusion in Kresge Arts in Detroit’s ongoing commissioned film series, which has documented the work and perspectives of fellows throughout the program’s history.

Peter Field (SW ’17) participated in a twelve-week dramatic arts workshop that culminated in an hour-long performance of dramatic memoir, song, and movement. Then, after helping out as a PGRA at Spalding’s spring residency, Peter started a new job as a writing coach with PlayWrite, Inc., a nonprofit that works with at-risk high school youth in the Portland, Oregon, area. At PlayWrite, coaches work with students one-on-one during an intensive ten-day rehearsal of theater games and writing exercises that result in the staged performance of each writer’s short play. Reach Peter via LinkedIn.

Thea Gavin (P ’05) recently led one of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s first “post-pandemic” public activities—a writing workshop in the Orange County (California) National Natural Landmark’s Fremont Canyon. Thea’s poem “Cottonwood Blues” was republished on social media on June 8 by the literary journal Rattle. (It originally appeared in Rattle #30, Winter 2008, Tribute to Cowboy & Western Poetry.) Another poem (about Thunder River and Deer Spring in Grand Canyon), “At the Intersection,” was recently accepted for publication in Campfire Stories: Tales from America’s National Parks, Vol. II (Mountaineers Books, 2022). Thea continues to blog about her barefoot adventures at Barefoot Wandering and Writing; she also started another blog during the pandemic to chronicle a deep dive into solving family history mysteries via DNA and genealogy detective work:

Earlier this year, Karen George (F ’09) had three poems published in Main Street Rag and poems published in MacQueen’s Quinterly, The Ekphrastic Review, The Gyroscope Review, and Poet Lore. A short story she worked on while completing her MFA was published in Stirring. Karen has also had poems published in Panoply, Blue Heron Review, Feed, and Sheila-Na-Gig’s ekphrastic anthology, Pandemic Evolution, Poets Respond to the Art of Matthew Wolfe. Her flash fiction piece, a finalist in the 2021 Hemingway Shorts contest, is published in the literary journal Hemingway Shorts, Vol 6. Her third poetry collection, Where Wind Tastes Like Pears, has just been released by Dos Madres Press.


K. L. (Kenny) Cook (F) was selected as Dean’s Faculty Fellow in the Arts at Iowa State University, where he is a professor of English and co-directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment. He also won a 2021 ISU Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring and earned a grant from the Center of Excellence in the Arts & Humanities (CEAH) to do research for a book-length study of short story cycles, linked stories, and novels-in-stories.

Erin Keane’s (P/PrW) memoir in essays will be published in Fall 2022 by Belt Publishing.

Robin Lippincott (F/CNF) will be reading in support of the Writers’ Room of Boston at 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday, September 9. Learn the details and register for this virtual event.

On August 24 from 6 to 7 p.m. EDT, Eleanor Morse (F) will participate in an online author/editor conversation with George Witte, Editor-in-Chief at St. Martin’s Publishing Group. Eleanor recently published her fourth novel, Margreete’s Harbor, through St. Martin’s. The event is co-sponsored by Left Bank Books in Belfast, Maine, and the Bangor Daily News. Register for this Zoom event. Learn more on Facebook.

Lesléa Newman (W4CYA) accepted the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Award for her picture book Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail at the virtual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference in June.

Jeanie Thompson (P) directs the Alabama Writers’ Forum and has participated in virtual workshops through the pandemic for the Justice Arts Coalition, sharing the Forum’s work with Writing Our Stories, a creative writing program for justice-involved youth in Alabama. This year the program will produce anthologies of student work from its 24th year. Jeanie’s own poetry writing is encouraged by bringing young people into their own as creative writers. One of Jeanie’s current projects is co-editing the second edition of Teaching Creative Writing in Alternative Settings, to be published in print and digital formats in early 2022. She is also researching a sequel to her 2016 collection The Myth of Water: Poems from the Life of Helen Keller, which focuses on the life of Helen’s renowned teacher, Annie Sullivan Macy, before her arrival in Alabama in 1887. Learn more on Jeanie’s website, and follow her on Twitter @JeanieThompson and Facebook.

Katy Yocom (Associate Director, F ’03) is co-editing with School of Writing chair Kathleen Driskell an anthology of blog posts by Spalding MFA faculty and staff, Creativity & Compassion: Spalding Writers Celebrate Twenty Years. She co-directs the Voice and Vision reading series at Louisville’s 21c MuseumHotel, along with Sena Naslund and coordinatorAmy Foos Kapoor (W4CYA ’19); the final reading on August 19 featured recently published alumni Whitney Collins (F ’18), Angela Jackson-Brown (F ’09), Jonathan Weinert (P ’05), and Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson (F ’03). On September 18, Katy returns to her native Kansas to take part in the tenth annual Kansas Book Festival, at Washburn University in Topeka, where she’ll appear in a panel about mothers and daughters in fiction, with novelists Becky Mandelbaum and Laura Moriarty. Later in September, she heads to Pennsylvania for a reading and campus visit at University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, at the invitation of Nancy McCabe. In October, she’s scheduled to meet with a book group at the Highlands-Shelby Park branch of the Louisville Free Public Library.


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