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Life of a Writer: Late Winter Edition



Theresa Anne Carey’s (SW) creative thesis screenplay, Mestengo, written under the tutelage of mentor Sam Zalutsky, and polished under Larry Brenner, is a Second Rounder at Austin Film Festival, a Semi-Finalist in Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition, and finished in the top 10% at the Nicholl’s Fellowship. Her first-semester screenplay, The Lady Pirates, written working with mentor Gabriel Jason Dean, and her script Swine Heart, polished with guidance from Charlie Schulman and Larry Brenner, have both been nominated for best screenplay in the Best Action/Adventure and Best Horror categories, respectively, at ARFF/Austin Revolution Film Festival, a Top Ten film festival. Theresa also recently learned that she is one of twelve participants selected to join a Stowe Story Lab Feature Project workshop on a new project she is starting about the untold story of Billy the Kid.

Tyrel Kessinger (F) recently had two pieces accepted for publication. His poem “In the Night, a Song,” which he worked on with mentor Maggie Smith, will appear in Bryant Literary Review’s 2022 issue. A short story, “The Hole of Beautiful Things,” which he workshopped in the Fall 2022 residency, appears in the January issue of Scribble Lit. Find him at @KessingerTyrel.

In October 2021, the studio cast album of John Maclay’s (PW) 2016 musical with Danny Abosch, Goosebumps the Musical, dropped on all platforms, featuring Broadway’s Alex Brightman, Krystina Alabado, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Will Roland, and Stephanie Styles, with a special cameo by R.L. Stine himself. Three plays co-written by John were

published by Theatrical Rights Worldwide: Romeo and Juliet Walk into a Bar (with Joe Foust), Cinderella: The Real Story (with Rayven Craft, Austin Nelson, and Emma Swain), and The Revolting Teens of Sherwood (with Joe Foust). In December, John’s one-person show, Hopper, received a staged reading at Pasadena Playhouse, performed by Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt and directed by Tony nominee Thomas Sadosky. John’s flash fiction piece, “The Real Reason You Root for the New York Knicks,” was accepted for publication by Jokes Literary Review. His newest musical (with

Brett Ryback), based on the PBS Kids character Arthur, was professionally workshopped in December. Find John at; on Twitter @johnmaclay, and on Instagram @johnlmaclay.

American Songwriter Magazine published an interview with Amy Speace (P) and premiered the video for “Cottonwood,” the first single from the Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s upcoming album Tucson (Proper Records, April 8). Speace is a critically acclaimed songwriter with songs recorded by Judy Collins, among many others. She was the 2020 “International Song of the Year” winner from the Americana Music Association-UK. Tucson is Speace’s ninth album and was recorded in Nashville in two days. “It’s perhaps my most honest and transparent album to date,” Speace says. It deals openly with trauma and depression, yet she adds, “It’s a surprisingly uplifting kind of gospel record. When you cut to the place you can’t hide from, that’s where grace appears.” Find Amy at, on Facebook at, Instagram, and Twitter @RealAmySpeace.


Nancy Jo (Cegla) Allen (PW ’07) now lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband Terry and their pup Jayden. Her first poetry collection, Wrinkles in Time and in Love, is now available through Kelsay Books and Amazon.

Tara Anderson (PW ’21) is working on revising her thesis play, a sendup of multi-level marketing culture with a supernatural twist, for submissions and workshop productions. In the meantime, she makes podcasts. She helped launch a new daily podcast, Moment of Um, answering kids’ questions about science like “can black holes eat each other?” and “how do straws work?” She’s currently producing The Slowdown, a daily poetry podcast hosted by Kentucky poet Ada Limón, as well as a weekly podcast about Buddhism, A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment. Find Tara on Twitter and Instagram at taraeanderson.

Matt Berman (CNF ’13) had a chapter from his Spalding thesis, “The Accidental Firefighter,” published in the Fall 2021 edition of Smokey Quartz, an Online Journal of Literature and Arts.

He says, “It’s been a long time coming. Never give up!” Find him at

A short story by Dominick Thomas Collins (F ’17), “Aya,” was published last summer by Assis: An Online Journal of Arts and Letters and has been nominated for a Best of the Net Award. Reach him at

Gina Marie Dropp (PW ’21) is serving as the Guest Artist at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia, directing the spring production of Sarah Delappe’s play The Wolves and teaching a ten-week playwriting workshop. Additionally, Gina’s Spalding thesis play, Ghosts from a Secret Past, has been accepted for a staged reading in June at Pumphouse Players Theater in Cartersville, Georgia. Reach her on Facebook at Gina Marie Dropp, Twitter @mssillygirl and Instagram @gina_theartist.

Ann Eskridge (PW ’08), a 2021 Kresge Artist Fellow in Playwriting, will be featured in an Artist Salon on April 6, from 12 to 1:30 p.m. She will discuss her involvement with the story of the all-Black towns of Oklahoma: how it started as a mini-series, then a book, a documentary, and finally, a musical.

Cynthia Ezell’s (CNF ’19) essay “Every Set of Three” was published in the fall issue of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction. The essay explores the liminal boundary between life and death and the vulnerability experienced in both transitions. Cynthia is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and can be reached on Facebook, Twitter @cynthia_ezell, and on Instagram at sproutalife. Her website is

Elizabeth Felicetti (CNF ’20) had an article published in The Atlantic in October 2021, “My Church Doesn’t Know What to Do Anymore.” She credits her Spalding Professional Writing workshop with Jason Howard in spring 2021. Her book Blessed Are the Barren is scheduled to be published by Eerdmans in 2023. She tweets @bizfel and has a newsletter on Substack. Subscribe here.

A monologue from Elana Gartner’s (PW ’21) play Runtime Error will be published in Smith & Kraus’ 2022 Best Men’s Stage Monologues later this year. This play was a semi-finalist for the 2021 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and received a virtual staged reading from Transformation Theatre, Inc. in May 2021. Elana adds, “Runtime Error was developed at Spalding with my wonderful mentors, Kira Obolensky and Gabriel Jason Dean.”

Karen George (F ’09) had a poem published in the Winter 2021 Issue of Thimble Literary Magazine; a nonfiction piece, “What I Can’t Finish,” in the Fall/Winter issue of Existere: Journal of Arts & Literature; and a short story published in NonBinary Review’s “Person of Interest” Issue. The story, “Palindromes,” was also chosen for an episode of the Alphanumeric podcast at Zoetic Press. She was a featured reader in October 2021 at Roebling Point Books & Coffee, Covington, Kentucky, where she read from her third full-length collection, Where Wind Tastes Like Pears, from Dos Madres Press.

Brian Hampton (PW ’06) just completed his episodic fiction ghost story, “Goodnight, Jessica,” on the Kindle Vella Platform, where you can read one episode at a time or binge all at once. Here is the synopsis: “Not a day goes by that I don't think about Jessica. And what we all did to her. This is the story of saying ‘Goodnight’ to Jessica—and how she finally came back for revenge.”

Alice Jennings (P ’14) is honored to be a part of this year’s Patchwork Poem by The Federation of Writers Scotland. Also, four haikus will be published by YAWP! in India, in its 2021 issue: Odyssey. YAWP! is a magazine created to promote the local English literature practiced in the Barak Valley. These haikus are the first to be published from her manuscript-in-process inspired by her summer days at the El Rey Court Swim Club in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Laura Johnsrude (MAW, PrWr ’21) had a creative nonfiction piece, “Pounding the Steering Wheel,” published in The Keeping Room of Minerva Rising Press. Find her on Twitter @LauraJohnsrudeand on Instagram at laura.johnsrude.

Jasmine Lomax’s (P ’21) short essay, “So, About That Time I Got Sterilized,” has been published by TMI Project, an organization dedicated to helping amplify stories that challenge the status quo. In addition, Jasmine began work in February as the Events Assistant & Community Support Specialist at Hugo House. She works in the literary community to put on programs at the House and help represent a more forward-looking and progressive org. Find Jasmine on Facebook or visit her website,

Amina S. McIntyre (PW ’09) with her company, Hush Harbor Lab, received a Best of Atlanta nod for Best New Black Play Incubator. Her play, Lovelaces, commissioned by Vanderbilt University, is a regional finalist for the KCACTF One Act Play Competition.

Marilyn Millstone’s (PW ’16) play, Proprioception, which won AACT NewPlayFest 2020, finally had its long-delayed world premiere in September 2021 at Rover Dramawerks in Plano, Texas. (In the opening night cast and crew photo, Millstone is seated, left, next to director Carol M. Rice). The play’s premiere is also the featured cover story of the November-December 2021 issue of Spotlight Magazine, and the play itself was published by Dramatic Publishing in January 2022. Proprioception began as Millstone’s thesis for her Spalding MFA; she deeply thanks mentors Charlie Schulman, Kira Obolensky, and Gabriel Jason Dean for the many ways in which they guided her.

Noelle Nori (F ’20) had an excerpt from her thesis novel, Indigo Lace, published in the February 2022 issue of The Write Launch. Her first publication, a short story titled “The Sink,” appeared in Issue 269 of Crack the Spine in July 2021.

Rachel Phillippo (F ’21) recently won the in-house short story contest at Driftwood Press for her short story, “Wing Breaker.” Her story and a craft interview can be found in Driftwood’s January edition. “Wing Breaker” is also the inspiration for this edition's striking cover art.


Dianne Aprile (CNF) will be a featured reader on April 11 for the Flying Out Loud online reading series. Contact Steve at to register for the free event. Check out the Flying Out Loud Facebook page for more info.

On February 3, Debra Kang Dean (P) delivered a virtual lecture that touched on all of her collections of poetry as part of a series called “The Book as Architecture,” a class offered by the Downtown Writers Center in Syracuse, New York. Her brief response to the question, “How did you come to author your life?” is forthcoming this spring in Dr. Stephanie Han's Woman. Warrior. Writer. newsletter. “Like me,” Debra says, “one of Stephanie’s forebears emigrated from Korea to Hawai’i during the early part of the twentieth century.” “Walking the Line,” an essay on the relationship between form and formlessness in taiji and poetry, recently appeared on Spalding’s blog.

Gabriel Jason Dean’s (PW/SW) play Heartland will open Off-Broadway in March at 59E59, followed this fall by the world premiere of his latest work, a form-bending theatrical memoir called #Rift, at Luna Stage in New Jersey. Dean will be starring in #Rift alongside his wife, Jessie Dean. He was also recently hired as Co-Executive Producer on “The America Project,” a TV show in development with producer Dina Slawson and Emmy-nominated composer David Dabbon. Learn more at

Naslund-Mann School of Writing Chair Kathleen Driskell’s award-winning book of poems Next Door to the Dead is a common read for Owensboro Community College. She will visit students and faculty there in April. She was awarded a writing retreat to Harmony House in April to continue working on a long creative nonfiction project. In November 2021, Kathleen was elected to her third one-year term as chair of the board of directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). She will preside over the AWP annual conference in Philadelphia, March 23-26. She recently was invited to join a task force headed by leaders of Conference on College Composition and Communication (4CCCCs) with other literary leaders and teachers to discuss ways to improve teaching in first-year writing courses. It’s estimated that instructors holding MFAs teach one-fourth to one-third of all first-year courses.

Associate Programs Director Lynnell Edwards has two prose poems up at Action, Spectacle: “Medical History #2” and “Walgreens: at the corner of happy and healthy.” Both are from her new collection, The Bearable Slant of Light, forthcoming from Red Hen Press, 2023. Her most recent collection is This Great Green Valley (Broadstone, 2020).

Roy Hoffman’s (CNF/F) new book, The Promise of the Pelican, is a literary crime novel in the multicultural South. “A thrilling novel,” says Sena Jeter Naslund, “with characters as memorable as those of Shakespearean tragedy.” Select events: Alabama Booksmith, Birmingham, 3/15; Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL, 3/24; Tennessee Williams Festival, New Orleans, 3/27; Mobile Public Library, 4/5; Octavia Books, New Orleans, 4/12; Malaprops Books, Asheville, NC, (virtual) 4/20; Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC, 4/28, with Elaine Neil Orr.

Jason Kyle Howard’s (CNF/PrWr) essay “Yellow Diamonds in the Light” was recently published in Wildsam Field Guides: Kentucky Bourbon Country. The essay pays tribute to The Bar, a Lexington, Kentucky, club that has been a haven for the LGBTQ+ community for sixty years. His lyric essay about Dolly Parton, titled “Our Lady of the Mountains,” accompanies artist Kevin Neal Gardner's painting of Parton in Ekphrasis, an invitational exhibition currently on display at the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center in Lexington. As editor of Appalachian Review, he interviewed Jayne Moore Waldrop about her debut short story collection Drowned Town for the Fall 2021 issue. His conversation with Marianne Worthington about her poetry collection Girl Singer is forthcoming in the Winter 2022 issue.

Fiction faculty and alum Angela Jackson-Brown (F ’09) was recently named the finalist for the David Langum Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction for her 2021 novel, When Stars Rain Down. In January, Angela and Katrina Kittle (F ’08) taught a workshop at the Indiana Writers Centers called “How to Use Research as a Tool for Writing.” In November 2021, Angela was a featured author at the Kentucky Book Festival in Lexington, and in October, she was a featured author at the Eudora Welty Symposium at the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, her website and Amazon.

Karen Mann, Administrative Director, recently took a virtual class on “Story = Character + Content” with Tracee de Hahn through the Carnegie Center in Lexington. She has joined two virtual book clubs in Loveland, Colorado, where she now lives, and read Salt Houses by Hala Alyan and Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond for February. She is currently starting on her 10th revision of a science fiction novel, One Hundred Spaceships Appear on Earth.

Nancy McCabe’s (CNF/F) Can This Marriage Be Saved? A Memoir was released as an Audible Audiobook last summer. The book was also featured on the Penn State NPR affiliate, WPSU, and in seven reading series, including at Clarion University and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. She was a special guest on the Schlow Library Podcast. Last spring, she did a talk on her book From Little Houses to Little Women, sponsored by the University of Missouri Library Systems. She is currently teaching two courses for the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, “The Shapes of Stories” and “The Healing Power of the Artful Essay.” Her favorite recent appearance was as a guest on Andie Redwine-Becker’s and Larry Brenner’s “Once Upon a Disney” podcast talking about the 1975 movie Escape to Witch Mountain last fall. She is also honored to have three short essays in the book of Spalding blogs beautifully edited by Kathleen Driskell and Katy Yocom, Creativity and Compassion.

Lesléa Newman (W4CYA) was featured in an interview by the Children’s Book Insider, “How Lesléa Newman Changed the World - And What Comes Next.”

Elaine Neil Orr (F/CNF) was awarded a month’s residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (February-March) to complete her third novel. Located in Amherst, Virginia, the VCCA offers room, studio space, and meals for fellows. Find Elaine @elaineneilorr and

The most recent issue of Early American Literature has published four poems from Jeremy Paden’s (Translation) 2021 collection of poems world as sacred burning heart. Nueva York Poetry Review has recently published five of his poems in Spanish. Still: The Journal has published six English-to-Spanish translations of Maurice Manning poems that he and students collaborated on together. In October 2021, Autorretrato como una iguana/Self-portrait as an Iguana, a collection of Spanish language poems that co-won the 2020 Poet in New York Prize by Valparaíso USA, was published in a bilingual edition.

Greg Pape’s poems “Missing” and “Into the Water” are forthcoming in SALT poetry journal. “Kyoto Hillside” appeared in The Louisville Review, Volume 90. Excerpts from introductions, an essay, “Finding Levine,” and two interviews with Greg appear in Naming the Lost: The Fresno Poets, Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2021. Greg’s short essay, “A Day in Hiroshima,” was included in the anthology Creativity & Compassion: Spalding Writers Celebrate Twenty Years, Good River Books, 2021. Greg wrote the introduction to Saving the Mitchell: The Struggle to Save Montana's Rivers and Streams from Privatization, by Michael Howell, Stoneydale Press, 2021. Six of Greg’s poems about the Bitterroot River are included as segues between the chapters.

John Pipkin (F) received two teaching awards from the University of Texas at Austin, where he is the Director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program. In May 2021, he won the Harry Ransom Award for Teaching Excellence in the College of Liberal Arts, and in December 2021 he received the McDaniel Professorship Award in Creative Writing Honoring Professor Emeritus David Wevill.

Maggie Smith (P) will join Roxane Gay, Saeed Jones, Aubrey Hirsch, and Sumita Chakraborty for “Writing the Wound: How to Write Trauma Ethically.” A video recording of this panel discussion will be made available as part of the 2022 AWP Conference in Philadelphia. Smith released her two most recent books in 2021: Goldenrod, a poetry collection, and Keep Moving: The Journal, a companion to her 2020 bestseller, Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change. Find her on social media @MaggieSmithPoet.


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