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Life of a Writer: Summer Edition



Theresa Anne Carey’s (SW) first semester screenplay, THE LADY PIRATES, written under the tutelage of Gabriel Jason Dean, and her horror/sci-fi screenplay SWINE HEART, which underwent a rewrite last semester with guidance from her mentor Larry Brenner and remote workshop mates, are both Finalists & Official Selections in the Austin Revolution Film Festival. [The festival has been postponed to March, 2021.]

Elana Gartner’s (PW) play Before Lesbians is a finalist for the 2020 Dayton FutureFest. The script will receive an online performance which will be available between July 31 and August 6 at The Dayton Playhouse. On August 2 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, Elana will do a live-streaming interview with questions from the audience through Dayton Playhouse’s Facebook Live. Before Lesbians will receive another online performance through Good Luck Macbeth in August.

Jasmine Lomax‘s (P ‘21) piece, “SO I HAD A MOUSE PROBLEM, RIGHT” is due to come out this month in the Santa Fe Literary Review’s 2020 edition! The gathering to celebrate this event for Thursday, October 22nd has now been moved online due to COVID-19 concerns. Guests interested in participating are encouraged to sign up. Jasmine is also a finalist for the Sundress Publications 2020 Broadside contest, featuring her work “anxiety shit.” You can read her latest piece (and more) on her portfolio.


David Brasfield (F ‘04) has a piece in the anthology The Best New True Crime Stories: Small Towns edited by Mitzi Szereto. His short story “The Other” has been accepted by The Gateway Review: A Journal of Magical Realism and will be published under the pseudonym Christamar Varicella. website: Twitter: @christamar10 Facebook: Christamar Varicella

Joan Donaldson’s (CNF ‘08) wildflower essay aired on Michigan Public Radio. Her poppy fields are now famous across the country because a Grand Rapids TV station created a feature about it and the Associated Press picked up the story.

Barry Drudge‘s (F ‘18) short story “I’ve Just Seen a Face” was accepted to Round Table Literary Journal for Summer 2020 release. Barry has also written and recorded a customized song about BLM for a contest winner that will soon be premiered on a YouTube video. The song’s title is “Howlin’ at the Moon.”

Drēma Drudge (F ‘13) was recently interviewed for PBS Fort Wayne’s arts IN focus program. The interview will air in the fall. She was also interviewed by Stephanie Storey, author of Oil and Marble. You can follow Drēma on her website:, or on Twitter: @dremadrudge.

Jeffrey Fischer-Smith’s (PW ‘17) short film RESERVATIONS won the Best Short Film Award in The Film Contest. The Director’s Cut is available for viewing online. Julie Nichols (SW ‘15) and Jeffrey are the co-writers and co- executive producers. His short play of the same name was produced online by Theatrikos Theatre Company in Flagstaff, Arizona. You can watch the production, starting at marker 29:13. The play is also now included in the course pack for a playwriting class taught inside the prison system in Colorado.

Thea Gavin (P ‘05) began gathering local (Orange County, CA) writers for a monthly Write Night when she retired from teaching in 2017. Since the March 2020 home quarantine, Write Night has transformed into a weekly Zoom get-together that now includes faraway writers as well. Very specific prompts–which include several randomly selected words–and a ten-minute time limit allow writers to compose a story or poem that never would have come to light otherwise. Those who wish to share their work read it to the group, with the only “feedback” being compliments and delighted laughter at the magic of the creative act.

Karen George (F ‘09) had a short story published at Inscape, poems published at Postcards from the Pandemic: A Cincinnati Poetry Month Project, Panoply: A Literary Zine, South Broadway Ghost Society, Gyroscope Review (page 11), Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, and the anthology If Only They Were Hungrier They Would Swallow Me Whole: Selections from Lexington Poetry Month 2019.

[Photo Credit: Chandra Lynch, Ankh Productions]

Angela Jackson-Brown (F ‘09) recently signed a two-book deal with Thomas Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins. The first book, When Stars Rain Down, will be released in April 2021. Her agent is Alice Speilburg of the Speilburg Literary Agency.

Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan’s (CNF ‘03) review of Katy Yocom‘s (F ’03) novel Three Ways to Disappear was published in the North American Review and won first place in the National Federation of Press Women’s 2020 awards in the category of “Specialty Articles – Reviews.” There were 1,800 entrants in the nationwide contest. Kaylene says the award for the book review was especially gratifying since she and Katy graduated at the same time from the Spalding MFA in Writing program. Additionally, Kaylene earned another first place in “Specialty Articles – Agriculture” for her article in Alaska magazine “Sweet Cherry Rumors.” She earned two second-place awards and an honorable mention for other articles in various publications. Her combined awards in the NFPW contest earned her third place in the national sweepstakes for most awards.

In other news, Kaylene wrote and co-produced a PBS documentary based on her book Canyons and Ice: The Wilderness Travels of Dick Griffith. She recently learned that the film is being aired this summer in 39 cities across the United States.

With retired Spalding MFA faculty member Luke Wallin, Kaylene co-wrote “Animal Strangers,” an essay for Sisyphus literary magazine. It started as an email exchange that Luke wove into an essay. It was published in June.

Portia Pennington (PW ‘18) felt lucky when she embarked on a documentary film project in 2017 that took her all the way from Kentucky to Texas after Hurricane Harvey. From Portia: “Our team was blown away by the strength, faith, and belief in the future that these people shared with us. Earlier versions of this film screened at the Louisville International Festival of Film and as part of the Deep in the Heart Film Festival Independent Film Series in Waco, Texas. We have decided that there is no better time than now to share these stories of hope and resilience, and have put the completed film up on YouTube. Thanks to all my Spalding colleagues and mentors for your role in my continued growth as a writer, a filmmaker, and a person.” DISTURBANCE: Hurricane Harvey Stories – Feature Documentary.

Atul N. Rao (SW ‘16) has remained busy on his graphic novels as he continues to write for children’s television. In the past year, he has written on a number of children’s shows including a Netflix original, “Ghee Happy,” about Hindu gods in a preschool setting. Atul wrote four scripts and co-wrote four songs for the series. Atul is head writer on a new series in production with Mattel and Netflix, working title “Dimple,” for an order of 34 episodes.

Taylor Riley (CNF ‘19), will begin her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Louisville. Since graduation, she has been teaching part time at JCTC, Ivy Tech and Bellarmine, freelancing for Tops Louisville and Today’s Woman, and editing other writers’ projects. She currently has two live essays on HerStry and Uncomfortable Revolution. You can reach her on Facebook @TaylorMRileyWriter, on Twitter @TMRWriter and her website

Brittny Ray Crowell, Jordan Charlton and Mervyn Seivwright, winners of the Lucy Terry Prince Poetry Prize (Grand winner and runner-ups)

Mervyn Cobra Seivwright (P ‘19) just received notice that his poem, “Can You Taste the Ivory Coast Chocolate?,” was chosen for 2nd Runner Up in the Lucy Terry Prince poetry prize under Mount Island Journal. These poems will be published in the summer 2020 issue and in a 2021 print anthology, Revive! He sends much thanks to his Writing Fam.

Rosanna Staffa (F ‘15) is thrilled to be the second-prize winner in The Southampton Review contest for her nonfiction piece “Holy.” Her essay will be published in the Winter/Spring 2021 issue.

Kathleen Thompson (F ‘03) announces the debut of her novella A TALE OF TWO WOMEN, which—after four published poetry books—makes it official: she is a cross genre kat. Let’s chat!


Roy Hoffman’s (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Faculty) quartet of poems, “Fairhope Pandemic,” was in a pop-up art show, “Corona,” on the verandah of Fairhope, Alabama’s Eastern Shore Art Center from March to May, as part of an assemblage by Fairhope artist Lynn Yonge. At a march and interfaith gathering for social justice on June 14 in Fairhope, Roy, representing the Jewish community, read a meditation and prayer he composed inspired by Ecclesiastes’ “To Everything There Is a Season.”

Robin Lippincott’s (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Faculty) flash fiction piece, “Psithurism,” which he read at a residency several years ago, appears in the current issue of the handsome new online journal LEON LITERARY REVIEW.

Nancy McCabe’s (Fiction Faculty) essay “Metamorphosis,” published in Southern Indiana Review in 2018, was named a notable essay of 2019 by Best American Essays. This was the eighth time her work has been recognized by a Best American Notable List. She was recently interviewed about the Pushcart Prize for the article “An Honor to be Nominated” in the current issue of The Writer magazine. Her memoir in essays, Can This Marriage be Saved? is forthcoming from the University of Missouri Press in September.

Léslea Newman (W4CYA faculty) has had two poems from her forthcoming collection, I WISH MY FATHER, recognized. “My Mother Is at the Bridge” received an Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest Honorable Mention, and “The First Time We Visit” received a Robinson Jeffers Tor House Honorable Mention.

Jeremy Paden (Poetry Translation Faculty) is pleased to announce that his bilingual, illustrated book Under the Ocelot Sun/Bajo el sol del ocelote will be released by Shadelandhouse Modern Press. The book is about Central American migrants. You can read about the making of the book on the Spalding MFA Blog and find out how to order it at Shadelandhouse Modern Press. He was also named as a co-winner of the inaugural Poeta En Nueva York Prize from the Spanish publisher Valaparaíso Ediciones. The award was for Spanish-language poems written by poets residing the United States. His manuscript Autorretrato como una iguana/Self-Portrait as an Iguana will be published in Spanish and English in the fall of 2020.

Katy Yocom (associate director and alum, F ’03) talked craft and process with interviewer Marilyn Millstone (PW ‘16) in a conversation recorded for Homecoming. In May, her novel, Three Ways to Disappear, won the First Horizon Award and the Micro Press Award and was named a finalist for the Montaigne Medal. All three awards are part of the Eric Hoffer Book Award, for which her book was also short-listed for the grand prize. Writing in The Roadrunner Review, book reviewer Holly Elaine Hayton compared Three Ways to Disappear and Netflix’s Tiger King in terms of engagement/distraction during a time of quarantine.


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