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By Kathleen Driskell, Program Director, Poetry Faculty Member


To date I’ve published four full-length books of poetry, and while it’s thrilling to hold one of my new books in my hands, one of my truly favorite moments happens when I realize my heap of new poems is high enough to begin thinking about how they should be collected into a manuscript.

At that point, the book project presents all kinds of new and delicious questions . . . and I love thinking about all of them.

  1. Is this a book that relies heavily upon a larger story or persona?

  2. How do I want the book to begin for the reader? How do I want it to end?

  3. Should the book ask one big question or perhaps a few?

  4. Should I collect like-subjects together or disperse them throughout?

  5. How might the last poem in a section speak to a poem which begins the subsequent section?

  6. How do I find a great title for my collection?

There are themes to unearth, subjects to juxtapose, attitudes to play with, length of poems to consider, forms to ponder, and inevitably . . . holes to write into.

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And as much as I enjoy wading into a stack of my own poems, I also love helping students and alums order their books of poetry. I’m delighted to say that a good number of those manuscripts by students and alumni have been accepted for publication. Some have won big prizes.

If your stack of poems is high enough to be collected into a manuscript, I hope you’ll give serious thought to enrolling in my poetry book-length manuscript workshop during our Spalding’s low-residency MFA Fall 2018 residency, November 9-18. As a poetry workshop participant in ENG672, a three-hour course, you’ll receive in-depth discussion on the ordering of your manuscript and learn by helping other poets think about the way they order their own poetry books.

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To be eligible, MFA students must have successfully finished ENG623, and should have at least 40 pages, and no more than 60, completed.  Most importantly, students have to be ready to submit their poetry manuscripts by September 10, and commit to reading up to five other poetry manuscripts between September 26 and the beginning of Fall residency, November 9.

The nature of this workshop means space is limited. If you are interested in participating, please email us at by July 25. We’ll admit students by seniority and those who first express interest in attending.

 If you’re a Spalding MFA alum or a graduate of another MFA program and interested in participating, let us know, too. We may be able to find a place for you as well.



Award-winning poet and teacher Kathleen Driskell is Professor of Creative Writing and serves as the Associate Program Director of Spalding University’s low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2013, she was awarded the honor of Outstanding Faculty Member by the trustees of Spalding University. Her newest collection of poetry Blue Etiquette was published by Red Hen Press in 2016. Next Door to the Dead, was published as a Kentucky Voices Selection, by the University Press of Kentucky in 2015. Kathleen lives outside Louisville with her husband and two children in an old country church built before The American Civil War.



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