Homecoming May 31-June 4

Registration for Homecoming is still open!


Theme: Finding Your Niche


Note: Room/venue locations for events are not listed because they are subject to change. All guests will receive an updated schedule with room numbers and venues at the Homecoming registration table.


5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Interrelatedness of the Arts Event: The Louisville Leopard Percussionists. In honor of our cross-genre exploration area of writing for children & young adults, our musical interrelatedness of the arts event is presented by the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, a performing ensemble comprised of 60+ student musicians ages 7-14, who attend 48 different schools in and around Louisville. Their mission is to provide a comprehensive musical experience for children that enriches lives and builds community. (First Unitarian Church, 4th and York, enter from Library Lane.)

7:00 p.m. Alumni Dine-Around at a variety of restaurants. Sign up for the dine-around by emailing Katy Yocom at kyocom@spalding.edu by May 25. Participants meet in the Brown’s second-floor lobby to walk to restaurants.


Throughout the day Thursday, Friday, Saturday. PRACTICE PITCH PLUS with Vickie Weaver (Fall 2005).By advance appointment only: email dirtyoven@yahoo.com

Are you ready to pitch your novel but uncertain how to prepare? Let’s work together in a mock pitch session, then discuss your novel and see where that takes us. Often, an aha! moment for the author comes out of this conversation. Even if you’re not quite ready to pitch, you’re welcome to give the one-on-one session a try. Please email me at dirtyoven@yahoo.com if you are interested in meeting with me during Homecoming. Appointment times are flexible for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Allow half an hour minimum for our time together.

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Kathleen Driskell, associate program director
Bang!—Dash—Monkeyt@il: Punctuation Strategies for Creative Writers

Of course, all writers need to understand the basic functions of punctuation, but it is important for creative writers to have a much more sophisticated knowledge of the panoply of symbols at our disposal and to understand how using punctuation can influence writerly style and voice. This plenary lecture begins with a brief exploration of the historical, philosophical, and rhetorical origins of punctuation; then, I will discuss the pacing, structural, and figurative potential that punctuation offers a creative writer; and, finally, I will end this talk with a quick survey of the most common mistakes writers make when using punctuation.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m. Publishing and Editing Session I. Care and Tending of Books and Scripts. A panel discusses what authors can do to promote a book/script once a book contract is signed or a play/screenplay is slated for production. Includes time for Q&A.

 Fiction. Leslie Daniels, facilitator; Eleanor Morse; and Neela Vaswani
Poetry. Kathleen Driskell, facilitator; Greg Pape; and Kiki Petrosino
Creative Nonfiction. Roy Hoffman, facilitator; Nancy McCabe; and Elaine Orr
Writing for Children & Young Adults. Beth Bauman, facilitator; Lamar Giles; and Marjetta Geerling
Dramatic Writing. Larry Brenner, facilitator; Gabriel Dean; and Eric Schmiedl

11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch on your own.

1:00 – 1:30 p.m. Homecoming Registration
Homecoming officially kicks off! Pick up short reading for a Literary Chat on the lyric essay, which takes place at 3:00 p.m. Saturday.

1:30 – 2:00 p.m. Welcome Home
Homecoming attendees gather, say hello to old friends, and hear a Welcome Home from Sena. Light refreshments.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Stranger Things Screening: Pilot. All attendees are invited to screen the pilot episode of Stranger Things in preparation for the lecture by Beth Bauman and Larry Brenner later this weekend—or just for the fun of it.

3:00 – 4:15 p.m. Stranger Things Screening: Episode 2. Attendees who are not in workshop are invited to stay to view the second episode of Stranger Things.

3:00 – 5:15 p.m. Alumni workshops.

4:15 – 5:15 p.m. Break for Homecoming non-workshoppers. Feedback from past Homecomings has suggested that some unscheduled time would be welcome!

5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Celebration of Recently Published Books. Introductions by Sena Jeter Naslund. Book signing to follow. Books provided by Carmichael’s Bookstore.

  • Gayle Hanratty, MFA alum (fiction), Gray Hampton: A Suite of Stories (Fleur-de-Lis Press)
  • Lamar Giles (writing for children & young adults), Overturned
  • Nancy McCabe (fiction), Following Disasters
  • Gabriel Dean (playwriting), Qualities of Starlight

7:00 p.m.  Dinner on your own.


Throughout the day Thursday, Friday, Saturday. PRACTICE PITCH PLUS with Vickie Weaver (Fall 2005).By advance appointment only: email dirtyoven@yahoo.com

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. A Choice of Guest Lectures. The MFA Alumni Association presents a choice of sessions:

Editing and Publishing.

David Dominé, guest
Win Big by Thinking Small: Finding Your Niche in the Changing World of Publishing
Introduction by Jason Hill.

Writers tend to pigeonhole themselves, often preferring one genre over another or having a favorite subject matter. But a world of opportunity opens up if they can get even more specific and carve out a niche. With a bit of entrepreneurial spirit and a focus on the little picture, authors can learn to market their work to target audiences, enhance name recognition, and make money from book-related endeavors. Budding writers can also tailor their projects to fit current trends and needs in the industry. Whether for fiction or nonfiction, niche marketing—the identifying and reaching out directly to groups of potential readers—can unlock many doors in today’s changing world of publishing.

Editing and Publishing.

Teneice Durrant, guest
Editing and Publishing: Awesome Jobs, Awesome Responsibilities
Introduction by Ellyn Lichvar.

Though most still see the MFA as a prerequisite to teaching writing, demand for content is expanding in new and exciting ways. Now more than ever, there are job opportunities for editors, publishers, and directors in many areas outside of academia. With these new jobs come new opportunities to be more inclusive, representative, and reflective of the communities eager for engaging content. This lecture will cover emerging editing and publishing jobs and the responsibilities of editors and publishers in the era of New Media.


Matt Wohl, guest
Write Like an Artist, Think Like a Producer
Introduction by Marjetta Geerling.

The film industry is undergoing serious changes. It’s no longer suitable to be a specialist, we must be multi-specialists. For screenwriters, this means we need to take more ownership of the development and pre-production process. By thinking like a producer and doing the work of a producer (budgets, scheduling, business plans), you have a much better chance of seeing your script become a film.

10:15 – 11:00 a.m. Spalding’s Festival of Contemporary Writing. (Alumni workshoppers, see next entry.) PGRAs read from their work.

  • April Asbury (’11)
  • Kellie Carle (’16)
  • Shad Farrell (’13)
  • Emily Vander Ark (’16)
  • Kelly Morris (’ 13)

10:15 – 12:15. Alumni Workshops.

11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch break and nap time. The College Street Café is closed but the POD (ELC) is open.

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. A Choice of Faculty and Guest Lectures.

General Interest; Poetry.

Rebecca Gayle Howell, guest
We All Write Sentences
Introduction by Kathleen Driskell.

This talk invites both poets and prose writers to consider more closely the power of pushing out the boundaries of the English sentence. Reading, across genres, sentences written by masters of the ecstatic—James Agee, Gwendolyn Brooks, Cormac McCarthy, Emily Dickinson, Ross Gay, Melville, Gerald Stern, C.K. Williams, Joy Williams—we will combine linguistic and creative craft study for the sake of better serving the imagination, the music.

Creative Nonfiction.

Roy Hoffman, faculty
The Art of the Profile

This lecture explores how creative nonfiction writers can best bring a subject to life in a profile. This nuts-and-bolts lecture examines, among other topics, ways to begin a profile, the “telling details” of a profile subject, how to capture the speech of the subject, and ways to communicate information surrounding a profile subject without turning the piece into a research paper. The lecture will draw from examples of profiles written by, among others, Joseph Mitchell, Gay Talese, and Susan Orlean. Roy Hoffman will also look at challenges to writing profiles from his own experiences with this genre.


Danny Davila, guest
Script to Screen: The Filmmaking Process
Introduction by Gabriel Dean.

Davila’s lecture will explore the filmmaking process from written word to screen, breaking down a scene step-by-step as it is done in the film and television industries. The lecture will cover a wide variety of topics, from script writing and location scouting to filming the final product, while emphasizing the all-important concept of the importance of how film and television productions all start with words on a page.

2:45 – 3:45 p.m. Faculty Lecture. General Interest, Writing for Children & YA, Dramatic Writing. (ELC Troutman Lectorium)

Beth Bauman and Larry Brenner, faculty
Stranger Things
: Looking at the Upside Down from the Inside Out

The smash hit Netflix TV show Stranger Things approaches storytelling from multiple points of view while drawing from the conventions of several genres: the adult mystery/police procedural; the tale of supernatural horror; the young-adult storyline about romance, identity, and fitting in; and a middle-grade storyline about unsupervised kids who need to overcome bullies, evil scientists, and clueless parents to save the day. Beth Bauman and Larry Brenner discuss the narrative moves that make this show tick and create such fun, addictive viewing.

4:15 – 5:15 p.m. Spalding’s Festival of Contemporary Writing: Celebration of Recently Published Books by Alumni. All students, alumni, and faculty welcome. Book signing to follow at SPLoveFest book expo. Books provided by Carmichael’s Bookstore. (Brown Hotel, 1st floor, Citation

  • Linda Parker (’03, fiction), Oliver’s Song
  • Al DeGenova (’05, poetry), Black Pearl
  • Mary Popham (’03, fiction), Love Is a Fireplace
  • Kathleen Thompson (’03, poetry), Time & Distance
  • David Dominé (’13, fiction), Voodoo Days at La Casa Fabulosa
  • Nancy Chen Long (’13, poetry), Light Into Bodies
  • Linda Busby Parker (’03, fiction), Oliver’s Song

5:15 – 6:15 p.m. SPLoveFest. Alumni and students display their books, journals, and anthologies and/or bring promotional material regarding artistic endeavors such as plays, movies, podcasts, literary services, blogs, websites, and more. Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar. Alumni Celebration of Recently Published Books readers sign their books. Books provided by Carmichael’s Bookstore.

Dinner on your own.

9:00 p.m. Alumni After-Party Literary Reading. Teneice Durrant, host. Students are welcome!


Throughout the day Thursday, Friday, Saturday: PRACTICE PITCH PLUS with Vickie Weaver (Fall 2005). By advance appointment only: email dirtyoven@yahoo.com

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Guest Lecture or Panel. The MFA Alumni Association presents a choice of sessions.

General Interest.

Marjetta Geerling, guest
Avoid the Cliché: Acting Exercises to Enliven Description and Deepen Characterization
Introduction by Terry Price.
Because this session takes place in the gym, please wear rubber-soled shoes.

 “It is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés, that cliché is untrue.” – actor/writer Stephen Fry

Clichés are as common as a grandma at bingo, and they can be hard as all get out to remove from a manuscript. Writers usually avoid common sayings like “right as rain,” but sometimes fall into description clichés and patterns. Placeholder words like nod, shake, turn, or smile often slip into a first draft, but good revision means identifying stubborn clichés and removing them. The acting exercises in this session will help participants move beyond stock phrases to discover fresh, character-specific language to use in their work.

 General Interest. Panel Discussion.

Making a Literary Life: Creative Interactions with Your Community
Ann Eskridge, moderator; Bobbi Buchanan; Lindsay Gargotto; Joe Manning; Amy Miller
Introductions by Katy Yocom.

This panel invites you to consider opportunities to use writing as a way to connect compassionately with your community, beyond the realms of publishing and teaching in academia. Panelists have experience running a community theatre, founding a writing community for female veterans, teaching writing in the prisons, hosting open-mic readings, serving on the board of literary arts organizations, and running a community storytelling project for underrepresented voices, among many other projects.

10:15 – 11:30 a.m. Special Session.

Cold Mountain: The Conversation
Charles Frazier, interviewed by Roy Hoffman

National Book Award-winning novelist Charles Frazier sits down with Roy Hoffman in a discussion that covers Cold Mountain—the novel, the film, and the opera—and ranges further afield to include conversation about the writing life. Introduction by Sena Jeter Naslund.

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Homecoming Picnic for alumni, Spring 2017 graduates, faculty, guests, and staff. Catered by Jason’s Deli.

1:15 – 2:45 p.m. Generative workshop.

Terry Price, leader. All Homecoming attendees are invited to bring your favorite writing tools and come prepared to write something new! At the beginning of the session, Marjetta Geerling gives a brief overview of hub events.

3:00 – 3:45 p.m.  Literary Chat: The Lyric Essay (MB306)

Nancy Long, leader. We’ll be discussing the lyric essay, a hybrid form that combines elements of poetry and prose—essay, memoir, and nonfiction/research writing. After reading several brief examples, we’ll touch on a few different types of lyric essays, mull over what might make an essay a “lyric essay” by looking at how time, juxtaposition, and fragmentation operate in some lyric essays, and chat about whatever other aspects of craft or content strike our fancy.

3:00 – 5:00 p.m. Alumni Workshops.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Homecoming farewell gathering. An opportunity to gather as a group one more time before we go our separate ways. Light refreshments and a cash bar.

Afterward, alums have dinner on their own, or stay for graduation and the MFA farewell dinner…

6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Graduation. (Brown Hotel, 16th fl., Gallery Ballroom)

 After-graduation reception, cash bar, and hors d’oeuvres.

7:45 p.m. Champagne Toast and Farewell Dinner for those who reserved a seat.


Homecoming attendees may opt to attend the annual Spalding University Day at the Downs, organized by the Spalding Advancement Office. This event isn’t officially part of the MFA Homecoming, but the opportunity is open to one and all. You can register and pay online at https://givespalding.givingfuel.com/spalding-day-at-the-downs . Registration is available up to the day of the event!

Lunch Buffet 11:30am. Race 1 post 12:45pm.
Location: Millionaires Row 6, Churchill Downs. Transportation is on your own.
$40 Single Ticket or Table of 8 for $320
Admission includes a Lunch Buffet, Silent Auction, and Door Prizes

Make checks payable to Spalding University Alumni Association, 845 S. Third Street, Louisville, KY 40203. To pay by credit card, please contact Loren Carlson, Manager of Alumni Relations, lcarlson@spalding.edu, 502-873-4317.

All proceeds from this event will go toward the Blue & Gold Fund, which directly supports Spalding students.

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