Homecoming: May 30-June 3, 2018



5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Featured Author Presentation: Rachel Seiffert, The Dark Room (ELC Troutman Lectorium)

7:00 p.m. Alumni Dine-Around at BBC! Yes, our beloved BBC is back on Fourth Street at Theatre Square and ready to welcome our group!


9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Featured Author Q&A: Rachel Seiffert (ELC Troutman Lectorium)

10:15 – 10:45 a.m. MFA Curriculum Session: Graduation lecture.

Writing for Children & Young Adults (MW206)

  • Michele Zakis. “Landmarks of an Effective Road Trip Story for Children and Young Adults”

10:15-11:15 a.m. Graduation Lectures. Please come on time and stay for the entire session.

Playwriting (MW302)

  • Lori Siekmann. “Why Every Playwright Should Take an Acting Class”
  • Jennie Kiffmeyer. “What Sustains the Writing Life: An Exploration of the Creative Process through Story”

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

Throughout the day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, you are welcome to share a “Practice Pitch Plus” session with Vickie Weaver (Fall ’05). Are you uncertain how to pitch your novel? Let’s work together in a mock pitch session, then discuss your novel and see where that takes us. We can also discuss query letters. Often, an aha! moment comes out of this conversation. Email Vickie at dirtyoven@yahoo.com to schedule an appointment. Times are flexible, and you should allow 30-60 minutes for our conference. These sessions are offered at no charge.


1:00 – 1:15 p.m. Homecoming Registration (Mansion Parlor)
Homecoming officially kicks off!

1:15 – 2:15 p.m. Welcome Gathering (Mansion Parlor)
Homecoming attendees gather, say hello to old friends, and receive a welcome from Kathleen, Katy, and Terry. We’ll provide a recap of MFA alumni opportunities, from access to faculty lecture audios to alumni trips abroad. If you like, you can sign up for Friday’s tour of the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Light refreshments.

2:15 – 3:15 p.m. Alumni Workshops.

  • Writing for Children/Poetry workshop (MW 204)
  • Combo Fiction workshop (MW 301)
  • Partial Novel workshop (MW 304)

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Discussion for Non-Workshoppers: Alumni Gathering Brainstorming Session.
Alumni gather by region to brainstorm ideas for gatherings. If the MFA alumni experience could be transported to your area for a day or a weekend, what would you want it to look like?

3:15 – 6:15 p.m. Movie Screening: SEASIDE. Come early to pick up a complimentary popcorn and a drink! (Candy available for purchase too!) The screening of this female-driven thriller begins at 3:30 p.m. Talkback with filmmaker Sam Zalutsky follows. (ELC Lectorium)

6:30 p.m. A choice of events:

  • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Special guest speaker, Claudia Love Mair: Fall 2017 Class Gift to Spalding. (ELC Lectorium)

The Fall 2017 graduates invite you to this lecture on being a writer while working through depression and anxiety. Ms. Love Mair will share her personal struggles and coping mechanisms as related to living the life of a writer. A Spalding alum (CNF ’17), she is the author of the Amanda Bell Brown Mysteries, The Exorsistah series, and Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White, as well as the recently published memoir Don’t You Fall Nowhttp://theragamuffindiva.blogspot.com/. Introduction by Leslie Lynch.

  • 6:30 p.m. Old Louisville walking tour, led by David Dominé (F ’13). (Meet-up location: Corner of Fourth and Ormsby at the “Welcome to Old Louisville” sign, about a 12-minute walk from the ELC.)

Discover Old Louisville on a guided walking tour with David. Long known as one of the most spectacular Victorian neighborhoods in the country, Old Louisville is a veritable time capsule with colorful local history and hundreds of beautiful homes from the late 1800s and early 1900s. If you love old houses and grand architecture, you won’t want to miss a tour of Old Louisville.

Dinner on your own.


“Practice Pitch Plus” sessions with Vickie Weaver (Fall ’05). Are you uncertain how to pitch your novel? Let’s work together in a mock pitch session, then discuss your novel and see where that takes us. We can also discuss query letters. Often, an aha! moment comes out of this conversation. Email Vickie at dirtyoven@yahoo.com to schedule an appointment. Times are flexible, and you should allow 30-60 minutes for our conference. These sessions are offered at no charge.

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Graham Shelby (CNF ’10). The Profession of Writing I. “Putting Words in Their Mouths: Speechwriting for Candidates and Characters.” Introduction by Katy Yocom. (Citation Room, Brown Hotel) Speechwriting is a profession and a practice that’s less common than poetry or novel-writing, but has both professional and artistic applications. Politicians, public servants (the difference matters), as well as CEOs, celebrities, and many others work with writers to help them determine what to say and how to say it to a live audience. Professional speechwriter and Spalding MFA alum Graham Shelby will talk about the art, craft, and science of writing speeches, whether it’s for paying clients or fictional characters.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m. Holly Brockman (F ’03). The Profession of Writing II. “A Spiritual Journey that Brought Me to the MFA: Why I Chose to Give Back While Working and Teaching After the MFA.” Introduction by Terry Price. (Secretariat B, Brown Hotel) Holly will speak about choosing an altruistic path to grantwriting.

10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Alumni Workshops. (Brown Hotel)

  • Writing for Children/Poetry workshop (Louisville Room, 3rd floor, turn left off elevator)
  • Combo Fiction workshop (Kentucky Room, 3rd floor, turn left off elevator)
  • Partial Novel workshop (Boardroom, 3rd floor, turn left off elevator)

11:15 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch break and nap time. Nearby restaurants are open. The College Street Café is closed but the POD (ELC) is open.

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Lynnell Edwards. The Profession of Writing III. “Book Reviewing 101”  (Citation Room, Brown Hotel) This plenary lecture will introduce attendees to the basic principles of writing effective book reviews, including aspects of pitching and procuring reviews, research, formatting, audience, and ethics, including conventions of disclosure and conflict of interest. We’ll look at both traditional review opportunities such as literary journals and national news outlets (such as The New York Times Review of Books) as well as other non-traditional venues including online forums like The Rumpus and Book Slut. In preparation, students should seek out and explore book reviews wherever they may find them, paying attention to aspects of style and substance they find compelling.

2:45 – 5:15 p.m. Off-site outing: Evan Williams Bourbon Experience.  (528 W Main Street) Meet on the first floor of the Brown Hotel, near the front door. We will leave the hotel at 2:45 p.m. on foot or by Uber, as we see fit, and head to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience on Main Street. Tours last approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour and include a historical tour, viewing of the artisanal still and a guided tasting.

5:30 – 6:45 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. Books provided by Carmichael’s Bookstore. (Citation Room, Brown Hotel, first floor)

  • Erin Chandler (’17), June Bug vs. Hurricane
  • Holly Gleason (’15), Woman Walk the Line: How the Women of Country Music Changed Our Lives
  • Gayle Hanratty (’06), Gray Hampton
  • R.J. Harris (’12), The Spirit Breather
  • Claudia Love Mair (’17), Don’t You Fall Now
  • Aimee Mackovic (’05), Love Junky
  • Barbara Sabol (’10), Solitary Spin
  • Sara Truitt (’15), More: A Memoir of Hungers

6:45 – 7:15 p.m. Book Signing. Alumni Celebration of Recently Published Books readers sign their books. Books provided by Carmichael’s. Cash bar. (Winner’s Circle, Brown Hotel, first floor)

Dinner on your own. 

9:00 p.m. Alumni After-Party Literary Reading. A reading by alumni who signed up in advance with Teneice Durrant, host, at teneiced@gmail.com. Cash bar. (Brown Hotel, South Lobby, second floor past front desk)


“Practice Pitch Plus” sessions with Vickie Weaver (Fall ’05). Are you uncertain how to pitch your novel? Let’s work together in a mock pitch session, then discuss your novel and see where that takes us. We can also discuss query letters. Often, an aha! moment comes out of this conversation. Email Vickie at dirtyoven@yahoo.com to schedule an appointment. Times are flexible, and you should allow 30-60 minutes for our conference. These sessions are offered at no charge.

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. A choice of sessions:

  • Alice Speilburg, literary agent. Profession of Writing IV. “The Elusive Literary Agent: How to Find and Secure Your Publishing Representative.” Introduction by Katy Yocom. (ELC Lectorium)

Authors looking to publish their work with large, commercial publishers often find that most of these publishers do not accept any submissions without a literary agent. Literary agent Alice Speilburg will discuss with attendees why publishers often establish that rule, what services an agent can provide to an author, and how each person might find the perfect agent who will guide their career where they want it to go. As most encounters with a literary agent involve a query or pitch, this class will also cover the basic structure for a query letter, tips and tricks for improving an elevator pitch, and tactics to avoid.

  • Lynnell Edwards, poetry faculty. “When It All Won’t Fit On One Line: Exploring the Poem on the Page and Non-Lineated Verse” (LIB 328) Historically, the metered, left-justified line has been the standard for poetry, with only the “shaped” or “concrete” poem emerging as exception. Free verse poetry, however, in unshackling the line from the metered foot also opened the door for more expansive composition “on the page” and the possibility for non-lineated poems, sometimes called prose poems. This lecture will explore contemporary theorists on these approaches to composition as well as closely read contemporary examples.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m. A choice of sessions:

  • Diana McQuady (F ’14), Catherine Berresheim, Bonnie Johnson (F ’04), Kim Crum (CNF ’03). “Teaching Where We Find It.” (LIB329) Teachers have a way of finding teaching moments wherever they go—from academic classrooms to prisons and other institutions to non-traditional settings such as writing conferences and community education. These four panelists will discuss the many possibilities of teaching, sharing their own experiences, joys, and challenges as well as the best practices they’ve developed over the years.

  • Jody Lisberger, fiction faculty. “Seen/Scene* and Unseen: A Counterintuitive Lesson in Dramatic Power for Fiction and Creative Nonfiction. (LIB328) In the introduction to her collection of black and white Depression photographs, Eudora Welty wrote: “If exposure is essential, still more so is the reflection. Insight doesn’t happen often on the click of the moment, like a lucky snapshot, but comes in its own time and more slowly and from nowhere but within” (One Time, One Place, 1971). This lecture will examine how these two tools, exposure and reflection, are key in guiding writers in creating and revising for dramatic impact. The lecture will also, perhaps more importantly, reveal a result that might surprise writers: namely that the power of and entitlement to use the unseen (“reflection”) happens not on its own terms but based on the strong scene/seen work around it. Students will explore a few examples (CNF, fiction, poetry) and then do a craft exercise. (*Thank you A.J. Verdelle for pointing out the homonym seen/scene to me.)

  • Larry Brenner (PW ’10), dramatic writing faculty. “I’ve Got a Pitch Meeting. Now What?” (LIB327) Not all pitch meetings are the same, and it’s normal to have anxiety before taking one. In this lecture, we will discuss different types of pitch meetings, and how to prepare for each in turn. What is expected from the writer in a pitch meeting? How much preparation should you do? What questions should you ask a producer when going after an assignment? How is pitching different for film and television? What role does your representation play in any of this?

10:15 – 11:30 a.m. Alice Speilburg, literary agent. “Opening Pages.”  (ELC Lectorium)

The opening pages of a manuscript often determine whether an agent or editor will read two paragraphs, two chapters, or the full manuscript before making a decision on an author’s work. Literary Agent Alice Speilburg will offer insight to the way she and other industry professionals read sample chapters—what they look for, what makes them cringe, and what makes them jump up with excitement—and she will review attendees’ first pages for potential snags and missed opportunities. Perfect for those who are about to send out their work for the first time, and for those who would like some feedback on what they might improve. Attendees will leave the workshop with a better understanding of common pitfalls and opening scenes to avoid, the keys to a compelling hook, and a strong start on an irresistible opening page. Attendees are encouraged to bring the first two pages of their book-length work for possible critique by Alice. 

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Homecoming Luncheon for alumni, new graduates, faculty, and staff. (Mansion.) 

12:45 – 1:45 p.m. Alumni Workshops

  • Writing for Children/Poetry workshop (MW 204)
  • Combo Fiction workshop (MW 301)
  • Partial Novel workshop (MW 304)

12:45 – 1:45 p.m. Naptime, Bookstore Browsing, or What-Have-You for Non-Workshoppers. Set your alarm for Tom’s on-campus lecture at 2:00 p.m. Free copy of Tom’s book for lecture attendees!

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Tom Pierce (F ’05). “Introduction to ChiWriting: What Writers Can Learn from Endurance Athletes” (LIB329) Free copy of Tom’s book for attendees!

Amateur and elite endurance athletes alike use specific planning and training techniques and strategies to condition themselves both physically and mentally for completing long distance events. ChiWriting is a system for creative conditioning that shows writers how to adapt and apply these same techniques and strategies to the process of writing—and completing—a book or other long-term creative project. In this lecture, we’ll cover the basics of ChiWriting, including:

  • Ten key endurance training and planning principles and how you can adapt these to develop a “training plan” for completing your writing projects and achieving your creative goals.
  • Three types of workouts athletes use that you can apply to condition your creative mind and make consistent progress on the page.
  • Three habits of mind that all successful endurance athletes use and why they’re also essential for writers.

You will walk away from this lecture with specific ideas and strategies you can put into practice immediately to enhance your writing and creative life. Bring pen and paper for a brief illustrative exercise.

3:15 – 4:00 p.m. Nancy Long (P ’13), Literary Chat. “The Prose Poem.” (LIB329)

4:30 – 5:45 p.m. Homecoming Farewell Gathering. An opportunity to gather as a group one more time before we go our separate ways. Terry Price says a few words of farewell. Light refreshments and a cash bar. (J. Graham Brown Suite, Brown Hotel)

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. (Brown Hotel, 1st fl., J. Graham’s Café) Open to all. 

7:30 p.m. Champagne Toast and Farewell Dinner for those who reserved a seat. (Brown Hotel, 1st fl., Secretariat)


Homecoming attendees may opt to attend the 14th annual Spalding 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/2018-spalding-day-at-the-downs . Registration is available up to the day of the event. Be sure to mention that you’re with the MFA program, so you can be seated with other MFAers!

Lunch Buffet 11:30am. Race 1 post time 12:45pm.

Location: Millionaire’s Row 6, Churchill Downs. Transportation is on your own.

$45 Single Ticket or Table of 8 for $320

Admission includes a Lunch Buffet, Silent Auction, and Door Prizes as well as access private cash bar, betting windows and all public areas of Churchill Downs.

Please contact Liam Clemen, Manager of Alumni Relations, lclemen@spalding.edu, 502-873-4551 for additional details or questions. Tickets will be mailed to the submitted address 10-14 days prior to the event, unless you let Liam know to do otherwise.

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

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