Spring 2013: A Record-Breaking Homecoming

More than 100 Spalding MFA in Writing alums converged in Louisville, Ky., from points as far-flung as British Columbia and Florida for the Spring 2013 MFA homecoming, led by MFA alumni association director Terry Price (F ’06). The homecoming broke all previous attendance records and offered more programming than any before.

Alums began to gather on Thursday evening before Tim O’Brien‘s presentation in the Brown Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom (more on that topic in the article above). The next day featured a full slate of activities, beginning with O’Brien’s Q&A session.

Small-group alumni workshops, organized by Marjetta Geerling (W4CYA ’11), convened with about 30 alumni participants. Screenwriting faculty member Helena Kriel spoke to alums about the inherent rewards of the writing life. And a panel of seven alumni spoke about the ways they have used writing as an avenue to serve their communities-teaching poetry, memoir, and journaling in prisons, substance abuse centers, psychiatric hospitals, and memory care facilities; giving young people a safe space to create art; making a documentary about grief; founding a playwriting organization; and more. Serving on the panel were Sonja de Vries (P ’09), Kathryn Eastburn (CNF ’06), Ann Eskridge (PW ’08), Diana Raab (CNF ’03), Barbara Sabol (P ’10), Bob Sachs (F ’09), and Julie Stewart (F ’10).

Later that afternoon, the Celebration of Recently Published Books by Alumni featured readings by Chris Mattingly (P ’10), from his poetry collection Scuffletown; Dave Harrity (P ’07), from his book of meditations and spiritual exercises, Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand ; Sandi Hutcheson (CNF ’12), from her nonfiction book Looks Great Naked (published as Grace Adams); Charlotte Rains Dixon (F ’03), from her novel Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior; Loreen Niewenhuis (F ’07), from her nonfiction narrative A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk; and Ann Eskridge, from The Raven, a work of historical fiction.

SPLoveFest book fair took place next, a lively mix-and-mingle event featuring 16 student and alum exhibitors showing and selling their books and literary journals. Carmichael’s Bookstore sold books by the Celebration readers. After a break for dinner, an open-mic alum reading hosted by Teneice Delgado (P ’06) concluded the evening.

Saturday’s events included a breakfast mixer for alumni, new graduates, faculty and staff, followed by the second annual Un-Conference, led by Erin Keane (P ’04) and Teneice Delgado; one-on-one practice sessions for pitching to agents, led by Vickie Weaver (F ’05); regional breakout sessions; alumni workshops; and a reading by PGRAs Marjetta Geerling, Barry George (P ’09), Dan Nowak (P ’07), Katerina Stoykova-Klemer (P ’09); Terry Price, and MFA alumni and staff members Gayle Hanratty (F ’06) and Ellyn Lichvar (P ’07). At the graduation ceremony that followed, 32 new graduates joined the ranks of alumni, and class representative Omar Figueras (F) offered remarks on behalf of his graduating class.

Spring 2013 Homecoming: Tim O’Brien, Story Truth, and Beginnings

Acclaimed Vietnam War author Tim O’Brien visited the Spring 2013 Homecoming as the Diana M. Raab Distinguished Writer in Residence.

On Thursday, May 23, 2013, at the Brown Hotel, he spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of MFAers and members of the community about the power of story, the (often superior) relationship of story-truth to happening-truth, and the tragedies of war.

“A bullet can kill an enemy,” O’Brien said. “But a bullet can also make an enemy.”

O’Brien spoke against war in general, saying his stance was neither liberal nor conservative but instead opposed the hypocrisy of those who advocate war-making yet leave the fighting to others.

The next morning, O’Brien answered questions during a private session for MFA students, faculty, and alumni and offered further revelations about the story-truth and happening-truth of several stories in the Program Book in Common, The Things They Carried.


Homecoming only a week away!

SpaldingMFA_SmallDear Alumni,

Homecoming is a little over a week away! We’re very much looking forward to seeing everyone back in Louisville.

Although we always have a great turnout for homecoming, we understand that the majority of alumni are unable to attend. This year, social media will help keep everyone better connected whether you are in Louisville or not. We’re encouraging all who are a part of Homecoming 2013 to share your thoughts and experiences by the following ways –

We’re encouraging alumni to tweet frequently using the hashtag – #splove13 and use the same hashtag when uploading photos with Instagram – This will make tracking posts easier for alumni at home. You can follow Kathleen Driskell as she posts throughout the residency @KathDriskell and also alumni events from me @jterryprice

You can check status and upload posts and thoughts on the alumni association’s Facebook page.

(If you haven’t joined our Facebook group, it’s a great time to start. All alumni, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to be a part.)

We will be posting videos (with permission) on our YouTube page.

Keep abreast of updates and what’s going on at Homecoming 2013 by returning here throughout the week.

– Terry Price

Here’s a closer look at some of the events:

After-Party Literary Reading

Make plans to attend the third annual After-Party Literary Reading, beginning at 9:30 p.m. May 24, 2013, at the Brown Hotel, 1st Floor, Secretariat B room. Alumni readers this year will include Graham Shelby, Barry George, Lia Estep, Dan Nowak, Michael Wayne Hampton, Nancy Long, Jason Lee Miller, Barbara Sabol, and Carolyn Flynn. Many thanks to Teneice Delgado for creating and hosting this much anticipated event designed to showcase as many of our talented alumni as possible.

 Alumni Workshops

This will be the first year of Homecoming that has featured workshops for alumni. Made possible by the work and coordination of Marjetta Geerling, this initial offering will find thirty-four alumni workshopping their pieces and full manuscripts. The deadlines have passed in order to participate in this year’s workshops but start planning to be a part of the workshops for Homecoming 2014.

Alumni Regions and Regional Events

Now that our alumni base has grown to a significant number, the alumni association and MFA office and staff are working together to form regional groups of alumni. Although each region will determine its own focus, goals and events, the intent is to encourage alumni within geographical areas to plan local events and to support and attend the literary events of other alumni. On Saturday, May 25th, all alumni are strongly encouraged to meet at 2:00 p.m. in Mansion Building, Room 203 to learn more about this new program, both in terms of what’s already happening and what you can do and be a part of in your area of the country.


Register for Homecoming 2013

If you’re planning to come to Homecoming 2013, please register. There’s no cost, but your registration will help the Spalding MFA in Writing program plan all the events.

Homecoming events are May 23-25, 2013, at the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

Even if you’re already enrolled in an alumni writing workshop, you still need to register — and you need to book your room.

When you follow the link below, you’ll be asked about which events you’re participating in, and you’ll be given instructions on how to book a room at the Brown Hotel.

Registration is easy and won’t take but just a couple of minutes. Just click on the following link and fill in the blanks!


Call for Alumni with Recently Published Books!

The Spalding MFA Alumni Association is busy planning the next Alumni Celebration of Recently Published Books to be held on Friday, May 24, 2013 during the Spring Residency Homecoming.

If you have recently published a book or have had a play or screenplay produced, meet the eligibility criteria listed below, and would like to read from your work at the Celebration, please send a note to Tom Pierce at tapierce@insightbb.com no later than Thursday, February 28, 2012.

Please note that space and time is limited for the readings, so if there should be more eligible and interested alumni than available reading slots, preference will be given to first-published/produced works over subsequent works. A complete list of eligibility/priority criteria for participation in the Celebration readings is listed below.

All faculty and alumni with published works, including readers at the Celebration of Recently Published Books, are welcome to take part in SPlovefest, where they may sign and sell their books and share marketing materials for their works. More information about SPlovefest will be forthcoming from Renee Culver (Fiction, 2006).

We look forward to hearing from you!

Tom Pierce (Fiction, 2005)

Celebration Co-Chair

Bonnie Johnson (Fiction, 2004)

Celebration Co-Chair

Eligibility/Priority Criteria for the Celebration of Recently Published Books

The Celebration of Recently Published Books by Alumni has become a cornerstone event for the annual Spalding MFA in Writing Homecoming. At present, we have over four hundred alumni who are having more and more works published each year, which is a very good thing. Because we have a limited amount of time for the Celebration during Homecoming, criteria are established in order to give a priority to those being selected in the likely event there are more requests for inclusion than there are spots. These criteria are reviewed each year in an attempt to be as fair as possible, and your input is welcomed as we continue to review and revise.

This is not a contest, and the Homecoming committee does not review the contents of works to determine their possible inclusion. The criteria are designed to provide  a representative sampling of the many wonderful works produced by the body of alumni who have graduated from the program. Exclusion from the selection is not a judgment of the quality of the work, it is merely a determination by a group of peers as to which works best fit the aforementioned criteria that year.

The Celebration may feature a select number of alumni in any given year, but the intent is to honor all of the alumni of the Spalding University MFA in Writing program. Based on that intent, here are the criteria for priority of inclusion in the 2013 Celebration of Recently Published Books by Alumni:

* Alumni who had a book released, a play produced, or a movie based on their script released between May 2012 and May 2013 (books must be available for sale at the time of the Celebration).

* Alumni with their first published book or produced play/screenplay will be given consideration before alumni with their second (or subsequent) works.

* If there are any remaining slots, alumni who were unable to attend the previous Homecoming, but qualified for that time will be considered.

* Once a writer has participated in a Celebration, they will be given a lower priority for participation for three years.

* Regardless of the foregoing, authors/writers may be included to provide for a balance among genres represented at the Celebration.

* Regardless of the foregoing, exceptions may be made for works and authors whose recognition would warrant inclusion in the Celebration and bring favorable publicity to the alumni association and the MFA in Writing program.

* Self-published works or vanity press published works or self-produced plays/movies will be considered for the Celebration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

a. Portions of the work have already been published as stand- alone pieces.

b. The work qualified for a grant to which submission of the work was a prerequisite.

c. The work was vetted by some other arm’s-length third party and approved for publication.

d. The majority of the material in the work was the approved creative thesis necessary for the graduation from the MFA program.

New to Homecoming: Alumni Workshops

Homecoming 2013 is May 24-25

Great news! The response to the alumni workshops at homecoming has been fantastic. The full manuscript workshop filled up immediately and most of the other groups have enough to go forward. If you would like to workshop your pieces or even your full manuscript, email Marjetta immediately and get in or on a waiting list. We will make additional workshop groups if the demand requires it.

Clarifications – Because this is the first time we’ve done this, there is a bit of confusion that we’d like to eliminate. Please note the following:

1. For this year, there is no charge to workshop your pieces. The workshop leaders are MFA alumni who have volunteered to do this and we are eternally grateful. The MFA program is providing meeting rooms, so there is no charge. No MFA faculty will be leading or participating in the workshop.

2. When you email and sign up for a workshop, make sure you tell Marjetta which workshop group to which you will be submitting your work.

3. Note that playwriting and screenwriting are two different workshops, unless we do not have enough for two workshops. In this case we will combine into a “dramatic writing” workshop.

4. The full manuscript workshop is open to fiction, CNF, middle grade and young adult novels.

5. Tim O’Brien is NOT leading a workshop. 🙂

6. Alumni can sign up for any workshop. You are not limited to the genre in which you graduated.

How do you participate? Follow the schedule below:

By Feb. 25: Commit to participating in workshop. Email your intention to submit work and participate in the workshop at Homecoming ’13 to Marjetta at marjettag@gmail.com. Marjetta will email you back your workshop leader’s information for submissions.

March 15: Deadline to submit full manuscript for the Full Manuscript workshop.

April 15: Deadline to submit partial manuscripts for all other workshops.

April 15ish: Workshop leaders will distribute workshop materials to all participants.

May 24th and 25th: Workshops meet in Louisville. Rooms TBA.

Many thanks to Marjetta Geerling for coordinating this. You’ve expressed a desire to workshop at Homecoming and here is your chance. If you need any additional information or wish to sign up, contact Marjetta at marjettag@gmail.com.

Best always,


Terry Price

Spalding MFA in Writing

Alumni Association Director

Fiction, 2006