Full-Residency Workshops for MFA Alumni, Fall 2018

For the Fall 2018 residency (Nov. 9-18 in Louisville), the MFA program is offering alumni the opportunity to attend the residency and participate in a residency workshop and also be included in all the curriculum sessions and events, and group meals. (NOTE: The full-residency workshop is not SpaldingCon, but instead a chance to participate in the residency just as you did when you were a student. By late-July, the MFA program will announce programming for SpaldingCon (Nov. 15-17), our post-graduate writers conference. While some sessions overlap, others are separate.)

At the fall residency, we are offering the following special-topic workshops, which are open to MFA alumni and upper-level students. If interested, email mfadropbox@spalding.edu by Thursday, July 26. Space is limited, and you will be notified of the availability of a place in the workshop of your interest no later than August 3.


You write for yourself, of course. But if you want to publish your work, you may find yourself torn between the impulse to please your reader (not to mention your editor) and the desire to keep your writing “pure.” What, if any, are the advantages of having a particular magazine, newspaper or blog in mind when you write? Is there a danger in second-guessing the reader (hey, she’ll like this detail, I think it’s dumb but I’ll include it anyway)? Is it possible to reshape an essay to make it more commercially viable without sacrificing your identity as a writer? The challenge is to remain true to your original idea while being realistic about the needs and expectations of readers.

Worksheet: 10-12 pages, with magazine, newsletter, or online publication in mind. Email the worksheet to mfadropbox@spalding.edu no later than Wed., Sept. 26. For your email, use the subject line “[lastname, firstname], Cathy’s workshop.”

Cathy Medwick is a former Spalding MFA faculty member and has been literary editor at More and Mirabella magazines, features editor at House & Garden, senior editor at Vanity Fair and Vogue, and contributing editor at O, The Oprah Magazine. Her essays, interviews, and book reviews have appeared in the above publications as well as in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Style section, Oprah.com, and Vogue.com. Her work has been anthologized in Norman Mailer’s Pieces and Pontifications; The Private Eye: Privacy in a Public World, edited by Molly Peacock; and elsewhere. Cathy is the author of a biography, Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul (Knopf) and is valiantly at work on a life of Saint John of the Cross.


A workshop with a twist: although we will discuss one another’s work in workshop, this seminar provides students an opportunity to learn the skills, standards, and demands of the publishing process—primarily the various levels of editing, from developmental considerations to content and line editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Consider this seminar as exposure to, and training in, a certain skill set that may be useful in a professional setting. Discussion of student worksheets will focus on training for the stages of editing the piece would undergo, and the production process, and I will try dispel some of the mystery of what actually occurs on the other side of the publishing gates. We will look at the options available in the market regarding freelancers, and students will have the chance to develop useful skills relevant not only to their own work but which can be employed in the professional world. Students should purchase and familiarize themselves, however briefly, with the Chicago Manual of Style. Students may want to invest in the latest edition of CMOS, but the 15th and 16th editions can be purchased in used condition more economically and will be just as useful for our purposes.

Worksheet: In Louisville, we read the Louisville Monthly and Kentucky Monthly magazines. Each state and nearly every big city has a version of these publications. Find yours and make yourselves familiar with it. Your worksheet assignment is to write a feature article you believe would be interesting to that magazine’s editors. Obviously, the subject must be of interest to that magazine’s readers, but you can write on a myriad of subjects. A feature on a trend in local restaurants, a tourist attraction of note, the art scene in a particular town in your state, a political problem in your city or state, an interview with a person of note—or perhaps someone you feel that magazine’s readers should know better. A writer? You’ll have your own ideas, too. The worksheet should be approximately 1,000 to 3,000 words. Email the worksheet to mfadropbox@spalding.edu no later than Wed, Sept. 26. For your email, use the subject line “[lastname, firstname], Kirby’s workshop.”

To read about MFA faculty member Kirby Gann, click here.


I 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 in the fall. 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 collect their own poetry books. We’ll be asking all sorts of delicious questions as we work through your book project: Is this a book that relies (or could rely) heavily upon a larger story or persona? How should this book to begin and end for the reader? What are the big questions this book is asking? Are there any answers? Should like subjects be collected together or dispersed throughout? How to find a great title for a 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. We’ll even spend time discussing good publication markets for your manuscripts. This workshop is open to Spalding MFA alums, MFA grads from other programs, and SU MFA students who have successfully finished ENG623. The nature of this workshop means space is limited.

Workshop submission and pre-reading: Workshop participants submit their poetry manuscripts of at least 40 and no more than 60 pages by Sept. 10 and commit to reading up to five other poetry manuscripts between Sept. 26 and the beginning of fall residency, Nov. 9. Email the manuscript to mfadropbox@spalding.edu no later than Mon., Sept. 10. For your email, use the subject line “[lastname, firstname], Kathleen’s workshop.”

To read about Program Director Kathleen Driskell, click here.


ENG662 is a 3-hour course (or a 5-hour course for those attending their graduation residency). During residency, students meet in a cross-genre teaching workshop that takes the place of the genre workshop. Students submit a worksheet in a genre other than their major concentration area and have opportunities to teach a workshop session and lead a writing exercise for their peers. A guided discussion on best teaching practices follows each session. In addition to the workshop, teaching students attend lectures outside their major areas of concentration to gain a wider view of the other genres they may be required to teach in introductory-level creative writing courses. The number of residency reports required remains the same as for students enrolled in the other courses. The residency course is limited to six students and is filled by seniority, on a first come first served basis for those students must meet the prerequisites. Worksheet and workshop leader information will be provided by Aug. 10. Workshop leader TBA.

Cost for fall residency workshops (Nov. 9-18): The full-residency workshop includes all curriculum residency sessions and events and group meals (the Welcome Dinner, Sunday lunch, the SpaldingCon luncheon, and the Farewell dinner). The cost for the full-residency workshop is $1,710, which includes a double room at the Brown Hotel (single supplement: $325). Reservations for the Brown will be made via the residency questionnaire which will be out mid-August. Full payment is due by October 9.

More about the fall residency: The cross-genre area for fall is poetry, and the Program Book in Common is Good Bones by Maggie Smith. All MFAers will attend a public presentation by Maggie Smith on Sat., Nov. 10. She will be on campus the following morning for a Q&A. In line with what we began at the spring residency, residency programming will include several Profession of Writing sessions. More specifics about the fall will be announced as sessions are confirmed.

Question?? Email Karen at mfa@spalding.edu.

*Cancellation information: Full refund until Nov. 2. After Nov. 2 and through Nov. 9, 50% refund. After Nov. 9, no refund.