Mark Your Calendar: Homecoming 2014 is May 29-June 1

MFA alums are invited back to campus for MFA Homecoming, May 29–June 1, featuring an expanded schedule, a host of new events, and a very special rate on rooms at the Brown Hotel!

The Homecoming line-up includes:

• a 10-minute play festival (new this year!)

• alumni workshops

• a lecture by alum Loreen Niewenhuis (F ’07) on “How to connect your work with a targeted audience, and still honor the creative bubble”

• the featured author presentation with Frank W. Walker (P ’03)

• A Celebration of Recently Published Books by Alumni

• SPLoveFest book expo, which showcases alumni books, literary journals, and other writing and art projects

• an after-party literary reading

• a lecture for alums by a Spalding faculty member

• a smorgasbord of faculty lectures

• a breakfast mixer with MFA faculty, alums, and new grads

• a regional breakout session for those who want to stay connected with other alums in their area

• social activities, including a guided walk along the Urban Bourbon Trail, hosted by Omar Figueras (F/CNF ’13)

The Homecoming Committee is exploring the possibility of hosting a film festival, as well.

Homecoming has been expanded to four days this year to better accommodate out-of-town travelers. For the first time, alums can book their rooms at the Brown Hotel through the MFA Office for $99 a night. Look for more details in the coming weeks.

Alumni interested in participating in the Celebration of Recently Published Books should contact Bonnie Johnson at To reserve a table at the SPLoveFest book expo, contact Mary Lou Northern at To participate in an alumni workshop, contact Linda Bilodeau at

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.

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 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.