Back in the fall of 2001, I came as a student to the Spalding MFA in Writing Program hoping to find three things: a community of writers; a program I could call home while I completed my novel; and honest, challenging feedback that would help me grow as a writer like never before.
At Spalding, I found all that and more. Faculty mentors and fellow students told me the truth about what worked—and what didn’t—in ways that challenged me without ever making me feel either brutalized or coddled. I entered the program with 100 tentative first-draft pages, and I left with a completed, twice-revised manuscript, not to mention a 25-page extended critical essay and a custom-built reading list of more than 60 books. The program kept me plenty busy, and along the way it taught me so much, so fast.
In fact, I was so happy with my Spalding MFA experience that after graduation, I didn’t want to leave! When a job in the program opened up, I applied. Ten years later, here I am, serving as Associate Administrative Director, helping writers who are where I was not so long ago—people who ache to take their writing further and to elevate it to a central position in their lives. I’m still grateful to be part of this amazing community, which has only grown larger, stronger, richer and deeper in the decade since I graduated.
To me, the biggest leap in the program’s evolution came in 2007, when we added our summer residencies abroad. I have a special affection for those residencies, which give students the chance to discover new cultures, friendships, subject matter, and perspectives for their writing. So it’s not just a metaphor when I say that Spalding students and alumni view one another not as competition but as fellow travelers.
That’s true whether they enter the program published or unpublished, produced or not. The spirit of support and generosity here is remarkable. Students and alums celebrate one another’s successes. They invite MFA friends to read in their reading series and guest lecture in their creative writing classes. They offer manuscript critiques and spare bedrooms. They’re family.
I think that’s why our alumni stay so close to the program and to each other after graduation. There’s nothing like this community. We are all writers. Age and geography make us diverse, but they don’t separate us.
I’m glad you’re considering joining the Spalding MFA Program. It’s a special place. I hope to talk with you soon.
Associate Administrative Director Katy Yocom received her MFA in Writing degree from Spalding University. In 2006, she traveled to India on a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation to research her novel-in-progress, Three Ways to Disappear. She is a recipient of two grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and was writer-in-residence at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Her fiction, poetry, essays, and journalism have appeared in The Louisville Review, New Southerner, Open 24 Hrs., the blog StyleSubstanceSoul, Louisville Magazine, LEO Weekly, 2nd & Church, and Food & Dining, among other publications.