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Master of Fine Arts in Writing – Poetry


At Spalding, poetry students are exposed to a range of contemporary poetry, from new formalism to free, open forms to language poetry or experimental poetry. Mentors follow the students’ lead and work with their poems as objectively as possible, not encouraging poets to “write like me” but to flourish in their chosen styles. Faculty stress reading the work aloud, placing the work in context and developing a poetic voice, as well as such considerations as the integrity of the line in open form, stanza formation, use of form or rhyme (if applicable), connections to contemporary poets and others in literary history, and revision.


Past visiting poets include:

  • U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey (Native Guard)
  • U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner W. S. Merwin (The Shadow of Sirius)
  • Pulitzer Prize winner Claudia Emerson (Late Wife)
  • Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa (Neon Vernacular)
  • Molly Peacock (The Second Blush: Poems)
  • Naomi Shihab Nye (You and Yours)
  • Gregory Orr (River Inside the River: Poems)
  • NAACP Image Award Winner Frank X Walker (Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers)


  • Faculty members have served as poets laureate for Montana and Kentucky.
  • A Spalding MFA alum has served as poet laureate of Kentucky.
  • Alum prizes include NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Poetry), Nightboat Poetry Prize, Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, Louise Bogan Award, Dorset Prize and prizes from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
  • Full-length poetry collections by alumni have been published by University of Georgia Press, University Press of Kentucky, Milkweed Editions, University of North Texas Press, Nightboat Books, Tebot Bach, Timberline Press, Steel Toe Books, WordFarm, Fleur-de-Lis Press and many more.