A Typical Residency

A Typical MFA Residency: Spring 2012

Many prospective students ask us what a residency is like. A residency is 10-days packed full of workshops, faculty and guest lectures, panel discussions, art events, conferences, and readings. In addition to the Residency Curriculum

New Student Orientation. Each residency begins with a new student orientation where the new students meet each other and the program directors.

Program Book in Common. To promote a feeling of community,  students and faculty read a selected book (from a different genre each residency), which is discussed the first night of the residency. For Spring 2012, the book was Hush by Jacqueline Woodson. Woodson appeared on Thursday evening of residency to an audience of MFAers and people from the Louisville community. On the following morning, she appeared in a private Q&A session with all MFA students and faculty.

Cross-Genre Exploration. The MFA Program promotes cross-genre exploration in a variety of ways. During the residency, all students explore other genres through reading and discussion of the Program Book in Common and through the plenary cross-genre lecture. In Spring 2012, the cross-genre area was writing for children and young adults. There was a plenary lecture and panel discussion on picture books. All students wrote a one-page picture book text.

Faculty Book/Script in Common. Students also read a book/script in common authored by one of the faculty or a guest in each area of concentration. At the residency, students meet with the faculty member/guest for a discussion of the book. Students may ask questions of the author about the writing of the books, technical questions, or questions about publishing the book. For Spring 2012 the Faculty Book/Scripts in Common were

  • Fiction: Kenny Cook’s Love Songs for the Quarantined
  • Poetry: Kathleen Driskell’s Seed Across Snow
  • Creative Nonfiction: Roy Hoffman’s Alabama Afternoons: Profiles and Conversations
  • Writing for Children & Young Adults: Ellie Bryant’s The Black Bonnet
  • Screenwriting: Sam Zalutsky’s Stefan’s Silver Bell
  • Playwriting: Kira Obolensky’s Raskol

Interrelatedness of the Arts. The Program encourages MFA students to seek inspiration in terms of subject, style, and structure from the other arts. For Spring 2012, the MFA program presented “Books, Bookmaking, and the Visual Arts,” an art exhibit, in the Huff Gallery, the art gallery on the Spalding University campus. The exhibit included the works of artists Nana Lampton, Mary Lou Hess, AJ Reinhart, and Gaylord Schanilec. Each of these artists’ work appeared in books. Nana Lampton’s work appeard in her book Snowy Owl Gathers in Her Trove. The other artists collaborated with following writers to present the listed books.

  • Gaylord Schanilec, artist and printer, and Richard Goodman, author (The Bicycle Diaries: One New Yorker’s Journey Through 9/11)
  • Mary Lou Hess, artist; Dianne Aprile, author (The Eye Is Not Enough); and Maureen Morehead, author (A Sense of Time Left).
  • AJ Reinhart, artist, and Kathleen Driskell, author (Peck and Pock: A Graphic Poem)

These artists and writers participated in a panel (see below) to discuss their experience of collaboration that created these books.

In addition, a session “All That’s Fit to Print,” given by Eric and Jennifer Woods, the bookmaking team behind Typecast Publishing, presented a seminar that explored the history of bookmaking and print arts from the earliest printing techniques through modern-day applications.

Workshop. Workshop is the backbone of the residency. It meets eight times during the residency. For Spring 2012, the Workshops were small, five or six students, with one leader; in the fall Workshops are typically ten to twelve students with two faculty leaders. The first day of the Workshop is a time for students and the faculty leader to get comfortable with each other and to set forth the format of the Workshop sessions. Workshops are designed to be a nurturing, supportive, and noncompetitive experience.

Conferences: At residency, each student is paired with a faculty mentor. Together, the student and mentor firm up the Semester Independent Study Plan, which includes a list of 8-10 books for reading and outlines the exchange of five packets of writing throughout the upcoming semester.

Faculty and Guest Lectures, Panel Discussions, and Readings. Each residency has a full-range of curriculum sessions. See the Residency Curriculum and Events Schedule and the Residency Lecture Descriptions for a complete list.

Publishing Component. Each residency includes a session or two on publishing given by editors, agents, or other professionals of the publishing world. For Spring 2012, the MFA Program welcomed Kate Gale, Managing Editor of Red Hen Press. In addition, a panel of MFA alumni (pictured left) discussed the Care and Tending of their published works.

Homecoming. Each May, MFA alumni return to Louisville for Homecoming sessions that include residency curriculum events, as well as events for alumni. Homecoming includes the Celebration of Recently Book by Alumni (readers pictured below)/ Click to see the program and list of published books. The reading is followed by SPLoveFest (pictured above), a book fair, where students and alumni can display their writing and creative endeavors. Pictures of SPLoveFest include Pam Steele (left) at alumni book signing; Dave DeGolyer, Cathy Shap, and Michele Ruby (center). At SPLoveFest alumni, students, and faculty reunite and catch up! (Pictured right above) Elizabeth Slade [Fiction, Spring ’06] and Teneice Delgado [Poetry, Fall ’06]

Graduation. Each residency ends with graduation. In Spring 2012, twenty-nine students graduated. University President Tori Murden McClure begins the ceremony with an inspirational statement. All students are hooded by Program Director Sena Jeter Naslund. A brief excerpt from each Creative Thesis is read by faculty members. And afterward, a celebration! Pictured faculty members: Greg Pape (poetry), Richard Goodman (creative nonfiction), Roy Hoffman (fiction, creative nonfiction), Luke Wallin (creative nonfiction, writing for children & young adults), and Philip F Deaver (fiction, poetry).