Spalding University’s low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing program has announced that poet and teacher Douglas Manuel has joined its faculty. He will lead a poetry workshop during the spring 2018 residency, which runs May 25-June 3 on campus.

Manuel is author of “Testify,” a full-length collection of poems, released by Red Hen Press in 2017. (Here’s Manuel’s personal website.) Born in Anderson, Indiana, he received a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Arizona State University and a MFA from Butler University, where he was the managing editor of “Booth: A Journal.” He is currently a Middleton and Dornsife Fellow at the University of Southern California, where he is pursuing a doctorate in literature and creative writing. Manuel has been the poetry editor of Gold Line Press as well as a managing editor of Ricochet Editions.

His work is featured on the Poetry Foundation’s website and has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Los Angeles Review, Superstition Review, Rhino, North American Review, The Chattahoochee Review, New Orleans Review, Crab Creek Review and elsewhere.

“Doug is a fantastic poet, scholar and editor, and he’s an expert, encouraging teacher,” Spalding MFA in Writing Program Director and fellow poet Kathleen Driskell said. “He’s a perfect addition to our faculty at Spalding, and we’re excited that our graduate students will soon have the opportunity to be mentored by him during workshop and one on one during their independent studies.”

The application deadline for the Spalding MFA in Writing program’s spring semester is Feb. 1. For more information, see the MFA program’s admission requirements or call (502) 873-4400.

Related link: List of Spalding MFA in Writing faculty


Accomplished poet Kiki Petrosino has joined the poetry faculty of Spalding University’s low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing program. She will start teaching in the Spring 2018 semester, which begins with a residency in May.

Petrosino is author of the poetry collections Witch Wife (2017), Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013) and Fort Red Border (2009), all from Sarabande Books. She is also author of three chapbooks: Black Genealogy (Brain Mill Press, 2017), Doubloon Oath (Flying Objects Press, 2016) and The Dark Is Here (Forklift, Ink, 2011). Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Best American Poetry, The New York Times, FENCE, Gulf Coast, Jubilat and Tin House and online at Ploughshares. She is founder and co-editor of Transom, an independent online poetry journal. Her work has received three nominations for the Pushcart Prize and was listed as Notable in The Best American Essays 2016.

Since 2014, Petrosino has served as associate professor of English and director of creative writing at the University of Louisville, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate creative writing courses as well as literature courses. From 2010 to ’14, she was an assistant professor at U of L.

Petrosino serves on the advisory board of Louisville Literary Arts and on the board of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. She is series editor of the Mineral Point Poetry Series of Brain Mill Press. She is a committee member for the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900 and is a manuscript evaluator for the Korea Literature Translation Institute.

Petrosino received her MFA from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She holds a master of arts in humanities degree from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s in English from the University of Virginia. Her awards include a residency at the Hermitage Artist Retreat and research fellowships from U of L’s Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Find more about Spalding’s MFA in Writing program and the poetry concentration here. Learn more about Kiki Petrosino and her work at

Best-selling author and award-winning teacher Dr. Sena Jeter Naslund is set to retire on Dec. 31, 2017 from her role as program director of Spalding University’s nationally distinguished low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program, which she co-founded in 2001.

Current Associate Program Director and award-winning poet Kathleen Driskell will assume the role of program director upon Naslund’s retirement.

As part of the ongoing Fall 2017 Spalding MFA Residency’s Festival of Contemporary Writing, Naslund will read from her work, with musical accompaniment by Frank Richmond, at the First Unitarian Church, 809 S. Fourth Street, at 5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 17. It’s free and open to the public.

Naslund is the author of nine works of fiction, including best-selling Ahab’s Wife, a finalist for the Orange Prize. Her other bestselling novels include Adam & Eve, Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette, and Four Spirits. Her awards include the Harper Lee Award and the Southeastern Library Association Fiction award. In 2014, Naslund retired from her position as Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Louisville. She is actively working on a new novel and a musical with composer Gerald Plain.

Kathleen Driskell / Photo by John Nation

The Spalding Low Residency MFA in Writing Program, founded by Naslund and current Administrative Director Karen Mann, was the first such MFA program in Kentucky and was named a top-10 low-residency MFA program by Poets & Writers. Its writing faculty include prizewinners in every genre, and alumni have garnered top national honors while publishing and producing more than 400 books, plays, and films.

“What I most want to say to Sena is thank you,” said Spalding President Tori Murden McClure, who is a graduate of the MFA program. “Thank you for creating a world-class program. Thank you for bringing it to Spalding University. Thank you for your wisdom and clarity as you established a nurturing culture that allows great writing to flourish. Sena has heard me say many times, ‘I did my undergraduate studies at Smith College, an excellent school. I went to Harvard for my degree in Divinity. I went to law school at the University of Louisville. The best academic program of my career was the Masters of Fine Arts in Writing at Spalding University.’ It was a mind-expanding program.

“Sena Jeter Naslund will always be the founding director of the MFA. She is leaving the program in superb hands with Kathleen Driskell. Kathleen has been a positive force in leadership at Spalding for many years. I expect that the MFA program will thrive at Spalding for many years to come.”

MFA students at Spalding concentrate in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, playwriting or screenwriting. In addition, all MFA students at Spalding have the opportunity to read and edit The Louisville Review, a nationally known literary magazine Naslund founded in 1976 and later moved to Spalding. In 1996 to honor the 20th anniversary of The Louisville Review, Naslund founded Fleur-de-Lis Press, which has published award-winning fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction titles.

“From the beginning, the Spalding MFA in Writing has distinguished itself by the caliber of writer-teachers on its faculty and staff who work tirelessly to provide a learning atmosphere that is highly individualized, and as I like to reiterate both intellectually stimulating and emotionally supportive,” Naslund said.

She added: “I’m happy to retire knowing the MFA program continues to be in wonderful hands, led by Kathleen Driskell and Karen Mann and a splendid staff and faculty – all whom I count as friends. As a huge number of our alums do, every year, I know I’ll enjoy coming back to give an occasional lecture or workshop and hob-nob at homecoming each spring.”

Director-to-be Driskell has published four full-length collections of poetry, including Seed Across Snow, which was listed as a national bestseller by the Poetry Foundation, and Blue Etiquette, a finalist for the Weatherford Award. She has published poems in many nationally known literary magazines such as The Southern Review, North American Review and Shenandoah. Her work has been featured online in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily and American Life in Poetry. Her awards include grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and she has received prizes from the Associated Writing Programs and Frankfort Arts Foundation. She received the Trustees Outstanding Faculty Award from Spalding. Driskell earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and she has taught in and served as Spalding’s MFA associate program director since 2003.

Driskell will read at the Festival of Contemporary Writing at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at the Egan Leadership Center, 901, South Fourth Street.

“It has been a great honor to have been mentored by Sena, an extraordinary talent and teacher,” Driskell said. “Writers have always provided fuel for thoughtful conversations about how to fulfill our human potential and connect meaningfully with each other, and I very much look forward to continuing to help educate, support and challenge future writers while building upon the strong foundation of Spalding’s nationally distinguished MFA program.”

Spalding Provost Joanne Berryman said: “Sena Jeter Naslund’s contribution to the academic offerings at Spalding has enhanced the stature of our historic university. Our mission talks of ‘meeting the needs of the times.’ Sena did just that in 2001, when she co-founded a national MFA program that, first, filled a void for a compassionate, supportive approach to teaching writing and, secondly, made literary arts accessible to all Kentuckians through its many free readings and advocacy of community engagement.

“I’m excited that our distinguished program won’t miss a beat with an established Spalding leader in Kathleen Driskell taking the helm. Her writing intellect, passion for teaching and advocacy of Spalding and the MFA program make her the ideal choice as Sena’s successor.”