There are certain innate senses and natural gifts that simply cannot be taught. Perfect pitch, rhythm – the ability to draw more than a stick figure – are usually talents that human beings are either endowed with at birth or not. Words, and that so elusive skill to arrange them in ever more complex and beautiful ways, are another craft that often cannot be coached or coaxed. However, it is my personal belief that all gifts can be honed to a fine point by the right teacher. Randall Horton, a recent hire at Spaulding University, will now be using his poetic savvy to sharpen the pens of aspiring writers.
Holding an MFA in Poetry from Chicago State University and a Ph.D. in creative writing from SUNY Albany, Horton will be joining the Spaulding team in conjunction with the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program as a guest during the program’s Fall 2011 residency, November 11th through 20th. During the ten day residency, he will co-lead a poetry workshop for MFA students, participate as a panelist on the topic of Ekphrastic poetry, and share a 10 minute reading of his own work during a faculty reading session. The faculty reading is an open event and the public is invited to attend; the time, date and location will be announced in October and posted on the Spaulding MFA website. 
Budding writers and aspiring poets participating in the MFA program will also have the opportunity to hear Horton deliver a lecture titled “Cultural Memory and The Black Radical Tradition,” which will examine poetics from the position of blackness. This lecture will display how language “can resist the dominant narrative of life and literature” and will explore the individual improvisations of Bobby Timmons and Lee Morgan of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in the song Monin.
Horton is currently an assistant professor of English at the University of New Haven and is also the author of two poetry collections: The Definition of Place and The Lingua Franca of Ninth Street, both published by Main Street Rag. He has made both creative and critical appearances in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, and The Packingtown Review. A lauded writer, Horton has been distinguished with such awards as the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award, and is a recent recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. Additionally, Horton is also a Cave Canem Fellow, a member of the Affrilachian Poets, and a member of The Symphony: The House that Etheridge Built.
Accompanying Spaulding’s other professors, Randall Horton (and his impressive resume) will be offering students the opportunity to refine their personal skills as writers and sample the many different vocations the MFA program has to offer: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, screenwriting and playwriting. While talent may not be teachable, burgeoning wordsmiths can learn their craft from the masters and cultivate the next generation of artists.
For more information about the Fall 2011 residency or the Spalding University MFA in Writing Program, please email email@example.com , call (800) 896-8941, ext 4400 or visit http://www.spalding.edu/mfa .
Photo: Courtesy of University of New Haven website www.newhaven.edu