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    Driskell, 58, is a poet, professor of creative writing and the new director at Spalding University’s MFA writing program, taking the place of retiring author Sena Jeter Naslund, who co-founded the program 15 years ago. Driskell lives near Fisherville. “I don’t really live in a neighborhood,” she says, “but if I said Pope Lick or the Train Trestle or the Goat Man’s stomping grounds, some might know the general area.” 

    Describe the space you’re in right now. 

    “In my living room, which used to be the nave of an old country church built before the Civil War. We stumbled upon it for sale over 20 years ago and were smitten by its post-and-beam construction and all the sharp little wooden pegs that hold it together and that I like to imagine were whittled by a local farmer who went to church here in the late 1800s.”

    Earliest childhood memory? 

    “I’m peering into little glass windows and see a tiny dining room table with chairs and a miniature flowered sofa and canopied bed within a dollhouse as tall as I am. My grandmother and I are visiting her parents’ graves at the cemetery, and she’s pulled over on the drive out to show me the gift turned grave marker for a six-year-old girl who died of influenza at the turn of the 20th century.”

    Favorite album? 

    “Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl.”

    What song has been stuck in your head lately?

    “‘Highway to Hell.’ I don’t even know who sings it.”

    Do you have a secret talent?

    “I am a superior gardener, but only in my mind.”

    When/where are you most creative? 

    “My best creative mornings are spent first walking Beckley Creek Park’s Black Willow Trail. At the trailhead, my head is filled with ideas, and then I come home to my office to write for a couple of hours.”

    How’d you make your first dollar? 

    “I potted about 70,000 petunia seedlings early one spring in a cold, weepy greenhouse to earn money for a trip with high school friends to Daytona Beach.”

    The weirdest place somebody has recognized you in public? 

    “In the quad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.”

    In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?

    “I discuss interesting ideas with a group of very smart people.”

    The most unusual benefit of your job?

    “I get to lead MFA graduate students, alumni and faculty somewhere wonderful each summer for 10 days to immerse ourselves in the culture and literature of that location. Last year we were in Edinburgh, Scotland. Next summer we’re headed to Kyoto, Japan. For a kid who took two family vacations while growing up, this part of my Spalding job continues to dumbfound me.”

    Besides your current job, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

    “When I was 19, I was a bartender at Steve’s Kentucky Pub on Bardstown Road. It was great fun until I got pulled out in a police raid one night.”

    Your favorite thing hanging on the walls of your home? 

    “A gorgeous watercolor of the orange rooftops of Nimes, France, painted by Louisville artist and friend Bob Stagg. My husband surprised me with it one year for my birthday.”

    Your most noticeable quirk?

    “When I’m happy, I break into a circular tap-dance.”

    Your least favorite word? 

    “It has to do with flatulence.”

    What’s on your nightstand?

    “Three dangerously high towers of books; a cup of pens, most of which don’t work; the newspaper folded to the daily sudoku (abandoned); silver ginkgo-shaped earrings I remembered to take off in the middle of the night; a nearly full jar of vitamin D gummies that I keep promising my doctor I will remember to take.”

    Can’t-miss TV show? 

    “My husband and I have watched every episode of Survivor since it hit TV years ago. Don’t ask. I can’t explain it.”

    What are your vices?

    “It’s easier to say the only vice I don’t have is gambling.”

    Favorite movie scene? 

    “Favorite, I don’t know, but the scene I can’t forget is in The Night of the Hunter, when the camera pans over the top of the moonlit water and down and down to expose the murdered Willa Harper tied to the front seat of a Model T. Her white dress billows and the moonlight creates a halo around her head. Her hair and the ribbon kelp undulate through the sparkling water. I’ve never seen anything so marvelous and mysterious.”

    What three people (living or dead) would be on the guest list to your ideal dinner party?

    “Emily Dickinson, Emily Post, and my late friend poet Claudia Emerson.”

    Do you believe in ghosts? 

    “Naw. I’ve lived next door to a graveyard for over 20 years, and though I’ve looked and looked, I’ve never seen one.”

    What makes somebody a Louisvillian?

    “Knowing we are Southerners, but only when we want to be.”

    This originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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