Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents October Reading Series

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is pleased to announce the guests for the October installment of our reading series, poets Alexa White and Maggie Rue Hess. Join us on Thursday, October 19th  at Pretentious Beer Co. from 7:00-9:00 PM for a reading followed by an open mic hosted by Shlagha Borah. Sign-up for the open mic begins at 7PM sharp and is limited to 10-12 readers.

Photo of Alexa White

Alexa White is a mixed-race, neurodivergent writer and graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she earned her BA in creative writing and studio art. While attending, she won the 2022 Bain-Swiggett prize for traditional poetry forms and her poetry and art has appeared in Phoenix, the school’s literary and arts magazine. Alexa lives in Knoxville, her semi-hometown, and is the Grants Manager at Sundress Academy for the Arts. She takes delight in backroads, quarries, and the last few seconds of sunset and redefines her bedtime nightly.

person in green jacket and yellow hat standing in front of Christmas lights

Maggie Rue Hess (she/her) is a PhD student living in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her partner and their two crusty white dogs. Her work has previously appeared in Rattle, Minnesota Review, Connecticut River Review, and other publications; her debut chapbook, The Bones That Map Us, is forthcoming from Belle Point Press in February 2024. She likes to practice latte art, share baked goods, do her best at trivia, and be over-involved at school.

This event is brought to you in part by grants provided by the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Our community partner for October is Knox Pride. Knox Pride is formally referred to as the East Tennessee Equality Council (Inc.), founded in 2006. They’ve grown to not only hold recurring annual events, but they are fulfilling their mission as educators, communicators, and representatives of their community through their community and outreach center, and the events that they facilitate.

Their developing community and outreach center will be another place for people to find a home base in the Knoxville LGBTQ+ community. They intend to have resources, referrals, and services for other parts of their community. Plus, they’ll host events, and meetings, and allow other groups to come to use their space as a gathering center for their cause. Long-term, they envision a space where people can learn more about their pride community, come get tailored for their next interview, or utilize their food pantry if you’re someone who is in need. All of that, and more to come.

Knox Pride Fest, what they’re traditionally known for, is an open celebration of music, entertainment and speakers focused on promoting equality and inclusion for all. Throughout the weekend, vendors will have the opportunity to display information about their organization and/or business, sell or hand out items of interest and interact with our community to promote inclusion and equality for the LGBTQ+ and ally citizens of Knoxville and surrounding areas. They also host other events like a silent ArtOut auction, a Next-2-Nothing fashion show, a pride picnic, and more events throughout the year — with more added annually.

To learn more, go to and read about all the wonderful work they are doing. In addition to raising money for Knox Pride this month, we will also be running a food drive at our Reading Series event on October 19th to help stock the food pantries Knox Pride runs. Please join us on the 19th with any goods you can share.


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