The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: 28,065 Nights by Katie Manning

Thomas Anthony

You didn’t even know your mom was pregnant. She sewed new dresses to
hide it. When the time came, all of you kids were sent off to the neighbor’s
house, and your oldest sister had to tell you why. Your mom gave birth, but
the boy was blue. It looked so perfect otherwise, you’d say, the still body an “it”
in your child’s memory, more like a doll than a real baby. If he were born today,
he’d live, you’d sometimes add, making him real again. Then we’d talk about
your mother and make ourselves heavy with her loss. The last time you told
me this story, I realized I’d never asked the baby’s name.


This selection comes from 28,065 Nights, available from River Glass Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Erin Elizabeth Smith.

Katie Manning is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and her fifth chapbook, 28,065 Nights, is newly available from River Glass Books. Her poems have appeared in American Journal of Nursing, december, The Lascaux Review, New Letters, Rogue Agent, Stirring, THRUSH, Verse Daily, and many other venues. Twitter Handle: @iamkatmann

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the Managing Editor of Sundress Publications. She is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, and her work has appeared in Guernica, Ecotone, Crab Orchard, and Mid-American. Smith is a Distinguished Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Tennessee.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: 28,065 Nights by Katie Manning

Your Death Explained in Birds

Death is the great egret at the swamp, picking newly hatched green herons
from their cypress nest. I am the pregnant woman on land looking for
something to throw. I am the mother heron, too small to fight back, and the
runt deep in the nest. Death is the egret dropping fresh young birds into
the swamp with barely a ripple. I am the pregnant woman standing horrified
and helpless. I am the mother heron shrieking and snapping on the branch
below. I am the smallest green heron in the nest. I stick my head out in the
stillness after everyone else has gone.


This selection comes from 28,065 Nights, available from River Glass Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Erin Elizabeth Smith.

Katie Manning is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and her fifth chapbook, 28,065 Nights, is newly available from River Glass Books. Her poems have appeared in American Journal of Nursing, december, The Lascaux Review, New Letters, Rogue Agent, Stirring, THRUSH, Verse Daily, and many other venues. Twitter Handle: @iamkatmann

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the Managing Editor of Sundress Publications. She is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, and her work has appeared in Guernica, Ecotone, Crab Orchard, and Mid-American. Smith is a Distinguished Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Tennessee

Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents: Poetry Xfit

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present Poetry Xfit. This generative workshop event will take place on Sunday, January 17th, 2021 via Zoom. Join us at the link tiny.utk.edu/sundress with password “safta”.

Poetry Xfit isn’t about throwing tires or heavy ropes, but the idea of confusing our muscles is the same. This generative workshop series will give you prompts, rules, obstructions, and more to write three poems in two hours.

Writers will write together for thirty minutes, be invited to share new work, and then given a new set of prompts. The idea isn’t that we are writing perfect final drafts, but instead creating clay that can then be edited and turned into art later.

Prose writers are also welcome to attend!

While this is a free workshop, donations can be made to the Sundress Academy for the Arts here: https://sundress-publications.square.site/product/donate-to-sundress/107?cs=true

All donations received will be split with the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, a nonprofit museum featuring a range of local & national African-American history exhibits & artifacts here in Knoxville, TN. 

Call for Applications: Graphic Design Internship

Sundress Publications is an entirely volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit publishing collective founded in 2000 that hosts a variety of online journals and publishes chapbooks, full-length collections, and literary anthologies in both print and digital formats. Sundress also publishes the annual Best of the Net Anthology, celebrating the best work published online, runs Poets in Pajamas, an online reading series, and the Gone Dark Archives, preserving online journals that have reached the end of their run. 

The graphic design internship position will run from March 15, 2021 to September 15, 2021. The design intern will assist with creating promotional graphics, digital flyers, logos, social media images, and brochures, etc. Responsibilites may also include designing the interior and exterior of e-books, formatting manuscripts, and/or designing and editing promotional materials. Applicants must be self motivated and be able to work on a strict deadline.

Preferred qualifications include:

  • Graphic design or visual art experience 
  • Familiarity with Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and/or Illustrator
  • Knowledge of contemporary literature a plus

Applicants are welcome to telecommunicate and therefore not restricted to living in the Knoxville area.

While this is an unpaid internship, all interns will gain real-world experience in designing books and promotional materials for a nationally recognized press while creating a portfolio of work for future employment opportunities.

To apply, please send a resume and a brief cover letter detailing your interest in the position to our Managing Editor, Erin Elizabeth Smith at erin@sundresspublications.com by February 20, 2021

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Way Home by Ashley Inguanta

Healer

A psychic once took me by the body, my whole body, and sat me down, called me “healer,” told me I could heal with my hands. We sat by the ocean in Key West. It was about to rain. She said I could have babies if I chose, even get married. I wanted to believe her. Back then, at eighteen, I hadn’t menstruated in two years. I wasn’t planning on bleeding, either. Bones were more important. But this woman, she said I could heal with my hands. The thought of touching another made me flinch. I wanted to love this woman who told me I could heal. Years would pass and I’d want to love other women, too, but it wouldn’t work. The psychic wouldn’t tell me this. Instead, she stood to leave. I paid her, and night settled.

Years later, at twenty-three and on my period, I went to some trendy bar and there was a by-donation psychic. I donated, put my beer in a corner, sat down. She took my hands, placed them palm up. You have lost everything, she said, and will only fall in love if you allow it. I wanted to tell her I haven’t loved a lover in my whole life, and I wasn’t planning on it.

I wanted to tell her how bitter I was, the choice I made to exist on the outskirts of another
woman’s life.

But I didn’t tell her. There were others waiting, and my friends were asking me to dance.


This selection comes from The Way Home, available from The Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Ashley Inguanta is a poet and art photographer whose work often focuses on romantic love, the spirit, landscape, and place. Most recently, you can find her poems in Contrary Magazine, The Santa Fe Literary Review, and The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry. Her newest short collection of poetry, The Island, The Mountain, and the Nightblooming Field is forthcoming in May of 2020. You can learn more about Ashley’s poetry, art, and teaching at ashleyinguanta.net.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Way Home by Ashley Inguanta

Shells

I remember getting this hard feeling in my chest when I looked at the woman, as if my whole body would collapse. I wanted to kiss the woman, but those rocks in my chest. I couldn’t move.

When I started losing weight, it felt exciting.


This selection comes from The Way Home, available from The Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Ashley Inguanta is a poet and art photographer whose work often focuses on romantic love, the spirit, landscape, and place. Most recently, you can find her poems in Contrary Magazine, The Santa Fe Literary Review, and The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry. Her newest short collection of poetry, The Island, The Mountain, and the Nightblooming Field is forthcoming in May of 2020. You can learn more about Ashley’s poetry, art, and teaching at ashleyinguanta.net.

Sundress Academy for the Arts Now Accepting Residency Applications for Summer 2021

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is now accepting applications for short-term writing residencies in all genres—poetry, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, screenwriting, journalism, academic writing, and more—for their summer residency period which runs from May 17 to August 22, 2021. These residencies are designed to give artists time and space to complete their creative projects in a quiet and productive environment.

Each farmhouse residency costs $300/week, which includes a room of one’s own, as well as access to our communal kitchen, bathroom, office, and living space, plus wireless internet.

Residencies in the Writers Coop are $150/week and include your own private dry cabin as well as access to the farmhouse amenities. Because of the low cost, we are rarely able to offer scholarships for Writers Coop residents.

Residents will stay at the SAFTA farmhouse, located on a working farm on a 45-acre wooded plot in a Tennessee “holler” perfect for hiking, camping, and nature walks. The farmhouse is also just a half-hour from downtown Knoxville, an exciting and creative city that is home to a thriving artistic community. SAFTA is ideal for writers looking for a rural retreat with urban amenities.

SAFTA’s residencies, which also include free access to workshops, readings, and events, offer a unique and engaging experience. Residents can participate in local writing workshops, lead their own workshops, and even have the opportunity to learn life skills like gardening and animal care.

For the 2021 summer residency period, SAFTA will be offering the following fellowships only:

  • Black & Indigenous Writers Fellowships: one full and one partial fellowship for Black and/or Indigenous identifying writers
  • Emerging BIPOC Writers Fellowship: one full fellowship for an emerging BIPOC identifying writer

Please note in your application if you are applying for one of these fellowships.

As part of our commitment to anti-racist work, we are now also using a reparations payment model for our farmhouse residencies which consists of the following:

  1. 3 reparations weeks of equally divided payments for Black and/or Indigenous identifying writers at $150/week
  2. 3 discounted weeks of equally divided payments for BIPOC writers at $250/week
  3. 6 equitable weeks of equally divided payments at $300/week

Black and/or Indigenous identifying writers are also invited to apply for a $350 support grant to help cover the costs of food, travel, childcare, and/or any other needs while they are at the residency. We are currently able to offer two of these grants per residency period (spring/summer/fall). If you would like to donate to expand this funding, you may do so here.

The application deadline for the summer residency period is February 15, 2021. Find out more about the application process at www.sundressacademyforthearts.com.

The application fee is waived for all BIPOC identifying writers. For all fellowship applications, the application fee will also be waived for those who demonstrate financial need; please state this in your application under the financial need section. Limited partial scholarships are also available to any applicant with financial need.

Apply today!

Sundress Reads: A Review of Heartland Calamitous

In this remarkable collection of stories, Heartland Calamitous, now available from Autumn House Press, Michael Credico paints for us the experience of what it means to occupy and navigate the Midwest. He describes, through almost lyric-like-not prose, both the feeling of living in the center of the world and yet, at the same time, existing, among slaughterhouses and fast food joints, in the margins. 

Michael Credico’s short fiction has appeared widely in print and online, including Black Warrior Review, The Collagist, Columbia Journal, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Hobart, New Ohio Review, NOÖ Journal, Puerto del Sol, Quarterly West, and others. He earned an MFA in Fiction from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program at Cleveland State University. Credico received an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, and lives and works at Cleveland, Ohio.

This book is a peek into the elements that chart and construct the Midwest, diving deep, with stunning imagery and boundless imagination, into what it means to survive in what is called the Heartland of the United States. Full of humor, grief, and even the weird and the ugly, these stories span and put together what one would call a dystopian novel. The not-very-long stories carefully explore, in perhaps an exaggerated and wacky fashion, the myths around what it means to be Midwestern. The intricate details force the reader head-on into the universe and witness parts of their lives. The slippery confusion and chaos, mythical creatures, zombies, comic violence, shapeshifters, and startling quantities of fish become symbols/motifs, more often than not, for the journey of the characters as they struggle to articulate their identities. The masterful articulation brings the reader close to the characters in the book (a little too close sometimes) and their desire to leave for someplace better as problems of climate change and degradation, growing old, depression and the sheer everyday-ness that goes beyond care,  weigh heavy on them.

The simultaneous focus on the set-up of the space of the Midwest and the characters is a challenge to the reader, one that Credico makes extremely interesting. The motifs and symbols—of God, fish, cannibalism, grief, loss, and despair–also add an extra layer to the already complicated mesh of language and feelings. These layers question the politics of what it means to be Midwestern and the myths around what it means to survive with what it offers to those occupying it. However, to construct the characters as representatives of the space they occupy is to almost humanize the space itself—a political act, perhaps, that brings the reader closer to the space and empathize with it.

The space is both loud, speaking through the imagery, and silent, as it sits quietly in the background, accessible to those who are ready to unlearn what they know about it and start a new journey through this book. In that sense, the reader almost becomes a character in these stories, discovering, alongside these characters, some bits of themselves, and asking questions of what it means to exist as a social being, maintain relationships, and deal with both the joy and the pain that comes with them. 

Accompanying these complexities is the stunning language that defines Credico’s prose. The sentences in the book strike a balance between those that are poetic and those that are sharp and a smack in the face with reality. They help the reader on the journey they will go on with the characters, but also kick them into reality before it gets too much. It serves as a reminder for the reader not to get too lost in the darkness but to also enjoy what’s being offered, creating, perhaps, a friendly distance between the book and the reader. That way, what Credico’s text perhaps offers is also a lesson in reading, by giving the reader the space, the choice and the accessibility to read as deep as they would like into the text, but also make sure they are returned to the reality of the spaces they occupy. The length of the stories also help with this. This constant back and forth is perhaps what being Midwestern means, and the language of the text successfully embodies that spirit. 

Heartland Calamitous is, therefore, a must-read, especially for those who are looking for those willing to travel with its strange characters.


Gokul Prabhu is a graduate of Ashoka University, India, with a Postgraduate Diploma in English and creative writing. He works as an administrator and teaching assistant for the Writing and Communication facility at 9dot9 Education, and assists in academic planning for communication, writing and critical thinking courses across several higher-ed institutes in India. Prabhu’s creative and academic work fluctuates between themes of sexuality and silence, and he hopes to be a healthy mix of writer, educator and journalist in the future. He occasionally scribbles book reviews and interviews authors for Scroll.in, an award-winning Indian digital news publication.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Way Home by Ashley Inguanta

Just a Bunch of Muse Girls Hanging Out in the Desert

Pack-Ratting

This week, I’ve been flirting with one boy and two girls. The boy is cherry pie. The girls, they are ponies, death metal. I tell the boy my dreams. Steel Pier in flames, swallowing Jupiter. The girls and I go swimming naked in the sea, waves metallic in the cat-hair dusk. I want this to last forever. I want to dance in the street—traffic lights glowing like angels in the oiled, wet road.


This selection comes from The Way Home, available from The Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Ashley Inguanta is a poet and art photographer whose work often focuses on romantic love, the spirit, landscape, and place. Most recently, you can find her poems in Contrary Magazine, The Santa Fe Literary Review, and The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry. Her newest short collection of poetry, The Island, The Mountain, and the Nightblooming Field is forthcoming in May of 2020. You can learn more about Ashley’s poetry, art, and teaching at ashleyinguanta.net.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Way Home by Ashley Inguanta

Clay and Anchor

You shed your skin this morning and left it on my plate, next to the grapefruit I sliced and salted
for breakfast. Then I yanked my teeth out, one by one, and placed them on the table next to your
fork, fixed you eggs over-easy while you buttoned up your work shirt. You looked like a new
woman, standing beside the kitchen window, touching yourself, becoming all fingertips and
cloth, weaving, reconstructing each grain of light coming through from the outside. We both
sang a song with no name. I called you Clay and Anchor and you called me Clementine and what
was done was done.


This selection comes from The Way Home, available from The Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Ashley Inguanta is a poet and art photographer whose work often focuses on romantic love, the spirit, landscape, and place. Most recently, you can find her poems in Contrary Magazine, The Santa Fe Literary Review, and The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry. Her newest short collection of poetry, The Island, The Mountain, and the Nightblooming Field is forthcoming in May of 2020. You can learn more about Ashley’s poetry, art, and teaching at ashleyinguanta.net.