Meet Our New Intern: Zoe Sweet

I grew up in a really odd technological age with a traditional family. There were a lot of rules surrounding technology for me. I would only be able to watch TV at night with my family. I could watch Saturday morning cartoons. I was not allowed a computer in my room until I begged for it and proved I was responsible. And I was not allowed a phone until high school. All these rules seem like a lot today, but 20 years ago when I was born, they made sense.

I remember being young and so jealous of all my friends who could watch TV whenever they wanted for as long as they wanted, the ones who had iPads and unlimited screen time, and the ones who had no rules surrounding the technology. 

When I reached a certain age, though, I stopped being envious and was glad that my parents pushed me to do well in school and refrain from letting technology take over my life. I am now in college and have unlimited screen time, and I no longer doubt the phrase, “It will rot your brain.” I have seen what it has done to my peers, and, unfortunately, me as well. I am happy that my parents introduced me to the concept of reading and writing when they did, because they unknowingly shaped me. 

My friends got in trouble for staying up late on their phones while I was getting in trouble for sneaking a book and a flashlight to read under my blanket. Books became a safe space for me, just like they have become for so many before me, and hopefully after me. I was in a new world, a world where I went to school with Junie B. Jones, where the B stands for Beatrice. I went on adventures in a magic tree house where I saw the world and tried to not interfere. I traveled around the world and saw everything that I still one day dream of one day seeing. I met my idols–Hermonie Granger, Tris Prior, Asher, Katniss, Sherlock Holmes, and so many more. I lived the life that I always wanted to.

I am who I am because I lived in a world of books. I focused on always wanting to learn more. I pushed myself everywhere I could. I am now a junior in college pursuing my dreams. I am studying political science so I can eventually go to law school and become a judge. I am also studying English, so I can make the little me inside me happy by discussing and reading books every day. I am interning here at SAFTA, so I can have an outlet where I write and interact with those who are making the books that future little girls will be reading under their blankets. 

I am one to take every opportunity that comes my way. Life is truly what one makes of it. I have been able to travel to another country to teach English to children, to volunteer in prisons to help inmates get their GED, and to plan and run events with multi-thousand dollar budgets, all while working to pursue my education. Sometimes I feel that my life is a book that I would have loved to read as a child. A book about a young girl who does everything she can despite so many obstacles. A book filled with adventures and a plot twist at every corner. 

I’ve been really lucky in life. I have a family who pushed me to read and write and use every part of my brain. I have friends who challenged me to do more and be the best version of myself. And I have books. Books that opened my eyes to a world on paper that I could step into whenever I felt alone.

Zoe Sweet is a writer, editor, and intern located in Chester, PA. She serves as the editor of Widener Ink, Widener’s literary journal, writes for The Blue and Gold, and is an intern at SAFTA. She is currently studying Political Science and English with hopes of one day being a judge.

Project Bookshelf: Stephanie Chang

Like many, I read voraciously as a child. My most treasured books—not pictured in these photos—have migrated with me from the coastal city of Vancouver to land-locked Gambier, Ohio. Here, I attend school at Kenyon College, a literary institution through and through. These photos, kindly taken by my mom back at home, reflect the influence of the many literary communities I have immersed myself in over the years; from the signed copy of Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh I found hidden behind a pile of history books at a college bookstore to the old Tin House issues I picked up at Powell’s in Portland, Oregon. I had bought Moshfegh’s book as an ironic, not-very-serious investment of sorts after My Year of Rest and Relaxation, now on loan to my partner, left me with mixed feelings. As for Tin House, I remember discovering the publication on Twitter as a bright-eyed fifteen-year old who resolved to one day attend one of their workshops.

To be clear, I have not read everything on these shelves. Sleep is a book I bought at the airport, en route to a debate tournament in high school, and never cracked open because I fell asleep on the plane. Another, Stephen King’s On Writing, tumbled further and further down my to-read list as I shifted my writing interests toward poetry, and to the illuminating voices of living poets who are Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color. Others represent books that I have previously read in part, or in academic settings. The collection of Virginia Woolf essays found its way to me during my last year of high school, when I was in the UK and interviewing for a place at Oxford University. I had wanted to revisit her words after studying them in the limiting context of my AP English Language class, and the physical book doubled as a memento of that moment in time.

As for the books I have read and cherished, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and Bestiary by K-Ming Chang both take the cake. I ended up bringing both authors’ poetry chapbooks respectively with me to school, and just did not have space to carry these in my suitcase, too. These writers hold a special place in my heart for their invented lineages and heavy lyricism that speak to experiences of diaspora in such multi-dimensional ways. They were the ones that taught me about possibility within language, and how so many things begin with family in all sorts of non-Western notions of the word.

Now might be a good time to talk about the little toy figures beside my books! This past summer, I got super into collecting Pop Mart blind boxes, which is what I would spend my tip money on after working a shift at Starbucks. They do not hold a huge amount of significance for me as a former hyper-fixation, but I do love how cute they look, guarding my bookshelf. Below them, I store stacks upon stacks of YA novels, consisting of research for my own manuscript and books that I enjoyed when I was in a teenager. Although not pictured, I still think Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson is hugely underrated, as is Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser. The former introduced me to the most heartbreaking rendition of Peter Pan I had ever read, and led to me falling in love with retellings of fairy tales and myths.

With where my interests lie right now, I am hoping to read more books about art history and curatorial practice within museums and art galleries! To name the most recent book I read, I want to shout out Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, which I have been recommending to everybody and their mother. It’s a wonderful novella translated from Japanese, and it was the perfect summer read for my goldfish brain this past summer, at a time when I was learning to love writing again by prioritizing fun first.

Stephanie Chang (she/they) is a Chinese-Taiwanese Canadian writer, editor, and multi-disciplinary artist from Vancouver, British Columbia. Her writing appears in The Rumpus, Adroit Journal, Kenyon Review, Frontier PoetryWaxwing, and wildness, among others. She is the winner of the 2021 Adroit Prize for Poetry, judged by Carl Phillips. Currently, she studies Art History and English at Kenyon College, where she received the $15,000 S. Georgia Nugent Award in Creative Writing.

Sundress Reads: Review of Dream of the Lake

Photo of Dream of the Lake Book

Caroline Mar’s Dream of the Lake (Bull City Press, 2022) explores the implications of generational trauma and the ways in which it manifests. This poetry collection captures the heaviness of grief that runs deep in the blood in conversation with the Chinese railroad workers who lost their lives during construction. Mar’s use of water metaphor embodies the absence of those lost and the ache that flows through those left behind.

The speaker questions their own identity and what loss means for them almost immediately, posing the question early on, “Where can I set this inheritance down?” Mar demonstrates this internal struggle of knowing who you are, and grappling with parts of yourself that have been missing for so long. Going on, the loss of breathing and feeling of confinement act as a parallel between the physicality of actual death in relation to the speaker’s identity. These drowning sensations turn the speaker’s grief into a pain that is visual, noting “It takes a certain force to move your limbs // as you tread water.”

In a thread of poems, Mar takes a more visceral approach in portraying the parallel between physicality and mentality through the process of drowning. The first stage captures the newness of feeling someone’s death, a fresh wound, as the speaker writes, “I have felt this shock in my own body. The delicate line // between body and brain” and “: fear of being found // : fear of being found too late.” In the second stage, Mar demonstrates the disconnect from the nature of drowning to the speaker’s own denial to tragedy. “When the waters rose, the forest stayed…” and “Sometimes a person isn’t a person at all, but a weight // to be freighted onto someone else’s shoulder” show how isolating numbness can be, and how sometimes, that’s all that can be felt when we carry our trauma with us.

One thing about loss is that you mull over all the different ways you lost that part of yourself. After establishing the initial drowning stages, the speaker revisits the rest of the natural world and elucidates the elements of grief through naturalistic imagery. Mar creates a longing for what once was through the ways the speaker interacts in the world, writing “… & look // I’ve become this // for you,” and later “it slips through one’s fingers even // if you press them tight.” Following closely, the pursuit of picking up those pieces of identity and rediscovering oneself after loss is seen here: “an ocean away from where you are not // a guest // where are you from // people ask me // ask people who look // like me.”

“Correspondence,” a nineteen-page prose piece, addresses the devastation of the speaker’s loss through a plethora of unanswered questions, encapsulating the whirlwind of acceptance of knowing you have to live with your grief. Mar addresses the unrest left by someone’s absence, “No body means nobody to bury // no body // to call home,” and the ways in which we look to fill those gaps, “Heaven could be the color of this water // at precisely twenty-two feet deep.” The evolution of the speaker’s grief comes full circle when they answer their own query, “I know the answers. There are // no answers. I am the only // possible outcome here.”

Dream of the Lake redefines what it means to live through generational grief, and how, in turn, ancestral pain lives through us. Mar shows us how our pain takes shape within multiple facets of grief, each one irrevocably lasting.

Purchase Dream of the Lake here!

Picture of Zoe Sweet

Zoe Sweet is a junior at Widener University, where she is a double major of English and Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies and Analysis. She is the vice president of her school’s literary journal, along with being on the executive board or a general member of a multitude of other clubs and activities. When not studying or working, she is active on campus, volunteers in the local prison, and spends time with friends. She loves reading and writing, and hopes one day to be a judge. 

Sundress Academy for the Arts Now Accepting Residency Applications for Fall 2023

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 fall residency period which runs from August 21st to December 31st, 2023. These residencies are intended to provide writers with the time and space they need to finish their creative ideas in a peaceful and effective environment.

Each farmhouse residency is $300/week, covering a private room as well as access to our shared kitchen, bathroom, office, and living area, plus wireless internet. Writers Coop residencies are $150/week and include your own private dry cabin in addition to access to the farmhouse amenities. Due to the low cost, we rarely are able to provide 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 a half-hour drive from Knoxville, a vibrant city with a strong literary and artistic community. For writers seeking a rural retreat with urban amenities, SAFTA is ideal.

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

As part of our commitment to anti-racist work, we use 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 on our website.

For the 2023 Fall Residency Period, SAFTA will be offering the following fellowships:

● Fellowships for Women & Nonbinary Writers: one full and one 50% fellowship for women and nonbinary writers
● Fellowship for Black & Indigenous Writers: one full fellowship for Black and/or Indigenous identifying writers
● Limited partial scholarships are also available to any applicant with financial need.

The judge for our fellowship for women & nonbinary writers is Ada Wofford. Wofford is a trans/genderqueer, asexual writer interested in Dadaist and Absurdist thought. They hold an MA in English and an MA Library & Information Studies. Their first chapbook, I Remember Learning How to Dive, was published in 2020 and earned them a Pushcart Prize nomination. Their writing has appeared in The Blue Nib, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Autostraddle, Capable Magazine, Sundress Reads, and more. They are also the Nonfiction Editor at Stirring: A Literary Collection and an Associate Poetry Editor and the Lead Grant Writer at Sundress Publications. They recently published a YA novel under a pen name available at

The application deadline for the fall residency period is May 1st, 2023. Find out more about the application process here.

The application fee is waived for all writers of color. For all fellowship applications, the application fee will also be waived for those who demonstrate financial need. All other application fees will go directly towards travel grants for Black and/or Indigenous writers.

Sundress Reads: Review of Made by the Sea and Wood, In Darkness

Made by the Sea and Wood, In Darkness is Alexandros Plasatis’s first novel. Published in 2021 by Spuyten Duyvil and shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize, the novel does more than carry you to Kavala, a city located in Greece, but transports you into the lives of locals and immigrants through language, setting, nature, and most of all, food. Told with both lyrical and crude language, Plasatis does not pull punches in those 226 pages and expresses a clarity of his hometown that is captivating to watch.

Framed between two main characters, Pavlo and Angie, the novel begins at its most critical location: Café Papaya. Café Papaya is inhabited by many locals, most importantly the Greek and Egyptian fishermen. Both locals, Pavlo and Angie work at the café and are drawn to the workers. The café becomes a sacred place in the narrative and is centered in nearly all conflicts.

A single chapter is filled with multiple sections where Pavlo and four Egyptian fishermen tell stories about women; the dialogue is crude and often harsh. But at the end of the chapter, the narration pulls back, and the reader is left with this:  

It would dawn soon, and each man had to take his own way home and face the reality of the day, the misery of their single beds. Tired, they sat back around the round table, just to enjoy for a little longer this sweet summer night, remembering with pleasure the stories they’ve shared, sucking back the smoke of a last cigarette, feeling free.

The writing turns lyrical and melancholy as the men reflect on their bond and the place they have shared their stories in. The entire novel is made of shared stories. Though Pavlo and Angie are the main characters, they are a device used to tell the immigrants’ and locals’ stories through.

One night Angie is working and begins talking to One Arm (aptly named because he has only one arm). He tells her how he became a fisherman and how he came to Greece from Egypt. Mentioned in nearly every story are caïques, a traditional fishing boat. They are described with romantic imagery and the reader imagines boats coming from the distant sea, lighting up the night. One Arm has a different description of the place where he makes his life’s work. “‘Army is fire and caïque is fire. I say to myself, “What the hell is this? Better die.” I want a bit of life: buy clothes, go to the disco, go with, you know, women. I want to taste some of the good life.’” He tells his life story with a melancholy that warns against romanticization and yet can’t help but do it to itself, anyway.

Set in a café, it is only natural that food becomes an important part of the narrative. The names of the food alone are enough to make someone’s mouth water, but it does more than that—it creates a rich air, characterized by the culture of the food. Sprinkled throughout one single chapter are foods like “‘Two spaghetti carbonara, one tortellini carbonara, one baked manouri cheese stuffed with red pepper and bacon,’” and “‘One fried tigania souvlaki in white wine and mustard sauce, one grilled lamb chops with fries, tomato-cucumber salad without the onions but with olives—with the olives—one retsina, one coke.’” This chapter follows Pavlo and his boss in an excruciatingly long night as they interact with the customers of the café. Filled with abuse against prostitutes and complicated orders and customers who seem bent against Pavlo, the reader gets a taste of the underground life of Kavala. A group of men arrive and tell Pavlo they want a traditional Greek soup. “Oh, no, they were patsa soup enthusiasts… Stay cool, Pavlo. They’ll try to intimidate you with their knowledge of patsa soup, but you can handle them. Stay cool.” Despite the mundane-ness and comical air of the situation, there is tension between Pavlo and the customers. These things matter.

The main draw of Made by the Sea and Wood, In Darkness is the variance between all the stories told. The connecting thread—life of the locals and immigrants in Kavala—does not get tiring to read because each character stands out. Talked about endlessly, it seems only fitting that the novel should end on a caïque as the fishermen take Angie out to sea to witness what they experience, every shift. She thinks about how other locals wouldn’t dare to go out to sea with the Egyptians, about how their lives are immensely different and yet similar. After the voyage, the narrator says, “She kept on listening with pleasure to the tales of the Egyptian fishermen at the café. She listened and learned, and learned again about their lives.” But still, her gaze is drawn to the caïques and what lay beyond it.

Made by the Sea and Wood, In Darkness is available at Spuyten Duyvil

Amber Beck (she/her) is a writer with an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing from Chatham University. She has been published in CalliopeRejection LettersBindweed Magazine,, and has a forthcoming piece with Bone Parade. She won second place in a Florida statewide writing contest, first place in NEA Big Read’s writing contest, and won the 2022 Laurie Mansell Reich Poetry Prize. She has worked as an editor for The Fourth River, 101 Words, and Chatham’s MFA Program’s Newsletter. She is the founder of Barmecide Press.

Project Bookshelf: Amber Alexander

I’m really bad at letting go of things and despite my best efforts to try not to be, most people would describe me as a maximalist. I hoard memories and never delete any photos on my phone (I’m up to about 88,000 with pictures spanning from 2015 to the beginning of 2023). This idea of holding onto things, perhaps reminding me of simpler times, perhaps reminding me of the hard times I didn’t think I’d make it through, reflects itself on my bookshelf, too. 

Reading has always been an escape for me. It filled the void of not having friends in my classes to talk to and being able to immerse myself somewhere else. It also helped with all the car rides I took going from one house to the other every other weekend after my parent’s divorce. 

Much like my own thoughts, my bookshelves are only slightly organized, filled to the brim. I have several bookshelves scattered over the house, books stored inside the bottom of my TV stand’s storage, no doubt intended for DVD cases (or when I used it as a kid, good ol VHS tapes)—even books stacked in dangerously high piles I haven’t organized since they came home from me after the summer library sale. I still have books in boxes from my last move.

Just like my own personality, my books represent the weird complexities and paradoxes. I have a few poetry books mingling with Franz Kafka, series that shaped my early love for reading (The Hunger Games, Harry Potter), and Norton Anthologies I used in one class that I’ll never be able to give away. 

I haven’t actually finished The Lost Writings but it’s followed me faithfully from bookstore to apartment to bedside table. I’ve been interested in reading more Kafka ever since we read “The Metamorphosis” my senior year of high school and considered myself to be the only one open minded about it; it was probably then and there that cemented I was meant to be a Literature major. 

Some books on my shelves haven’t been read, let alone touched since I placed them there. Books I bought because they reminded me of someone, once again symbolizing my inability to forget or let things go that I really should. 

An early edition of The Hunger Games I found in a Half Price Books clearance section is pushed back with books about Harry Potter I bought on Ebay with allowance in 2011. I impulsively bought a collector’s edition of Michelle Remembers a year after a professor mentioned it in a class and its influence on what we were studying. A copy of Twilight, not my original copy, but a copy I got just to have the larger sized version. I bought Fan Art for a creative writing assignment and only read the first two chapters. 

An ode to my love for theatre shows itself in pocket-sized Shakespeare and books about Alexander Hamilton (a purchase influenced by Lin Manuel Miranda and my immense interest in American history). 

In another bookshelf sits a book of poems by Rita Dove whose lineation inspires me to dig deeper in my own work, a few books from one of the hardest semesters of college (yes, Spring 2020, which featured Wieland and Laura). A copy of The Outsiders—again, not my original copy but a book near to my heart. Counting by 7s, a book I bought because it had been sitting at a used bookstore for six months and I was intrigued by the annotations someone left behind. 

My bookshelves, as they stand while writing this, are not completely representative of what I tend to read, or what’s important to me now. In fact, I’ve probably been putting off cleaning and reorganizing my bookshelves for at least 7 years. But the mess, the clutter, represents me well. The eclectic nature of how I view my life mirrors itself here. I’m not ashamed to say Twilight got me into reading and creative writing when I was 10 and lead me to discover the greatest escape I’ve known—how could I possibly have the heart to get rid of them now?

My bookshelf made me think, question the world, imagine a new one. I thank it for becoming a vessel to hold all these small parts of myself and all my inconsistencies. 

Amber Alexander holds a BA in English with research distinction and triple minors (Creative Writing, Professional Writing, and History) from The Ohio State University. They plan to pursue graduate level studies in the near future and currently works in higher education. She has previously worked on the Editorial Staff for Cornfield Review, where she has also been published. Alexander earned multiple awards for poetry, prose, playwriting, and creative nonfiction while an undergrad.

Meet Our New Intern: Mack Ibrahim

A brown person standing outside leaning against a railing in front of Chicago skyscrapers. They are wearing a black and white fur coat and pink heels.

There’s a stereotype that bookish children are well-behaved but quiet, good students but poor socializers. There’s certainly some truth to those statements; nine-year-old Mack would much rather read Artemis Fowl than play hopscotch. But, breaking the stereotype, I was neither well-behaved nor quiet. You could count on every person in the room hearing my very loudest account of my latest trip to the library. I picked fights over who was the best Harry Potter character and wrote essays on my favorite poets instead of doing real homework.

In middle school, I aged past not doing homework and compromised on writing my daydreams in the back of notebooks. I was deathly afraid of losing my thoughts, of not being able to revisit who I once was when I inevitably forgot. Every once in a while, I look back on them and remember that I was right: I did inevitably forget nine-year-old Mack, but at the same time, I get to relearn who they were through their writing. When I read, I feel like I’m peeking into the narrator’s mind; I walk alongside them in their trials and learn to experience life the same way they do. The idea that I can see the world through someone else’s eyes is so desirable because it means that they’re not only seen and met, but ultimately known. And it means I can be, too.

As a former troublemaker, I’ve seen and met plenty of people, from detention to the principal’s office to the debate team I was forced to join when I entered high school. But, as a formal troublemaker, I had a hard time getting to know my peers and often struggled to be on the same footing as them. Enjoyment aside, this was reason enough for me to read rather than talk to others. Book characters are easy to understand. They keep their lives on open display, free to gut and be immersed in and get their ink on my hands. Real life—sans my father’s prized fountain pen collection—has a disappointing amount of ink with none to spare for me.

Now, as an aspiring editor and amateur proofreader, I don’t limit myself to book characters. The people around me, often fellow bookworms, deserve to be known, too. As an adult, it’s no longer enough to just read them; it’s a personal calling to be alongside them and help them as they write their minds into new worlds. How can they be better understood? How can they be faithful to themselves while being faithful to readers? In the most intimate way, I see parts of myself in them (no euphemism intended). How they want to be known, how I want to be known; the answers aren’t the same but they’re so worth learning.

I don’t care much about life’s dwindling ink supply anymore. Besides, we’re mostly digital anyway.

Mack Ibrahim is a sophomore at Wheaton College, majoring in English with a Writing concentration and minoring in American Ethnic Studies. During their free time, they buy and brew specialty teas and read webcomics.

Sundress Reads: Review of Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners

In her fourth book of poetry, Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners (Fordham University Press, 2021), Sarah Mangold explores and celebrates the impressive list of accomplishments of women naturalists, bringing to the forefront integral figures who were overshadowed and erased from the histories of scientists by their male counterparts. Her Wilderness Will be Her Manners is not a collection of poems, but an epic-length piece that collages and assembles a feminist archive of naturalism, remembering forgotten moments of innovations and contemplating the science of observing and recording the natural world.

Mangold’s epic opens with lines that immediately relate the reader to the experience of women’s historical erasure: “They put our body / into text,” and then, “Make us exclaim / in the space / of hissing / throat clearing / explicit instructions / how to look natural.” (1). She gifts us with the strong voice of a narrator who adds, “What interested me was / the way ladies survive / as acknowledgements / in other people’s prefaces” and “the way historians will not / see women.” (14) And later articulates “the consistent / obliteration of their activity / in what passes for history” (67) continuing to press the reminder that “women occupied many kinds of places.” (30) By sourcing language from historical texts and delving into the intricacies of women’s involvement in male-dominated pursuits like taxidermy and natural history dioramas, Mangold assembles a world in which “any landscape / is the absorption and transformation of another.” (63) Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners challenges the arbitrary nature of gender roles, asserting the idea that “to have a body” is one of the “conditions of existence / or probabilities of life.” (33)

Though the work is technically one continuous poem, each page offers the reader something new in terms of formatting, spacing and carefully chosen language. Mangold articulates a visual message as much as a literary one, pinning her words across the page in many cases, while in others adopting a more traditional approach to formatting. The intentional omission of articles and punctuation further pushes the reader to make intuitive leaps about the narrator’s identity and message, while simultaneously drawing a connection between women and nature itself, painting the “daughters of time” (76) carefully into the same composition they are studying, offering “proof of woman’s work” (46) in moments like, “she braced against the inequalities of the bark and drew / herself up among branches.” (41) This is all especially evident in the following selection from page 37:

“But this is becoming a feminine chapter

            Romantic by right of love        appropriation and appreciation

She described her errand into wilderness

            in language      how to ride, how to dress for it, how to shoot,

How to woman-who-goes-hunting-with-her-husband

                      by the possessive voice a western abbreviation

                                       in great favor            typical affections

of the hunter hero autobiography

I am still a woman and may be tender             Hundred dangers which

      seemed made to annihilate me”

Here, the narrator’s objective to give space to “women’s / invisible careers” (34) is clear in the attention to arrangement and position in her language. The reader is also confronted with juxtaposed images and statements like “tender Hundred dangers” and “Romantic by right of love            appropriation and appreciation” that both allow and push the reader to make their own conclusions.

In addition to her beautiful arrangement of words, Mangold leaves the reader with a further contribution to the conversation by including images of her own artworks throughout the book. These pieces feature compilations of the “Women’s Work” featured throughout Mangold’s writing in a fashion that mimics that in which naturalists and taxidermists would have displayed their findings and collections by utilizing materials like insect pins while also photographing them in a way that reads similarly to stereographs. Mangold’s commitment to authenticity and visual impact especially shines in the creation of these pieces and their distribution throughout the book.

Throughout Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners, Mangold consistently pays tribute to woman who altered the course of naturalism, but whose work was lost. She reminds us that “The giving of names / to individuals involves an act of will,” (41) and of the ways in which women “must carry the capacity / to be read.” (46) This is the kind of book that is synchronously beautiful and deceiving in its straightforward-ness, in which something new can be gleaned with each read.

Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners was awarded the Poets Out Loud Prize by Cynthia Hogue and is available at Fordham University Press

Nicole Bethune Winters (she/her) is a poet, ceramic artist, and yoga teacher. She currently resides in Southern California, where she makes and sells pottery out of her home studio. When she isn’t writing or wheel-throwing, Nicole is likely at the beach, on a trail, or exploring new landscapes. She derives most of the inspiration for her creative work from her interactions with the environment around her, and is always looking for new ways to connect with and understand the earth. Her debut poetry collection, brackish, was published by Finishing Line Press in August 2022.

Sundress Publications Announces the Release of Jonaki Ray’s Lessons in Bending

Sundress Publications announces the release of Jonaki Ray’s Lessons in Bending, which offers a candid view into the sacrifices made by those seeking a brighter future and safer world as they break metaphorical and literal chains that bind them to oppressive living conditions.

In this remarkable collection, many stories are heard: the immigrant woman imprisoned in the United States, dreaming of an escape; the daughter, dreaming of her mother’s face nuzzling against her own; a man trying to cross a border, who is met with laughter by the police; the dead, whose lives were ended by the hands of the state. The intricacies of experimental forms and daring lineation give each poem its own voice, its own pulse. These poems are for anyone trying to find a home in a place that never wanted them, for those trapped without the possibility of escape yet still daring to imagine better futures, for those, under the weight of it all, who are learning how to bend, not break.

Abhay K., author of Monsoon, writes, “Jonaki Ray’s Lessons in Bending is a remarkable work of poetry that tells us what it means to be an immigrant and prisoner of color in the promised land. Her poems give voice to the unwanted, the outcasts—the refugees, survivors, prisoners—who barely exist at the edge of society. A haunting collection. An eye-opener.”

Jessica Kim, author of L(EYE)GHT, writes that this collection “grapples with intimacies of family and girlhood in a world with ‘shelters, / prisons, and half-way houses,’ ‘a road [that] divides two states within the same country,’ and ‘mass graves where thousands were buried.’ In this world, one must survive by reminding herself to breathe. Ray’s poems rebel against injustice and violence, prompting us to rescue ourselves through her words.”

Lessons in Bending is available to download for free on the Sundress website:

Jonaki Ray was educated in India (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur) and the United States (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). A scientist by education and training and a software engineer (briefly) in the past, she is now a poet, writer, and editor in New Delhi, India. Honours for her work include a Pushcart and Forward Prize for Best Single Poem nominations in 2018; the 2019 Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award; and First Prize in the 2017 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Contest (ESL). She has also been shortlisted for multiple awards, including the 2021 Live Canon Chapbook Contest and the 2018 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. Her debut poetry collection, Firefly Memories, is available from Copper Coin. She is on Twitter as @Jona_writes, on Instagram as jonaki_stories, and on the advisory board of the YouTube channel, Just Another Poet. You can read more about her at

Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents April Reading Series

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is pleased to announce the guests for the March installment of our reading series. This event will take place on Sunday, April 30th at Pretentious Beer Co. from 1:00-3:00PM.

Picture of Kimberly Ann Southwick

Kimberly Ann Southwick (she/her/hers) is the founder & editor in chief of the literary-arts journal Gigantic Sequins, which has been in print since 2009. Her debut full-length poetry collection, Orchid Alpha is forthcoming from Trembling Pillow Press this year. She is an Assistant Professor specializing in Poetry and Creative Writing at Jacksonville State University. Currently, she lives and writes in Saks, Alabama, with her daughter, Esmé, and their dog Nova.

Picture of Sam Herschel Wein

Sam Herschel Wein (he/they) is a lollygagging plum of a poet who specializes in perpetual frolicking. A 2022 Pushcart Prize winner, their third chapbook, Butt Stuff Flower Bush, is forthcoming from Porkbelly Press. He co-founded and edits Underblong and is poetry co-editor for Grist Journal. They have work forthcoming in American Poetry Review, The Cincinnati Review, and Diode Editions, among others.

Picture of Miriam Kirk

Miriam Kirk is an up and coming stand-up comedian hailing from Nashville, TN. Her quick witted observational style and dynamic stage presence captivate young and old audiences alike. She was recently voted Third Coast Comedy Club’s Comedian of the Year. Home to regional and national talents such as Laura Peek, Brad Sative, Allison Summers, and SNL’s KC Shornima. When Miriam isn’t on stage you can find her losing out on Nike’s sneaker app, winning connect four or really any board-game against her nieces and nephew or taking a nap.

Picture of Jorden Albright

Jorden Albright is a Knoxville, TN-based singer and producer boasting a musical style affectionately described as “bisexual bedroom pop.” While her discography of dreamy synth melodies and ambient vocals largely falls under the electropop umbrella, it features a fusion of genres including house, hip-hop, and indie rock.

This month our community partner for April is the Appalachian Community Fund (ACF). ACF funds and encourages grassroots social change in Central Appalachia. We work to build a sustainable base of resources in order to support community-led organizations seeking to overcome and address issues of race, economic status, gender, sexual identity, disability, and the environment. As a community-controlled fund, ACF aims to expand and strengthen movements for social change—to change systems and institutions—by leveraging our collective power. Find out more about the work ACF does here!

This event is brought to you in part by a grant provided by the Tennessee Arts Commission. Find out about the important work they do here.