SAFTA & Friends Present: A First Friday Variety Show

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present a First Friday Variety Show on Friday, February 7, 2020 from 7-9PM at The Casual Pint, Downtown. This free event, hosted by JoAnna Brooker, will feature musicians Redd Daugherty and Ryan Dunaway, poets Brynn Martin and Summer Awad, and comedians Ana Tantaris, Clinton Ricks, and Emaleigh Kierstin.

There will be raffle drawings to win a six-pack provided by the Pint, koozies, and Sundress Publications titles, and there will be a donation jar by the bar in support of Sundress. A portion of the sales of Miller Lite drafts during the event will be donated to Sundress Academy for the Arts.

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is a writer’s residency that hosts workshops, retreats, and residencies for writers in all genres including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, journalism, academic writing, playwriting, and more. All are guided by experienced instructors from a variety of creative disciplines who are dedicated to cultivating the literary arts in East Tennessee.

So come by and check it out on February 7, 2020 from 7-9PM at The Casual Pint, Downtown

Meet our New Intern: Mary B. Sellers

My sweet-tooth for stories and books is entirely my mother’s doing. From the beginning, she ingrained in me the importance of make-believe; the easy, seductive escapism that goes along with a good book. My childhood library was a vast, impressive thing, which my mother also had a hand in making. On my last visit home, I climbed the winding staircase with the odd bend in its middle up to my old bedroom, where I remembered seeing these childhood books last.

I found them neatly stacked—tall and glossy with the hardcover’s requisite fierce laminate shine—on the old twin-sized trundle bed, their pages stuck shut by time and that species-specific dust bunny native only to suburbia.

I tried to be gentle as I sifted through them, rereading some entirely like Audrey Wood’s King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, which I remember being one of my particular favorites as it was about a king who did just that—held court in his bathtub. Bubbles pop and soak marble floors while jesters make silly grimace-grins: I imagine it must have inspired from my then-toddler-self, a deep awe for the interdimensional aspects of the average-looking bathtub. Others, too, like Grandfather Twilight, about a kind old man who puts the moon in the sky after his evening walk each night; The Rainbabies, too—a classically structured folktale dealing in magic rain, the moon, and wishes coming true—depicted in careful sketching and pastel watercolors, soft and cool-toned.

The first time I “seriously” wrote anything was the summer my mother had her first manic episode (bipolar psychosis), and her first stint at the psych ward. It was the summer before eighth grade. It was also the last summer that my mother ever wrote anything seriously again. Specifically, I mean the book she’d started writing a few weeks after quitting her job as a speechwriter. I’d been beyond excited at the prospect of having a real-life author for a mother. I fantasized about this scenario, made sure to brag to my friends at school about it. My mother, the writer.

Because it was true, how it’d always been: my mother was the writer in the family; the reader, the dreamy girl who spent her teenage weekends with bent, seventies’ paperbacks. Looking back on photos of my mother as a teenager and young twenty-something, I see a pretty girl with olive skin and dark fly-away hair who seems to always be laughing with a book in hand. It’s the true sort of happiness that’s hard to fake. Bliss, joy, a silliness I’ve never seen on her. There’s light in those black eyes of hers, and the skin around her happy mouth is stretched tight and young with delight. I wish I’d known her then, could talk to that version of her now that I’m grown.

Originally from Jackson, MS, I now live and work in Seattle, WA, with my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who I (nerdily) christened Daisy Buchanan after the leading lady in The Great Gatsby. (I’ve always loved her ‘beautiful little fool’ quote towards the beginning of the novel.) I currently am a part time children’s creative writing instructor for Pacifica Writers’ Workshop, a Split Lip Press nonfiction reader, and a freelance writer. Side hustles include: web development, selling on Poshmark, dog sitting, and trying to write a novel.

I graduated with a BA in English Literature from the University of Mississippi in 2013 and an MFA in Creative Writing with a Fiction emphasis from Louisiana State University in 2018, where I served as graduate prose editorial assistant for The Southern Review, social media editor for New Delta Review, and cohost for the Underpass Readers & Writers series. In 2018, my graduate thesis—a hybrid novel, Rapunzel Has Insomnia—was a finalist for the University of New Orleans Publishing Laboratory Prize.

My fiction, essays, articles, and reviews appear in Psychopomp Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Grimoire, Third Point Press, Sidereal Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Literary Orphans, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Dream Pop Press, The New Southern Fugitives, Click Magazine, Mississippi Magazine, Young Professionals of Seattle, and New Delta Review, among others.

For the past decade, I’ve attempted to keep at least one toe in the book publishing and literary worlds, which is why I have such eclectic work experiences: summer editorial assistantships for lifestyle magazines, an NYC-based literary agent, and a couple of online magazines, and Thacker Mountain Radio, a weekly radio show. Fresh out of college I even worked for Fat Possum Records, a record label located in my college town of Oxford, MS, while studying for the GRE and applying to 12 MFA programs. After being rejected from all 12 schools and subsequent identity crisis, I spent the next year working remotely as associate publisher for the small indie press Blooming Twig Books and freelance writing. They would later go on to be kind enough to publish my first collection of short stories, Shoulder Bones, in 2014.

During my time in graduate school, I had the opportunity to live and workshop my writing abroad for one month in Prague, thanks to the 2016 Prague Summer Writers Program. Also, in 2017, I participated in the Sewanee Summer Writers Residency. Recently, my short story “The Other Mother” was second runner up in Psychopomp Magazine’s 2019 Short Fiction Contest. My personal essay “Inheritance: A Timeline” was nominated for a 2019 Best of the Net award, and my short story “Alice and the Moon” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


Mary B. Sellers lives and works in Seattle, WA, and is at work on her second book, a novel of autofiction. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Mississippi and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University. Most recently her writing has appeared in Psychopomp Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Grimoire, Third Point Press, Sidereal Magazine, and Young Professionals of Seattle.

Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents “Finding an Appetite: Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, and Food Writing”

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is proud to present the next installment of their workshop series, “Finding an Appetite: Poetry Creative Nonfiction, and Food Writing.”  This workshop will be led by Katie Culligan and will be held in Room 252 in the Hodges Library from 6 to 7 pm on October 28th. This event is free and open to the public.

Mark Twain said, “Part of the secret of success is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” When we begin to consider this active role that food plays in our lives and bodies, we must think about the senses, the land we live on, our families, both nuclear and national, and the labor-system-latticework we all must somehow live in the cracks of. In this workshop, we will investigate together how these considerations, and how food writing in general, can enrich your personal essays and poetry. If you’ve ever grown a mint plant in your kitchen, or waited a table, or eaten a hot dog that your mother cut up to look like an octopus, then you have enough to write about for the foreseeable future. Writers we read together will include those who specialize in both journalism and lyric nonfiction. We will not be reading Mark Twain.

Katie Culligan is a nonfiction writer living in Knoxville, TN, where she is the Fall 2019 Writer in Residence at Sundress Academy for the Arts. She is the recipient of the 2019 Eleanora Burke Award for Nonfiction and the Margaret Artley Woodruff Award for Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee. Recent work appears in Geometry, Noble/ Gas Qtrly, Columbia Journal, American Chordata, and others. She can be reached at katieculliganwriting.com

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Tennessee Creative Writing Program and is free and open to the public.

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an artists’ residency that hosts workshops, retreats, and residencies for writers, actors, filmmakers, and visual artists. All are guided by experienced, professional instructors from a variety of creative disciplines who are dedicated to cultivating the arts in East Tennessee.

Sundress Announces the Release of Gender Flytrap

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FlytrapSundress Publications announces the release of Zoë Estelle Hitzel’s collection, Gender Flytrap. In this debut collection, Hitzel ambitiously portrays transgender experiences and confronts the systems and culture that initiate violence against the gendered body.

To see and be seen begets presumption and therefore is an act of violence, a violence that dictates how a person should look, act, and even perceive the world around them. Gender Flytrap delves into the multifaceted nature of prejudice from gendered stereotypes to a broken healthcare system to the realization that everything—including transness—is filtered through a cisnormative lens. Hitzel’s debut collection is an authentic portrayal of the constant hurt that a trans experience entails in a toxic, hegemonic culture where trauma is inherent to the trans existence.

After reading this collection, Nicole Walker, author of The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet, and Sustainability: A Love Story states, “I’ve never understood better than I do now or with such elegance and grace, that our bodies, and our words, are not for the taking.”

ZoeZoë Estelle Hitzel earned her MA in Creative Writing/Poetry at Northern Arizona University and her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Oregon State University. She is the 2019 Ofstad Writer in Residence at Truman State University. Her work has appeared in Blue Lyra Review, entropy, pacific REVIEW, and elsewhere.

Hitzel blogs about her transgender experience at znoted.wordpress.com. A citizen of the wind, she scores standardized tests remotely from Missouri, writes and edits freelance, and drums in the blues band, Deadwood.

Order your copy today!

Shitty First Drafts Episode 4, Featuring Lance Dyzak, is Live!

Picture1Sundress Publications announces the fourth episode of the podcast, Shitty First Drafts. A podcast made for and by writers, the show playfully investigates the creative processes of different artists to determine how a finished draft gets its polish.

Lance Dyzak joins Brynn Martin and Stephanie Phillips to discuss his short story “Extra Innings,” based on a bizarre event he witnessed at a park while walking his dog, and the various forms it went through before reaching its completion.

lance-dyzak-headshot.jpgIn the end, though the event helped Dyzak write a good story, he took it out and cautions writers against “injecting weirdness for the sake of weirdness” they are afraid to write something that feels like it’s been done before. He says, “A lot of writers are afraid of writing a boring story [but] it’s all in the details.”

In this episode, we also discuss the enneagram test (he’s a 5w4), baseball puns, killing your darlings (or filing them away for another time), and the world of online forums.

Lance Dyzak is a Ph.D. student in fiction at the University of Tennessee, where he is writing his first novel. His work has previously appeared in Southwest Review, Southern Indiana ReviewNew Limestone Review, and Per Contra. He is also the co-director of the Only-Tenn-I-See Reading Series, set to kick off in September.

 

Sundress Releases Marvels by MR Sheffield

Sundress Releases Marvels by MR Sheffield

Marvels by MR Sheffield

Sundress Publications announces the pre-release of MR Sheffield’s new collection, Marvels. An “irreducible kind of book that pivots on every page, refuses to be pinned down” says Julie Marie Wade, author of Catechism: A Love Story and SIX, cautioning that “this book will wild you, Reader, gently.”

MR Sheffield’s Marvels is a séance; a chant of snake bites, wrens, and spiders, nesting and untangling; the instinct of a mother disoriented by her grief; a daughter finding her way in sex and obsession; a family broken and searching for something to pull it back together. Sheffield utilizes H.D. Northrop’s found poems, which describe various creatures, to reveal the wild, instinctive nature of human emotion by repurposing Northrop’s descriptions and applying them to a family. Sheffield couples the poems with manipulated original images from Northrop’s text to drive the skepticism of the poems. Multiplied spiders in the wrong color, transposed boa constrictors, and streaked antelope eyes are juxtaposed with poems about familial grief and resentment, alerting the reader to her instincts. This is the collection that steps back and reveals that instead of visiting an exhibit, admiring the lifelike animals from the soft fur to the magnetizing eyes, we are the exhibit, propped up and trapped behind the glass.

“When the narrator of MR Sheffield’s collection imagines “making a nest of you,” we are invited to make a nest back. Each word and image in this text builds a found and invented structure, layer by layer, for us to writhe around inside of. This multimodal work aims to enthrall us with a nontraditional, visual magic, both human and animal.”

— Nicole Oquendo, author of Telomeres and some prophets

“‘…there is no grief like this and no name for it,’ Sheffield’s speaker confesses in ‘the boa-constrictor,’ which, like all poems inside Marvels, uncoils to reveal monstrous truths about love and loss in a wilderness haunted by the familial. I have yet to find my way out of Sheffield’s collection, months after entering—I don’t believe I’ll ever want to. Between admiring the partnering images and found language from H.D. Northrop’s book of the same name, this collection asks readers—no, dares them—to put their face close to its glass and tap.”

— James A.H. White

MR Sheffield’s work has been published in Black Warrior Review, Hayden’s FerryReview, The Florida Review, and other publications. This is her first book.

Pre-order at https://squareup.com/market/sundress-publications

Nominations Open for 2018 Best of the Net Anthology

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Nominations are now open for the annual Best of the Net anthology from Sundress Publications. This anthology promotes the diverse and growing collection of voices who are publishing their work online and serves to bring greater respect to an innovative and continually expanding medium.

Nominations must have originally appeared online, and must have been first published or appeared on the web between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018.

Nominations must come from the editor of the publication (journal, chapbook, online press, etc.), or, if the work is self-published, it must be sent by the author. For journals and presses, each entry may include up to six poems, two stories, and two works of creative nonfiction for consideration. For individuals sending self-published work, please send no more than two pieces regardless of genre.

Please include both the URL of the poem, story, or essay as well as a full text version in a Word or RTF document. Nominations must also include the author’s name and email address as well as the name, contact info, and URL of the journal.

Submissions must be sent via email to bestofthenet@sundresspublications.com between July 1st and September 30th, 2018.

See the full submission guidelines here: http://www.sundresspublications.com/bestof/submit.htm

Summer 2018 Fiction Writing Retreat

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Sundress Academy for the Arts Announces
2018 Summer Fiction Writing Retreat

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is thrilled to announce its Summer Fiction Writing Retreat, which runs from Friday, June 15 to 17, 2018.  The three-day, two-night camping retreat will be held at SAFTA’s own Firefly Farms in Knoxville, Tennessee.  This year’s retreat will focus on generative fiction writing and include two break-out sessions, “Conflict and POV as Perspective” and “Writing the Travel Narrative,” plus discussions on kicking writer’s block, publishing, and more.

A weekend pass includes one-on-one and group instruction, writing supplies, food, drinks, transportation to and from the airport, and all on-site amenities for $250.  Tents, sleeping bags, and other camping equipment are available to rent for $25.  Payment plans are available if you reserve by April 17, 2018; inquire via email for details.

The event will be open to writers of all backgrounds and provide an opportunity to work with many talented, published fiction writers from around the country, including Mary Miller and Jeanne Thornton.

unnamed-1Mary Miller is the author of two collections of short stories, Big World (Short Flight/Long Drive Books, 2009) and Always Happy Hour (Liveright, 2017), as well as a novel, The Last Days of California (Liveright, 2014), which has been optioned for film by Amazon Studios. Her stories have appeared in the Oxford American, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, McSweeney’s Quarterly, American Short Fiction, Mississippi Review, and many others. She is a former James A. Michener Fellow in Fiction at the University of Texas and John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at Ole Miss. 

Jeanne Thornton is the author of The Black Emerald and thornton_author-photo_smallThe Dream of Doctor Bantam, the latter a Lambda Literary Award finalist for 2012. She is the co-publisher of Instar Books and the creator of the webcomics Bad Mother and The Man Who Hates Fun. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in n+1, WIRED, WSQ, CURA, and other places. She lives in Brooklyn. Find her online at:  http://fictioncircus.com/Jeanne.

Space at this workshop is limited to 15 writers, so reserve your place today at:
https://squareup.com/market/sundress-publications

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The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an artists’ residency that hosts workshops, retreats, and residencies for writers, actors, filmmakers, and visual artists. All are guided by experienced, professional instructors from a variety of creative disciplines who are dedicated to cultivating the arts in East Tennessee.

Web: http://www.sundressacademyforthearts/                     Facebook: SundressAcademyfortheArts

SAFTA Presents the December Installment of the Reading Series

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Sundress Academy for the Arts December Reading Series

The Sundress Reading Series is excited to welcome Ivelisse Rodriguez, Caitlin Hamilton Summie, and Tom C. Hunley for the December installment of our reading series! The event will take place on Sunday, December 3rd, 2-4 p.m. at Hexagon Brewing Co.

Ivelisse 2

Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Ivelisse Rodriguez grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She earned a B.A. in English from Columbia University, an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College, and a Ph.D. in English-creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her short story collection, Love War Stories, is forthcoming from The Feminist Press in summer 2018. Her fiction chapbook The Belindas was published in 2017. She has also published fiction in All about Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color, Obsidian, Label Me Latina/o, Kweli, the Boston Review, the Bilingual Review, Aster(ix), and other publications. She is the founder and editor of an interview series, published in Centro Voices, the e-magazine of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, focused on contemporary Puerto Rican writers in order to highlight the current status and the continuity of a Puerto Rican literary tradition from the continental US that spans over a century. She was a senior fiction editor at Kweli and is a Kimbilio fellow and a VONA/Voices alum. She is currently working on the novel ‘The Last Salsa Singer’ about 70s era salsa musicians in Puerto Rico.


Caitlin Hamilton Summie, photo by Colin Summie
Caitlin Hamilton Summie
earned an MFA with Distinction from Colorado State University, and her short stories have been published in Beloit Fiction Journal, Wisconsin Review, Puerto del Sol, Mud Season Review, Hypertext Magazine, South85 Journal, Long Story, Short, and more. Her first book, a short story collection called TO LAY TO REST OUR GHOSTS, was published in August by Fomite to excellent reviews nationwide. Most recently her poetry was published in The Literary Nest. She spent many years in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado before settling with her family in Knoxville, Tennessee. She co-owns the book marketing firm, Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, founded in 2003. Find her online at caitlinhamiltonsummie.com.

TomHunley

Tom C. Hunley is a professor in the MFA/BA Creative Writing programs at Western Kentucky University, the director of Steel Toe Books, and the lead singer/guitarist for Night of the Living Dead Poets Society. His sixth full-length poetry collection, Here Lies, is forthcoming from Stephen F. Austin State University Press. He has also authored six chapbooks and two scholarly books. He is the co-editor, with Dr. Alexandria Peary, of Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015). Over 400 of his poems have appeared in journals such as 5 AMAtlanta ReviewCimarron ReviewCrab Orchard Review,Exquisite CorpseLos Angeles ReviewNew Orleans ReviewNew York QuarterlyNorth American ReviewRiver StyxSmartish PaceSouthern Indiana ReviewThe PinchTriQuarterlyVirginia Quarterly ReviewThe Writer, and Zone 3. Garrison Keillor has read several of Tom’s poems on The Writer’s Almanac.

The Sundress Reading Series is free and open to the public!

An Open Letter to TriQuarterly

Dear TriQuarterly:

You don’t know me. Even if I chose to sign this open letter with my real name, you wouldn’t. I’m not an A-lister; I don’t have one of those names that everyone recognizes, like Billy Collins or A.E. Stallings or James Franco.

Still, I’d like to talk to you about your letter. You know, the one that goes like this:

The editors at TriQuarterly recently sent you a notice that your submission was not accepted for publication. I want to clarify that, due to very high volume and limited publication space, our staff was unable to review your submission. Our intent was to give you the opportunity to publish elsewhere, though I realize that our original email was not as clear as I had hoped. I apologize if this has caused any confusion.

At the risk of sounding dense, I am confused. Your letter invites more questions than it answers, and I’d like to pose some of them now:

  1. How can a magazine with, as stated on your website, nineteen people on the masthead be incapable of handling its submission load?
  2. Related, most magazines that are overwhelmed simply close submissions. Why didn’t you do that?
  3. Should your letter be read as a poorly phrased euphemism for Just so you’re aware, we saw your name on your cover letter, didn’t recognize it, and decided to reject outright? If so, why even allow unsolicited submissions?
  4. A few individuals have defended TriQuarterly‘s decision to reject work unread to “give [the submitter] the opportunity to publish elsewhere.” Yet you accept simultaneous submissions. In what universe does it make sense for a magazine to reject submissions unread when those works can be sent to other markets?
  5. There is some scuttlebutt on social media that this maneuver was the work of a lone gunman rogue editor. If this is true, how could a single editor do this without any oversight? If it’s not, should we trust a magazine that would scapegoat someone in this fashion?
  6. For that matter, why would any magazine, especially one with TriQuarterly‘s reputation, think this letter was a good idea? (I’m reminded of Chris Rock’s proclamation to Jerry Lewis in Bigger and Blacker: “Lie to me!”)

I suspect that you will, in time, address some (if not all) of these questions. Perhaps they will even be satisfactory to some writers out there. Rest assured, though, that I won’t be one of them. No matter how well crafted your damage control is, I will refuse to submit to you again.

I won’t be alone.

Meanwhile, if you need me, I’ll be writing, submitting, and publishing. You know, doing the work that will make my name so well known, you’ll be there to accept my work without reading it.

Sincerely,
One Nameless Writer