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

Sundress Academy for the Arts

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 spring residency period which runs from January 2 to May 14, 2023. 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.

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.

For the Spring 2023 residency period, SAFTA will be offering the following fellowships only: 

  • LGBTQIA+ Fellowship: one full and one 50% fellowship for writers who identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community
  • Black & Indigenous Writers Fellowships: one full fellowship for Black and/or Indigenous identifying writers

This year’s judge for the LGBTQIA fellowships is Rita Mookerjee. Rita Mookerjee is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Worcester State University. She is the author of False Offering (JackLeg Press 2023) and an editor a Honey Literary and Split Lip Magazine. Her poems can be found in the Baltimore Review, Hobart Pulp, Lantern Review, New Orleans Review, and the Offing

The application deadline for the spring residency period is September 15, 2022. 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. 

Sundress Reads: Review of Cup & Dagger

A row of 17 mini-chapbooks on a white background.
Photo: Sword and Kettle Press

The Cup & Dagger mini-chapbook series transports readers through 17 diverse stories, all published in tandem by Sword and Kettle Press. Swinging from experimental horror and poetry to fairytale retellings and fantasy, these stories harmonize through the emphasis they put on women’s experiences, using the fantastical as a vehicle for understanding. It’s this centering of women’s voices that makes these mini-chapbooks important and like few others. In society, we too often prioritize male voices and stories; but in this series, a diverse range of women’s voices is offered, fearlessly calling out the treatment of women in society and the standards we hold them to, while delivering a commentary on our treatment of the environment. Each no more than 12 pages, they contend with body issues, model culture, male cruelty to nature and women, and so much more. These mini-chapbooks dare to imagine worlds where women unite in grief, women help each other through times when they are shunned by the world, and where love is always valid. This way of storytelling, combined with depth of emotion and experimental ways of writing, is what makes this series worth amplifying.

In an innately heteronormative society, the works in this series decimate boundaries; in the six mini-chapbooks featuring romance, love is love, a desire for romance isn’t required, and queer romance is celebrated. Women find peace and harmony with wolves and androids, with women and men and no one at all, and each romance—or even shunning of romance—is no more or less valid than any other. For example, Encounters with Wolves in Three Acts by Shreya Ila Anasuya gives power to queer love while simultaneously relegating gender in love to irrelevancy with the story of verdant love and acceptance between woman and wolf in the woods at the center of an unforgiving concrete city. Corporate America, patriarchy, homophobia, and the rigidity of an artificial city are contrasted against nature, nurturing, and play, cradled by a family of wolves in the deep woods in the center of the city, as woman and wolf find love even as they find themselves pulled apart. Although the wolf is mentioned as female, ideas of gender can’t be fully projected onto this romance since we cannot assume that our ideas of gender correlate to those of wolves. In this way, the gender of the wolf becomes almost irrelevant, perhaps showing the irrelevance of gender in relation to love.

The impossible standards for women’s bodies, the dark side of the beauty industry, and the vagaries of modeling are illuminated as well. In A Hole Walked In by Sarah Cavar, a woman bleeds from every orifice, streaming from eyes and nose and mouth in great vision-staining rivulets that are dismissed as unconcerning by all that see her. While bleeding in the mall, a modeling agent “solicits me like a street preacher cries hellfire. I pretend I have been waiting for him my whole life […]. You have the look, he tells me.” Her body seemingly becomes not her own, something for display and something to be ashamed of, to stuff and pinch and beat into submission as she emerges into the modeling industry. The blood gushing from her face, clotting in her lungs, becomes a casual talking point as the damage that is occurring to her body (perhaps a metaphor for internal wounds) is normalized as a part of the effort to be pretty. The way that this story shines a light on how we bleed for a society that cares nothing for our health, with the hope that it will value us for our emaciated bodies, is vital. This mini-chapbook and others unapologetically challenges our society and forces the public to reckon with the harm intrinsic in the beauty standards we hold for women.

Dealing with themes of death, patriarchy, and love beyond barriers, the mini-chapbooks in this series often return to one unwavering truth; in our darkest moments, it’s often women and nature who can save us. Women find each other despite all odds. Sometimes, they unite in love; other times, they escape together from a world not meant for them, build new homes, save each other’s lives, or sew each other back together. Mothers warn daughters of men and sailors while nature provides them a home, as in The Seawalker’s Flame by Rebecca Payne, and female sirens teach a drowned woman how to live again with nature, as in No One Saw Ophelia Drown by Grace Noto. But there is not always a path through the darkness. At times, women shop alone in psychedelic post-apocalyptic grocery stores reminiscent of the work of Kelly Link, as in Bury Me In Iron and Ivy by Monica Robinson; live forever gaslit by male society about their own body, their comfort found in men only temporary, as in Take Care When Made of Glass by Rachel Brittain; and sometimes there is nothing left but to stand together with the soul-wrenching music of grief, as in Our Ballad in Soil by Bisola Sosan.

In this way, by providing a balance of support and disorientation, love and grief, this series shows women in glory. I wish that in this time of intersectional feminism it had gone even further; I’d like to see a continuation of the series which includes an even more vibrant array of inclusion. But the current collection still does something vital in that it encourages women supporting women, validates women’s struggles, centers women’s voices, and encourages acceptance of all people. Every Cup & Dagger mini-chapbook is worth reading, with tales ranging from those of unusual creatures inspired by Chinese-Malayan myths from Singapore, to vanquished love and mortuary work in Russia, to burning ballerinas and the things we do for our image. With these implications and this broad coverage of tales around the stories of women, the voices of these micro-chapbooks echo and stay with us far beyond the page. Much like the haunting voice of the singer in Our Ballad in Soil, the voices of these writers “would go on until those ashes in the ground felt satisfied. We would keep humming with [them].” And perhaps we will use them to build a better feminist society.

The Cup & Dagger mini-chapbook series is available at Sword and Kettle Press


A young white woman with short bleached hair and octagon glasses stands before a green background. She wears a collared shirt, gray sweater, and blue lace top.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Chautauqua, The Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Ears Everywhere

Someone else’s nightmare
is a stray dog that wanders in
and becomes your nightmare—
the number of bugging
devices in the house, the office,

the bar, everywhere.
Bugs at Panther headquarters
pick up a woman in a sports car,
Hey, I love you, pick up
me too, as she drives away.

Illegal surveillance tapes go missing,
the way sins are washed
off in the river, or inconvenient
facts. On a hunch, the detective finds
a transmitter in his own kitchen phone,

the wall phone with a long cord
that could stretch into the dining alcove,
another in the phone on the bedroom
nightstand. When were the Feds
in the house? Two bugs laid out

on the coffee table, the detective staring.
He decides to put them back, knows
they’re there, which evens the score.
What this is, he tells his wife, stroking
her hair for once, is a lot of trouble.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Old Stories

The detective has had a Gillette coated
stainless steel razor for years.
He, too, is becoming an old story.

The slight blue tinge in the white tile
of the bathroom makes him look ill,
a reddish-yellow cast in the whites

of his eyes. Age encircles the periphery
like a feral dog, or a federal cop,
looking for weak spots.

He has awakened to a horror movie,
like watching the march of the undead.
Lately, he awakens this way every day

he’s on the job. Today, it’s some
revolutionary task force sprinkling the city
with bombs that plays with his head.

He barely has time to think
about the little electronic tracker—it meets
government standard—

discovered under Janey’s Karmann Ghia.
He has suspicions, but—
there are no fingerprints.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Woman Identified

A Tootsie Roll with arms,
the detective calls Janey
now that they’ve ID’d her.
She’s skinny with a single name,
like Twiggy; a Vogue spread

and being dead warrant
consideration by the tabloids,
a close-up of her face that’s not
a death mask, a point of view
that tsk tsks, Here’s a sorry chick

who couldn’t hack the good life.
She’s pretty, angles like knife blades,
torso straight, like a boy’s. In the largest
image, Janey looks untroubled
and is running in a bold-patterned

dress past a bridge, debris in soft
focus piled off by the side.
The detective laughs about it later
with his buddies, a strange photo
to sell clothes you can’t even

clearly see. Surrounded by rubble.
Painted-on eyelashes—as if
she’s a child’s doll—
she looks as if she could blow
away. Part of her did.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

Meet Our New Intern: Nicole Bethune Winters

A photo of Nicole, a white woman with blonde hair, wearing a sweatshirt and resting on a fence at sunset overlooking the ocean.

Growing up, when I wasn’t running around barefoot outside, you could find me reading, writing, or in the midst of a very messy art project—and to be honest, not much has changed. Two decades later, I’m still writing voraciously, and end most days splattered in clay. My creative life is fuelled by adventuring into the wild and connecting to the environment around me, and I pursue that inspiration without abandon every chance I get.

Creative expression has long been a vital part of who I am as a human, but when I first graduated from college, I was a little lost. I went from being in this beautiful creative incubator with safe spaces to get vulnerable, collaborate with other artists, and receive constructive criticism, to being very alone in that practice. But, something about moving to California felt like moving back into that incubator. Within a year and a half of moving to San Diego, my first collection of poetry was accepted for publication, and my pottery business was thriving. It definitely didn’t happen overnight, but I finally landed in a place where I could bloom.

Moving west woke up a piece of my soul that had been lying dormant for far too long. Surrounded by a vast variety of accessible and gorgeous new landscapes, I developed a strong pull towards the outdoors. I have always been a beach kid, but every time I jet off on a camping trip, I find more of myself in the mountains and desert. Being fully immersed in nature is what gets me going. I feel alive out there, and leaning into that has been huge for my creative work. I began carving the landscapes I fell in love with on my pottery, and writing them into poetry, and felt my pieces begin to connect with people on a different level.

That connection is something I have chased since I graduated college, and my ultimate dream is to find a niche in the editorial world that allows me the capacity to travel, while providing the opportunity to connect with a greater community of fellow writers. I am jazzed to work for Sundress Publications, and to have the opportunity to immerse myself in the world of publishing while helping foster a space for others to share their work.


Nicole Bethune Winters 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, will be published by Finishing Line Press in August 2022.

Sundress Publications Open for Microgrant Applications for Black and/or Indigenous Writers

Call for Submissions for Light Bill Incubator Grant

Sundress Publications is now open to submissions for grant applications from Black and/or Indigenous identifying writers with a chapbook in progress. All eligible authors are welcome to submit during our application period from August 1st to October 31st, 2022.

The Light Bill Incubator Microgrant will award $500, a slot in Sundress’s reading series, a residency at the Sundress Academy for the Arts in Knoxville, TN, and the potential for digital publication. This award will go to one Black and/or Indigenous writer with a chapbook in progress, to support the completion of said project

All applications will be read by members of our editorial board. One writer will be selected, who will then work with Sundress’s reading series coordinator, residency team and editorial board. 

Applicants may apply with any genre; however, the proposed project must be chapbook-length, meaning the planned final version should be no more than 48 pages. 

To apply, please send a sample of the chapbook in progress along with a brief (no more than 500 words) artist/personal statement. These items should be sent to our editorial board as DOCX or PDF files at sundresspublications@gmail.com. Please include the phrase “Light Bill Incubator Microgrant Application” in the subject line. There is no fee to apply.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Content warning for gun violence

Flashback: Cross Hairs on the Back of Your Neck

A postcard drawing of the cross hairs
of a rifle, Traitors Beware
sits in your mailbox. The old man

at the newspaper kiosk on the corner
has a pistol with silencer under
his woolen coat. The fountain pen

in the pocket protector of the life insurance
salesman who tries to talk you into a policy
is a cyanide gas gun. Your whitecoated

pharmacist is working slow but sure
behind that counter, punching powder
to pack arsenic into pill capsules.

He owns a target rifle that can blast
a sparrow mid-song at two hundred yards.
Your mechanic stays up late

to study booby traps, the metal piled
on his table. Minutemen know more
about you, Janey, than your husband does.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Damage Done by Susana H. Case


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from The Damage Done by Susana H. Case, released by Broadstone Books in 2022. 

Content warning for domestic violence/abuse and disordered eating

Flashback: Bedroom

Blame the walls and doors—they entice
the husband to punch them—
five stitches on his right wrist

just last summer. Inanimate objects
only—he says he is a man of peace.
His familiar rage—it doesn’t cease

with three days in a row of humid heat,
ninety degrees, and how come Janey
wasn’t in her room in Taos after the shoot?

Like an asymptote, she’s gotten so close
to perfection, can taste how close,
like she tastes the black coffee, water,

sugarless gum, all she’s had for days,
so tired of being shown off
like an expensive watch.

Her precision surgery on her food—
he critiques her microscopic cutting.
And how did her ass blow up overnight?

The mirror is relentless,
the water—she drinks too much of it,
needs to do more calisthenics, the weight

on the scale’s unchanging. The food
she pretends to eat—sometimes she has
to put a small bit in her mouth, exercise

the gain away, or purge, but anything
is better than throwing up again.
The rules for when he can look at her—only

when dressed or when the lights
are out—darkness and cover. Her ribs—
where downy, pale white fur has begun

to grow, though she is freezing all the time.
The room of ecru walls—the color
picked from over thirty variations of beige—

for weeks, samples were shuffled and placed
on their bed while she tried to decide.
His only comment: that nothing

was getting laid on their bed lately except
the paint swatches. Blame the husband—
he likes them thin and young.

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done, Broadstone Books, 2022, which won her a third Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Her books have previously also won an IPPY, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite award, and she was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the International Book Awards. The first of her five chapbooks, The Scottish Café, Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Milk and Cake Press, 2022. Case worked several decades as a university professor and program coordinator in New York City and currently is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press and a co-host of the literary series W-E: Poets of the Pandemic and Beyond.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.

Sundress Reading Series Seeks Readers for Fall 2022

From August to November of 2022, the Sundress Reading Series will move back in person at our new venue at Pretentious Beer Co in the Knoxville Old City. We will now also feature comedy and music alongside literary readings!

The Sundress Reading Series is an award-winning literary reading series previously hosted on-ground in Knoxville, TN, just miles from the Great Smoky Mountains. An extension of Sundress Publications and the Sundress Academy for the Arts, the Sundress Reading Series features nationally-recognized writers in all genres from around the US while also supporting local and regional nonprofits. 

Our readings take place the last Sunday of every month from 1-3PM EST.  The fall series will take place on September 25, October 30, and November 27.

Performers will receive publicity across Sundress Publications’ social media channels in the lead up to their event, an opportunity to sell books and music, and a minimum of a $50 honorarium.

We are currently seeking readers and musicians for our series with an emphasis on marginalized voices; please note in your cover letter if you identify as a BIPOC writer, a trans and/or nonbinary writer, and/or a writer with a disability.

To apply to perform for the fall, send 6-8 pages of poetry, 8-15 pages of prose, or a 5-10 minute clip of your musical performance (either as a video or sound file). You will also need to include a 50-100 word bio, CV (optional), and a ranking of preferred reading dates to sundresspublications@gmail.com. Please make sure the subject line reads “Reading Series Application – Your Name.” 

Applications to participate as a performer are open and the deadline to apply August 15, 2022. Those selected will be notified by late August.