Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents November Poetry Xfit

Knoxville, TN — The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present Poetry Xfit hosted by Marah Hoffman. This generative workshop event will take place on Sunday, November 19th from 2 to 4 pm EST via Zoom. Join us at the link tiny.utk.edu/sundress with the password “safta”.

Poetry Xfit isn’t about throwing tires or heavy ropes, but the idea of confusing our muscles is the same. You will receive ideas, guidelines, and more as part of this generative workshop series in order to complete three poems in two hours. A new set of prompts will be provided after the writers have written collaboratively for thirty minutes. The goal is to create material that can be later modified and transformed into artwork rather than producing flawless final versions. The event is open to prose authors as well!

Marah Hoffman grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania. Since graduating with her bachelors in English and creative writing in 2022, she has lived in Tennessee, Michigan, and now North Carolina. She is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at University of North Carolina Wilmington and the Creative Director of Sundress Academy for the Arts. She enjoys genre fluidity, whimsicality, cats, coffee, distance running, travel, and adding to her personal lexicon. Her list of favorite words grows every week.

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

Our community partner for November is Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, an organization which often supports fundraising campaigns to support specific projects. Their goal is to raise funds necessary to help support a number of humanitarian needs, programs, and projects, including those for sick and injured children in the Middle East, regardless of their religion and without political affiliation or purpose. PCRF retains sole discretion and control over how contributed funds are used.

The situation in Gaza is urgent, and it’s one million children are suffering. The newest round of bombings there has left countless children needing immediate medical attention and basic necessities like food, water, and shelter.  Over the past 30 years, PCRF has been providing critical medical care and supplying basic necessities to those most in need.  They urgently need your help to continue their vital work and provide immediate relief to these vulnerable children. Please make a donation to support their efforts at https://pcrf1.app.neoncrm.com/forms/gaza-relief.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: One Way to Listen by Asa Drake


This selection, chosen by guest editor Sarah Clark, is from One Way to Listen by Asa Drake, released by Gold Line Press in 2022.

When A Man Sleeps with My Effigy

Another insists my best protection is property
survey flags, annexed easements, an exterior
not given over to motion. In the aisles
of the early 2000s, I would not have anticipated
my house dress going viral, thus selling out,
thus becoming so ubiquitous to dress an effigy.
A man shows me his purchase and explains
he has named it after me. Do I say this is not my body?
If that is not enough, I go inside, house myself
in accumulation so precious as to have survived
eight apartments. Wrap my actual body in knife pleats
set each week by a lover’s hand. Shimmy
into inherited brocade, smocked stiff as the grave.
This is not to say an effigy cannot be made,
but what is a body rendered without detail,
and I am a woman who hates to be naked.

Asa Drake is a Filipina American poet and writer in Central Florida. She has received fellowships and awards from the 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest, Tin House and Idyllwild Arts. Her chapbook, One Way to Listen (2023), was selected by Taneum Bambrick as the winner of Gold Line Press’s 2021 Poetry Chapbook Contest. Her most recent poems can be found in The American Poetry Review, Michigan Quarterly Review: Mixtape and Waxwing.

Sarah Clark is a mad crip genderfuck two-spirit enrolled Nanticoke editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at ANMLY, Editor-in-Chief at ALOCASIA: a journal of queer plant-based writing, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2024) and the Bettering American Poetry series, and a current Board member and Assistant Editor at Sundress Publications. They have edited folios for publications including the GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms at ANMLY. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations, including the Best of the Net anthology, contemptorary, Curious Specimens, #PoetsResist at Glass Poetry, Apogee Journal, Blackbird, the Paris Review, and elsewhere.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: One Way to Listen by Asa Drake


This selection, chosen by guest editor Sarah Clark, is from One Way to Listen by Asa Drake, released by Gold Line Press in 2022.

Letter to My Younger Self

When I see men digging clay beside the confederate
monument, I want to know if this is where we bury
unspecific history. Make it look easy.

Lately, I worry. Today I was told
most mixed-race women die in fiction, which implies
that the living version of myself is difficult

for others to imagine. Today a crossing light,
swallowed by the rainy season, joined the number
of things I’ve touched that fall into sinkholes. All space

I didn’t know I was risking. I worry a great deal
about the unimportant ways you busy your hands.
Get thee to a dry cleaner, my love.

Let someone else play human. The woman behind me
can’t stand to look. Who could do that every day, she says,
like each night I boil moths myself and spin silk.

Asa Drake is a Filipina American poet and writer in Central Florida. She has received fellowships and awards from the 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest, Tin House and Idyllwild Arts. Her chapbook, One Way to Listen (2023), was selected by Taneum Bambrick as the winner of Gold Line Press’s 2021 Poetry Chapbook Contest. Her most recent poems can be found in The American Poetry Review, Michigan Quarterly Review: Mixtape and Waxwing.

Sarah Clark is a mad crip genderfuck two-spirit enrolled Nanticoke editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at ANMLY, Editor-in-Chief at ALOCASIA: a journal of queer plant-based writing, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2024) and the Bettering American Poetry series, and a current Board member and Assistant Editor at Sundress Publications. They have edited folios for publications including the GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms at ANMLY. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations, including the Best of the Net anthology, contemptorary, Curious Specimens, #PoetsResist at Glass Poetry, Apogee Journal, Blackbird, the Paris Review, and elsewhere.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Book Eaters by Carolina Hotchandani


This selection, chosen by guest editor Sarah Clark, is from The Book Eaters by Carolina Hotchandani, released by Perugia Press in 2023.

POSSIBLE CONSOLATION OF A BRAIN SCAN’S TOPOGRAPHY

On the scan: a flattened ridge, a valley grown wide—
a smoothness that explains

the gaps.

My father and I took a road trip once—
California through the Rockies
to the Great Plains.

The outer layer of his brain
is like Nebraska, where I
live now.

I could find comfort in this:
flat land surrounds me,
blanketed with corn.

He doesn’t remember the trip,
but he’s here with me
anyhow.

Carolina Hotchandani is a Latinx/South Asian poet born in Brazil and raised in various parts of the United States. Her debut poetry collection The Book Eaters won the 2023 Perugia Press Prize and was released in September 2023. Hotchandani holds degrees from Brown, Texas State, and Northwestern universities. Her honors include scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Rona Jaffe Foundation, Community of Writers, Tin House Writers’ Workshop, and Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Her poetry has appeared in AGNIAlaska Quarterly ReviewBeloit Poetry JournalBlackbird, Cincinnati ReviewMissouri ReviewPrairie Schooner, and other journals. She is a Goodrich Assistant Professor of English in Omaha, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband and daughter. 

Sarah Clark is a mad crip genderfuck two-spirit enrolled Nanticoke editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at ANMLY, Editor-in-Chief at ALOCASIA: a journal of queer plant-based writing, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2024) and the Bettering American Poetry series, and a current Board member and Assistant Editor at Sundress Publications. They have edited folios for publications including the GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms at ANMLY. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations, including the Best of the Net anthology, contemptorary, Curious Specimens, #PoetsResist at Glass Poetry, Apogee Journal, Blackbird, the Paris Review, and elsewhere.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Book Eaters by Carolina Hotchandani


This selection, chosen by guest editor Sarah Clark, is from The Book Eaters by Carolina Hotchandani, released by Perugia Press in 2023.

HOW CAN IT BE—

my father reaching for a peach
when he ate two in the last hour.
Satiation depends on the memory
of eating, I learn. My mother 
scolds him: two dozen 
mandarins, bought yesterday,
are gone. What my father needs
is to be fed the past. I try. 
Here is my recollection of your meal: 
here, my immaterial crumbs 
of your morning bread. Pierce, 
with a fork’s tines, this slice of melon 
I make of words and offer 
to a mind that keeps rumbling. 
Time’s become a food 
your body can’t digest.

Carolina Hotchandani is a Latinx/South Asian poet born in Brazil and raised in various parts of the United States. Her debut poetry collection The Book Eaters won the 2023 Perugia Press Prize and was released in September 2023. Hotchandani holds degrees from Brown, Texas State, and Northwestern universities. Her honors include scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Rona Jaffe Foundation, Community of Writers, Tin House Writers’ Workshop, and Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Her poetry has appeared in AGNIAlaska Quarterly ReviewBeloit Poetry JournalBlackbird, Cincinnati ReviewMissouri ReviewPrairie Schooner, and other journals. She is a Goodrich Assistant Professor of English in Omaha, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband and daughter. 

Sarah Clark is a mad crip genderfuck two-spirit enrolled Nanticoke editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at ANMLY, Editor-in-Chief at ALOCASIA: a journal of queer plant-based writing, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2024) and the Bettering American Poetry series, and a current Board member and Assistant Editor at Sundress Publications. They have edited folios for publications including the GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms at ANMLY. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations, including the Best of the Net anthology, contemptorary, Curious Specimens, #PoetsResist at Glass Poetry, Apogee Journal, Blackbird, the Paris Review, and elsewhere.

Doubleback Books Announces the Release of Michael Meyerhofer’s What To Do If You’re Buried Alive

Doubleback Books announces the release of Michael Meyerhofer’s What To Do If You’re Buried Alive. The poems in this collection are tenderly masculine, self-deprecating and humorous. They are the poems of an adult male poet looking back at childhood and puberty with anything  but rose-colored glasses. He shows us how we see ourselves often through time—with a mixture of cringe and understanding.

Mary Biddinger, author of A Sunny Place with Adequate Water, writes, “With a compassionate eye, and his trademark sense of humor that hooks readers from the very first page, Meyerhofer sends us back to our earliest memories, and shows us a world of heartbreak and wonder.” And Jon Tribble, author of Natural State, adds “Through pain and loss, Meyerhofer’s poems are harrowing prayers searching for ‘the charms of language’ that might lead to forgiveness, to redemption, to love.”

Download your copy of What To Do If You’re Buried Alive today!

Michael Meyerhofer is the author of five poetry books, six poetry chapbooks, and two fantasy trilogies. He has won the James Wright Poetry Award, the Liam Rector First Book Prize, the Whirling Prize, and other honors. He earned his B.A. from the University of Iowa and his M.F.A. from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He grew up in Iowa, where he learned the value of reading novels, lifting weights, and not getting his hopes up. He currently serves as the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review and lives in Fresno, California. For more information and at least one embarrassing childhood photo, visit www.troublewithhammers.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Book Eaters by Carolina Hotchandani


This selection, chosen by guest editor Sarah Clark, is from The Book Eaters by Carolina Hotchandani, released by Perugia Press in 2023.

THE BOOK EATERS

My envy of the insects took me by surprise.

Whether they spotted “a spike of wheat”
or “the barren soil” in a field of words,
they found no difference:

The letter became a crumb.
The sentence became a loaf.

Blank margins metamorphosed into a soil
ever-fecund, ever-teeming with crops
as larval bodies translated
pages into food and themselves
into the winged stage.

As the baby drinks my milk,
I read. I wait to harvest
from ideas my sustenance.

I wait for my new selves to come.

Carolina Hotchandani is a Latinx/South Asian poet born in Brazil and raised in various parts of the United States. Her debut poetry collection The Book Eaters won the 2023 Perugia Press Prize and was released in September 2023. Hotchandani holds degrees from Brown, Texas State, and Northwestern universities. Her honors include scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Rona Jaffe Foundation, Community of Writers, Tin House Writers’ Workshop, and Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Her poetry has appeared in AGNIAlaska Quarterly ReviewBeloit Poetry JournalBlackbird, Cincinnati ReviewMissouri ReviewPrairie Schooner, and other journals. She is a Goodrich Assistant Professor of English in Omaha, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband and daughter. 

Sarah Clark is a mad crip genderfuck two-spirit enrolled Nanticoke editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at ANMLY, Editor-in-Chief at ALOCASIA: a journal of queer plant-based writing, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2024) and the Bettering American Poetry series, and a current Board member and Assistant Editor at Sundress Publications. They have edited folios for publications including the GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms at ANMLY. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations, including the Best of the Net anthology, contemptorary, Curious Specimens, #PoetsResist at Glass Poetry, Apogee Journal, Blackbird, the Paris Review, and elsewhere.

Sundress Academy for the Arts Now Accepting Editorial Internship Applications for Spring 2024

The Sundress Academy for the Arts at Firefly Farms, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is seeking an Editorial Intern for a six-month position. Each part-time position would consist of approximately 5-10 hours of work per week and run from January 5th, 2023 to July 1st, 2024. All applicants must be local to the greater Knoxville, TN area.

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an entirely volunteer-run organization that hosts residencies, workshops, and retreats centered on creative writing in all genres. Located on a 45-acre farm twenty minutes from downtown Knoxville, SAFTA’s mission is to give writers of all levels a chance to work with nationally renowned professionals in their field as well as uninterrupted time to focus on their creative work. 

The Editorial Intern’s responsibilities include the preparation of documents necessary to run an independent writer’s residency, such as writing press releases, composing blogs, proofreading, working with social media (Facebook, WordPress, etc.), collating editorial and residency data, research, and more.  The intern will also be needed to help facilitate Zoom readings and events. 

Preferred qualifications include:

• A keen eye for proof-reading

• Strong written communication skills 

• Experience with WordPress, Zoom, Google Sheets, and/or other online mediums

• Knowledge of contemporary literature a plus

While the internship position is unpaid, our staff gain real-world experience in working with online event planning, nonprofit management, running a residency, communications, and more while creating a portfolio of work for future employment. SAFTA staff work alongside members of both the local and national literary community through workshops and readings, which staff are able to attend for free during their tenure with the organization. 

To apply, please send a resume and a brief cover letter detailing your interest in the position to the Staff Director, Z Eihausen, at saftastaffdirector@gmail.com. Applications are due by Thursday, November 30th, 2023.

For more information, visit our website at www.sundressacademyforthearts.com

Sundress Reads: Review of Almonds Are Members of the Peach Family Review

Stephanie Sauer’s Almonds are Members of the Peach Family (Noemi Press, 2019) is a masterful multimedia project that weaves together prose and craftsmanship, bringing light to buried historical narratives. While this is her second traditional prose book, Sauer also has multiple art books that demonstrate her experience with a wide variety of mediums, such as quilting, archiving other’s works, and stitching, specifically of clothing. Her writing is skillful, untangling her family’s history, but it merely accompanies the quilt she crafts throughout the book, the true star of the show. This quilt serves as a work of healing as she begins to reconcile the history all around her. 

From the first paragraph, Sauer establishes the idea of quilting as suture, a word typically used for stitches used to hold a wound together. Her first chapter, “Patchwork” opens with pictures of the messy back stitching of something Sauer has sewed. Counterposing these images, Sauer moves readers to Rio, one of the many places the author has lived through her travels. She describes the city as hungry, its sharp mouths constantly searching for bones and blood. She writes, “I bump into one on the way to buy groceries and it slices my arm. I hold the cut with my opposing hand and an incision form from the inside of my skin, letting air in but no blood out” (Sauer 4). Sauer uses suture here to refer to her attempts to find healing via crafting. 

She returns to the concept again on page 103, acknowledging that she can not be the first woman to make this connection. Sauer always makes sure to credit those who came before, saying, “Education, I find, has less to do with knowing things and more to do with the crafting and recrafting of oneself” (Sauer 104). She references Dr. Gladys-Marie Fy’s Preface to Stitched from the Soul: Slave Quilts from the Ante-Bellum South, which documents how slave women would quilt their diaries due to being denied traditional educations.

As a whole, Almonds are Members of the Peach Family pulls historical vignettes through time. Sauer carefully intertwines the story of her grandparents with her own life. Their lives mostly exist in Nevada County, California, where readers are introduced to the version of her grandmother, or Billimae, that Sauer is most familiar with—the caretaker: “She ladles the brine into a bowl and serves it with oyster crackers. She spreads the heart with a butter knife on toast and tells the child to eat, to help herself to more” (Sauer 8). Sauer’s writing peels back these small, tender moments for readers to reveal their quiet intimacy. 

The descriptions are transparently honest, transitioning from the above heart-wrenching moment of connection between a younger Sauer and her grandmother, to her grandmother’s description of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband. The transition is jarring, laying out her Grandpa’s veteran status and referencing a friend once saying, “‘Where is my purple heart? My father got one in Vietnam, but what about the rest of us who still have to fight the war he brought back home?’” (Sauer 9). The audience isn’t spared her grandparents’ suffering, and by the end of the section readers are primed to see Sauer coping by way of the sound of her sewing machine. 

The collection expands as it continues, becoming less interdisciplinary and more plain prose as Sauer tells Billimae’s tale. Here, the writing is truly given a chance to breathe comfortably, showcasing every side of Billimae, even the uglier ones. “It is family shorthand to call Grandma crazy. The screaming, the secrets, the lies, the sneaking of sweet things into hidden places all over the house, into her mouth. The cussing at and blaming of Grandpa for everything,” Sauer explains (59). The family villainizes this woman in her old age, some waving away any mention of domestic abuse towards her as fabricated. Sauer writes, “Now, Grandma is crazy because calling her this is easier on us. Pinning it on the woman excuses our own complicity in the normalizing of her pain” (59). She criticizes this simplification of everything her grandmother is, recognizing the depth in her past that has shaped her into who she is now. 

Sauer is constantly reckoning with her history and family lineage, crafting and writing in an attempt to find some kind of answer. Between stories, readers watch her turn “pulp into pages… stitch linen thread between their creases and bind them to one another” (Sauer 71). Her language around the act is gorgeous, finding imagery in the household chores she idolizes through her words, reclaiming work that patriarchal society deems less than. For example, “I haul up bones from the river and sit, listen to the screaming left in them. I hold up each bone to the light, wipe it clean of debris, realign it back into its skeletal form” (Sauer 146). While her word choice turns morbid at points, it only adds to the passion behind her work and her desire to make something of it all.

Things do not end for Sauer here. After uncovering the bones from the graveyard, one can never truly be the same. Seams weaken over time, and eventually they’ll need to be reinforced: “I wake up late (6:50am), read for a few hours. I make coffee, toast a slice of bread, scrub the sink with borax, shoo away ants, re-hang the quilt, write in my slip, alternate between pushing back and suturing a heartache” (Sauer 149). In the face of it all, though, what Sauer has to do, and what we all have to do, is keep on living. 

Almonds are Members of the Peach Family is available from Noemi Press


Izzy Astuto (he/they) is a writer majoring in Creative Writing at Emerson College, with a specific interest in screenwriting. When not in Boston for college, they live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His work has previously been published by Hearth and Coffin, Sage Cigarettes, and Renesme Literary, amongst others. He currently works as an intern for Sundress Publications, and a reader for journals such as hand picked poetry, PRISM international, and Alien Magazine. You can find more of their work on their website, at https://izzyastuto.weebly.com/. Their Instagram is izzyastuto2.0 and Twitter is adivine_tragedy. 

Project Bookshelf: Jen Gayda Gupta

When my husband and I decided to move into a nineteen-foot travel trailer, we knew it would mean a major downsize. No problem, I thought, looking around at my clothes, shoes, kitchenware, and toiletries. I love the idea of living minimally and feel so much lighter when I own less. I was up for the challenge… until I got to my bookshelf. How was I supposed to narrow down my books? And where would I keep them in this tiny space?

Luckily, our camper came complete with this perfect, bookshelf-shaped storage area below the bed. Storage space is extremely valuable (we typically only buy single rolls of toilet paper because there is nowhere to store extra). At first I tried to fill only half of the shelf with books and save the other half for camping gear. But that plan didn’t last long. It is now fully stocked and held in place with this nifty little tension rod-turned-book seatbelt so that nothing gets squished when we lift and lower the bed.

Most of the books I have with me are poetry since that is what I read and re-read most often. I have read most of these books at least three times. Whenever I am reminded of a poem I love, I pull up the bed and dig through my collections to find it. I also re-read my favorite collections when I need some inspiration to get writing in the morning. That is why it feels crucial to keep them all with me. I also keep a few can’t-live-without craft books (like Ordinary Genius by Kim Addonizio and Structure & Surprise by Michael Theune) for when I feel stuck writing or editing.

I am less sentimental about my fiction books and often only keep one or two at a time, donating them when I am done. I am currently reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert so it stays in this little basket by the bed. I also use my iPad for reading when I can’t find a book I am looking for at a local bookshop (although reading on a screen is very much not preferred, it is a huge space saver).

The rest of my precious books live in boxes in a storage unit near my parent’s house. When things get a little bloated in my bookshelf, I will load my suitcase with books before a flight home and transfer them to storage. I often end up bringing a book or two back with me.

As much as I love living on the road, sometimes I daydream about settling into a home and having a huge library. My dream is to have one of those libraries with floor to ceiling bookshelves and a rolling ladder to reach the top. In this dream, I get to keep all the books I love and never have to put one in storage only to decide weeks later that it is exactly what I want to read. Until then, my little hidden bookshelf will do.


Jen Gayda Gupta is a poet, educator, and wanderer. She earned her BA in English at the University of Connecticut and her MA in Teaching English from New York University. She lives, writes, and travels across the U.S. in a tiny camper with her husband and their dog. Her work has been published in Up the Staircase, Rattle, Jellyfish Review, Sky Island Journal, The Shore, and others. You can find her @jengaydagupta and jengaydagupta.com.