SAFTA Reading Series Presents Darren Jackson and Andra Watkins

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June 21, 2015 at 3:00PM

Birdhouse Knoxville

800 N 4th Ave, Knoxville, Tennessee 37917

Knoxville, TN– Sundress Academy for the Arts is proud to present the June edition of the award-winning SAFTA Reading Series featuring visiting writers Darren Jackson and Andra Watkins!

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Darren Jackson’s recent poems have appeared in The Pinch, The Laurel Review, The Offending Adam, Bluestem, and other journals. He has also translated Life in the Folds by Henri Michaux (Wakefield P, forthcoming Fall 2016); “The White Globe,” an essay by Bertrand Westphal, included in the The Planetary Turn: Art, Dialogue, and Geoaesthetics in the 21st-Century (Northwestern UP, 2015); and, with Marilyn Kallet and J. Bradford Anderson, Chantal Bizzini’s Disenchanted City (Black Widow Press, 2015). He was nominated for a Pushcart for fiction in 2015 and holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee.

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Andra Watkins is the author of the memoir Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, nominated for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Her other works include her debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis and the photography collection Natchez Trace: Tracks in Time.

The SAFTA Reading Series is free and open to the public! We look forward to seeing you there!

SAFTA Reading Series Presents Meagan Cass & Shannon Hardwick

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KNOXVILLE, TNSundress Academy for the Arts is pleased to announce a fantastic summer reading by Meagan Cass and Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick! This installment of the award-winning SAFTA Reading Series will be held at the Birdhouse (800 North 4th Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37917) on Thursday, May 28th at 7:00 PM. Join Sundress Academy for the Arts in welcoming these wonderful writers to the stage for a night of reading and entertainment.

Meagan CassMeagan Cass is the author of Range of Motion (Magic Helicopter Press), and her fiction has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Pinch, DIAGRAM, Washington Square, and Puerto del Sol. Meagan Cass is an assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Springfield, where she teaches courses in creative writing, publishing, literature, and composition. She founded the Shelterbelt Reading Series at UIS and serves as an assistant editor at Sundress Publications, coordinating fiction for the Best of the Net anthology. Over the last ten years, she has done editorial work for a range of national literary journals, including Stirring, Harpur Palate, and Rougarou, of which she is a founding editor.

Shannon Elizabeth HardwickShannon Elizabeth Hardwick received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her manuscript was a finalist for the Levis Prize in poetry and her chapbook was recently released by Thrush Press. She is an associate poetry editor for The Boiler Journal. Her work has appeared in collections such as 3:AM Magazine, Night Train, Versal, Sugar House Review, Four Way Review, among others.

All interested parties are encouraged to attend this latest installment of the engaging, award-winning SAFTA Reading Series. This will not be an event to miss! SAFTA welcomes everyone to the Birdhouse for this fantastic early summer reading!


The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an artists’ residency program on a 45-acre farm in Knoxville, Tennessee, that hosts workshops, retreats, and residencies for writers, actors, filmmakers, and visual artists. All events are guided by professional instructors from a variety of creative disciplines who are dedicated to cultivating the arts in Eastern Tennessee.

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SAFTA Films and Birdhouse Theater Present…

Open Screen Night Featuring Locally Shot Film, Macbeth!



On Monday, November 24th, the Birdhouse Walk-In Theater and SAFTA Films will be proudly showing the film Macbeth, directed by Rob Simpson, as a part of their monthly Open Screen Nights. In support of local and regional filmmakers, The Birdhouse and SAFTA Films curate these screenings to provide a space for Knoxville artists to showcase their work for free to an audience. The screenings take place on the last Monday of every month at 7:45PM.

In this post-apocalyptic iteration of Shakespeare’s tragedy, shot completely in Knoxville and the surrounding areas, Macbeth is a powerful general in the king’s army who receives a vision that he will be king from a trio of witches. Taking destiny into his own hands he and his vicious wife, Lady Macbeth, plot the murder of their king. In the murders wake Macbeth and Lady Macbeth scramble to maintain a hold of their newfound throne. Facing rebellion on all sides, the tyrant Macbeth stops at nothing to silence all those who oppose his rule.

Director Rob Simpson majored in English literature at the University of Tennessee before going on to attend the New York Film Academy. After producing a number of short films in New York City, he moved back to Knoxville to work in film and television. Before Macbeth, he had produced and directed two other original versions of Shakespeare’s plays: Hamlet and Twelfth Night.

This screening will also showcase short films by Knoxville filmmakers John Fairstein, Mitch Moore, Cary Wolfe, Jacob Boyd, and Clinton Elmore.

Open Screen Nights take place at the Birdhouse Community Center in the Fourth and Gill Neighborhood in North Knoxville. The Walk-In Theater also holds screenings of popular movies every Monday night beginning at 8PM. All screenings are free and open to the public, though donations are always accepted. Free popcorn is provided.

If you are a filmmaker and would like to have your work featured at an Open Screen Night, the Birdhouse and SAFTA Films are accepting submissions for the 2015 season. Contact Blake Wahlert at and Vania Smrkovski at for more information on how to submit.

Sundress Academy for the Arts Reading Series Presents Maureen Thorson and Darius Stewart


Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present Maureen Thorson and Darius Stewart for the November award winning SAFTA reading series. The event will be held at The Birdhouse (800 N 4th Ave, Knoxville, TN 37917) at 3 PM on Sunday, November 9th.

Maureen Thorson is the author of two books of poetry, My Resignation (Shearsman 2014) and Applies to Oranges (Ugly Duckling 2011), as well as a number of chapbooks and pamphlets, most recently A Good Attitude (Flying Object 2014). She lives in Washington, DC, where she is the poetry editor for Open Letters Monthly.

Darius Stewart is the author of three chapbooks: The Terribly Beautiful (2006) and Sotto Voce (2008)—each of which were Editor’s Choice Selections in the Main Street Rag Poetry Chapbook Series—and The Ghost the Night Becomes (2014), winner of the 2013 Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Competition. He holds an honors B.A. in English from the University of Tennessee and an M.F.A. from the Michener Center for Writers, where he was a James A. Michener fellow in poetry. He is also a former fellow of the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets. His poems, reviews, and interviews have appeared in publications including Callaloo, Meridian, Lambda Book Report, CutBank, Cerise Press, The Seattle Review, Poet Lore, Best Gay Poetry 2008, two volumes of the Southern Poetry Anthology, and Verse Daily. He is a contributing editor for Grist and currently lives in Knoxville, TN.

The SAFTA Reading Series is an award-winning literary reading series that is held monthly at 3PM at The Birdhouse near The Old City in downtown Knoxville. Writers from all over the country are invited to visit and read from their work.

SAFTA Reading Series to Host Eric Scott Sutherland & Matthew Haughton


The SAFTA Reading Series is an award-winning literary reading series that is held monthly at The Birdhouse Community Center on the corner of Fourth and Gill.

Writers from all over the country are invited to visit and read from their work. Past performers have included Nick McRae, Emilia Phillips, Karen Skolfield, Amy Wright, Alan May, Jan LaPerle, Marilyn Kallet, T.A. Noonan, Darren C. Demaree, Joseph Bathanti, Kevin Brown, Leigh Anne Hornfeldt, and Sarah Einstein. 

This month will feature a dynamic reading from Matthew Haughton and Eric Scott Sutherland.

Matthew Haughton’s latest book of poetry is Stand in the Stillness of Woods (WordTech Editions). His chapbook, Bee-coursing Box (Accents Publications), was nominated for the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry Book of the Year. His poems have appeared in many journals including Appalachian Heritage, Now & Then, The Four Way Review, Still, Stirring, Border Crossing, and The Louisville Review. He is currently a student at the Bread Loaf School of English, where he is on a generous fellowship from the C.E. and S. Foundation. Haughton works as a school teacher in his native Kentucky.

Known for his high-energy readings, Eric Scott Sutherland is the epitome of a working class poet. He is an ISA Certified Arborist, a community/event organizer, and author of two chapbooks and two full length collections: incommunicado and his latest, pendulum. He is the creator and host of Holler Poets Series, a monthly celebration of literature and music since 2008. In 2011, he was officially proclaimed Poet Laureate of Al’s Bar, the home venue for Holler. Eric makes his home in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky.

Support the literary arts in Knoxville at this free event on Sunday, September 7th from 3PM to 4:30PM at The Birdhouse!

Sundress Presents… Sandra Marchetti and Sarah Einstein on July 20!

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Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present Sandra Marchetti and Sarah Einstein as a part of their July Reading Series. The event will take place at The Birdhouse, 800 N 4th Ave in Knoxville, on July 20 at 3:00PM.

Sandra Marchetti’s debut full-length collection of poems, Confluence, will be published in Gold Wake Press’ 2014 Print Series. An illustrated fine press edition of her essays and poetry entitled, A Detail in the Landscape, is also forthcoming from Eating Dog Press. Sandy is the author of a chapbook, The Canopy, available from Midwest Writing Center Press, and has served as the Guest Editor of Stirring: A Literary Collection. She won Second Prize in Prick of the Spindle’s 2014 Poetry Open and her poems appear in The Journal, Subtropics, The Hollins Critic, Sugar House Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, Green Mountains Review, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland and elsewhere.

Sarah Einstein lives in Athens, OH, where she is a PhD student in Creative Nonfiction at Ohio University. Her work has previously appeared in Ninth Letter, Fringe Magazine, PANK, and other journals, and has been awarded a Pushcart Prize. Her micro-collection, Remnants of Passion, was published by Shebooks on June 25th. She was recently announced as this year’s winner of the AWP Creative Nonfiction Prize for her manuscript, Mot: A Memoir.


Flyer by our wonderful graphic design intern, Megan Magray!

SAFTA Reading Series Presents Joseph Bathanti, Kevin Brown, & Erin Elizabeth Smith



The SAFTA Reading Series is excited to be hosting the Southern launch of the anthology, St. Peter’s B-List: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints from Ave Maria Press!  The reading be hosted by The Birdhouse, on the corner of Fourth and Gill, at 3PM on June 8th, 2014.  Anthology contributors Joseph Bathanti, Kevin Brown, & Erin Elizabeth Smith will be reading from their work and have books available for sale after as well as copies of the anthology itself.

Joseph Bathanti is the Poet Laureate of North Carolina. He is the author of eight books of poetry: Communion Partners, Anson County, The Feast of All Saints, This Metal (nominated for the National Book Award), Land of Amnesia, Restoring Sacred Art (winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize), Sonnets of the Cross, and a new collection, Concertina, from Mercer University Press. His novel, East Liberty, won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award. His latest novel, Coventry, won the 2006 Novello Literary Award. His book of stories, The High Heart, won the 2006 Spokane Prize. His new novel, The Life of the World to Come, is forthcoming in 2014 from University of South Carolina Press. His collection of personal essays, Half of What I Say Is Meaningless, winner of the 2012 Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction, is forthcoming from Mercer University Press. Bathanti is Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University.

Kevin Brown is a Professor at Lee University.  He has published two books of poetry–A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press) and Exit Lines (Plain View Press, 2009)–and two chapbooks: Abecedarium (Finishing Line Press, 2011) and Holy Days: Poems (winner of Split Oak Press Chapbook Contest, 2011).  He also has a memoir Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again (Wipf and Stock, 2012), and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories:  Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels (Kennesaw State University Press, 2012). He received his MFA from Murray State University.

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011).  Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review.  She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.