As an English major at the University of Tennessee and an intermittent reader of The Metro Pulse, I have been vaguely aware of Sundress Academy for the Arts since I moved to Knoxville in 2011.
It wasn’t until this summer at Knoxville PrideFest, however, that I spoke to a Sundress Academy staff member who persuaded me to attend my first SAFTA event—the 2014 OUTSpoken staged reading. The reading sounded unique and fresh, particularly for East Tennessee, so I rounded up a group of friends to accompany me. When I arrived, I was delighted to see that I knew one of the performers and several members of the audience.
The performers were excellent and the material genuine. One piece, a series of open letters written by a close friend, moved me to tears. Unfortunately, I only got to see the first 20 minutes or so of the OUTSpoken reading. About a third of the way through, I felt a feeling in my stomach that I at first mistook for some physical manifestation of the emotions I was experiencing. It soon became apparent that it was more likely the unfriendly mingling of the coffee and salsa I had ingested earlier that day, and I ran to the restroom where I promptly vomited.
I tell this story not to make some strange point about the poignancy of spoken word or to share a cautionary tale of which acidic foods are most incompatible. I tell this story to share this remarkable coincidence and how I overcame some fairly negative associations when this internship position fell into my lap this fall and I delightedly snatched it up.
I am currently a reluctant and unseasoned writer, and I hope that my impending work with Sundress Publications as the Editorial Intern will assist me in quelling uncertainties—which sometimes cause me to feel like I did the night of the OUTSpoken reading—regarding sharing my writing with others. I cannot think of a better community of artists to mingle and network with, and I look forward to attending many more (hopefully sans vomit) SAFTA events.
Alexandra Chiasson is majoring in English (Literature and Technical Communication) at the University of Tennessee, where she also writes a weekly humor column called “Stained and Confused” for the student-led newspaper. Her ongoing research project explores ecofeminist perspectives on Appalachian literature, with a focus on the writing of Amy Greene and Ron Rash. Her hobbies include serving on the Sex Week UT planning board, sampling different types of pretzels, and bragging about bargains.