Meet Our New Reading Series Coordinator: Brynn Martin

As a born-and-raised Kansan, nothing could have prepared me for a rainy-evening drive down curving Tennessee roads to a little house in a holler just outside of Knoxville.

I’d been invited to a SAFTA workshop by Luci Brown, who I met and became friends with through our MFA program at the University of Tennessee. I was new to the state, new to graduate school, and aching for more friends, so I agreed to tag along. I’d heard something about Sundress and a farm from other people in the program, but it wasn’t until we pulled up to the property that I started to get it. I was charmed by the rain-soaked leaves covering the paving stones that lead to the front porch and even more enchanted with what was inside the house – a cozy living room full of other writers excited to talk about craft and generous enough to provide me, a newbie to poetry, with feedback on my work.

The weekly workshop was the gateway to my time with SAFTA and has remained a consistent part of my weekly schedule. Even so, it was the people who kept me coming back and who pulled me further in to the community of writers connected to Sundress. I got involved in Stirring as a guest editor, with Firefly Farms as a diligent-if-untrained farmhand and professional ATV driver, and I’m thrilled to now serve as SAFTA’s reading series Coordinator.

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I fell into indifference with poetry in high school because of AP English classes, but that indifference was transformed into adoration when, during my senior year, a teacher introduced me to spoken word. My commitment to poetry and writing has snowballed since then, becoming a Bachelor’s degree in English and then a Master’s in poetry. My studies informed my desire to make poetry more accessible to a broader audience; poetry is dreamy and I want to share it with everyone. Through my work with SAFTA, I hope to do just that.

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When I’m not hanging out with my SAFTA pals or attempting to write poetry, I’m with my cat, Luna, who is objectively the most beautiful cat there’s ever been. I also enjoy painting, watching Game of Thrones and Parks and Recreation, witty banter, and pretending to know things about interior design and tequila.

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Brynn Martin is a Kansas native living in Knoxville, where she recently received her MFA in poetry from the University of Tennessee. Her poetry has appeared in Public Pool and Contrary Magazine. She loves ee cummings and cats almost equally.

Introducing Lauren Perlaki, Sundress’s Newest Editorial Intern


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As a west side transplant from Downriver, MI, I have discovered how deep my love goes for Coney Islands. And three lane highways. They just don’t have them on the west side. I’ve concluded these must be east side things.

Following my senior year of high school, I crossed the state to attend Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI. Now a senior at K, I am studying art history, media studies, and creative writing. In a year’s time, I hope to be pursuing my MFA in poetry.

I don’t remember when I started to write, I just know that I always have. Stories, poems, journal entries—honestly, I probably have enough journals kicking around to fill a small bookcase. In 9th grade, I had an English teacher who was the first to give me a proper introduction to poetry, and that was it—my first love (poetry, not my teacher). 

In writing, I have found success, failure, opportunity, and community. Writing, specifically poetry, has allowed me to spend a brief stint in NYC, interning with the PEN American Center and Poets House. Writing has given me the opportunity to intern with the Kalamazoo Book Art Center’s poetry reading series, and to claim the title of co-editor-in-chief of K’s literary and visual arts magazine, The Cauldron. Through the written word, I have had the privilege of getting to know so many neat people and places. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. 

Aside from reading and writing, I enjoy going for walks, writing music, and sitting down to watch a good documentary with some quality company. And coffee. I really love coffee.

As a megafan of the written word, and an advocate of literary reform, I am absolutely delighted to be working with Sundress Publications as an editorial intern. I am grateful for this opportunity, and can’t wait to see where this work will take me.

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 Lauren Perlaki is a senior at Kalamazoo College double majoring in Art History and English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She is also pursuing a concentration in Media Studies. When she isn’t furiously working to meet a deadline, or cramming 500+ years worth of art into her noggin, she can be found singing with her a cappella group, searching for a decent cup of coffee, or going on about how great the music scene is in Kalamazoo. She is a co-editor-in-chief of Kalamazoo College’s annually published literary and visual arts magazine, The Cauldron, and a lover of modernist literature.

By Fluorescent Light: An Introduction to Kristen Figgins, Intern

KFigg 2My husband is an amateur historian, so I spend a lot of time thinking about medieval villages, where people participated in rigorous apprenticeships before entering into a vocation themselves.  We both know, my husband and I, that the medieval period wasn’t laugh-a-minute, that people generally lived hard lives with plenty of religious festivals to break up the monotony of blacksmithing (or whatever it was you did) with a play depicting the death of some saint.  But we still complain that, you know, those guys were onto something.  Internships, apprenticeships, those are the way to go.

I sit here at my desk, lit not by candlelight but by six bright fluorescents, on the first day of school, someone lecturing in a classroom across the hall, much too loud, and I think about my good fortune.  I’m one of the newest editorial interns at Sundress Publications, and even though I have gotten used to be being the teacher, I’m going to have an opportunity to be a learner again.  I’ve always been fascinated by the publishing industry, which, as a writer, no matter how much I learn or how familiar I get with the process of submission, still seems like a mystery cult, shrouded in trade secrets and behind-the-scenes stuff.  Getting my acceptance email from Jane Huffman felt like being told that I was to be inducted into the Illuminati, like looking at a medieval map and seeing “Here be dragons” and saying, yes, yes, please.  

Except, of course, it isn’t. Everyone is very polite and there don’t seem to be any rituals involved in this business of publishing, at least not yet.  But I am an apprentice to the trade now, it feels, and I’m already learning a lot.  I was able to read an advance copy of Xochitl-Julisa Bergera’s Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge.  It was beautiful and amazing and it did feel like a secret that was being whispered to me.  I put together a series of questions for Xochitl-Julisa that will be used in an interview, which did feel a bit like pulling back a curtain.  

My recommendation, in the twenty-first century, to all of you who are not time travelers of the medieval period, is that when you see a listing for an internship position, to reach out and grab it with both hands.  You might just find yourself at Sundress Publications, like I did, sitting at your desk and feeling yourself very lucky to be learning the secrets of a beautiful, mysterious, and fascinating trade.  

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Kristen Figgins is a writer of fabulism, whose work has appeared in such places as Dunes Review, Zoetic Press, The Gateway Review, Puerto del Sol, Sleet Magazine, Hermeneutic Chaos, Sakura Review, and The Whale Road Review.  Her story “Track Me With Your Words, Speak Me With Your Feet” was winner of the 2015 Fiction Award fromPuerto del Sol and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Micro Award, and Write Well Award.  Her first chapbook, A Narrow Line of Light, is available for purchase from Boneset Books and her novella, Nesting, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in the Summer of 2017.

Meet Our Newest Intern, Brianna McNish

IMG_0170Hi! I’m Brianna, and I’m thrilled to join the Sundress team as an Editorial Intern this fall. I recently finished my freshman year of college, and I’m eagerly awaiting to begin my sophomore year studying Shakespeare and contemporary writers at the University of Connecticut as an English major.

Although I spent most of my adolescence dabbling with poetry and novel writing, I’m a short-fiction writer at heart. Lately, my writing has been undergoing a metamorphosis; my initial love of realistic fiction recently branched out into uncharted, magical realism territory, and is filled with girls made out of lightning and an assortment of fairy tale creatures. Also, I have been studying the art of flash fiction and the importance of containing my writing into tiny, profound details.

My biggest literary inspiration is Helen Oyeyemi (particularly her latest short story anthology, What is Not Yours is Not Yours), James Baldwin, Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi, Ocean Vuong, Aricka Foreman, and many others. I am also in the process of compiling short-short fiction pieces that center around a postapocalyptic, fabulist world about drowning women.

When I’m not reading or writing, you can find me using chalk as a medium for my latest artwork, obsessing over Sherlock, talking about astronomy and social justice issues, as well as expressing my love for Broadway musicals.

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Brianna McNish is an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut studying literature and film. Her fiction previously appeared in Juked, Unbroken, among others, including the 2016 longlist for Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fictions.

Laura B. Robbins Introduction

Hi, everybody! I’m Laura, and I’m so excited to join the Sundress team as a Development Intern.

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. I’m incredibly proud of my city, and yes, I think our BBQ is the best. I have a love of books and reading, and one day, I hope to work as an editor for a major publishing house. My love of reading stemmed from my parents, both journalists who take the written word very seriously.

While I spend a good portion of my time reading books or writing about books, I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends, watching a little too much Netflix, fawning over kittens, and online shoe shopping.

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Laura Robbins, a Memphis native, is a senior at the University of Tennessee studying English Literature. For the last year, she has worked at UT’s library in Special Collections. When she isn’t writing papers or reading books for class, Laura enjoys buying more books than she has the room for and discussing anything from feminism to the latest superhero movie.