Sundress Reads: A Review of Matryoshka Houses

Matryoshka Houses

Reading Matryoshka Houses in the Midwest suburbs is like reading Mary Oliver in Provincetown, or Frank O’Hara in New York, or Flannery O’Connor in the Deep South. They just make everything you’re looking at more beautiful, more important somehow. I’m not convinced that’s because Lynn Pattison wrote the collection with my city-planned exurb in mind, or simply because I am surrounded by houses.

It may be true that any place surrounded by homes is a place rich with the textures and dualities of the human experience, the unscrutinized beauty of a hundred little lives—big lives, to the ones living them. I find this dichotomy so profound, that as I look across the street to the house parallel to mine, I see the husband through the window. I watch their fluffy white Samoyed jumping up and down, and I find everything there so tangible, so easy to process and comprehend. By contrast, in my own, everything is out of proportion. I cannot make sense of this life I am experiencing, its complexities virtuous and maddening. Yet, from the view across the street, through their window, I am a college kid on my little computer sipping tea and watching the light come in. I bet you I am very small to him, too. This smallness and bigness is what Pattinson acutely capitalizes on in her stunning collection, an amalgamation of life, of objects, of characters and props, of a three dimensional, fully formed human experience as lived through distinct setting. A picture of life through the home.

  When tackling as huge a subject as the metaphor of a house, there is much to be said about taking it apart, dissecting this monster of a motif into digestible pieces of imagery—a hairbrush here, a litter box there, an empty milk carton, etc. That is one way to illustrate a personhood. Yet, Pattinson seems to argue against this methodology, especially with early lines of “Elusive”: “The story / of home can’t be unearthed by orderly excavation, / studied one stratum at a time.” By deliberately using words like excavation, with a sort of scientific cadence, she contends that a home (and by extended metaphor, a life) isn’t an impersonal stack of objects, the bare bones of the matter, or its earth underneath. That though these things hold pieces, fractured bits of a reality, they can never surmise its true, lush fullness. Nevertheless, she exemplifies the impactfulness of this stylistic list form, following the above-mentioned line with a montage of prose-filled imagery. In what seems like direct opposition to her ideology surrounding the way we discuss the vast emotional and physical presence of homes, she indulges the audience in visuals that triumphantly glorify the ordinary, channeling time, change, and history. Moments like, “wax pilgrims and jewelry boxes with dancers // on the lids, framed diplomas and watering cans, / sump pumps and inner tubes” take objects that, while having no clear ties to one another, become a forcibly linked and united front to deliver a picture of what an overflowing, real, functional home looks like. 

It isn’t just the commitment to this grand idea that makes this collection so powerful—it’s Pattinson’s narrative voice. An influx between personal and omnipotent, there is a balanced authority and loss of authority sustained throughout. In poems like “Rustbeltasana” and “At Last,” the author carries the poem with confidence, assuredness we relax in and listen to. Conversely, poems like “The dog, if I had one. Maybe my pillow.” and “Cleaning the birdhouse” contrast it with what can often be the fragility of our limited perspective, paired with the forced all-knowingness of a matriarch. In weaving these frames of view, we find the humanness at the center, the deeply maternal struggle between having answers and grasping for them. As Pattinson writes, “There are so many things / A mother can’t explain.”

At the center of the whirlwind of life that is harnessed in this text, there is a gracefulness, a fight against cynicism, a battle sometimes lost, an intentional awareness, a paying attention, a gratitude and a tentativeness, the home and what’s inside. Pattinson is an expert at this art, of illuminating reality, of allowing it full figuration and, as a result, we exit her world feeling deeper and more profoundly about our own homes, and the ones across the street.

Purchase your copy of Matryoshka Houses from Kelsay Books!


Finnegan Angelos is a poet and essayist originally from northern Maryland, now residing in Chicago. His work often concentrates on the dichotomy between those two places, dealing heavily in nostalgia and naturalism—as well as queerness, interpersonal relationships, and spirituality. His work has been published in the Beyond Queer Words Anthology, Thistle Magazine, and FRANCES, among others. He loves his dog, hibiscus tea, and the banjo.

Sundress Reads: A Review of Escape of Light

In Escape of Light, Deborah Kahan Kolb merges modern contemplations with grounding visuals to persuade the reader into a state of ever-present attention. While Kobe’s collection collides concepts such as identity, personal exploration, social issues, and inherent connection, she allows for intermittent moments of air between her stanzas: a place for careful breaths of introspection as her speaker explores the depth of the world surrounding them.

Carefully and with genuine precision, Kolb’s Escape of Light unearths a world forged from moments of unraveling. A world of striving to find answers within its own questioning: what is emergence? Where are the limitations of exploration, of breaking open? And are we allowed inside them? Grief and contemplation, rage and loss, are all balanced to form a staple connection between each poem, linking the thesis of exploration on each page. Escape of Light is a collection of revealing consequences just as it is one of action; each of Kolb’s poems are movement, action backed by vivid scenery that beckons their reader closer to ask: what, in all of this, is coming through? Questions of what remains are molded within the perspective of the speaker’s strength, positing that, in wake of the violence done, there is still connection: there is still hope.

Kolb’s collection opens with an emergence, an action of revealing a personhood apart from a sense of finality. Emergence, Kolb argues, is a process of creation: collected moments of driven action that do not end in a simply packaged result. Escape of Lights first poem begins the collection with a center of continuous evolution, allowing the reader to take a breath just as strong as the speaker themself: “What must the torpid caterpillar do to emerge / from its glistening chrysalis a laurel-crowned monarch?” Here, the speaker directs the reader’s attention to the pained practice of emergence. Again, the process of becoming is presented as a pathway to creation. Emergence becomes not a pathway to an end result but rather a focus on the continuous process and its varying details: “Self-immolation, it seems, is a requirement / for emerging.”

Awareness of the self, of gaining a self, is also something Kolb’s collection manifests well. The “bleeding knuckles” and “tamped / down spirit” become noted costs of this self-actualization within the process of “emerging.” What then, Kolb’s speaker poses, makes the process worth it? Well, in a collection that thrives from its ability to find an answer already in its question, the next stanza presents the daunting answer: “be prepared to extinguish / yourself in a phoenix fire before you can emerge. / Established.” The cost, Kolb’s speaker states, is a heavy burden, but one that the speaker strives to redefine and exhibit in all its trials. “Emerging, Art of,” is a poem that not only succeeds in setting a tone for the collection but one that captures the hefty process of unearthing. This process of becoming allows for a connection to be made between speaker and reader; a tether spanning the gap between desire and action, with the speaker beckoning from the other side.

There were multiple instances where Kolb’s collection left me speechless. Witnessing her ability to evoke carefully crafted images, ones that welcomed as well as educated the reader, was an enthralling experience. Kolb does not shy away from difficult concepts or experiences; rather, she faces them in ways that allow her speaker spaces for grief and reclamation. Poems like “Psalm for a Son’s Burial” and “Showering at the Swiss Hotel” address difficult concepts in the form of complex poetics. They allow the speaker to emerge from the confines enforced on them and to speak and feel the injustices and horrific experiences imposed upon them: “You understand, dear guest, neutral is no more. / We are obliged to prevent / your / stain / from / spreading.”

Kolb’s ability to condense these moments of horrific injustice into potent stanzas enthralled me as I read along. I was heartsick; I was furious. Escape of Light’s speaker embraced humanity in its full view, revealing its naked face and offering its readers the opportunity to behold it. Kolb’s speaker seems to tell us: Look. What I have seen, you must also face. And who are we to look away? See what I have seen, Kolb’s speaker argues, and be aware. It is, after all, the least we can pay as readers: to both engage and learn from the consumed work. In this way, Escape of Light is both a warning and a revelation of emergence; perhaps what strengthens the collection further is the blend of these aspects. As readers, we are left to wonder whether the speaker is sharing these moments of introspection to warn of these great griefs or to welcome the potential of a changed, more humane future. Kolb ensures this everlasting presence of thought in her linkage between poems, between the personal and the collective. Whatever the “correct” answer may be is relative in comparison to the collection’s lasting image, arguing that, regardless of this answer, one aspect of Escape of Light is for certain: no one who enters the collection is left untouched. 

Escape of Light is available at Finishing Line Press


Mary Sims is an undergraduate senior at Kennesaw State University working towards her BA in English. She is a poetry editor at Waymark Literary Magazine and has been published in Josephine Quarterly, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Poetry Annals, and more. Currently, she splits her time between working as a student editor, piling her shelves with poetry collections, and laughing over raspberry cappuccinos with friends.

Sundress Reads: A Review of Every Possible Thing

Every Possible Thing - Kindle edition by Poppy, Karen. Literature & Fiction  Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Karen Poppy’s stunning collection Every Possible Thing begins with an opening of offerings. Proposed by imagery dominated exchanges, her use of themes such as sacrifice, transformation, and renewal offer her readers an immediate sense of connection to her work. Her collection’s first poem “Every Possible Thing” begins with this same sense of sacrifice and renewal by immersing her audience in the imaginative and hypnotic exchange between the speaker and their subject.

The collection’s opening line sets a tone of intention throughout, displaying a sense of coated devotion unique to the poem’s own movement: “What I promised, I gave you: / Silver-skinned gloves, my hands / Loosened from life became twin fish.” From there, the speaker catalogues devotion through their physical actions and movements. Throughout her collection, Poppy continues to employ this same precise movement to embrace the action within each of her poems. No poem, Poppy assures us early-on, is ever stagnant. 

Every Possible Thing is never still. The collection begins in motion and continues to guide its reader by cataloging the duality of action and movement. This use of movement throughout her work offers insight into the depth of implication. Poppy’s poem “Your Words” is an opening to the collection’s themes, but it is also a record of just how carefully emotion channels through action.

When communicating with the reader, the speaker offers more than physical objects or images to converse. In fact, the speaker’s sense of dedication is painted behind the physical action of each offering, a new unique twist behind every new image displayed: “I want you / To speak to me, / In fact, / As you would speak / To your animals.” “Your Words” is a poem of communication as much as it is of desire. There is a need to be seen, to be regarded as gravely as can be allowed. The speaker directs us to see her, and who are we to turn away?

As I read Poppy’s collection, I found myself immersed in her use of mythology. Even more so in her use of it in creating reclamation narratives. Her poem “Badass Mermaid” explores the complexities and empowerment of transformation through the lens of a mythological mermaid within Odysseus’s tale. The speaker reclaims her narrative outside of Odysseus’s story and establishes the idea that her agency does not stem from being an ‘accessory’ to a hero’s quest but rather her own power outside of it: “Homer’s / Odysseus / Told it wrong, / Or his men / Told it, / Innocent.” It is here that we see the speaker reclaim her own identity within Odysseus’ story after being alienated from the tale. 

The speaker retells her story by crafting her own narrative in wake of the chaos left by Odysseus, thus attaching a sense of authority to her own lost story. Agency, Poppy tells her audience, is more than a necessity; rather, it is a value that cannot afford to be overlooked. The speaker’s narrative is one of power, of danger, and more than ready to peel out of the confines of her established erasure. 

Poppy’s use of line breaks within the poem further add to these implications of power. Every moment is calculated; every space, line break, and punctuation are brimming with not only intention but with assurance that truth is lurking around the corner, waiting for an opening to break into.

In addition to mythology and reclamation narratives, connection is a vital theme within Every Possible Thing. The ability to join together, to meld ideas and images, is not only a powerful device Poppy employs. Rather, it is also the basis of understanding in a place where the mere idea seems impossible. Her poem “What We Find” exemplifies this concept openly: “Our own voice, / Each other. / To sing uniquely, but not alone. / Eerie electricity. Connection. / Through the song: / Everything is the right choice.” The poem, like her collection, becomes a moment of connection, reaching out to include the reader in this narrative of understanding. 

Through her collection, Karen Poppy draws in her audience by the speaker’s ability to not only connect but their desire to understand. Searches for understanding, the power of reclamation, and the concept of connection litter the pages, leaving the reader haunted even after the collection has been finished. There is something warm and vulnerable within Poppy’s use of connection. Her poem “I Like When You Speak” perhaps displays this best as the speaker weaves a moment of pure humanity: “I like when you speak / When you are here / Saying all that you want to say, and nothing more.” There is an ever-present ache buried between the lines, a moment so openly human we cannot turn ourselves away from the carefulness of the moment. 

Where Every Possible Thing is a collection of connection and understanding, it is also a journey of being human. Reclamation narratives, paths of renewal, and movements shaped in the form of devotion collide to create a bond so intricate it becomes innate. All of these multitudes and more, Every Possible Thing is a conversation between speaker and reader– an opening made just small enough for the reader to want to join, without having to be invited directly. Poppy’s collection is a meticulous warmth. More than anything, it is an invitation into the experiences of humanity and an exploration to all of the crushing and beautiful depth they offer.

Karen Poppy’s Every Possible Thing can be found for purchase here.


Mary Sims is an undergraduate senior at Kennesaw State University working towards her BA in English. She is a poetry editor at Waymark Literary Magazine and has been published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Poetry Annals, Peach Mag, Kingdoms of the Wild, Rising Phoenix Review, and more. Currently, she splits her time between working as a student editor, piling her shelves with poetry collections, and laughing over raspberry cappuccinos with friends.

Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents: October Virtual Reading Series

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is proud to present “A Virtual Reading Series” on October 28th, 2020 from 7-8PM EST on Zoom. Access the event at tiny.utk.edu/sundress. The password is safta.

Tamara J. Madison is a writer, poet, instructor, and editor.  Her critical and creative works have been published in various journals and anthologies. Madison earned a BA from Purdue University and MFA from New England College. She also studied at the University of Strasbourg (France). She is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Valencia College, Orlando, Florida and contributing editor for aaduna, an online adventure with words and images. Madison is the author of Kentucky Curdled(poetry and essay) and Collard County,(fiction).  Her most recent poetry collection is Threed, This Road Not Damascus, published by Trio House Press

Julie Marie Wade teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami. She has published 12 collections of poetry and prose, most recently the book-length lyric essay, Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing (The Ohio State University Press, 2020) and the hybrid-forms chapbook, P*R*I*D*E(VCFA/Hunger Mountain, 2020). A winner of the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir, Wade makes her home in Dania Beach with her spouse Angie Griffin and their two cats.

Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Books) and the chapbook Honeysuckle (Finishing Line Press). Their first young adult novel, A Million Quiet Revolutions is forthcoming in 2022 with FSG. Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, New Delta Review, and Washington Square Review. Gow received their MFA from Adelphi University where they were also an adjunct instructor. Gow is a managing editor at The Nasiona and MAYDAY magazine.

Sundress Reading Series Seeks Readers for Spring 2021

From January to May, 2021, the Sundress Reading Series will continue online via Zoom. Applications to participate as a reader are open and the deadline to apply is October 25th.

The Sundress Reading Series is an award-winning literary reading series usually 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 Wednesday of every month from 7-8PM EST. The spring series will be streamed on January 27th, February 24th, March 31st, April 28th, and May 26th.

We are currently seeking readers with books recently released—or to be released in 2021—with an emphasis on marginalized voices especially BIPOC writers, trans and nonbinary writers, and writers with disabilities. To apply to read for the spring, send 6-8 pages of poetry or 8-15 pages of prose, a 100-word bio, CV (optional), and a ranking of reading dates to sundresspublications@gmail.com. Please make sure the subject line reads “Reading Series Application.”

Those selected will be notified by December 1, 2020. Readers will receive publicity across Sundress Publications’ social media channels in the lead up to their event, and, thanks to a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, Sundress is now able to compensate readers $50 for their services.

Find our more or to view some of our past readers and schedules, visit us at:
www.sundressacademyforthearts.com.

Sundress Academy for the Arts presents: A Virtual Reading Series

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is proud to present “A Virtual Reading Series” on June 24th, 2020 from 7-8PM EST on Zoom with Ashley Elizabeth, Ever Jones, and Cy Ozgood! Access the event at tiny.utk.edu/sundress. The password is sundress.

Ashley Elizabeth is a writing consultant, teacher, and poet. Her works have appeared in Rigorous, yell/shout/scream, and SWWIM, among others. Her chapbook, you were supposed to be a friend, is now available from Nightingale & Sparrow. When Ashley isn’t serving as assistant editor at Sundress Publications, teaching, or freelancing, she habitually posts on Twitter and Instagram (@ae_thepoet), watching way too many dog and food videos. She lives with her partner in Baltimore, MD.

Ever Jones (they/them) is a queer/trans writer, artist, & instructor based in Seattle. They are the author of three poetry collections, nightsong (Sundress Publications), Wilderness Lessons (FutureCycle Press), & Primitive Elegy (alice blue books). They were a finalist for terrain.org’s 2013 poetry contest and the grand prize winner of the Eco-Arts Awards in 2014. Ever is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Washington in Tacoma & teaches at Richard Hugo House. Their most recent publications include work in POETRY Magazine, Tupelo Quarterly, About Place Journal, & other places. Please visit everjones.com to view some art.

Cy Ozgood is a queer poet and witch living in Wisconsin. They are the author of several chapbooks including Cynthia (forthcoming from The Magnificent Field, 2020) and Girl Tramp (Horse Less Press, 2016). Their work has been featured or is forthcoming in Twang, baest, Gritty Silk, and The Operating System. Find them at www.silencemerryroads.com.

Sundress Reading Series Presents Ellene Glenn Moore, Kimberly Ann Priest, and Katie Culligan

The Sundress Reading Series is excited to welcome Ellene Glenn Moore, Kimberly Ann Priest, and Katie Culligan for the October installment of our reading series! This event will take place from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, October 13th at Hexagon Brewing Co., located at 1002 Dutch Valley Dr STE 101, Knoxville, TN 37918.

Ellene Glenn Moore is a writer living in sunny South Florida. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Florida International University and her BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. Ellene has been the recipient of a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellowship, a scholarship to the New York State Summer Writers Institute, and a residency at The Studios of Key West. She is the co-Founding Editor of the Plath Poetry Project, a collaborative writing project dedicated to engaging with the work of Sylvia Plath. Ellene’s poetry, lyr ic non-fiction, and critical work has appeared in Lake Effect, The Journal, Best New Poets, Fjords Review, Poetry Northwest, Brevity, Salamander, Ninth Letter Online, and elsewhere. Her chapbook The Dark Edge of the Bluff (Green Writers Press, 2017) was runner-up for The Hopper Prize for Young Poets.

from “Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway Above Asheville”

This is a different kind of deliverance;

not from circumstance, but from ourselves. 

Winter light turns the bare-boned trees into quicksilver. 

Everything important rises to the top—[…]


Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of White Goat Black Sheep (FLP). She is an MFA graduate in Creative Writing from New England College, already holding an MA in English Language & Literature from Central Michigan University. A proud Michigan native, she has taught composition and creative writing courses for Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, and Alma College, and participated in local initiatives to increase awareness concerning sexual assault, survivorship, and healing through artistic expression. She is also an editorial intern and scholarship recipient with Sundress Publications in Knoxville, TN. Her academic and creative writing carefully observes the intersections between motherhood, violence, displacement, religion, sexual identity, and sexual trauma; and her poetry has appeared in several literary journals including The Coachella Review, The Comstock Review, Welter, Ruminate Magazine, RiverSedge, and The Berkeley Poetry Review. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of First-Year Writing at Michigan State University, editorial intern with Sundress, book reviewer for New Pages, and an editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry.

“Autumn. Leaves drip and turn over, 

round like the goblet of a thigh torn from its animal.  

Daylight folds into creases, 

a jumbled marathon of birds strung loosely along 

telephone wires 

and my hair canvasing light paned across the bed’s 

worn coverlet. (. . . )” –from Practice 



Katie Culligan is a nonfiction writer living in Knoxville, TN, where she is the Writer-in-Residence for Sundress Academy for the Arts. She is the recipient of the 2019 Eleanora Burke Award for Nonfiction and the Margaret Artley Woodruff Award for Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee. Recent work appears in Geometry, Noble / Gas Qtrly, Columbia Journal, American Chordata, and others. She can be reached at katieculliganwriting.com.

“Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s ‘At the Moulin Rouge’ (1895) is frequently called a ‘haunted

painting.’ In it, a milky-swath of Parisian bohemians sit around a table, shoulder-to-shoulder; in

the right margin, however, a battery-acid face, seemingly lit below, like scary-story flashlights at

a campfire.

The reason that I have become so fixated on this painting, too, is that it was cut. I say this to all

my friends and get frustrated when they don’t have the physiological reaction that I want them

to. The basest assumption of making art, of leaving our houses inside human bodies every

morning, is that all of it, the material at the very least, will remain intact.”


The Sundress Reading Series is an award-winning literary reading series that is held monthly at 1 p.m. at Hexagon Brewing Co. just outside of downtown Knoxville. The Sundress Reading Series is free and open to the public.

Sundress Reading Series Presents Julia-Scott Dawson, Emily Bradley, and Tori Lane

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The Sundress Reading Series is excited to welcome Julia-Scott Dawson, Emily Bradley, and Tori Lane for the September installment of our reading series! This event will take place at 1PM on Sunday, September 22nd at Hexagon Brewing Co., located at 1002 Dutch Valley Dr STE 101, Knoxville, TN 37918.

julia scott dawson.jpgJulia-Scott is a Mexican-American writer and MFA candidate at the University of Tennessee. She serves as the non-fiction editor for Grist, and currently lives in Knoxville.

emily bradleyEmily Bradley is an MFA candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is a cat mom and part-time hypochondriac who enjoys baking, falling asleep on the couch, and flipping off old men who tell her to smile. She hasn’t been published anywhere yet, but she’s really into writing about the color yellow.

Tori Lane is in the fourth year of her PhD program where she studies spoken word poetry, performance, and queer embodiments at the intersections of spirituality, activism, and community building. She lives in Knoxville, TN with a dog, Lucy, another dog who is mostly wizard, Gibby, and an old, cranky cat, Meow.


The Sundress Reading Series is an award-winning literary reading series that is held monthly at 1 p.m. at Hexagon Brewing Co. just outside of downtown Knoxville. The Sundress Reading Series is free and open to the public.

Sundress Reading Series Presents Kristin Robertson, Tasha Fouts, and Arlyn Dunn

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The Sundress Reading Series is excited to welcome Kristin Robertson, Tasha Fouts, and Arlyn Dunn for the February installment of our reading series! This event will take place from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, February 17th at Hexagon Brewing Co., located at 1002 Dutch Valley Dr STE 101, Knoxville, TN 37918.

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Kristin Robertson is the author of Surgical Wing (Alice James Books, 2017). Her poetry appears in Ploughshares, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, The Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, and Five Points, among other journals. Winner of the Laux/Millar Poetry Prize, Kristin has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Squaw Valley. She teaches at Tennessee Wesleyan University.

 

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Tasha Fouts is the 2018-2019 SAFTA Writer in Residence at Firefly Farms. She received her MFA from Bowling Green State University. Her work has appeared or forthcoming in Salt Hill, Bateau, Glass, Birds Piled Loosely, and Fact-Simile. She is a cofounder and editor at Packingtown Review and hosts the podcast Getting Drunk with Writers which will air someday.

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 11.07.28 AMArlyn Dunn was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. A recent graduate of Roane State Community College and 2017 recipient of the President’s Award. She depicted her journey of resiliency to overcome personal struggles in her commencement speech.  She currently works as a full time pediatric occupational therapy assistant and is relocating to Detroit this spring. She is on a nontraditional trajectory through spoken word and literary arts to reclaim language through poetry and what it means to emerge from profound grief to resurgence in hope. She is currently working on her first collection of poetry.


The Sundress Reading Series is an award-winning literary reading series that is held monthly at 2 p.m. at Hexagon Brewing Co. just outside of downtown Knoxville. The Sundress Reading Series is free and open to the public.

 

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.