Sundress Academy for the Arts & Lambda Literary Now Accepting Applications for Spring Artist Residencies

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Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is excited to announce that they are now accepting applications for short-term artists’ residencies in creative writing, visual art, film/theater, music, and more. Each residency includes a room of one’s own, access to a communal kitchen, bathroom, office, and living space, plus wireless internet.

The length of a residency can run from one to three weeks. SAFTA is currently accepting applications for our spring residency period, which runs from January 1st to May 6th, 2018. The deadline for spring residency applications is September 10th, 2017.

For the spring residency period, SAFTA will be pairing with Lambda Literary to offer two fellowships (one full fellowship and one 50% fellowship) for a week-long residency to LGBTQIA+ writers of any genre. Lambda believes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer literature is fundamental to the preservation of our culture, and that LGBTQIA+ lives are affirmed when our stories are written, published and read. All applicants to the two fellowships must identify as LGBTQIA+.  Partial scholarships also available to any applicant with financial need. This year’s judges will be Wren Hanks, Noh Anothai, and librecht baker.

The SAFTA farmhouse is located on a working farm that rests on a 45-acre wooded plot in a Tennessee “holler” perfect for hiking, camping, and nature walks. Located less than a half-hour from downtown Knoxville, an exciting and creative city of 200,000 in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, SAFTA is an ideal location for those looking for a rural get-away with access to urban amenities.

The residency bedrooms are 130 sq. ft. with queen-size platform bed, closet, dresser, and desk. There is also a communal kitchen supplied with stove, refrigerator, and microwave plus plenty of cook- and dining-ware. The office and library have two working computers—one Mac, one PC—with access to the Adobe Creative Cloud. The library contains over 800 books with a particularly large contemporary poetry section and, thanks to the Wardrobe, many recent titles by female-identified and genderqueer writers. The facility also includes a full-size working 19th century full-size letterpress with type, woodworking tools, and a 1930’s drafting table.

To apply for the Sundress Academy for the Arts residency, you will need the following:

-Application form (including artist’s statement and contact information for two references)
-CV or artist’s resume (optional)
-Artist sample (see website for more details on genre specifications)
-Application fee of $15 or $10 for current students (with student email) payable online*

For more information, visit our website:
or find us on Facebook, under Sundress Academy for the Arts
or on Twitter, @SundressPub


*Application fee will be waived for those applying for the Lambda Literary scholarship who demonstrate financial need. Please state this in your application under the financial need section.

Sundress Academy for the Arts Now Accepting Residency Applications New Writers Coop

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is now accepting applications for short-term writers residencies during the summer residency period for our new Writers Coop during the weeks of June 5th to August 20th, 2017. These residencies are designed to give artists time and space to complete their creative projects in a quiet and productive environment.

SAFTA is located on a working farm that rests on a 45-acre wooded plot in a Tennessee “holler” perfect for hiking, camping, and nature walks. Located less than a half-hour from downtown Knoxville, an exciting and creative city of 200,000 in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, SAFTA is an ideal location for those looking for a rural get-away with access to urban amenities.


The SAFTA Writers Coop is a 10×10′ dry cabin approximately a fourth of a mile from the SAFTA farmhouse. This tiny house is furnished with a single bed, a desk, a wood-burning stove, a deck that looks over the pasture and pond, as well as a personal detached outhouse. While the cabin has neither electricity nor running water, residents will have full access to the amenities at farmhouse as well as solitude from other residents to write in the rolling hills of East Tennessee.

Each residency costs $150/week and includes your own private dry cabin as well as 24-hour access to the farmhouse amenities.


The application deadline for the summer residency period is rolling. Note our application fees have been waived for the summer application period.

Find out more on our website or Facebook. 

Sundress Reading Series presents Andrea England, Minadora Macheret, and Clay Matthews


Join us on February 26 at 2PM at Bar Marley for the February installation of the Sundress Reading Series!

Featured readings will include:

andrea-englandAndrea England is the author of two chapbooks, INVENTORY OF A FIELD (Finishing Line Press) and OTHER GEOGRAPHIES (Creative Justice Press). She has been a finalist for Four Way Books Levis Prize and Intro Prize, and has been awarded residencies from the Vermont Studio Center and SAFTA. Currently she lives and works between Kalamazoo and Manistee Michigan, where she works as an adjunct and serves as a board member to the non-profit organization, Friends of Poetry. More information about Andrea England and her poetry can be found at


Minadora Macheret is a graduate student at Kansas State University, where she received the Graduate Poetry Award and Seaton Fellowship. Her poems received the Isabel Sparks’ Poetry Prize. Her work is forthcoming from The Deaf Poets Society and has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rogue Agent, Connotation Press, and others. She lives in Manhattan, KS, with her dog, Aki.

clay-matthewsClay Matthews has published poetry in journals such as The American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. His most recent book, Shore, was recently released from Cooper Dillon Books. His other books are Superfecta (Ghost Road Press), RUNOFF (BlazeVox), and Pretty, Rooster (Cooper Dillon). He teaches at Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN, and edits poetry for the Tusculum Review.

OUTSpoken Generosity Campaign


As the season of giving begins and a new year approaches, Sundress Publications and the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) are raising money to build a creative platform for the LGBTQ+ community of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Now in its fourth year, OUTSpoken is a program from the Sundress Academy for the Arts that will take place through 2017. We seek to create a space in which local communities can record and perform the experiences of sex- and gender-diverse individuals in the South.

Our goal is to raise $1,000 to cover the cost of workshops, event and rehearsal space, promotional materials, and more. It is our goal to make the entire event free to participants and audience members this year. All donations are tax-deductible.

OUTSpoken begins with a series of writing workshops in January, February, and March, where community members will develop their experiences into poems, monologues, narratives, or other literary forms. These pieces are then revised and eventually performed in a staged reading. Participants will have the option of working with actors to bring their writing to life or of performing their writing themselves. The three-month workshop series, followed by a showcase of personal work, unites the community through art and expression.

As the LGBTQ+ community faces a nation divided and charged by politics, we believe it is more important than ever to build a space where all are welcomed, accepted, and celebrated. To learn more about the OUTSpoken program and campaign, visit All donations are tax-deductible.

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!

OUTSpoken Opens 2015 Workshop Registration for LGBTQ+ Writers

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OUTSpoken is a second-year program from the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) that will take place in Summer 2015. Our goal is to create a platform for the LGBTQ+ community of Knoxville, Tennessee, and its surrounding areas to record and perform the experiences of sex- and gender-diverse individuals in the South.

Registration for the OUTSpoken workshop series is now open. On-site participants will be a part of three workshops over the course of three months in order to create, edit, and produce a piece of art to be performed during SAFTA’s OUTSpoken events in Summer 2015. Workshop attendees will work with professionals in performance, prose, and poetry to compose and tell their own stories.

Workshops will be held on January 17th, February 21st, and March 28th, 2015 and run from 1PM to 3PM at the Sundress Academy for the Arts. Cost for the workshop is $25 for one, $45 for two, or $60 for all three. (Participants who attend at least two on-site workshops will be eligible to perform their piece at the OUTSpoken events later in the year.) Scholarship applications are also available on our website.

As LGBTQ issues gain greater visibility, it is crucial that we explore the complexities of sex and gender diversity respectfully. That said, we realize that unity cannot and must not be silent, and that in order to create a meaningful dialogue, we must acknowledge and listen to the stories, experiences, grievances, arguments, and counterarguments of all sex- and gender-diverse persons.

Register today!

SAFTA Genre-Writing Workshop This Weekend


Sundress Academy for the Arts is pleased to announce its science fiction workshop “My Other Car is Another World: Writing Fiction in the Genres,” which will be held on October 11, 2014 from 12pm – 5pm. The workshop is $50 or $35 for students and open to the public.

This workshop will be held on SAFTA’s own Firefly Farms in Knoxville, Tennessee and will focus on simple, practical methods for generating genre story ideas, planning and plotting, drafting and perfecting your stories. Workshop participants will learn tips for negotiating the cutthroat world of genre fiction publishing.

This workshop offers the opportunity to work with published author and science fiction writer, Gary Charles Wilkens. Every participant in the workshop will leave with a 20+ page book written by Dr. Wilkens full of instruction and advice for writing genre fiction, as well as, of course, a complete draft of a genre fiction story

Gary Charles Wilkens, Assistant Professor of English at Norfolk State University, was the winner of the 2006 Texas Review Breakthrough Poetry Prize for his first book, The Red Light Was My Mind. His poems have appeared in more than 60 online and print venues, and he is also the author of (the yet unpublished) science fiction novel The Crying Road, as well as more than a dozen sci-fi stories and flash fictions. He earned his Ph.D. in Creative Writing in 2010 from The University of Southern Mississippi. A second sci-fi novel is in the works.

Space at this workshop is limited, so reserve your space today!

Meet Our New Editorial Intern, Alexandra Chiasson!

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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.


Meet our new graphic design intern: Katy Bilbrey!

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“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Like Alice, I often feel as if I’m lost in the middle of Wonderland. I don’t exactly know where I am going (or where I want to go for that matter), but I’m starting to learn that the path you choose is not as important when compared to how you decide to walk it.

I am currently a design major and business minor at Maryville College, a small school located in the beautiful town of Maryville, Tennessee. My hometown, Crossville, is only an hour or so away from the campus so, despite my thirst for travel, I’ve lived in the same area my entire life.

Although I didn’t know what graphic design was until my late high-school years, I’ve always felt drawn to the visual compositions that surround our lives. As a child and an angst-filled tween, I was captivated by the over-sized art books I found in the local library and illustrations found on my great-grandmother’s sewing patterns. I often experimented with funky fonts when typing up school papers, and I still have a thick stack of advertisements I cut out and collected from the pages of various teen magazines.

A graphic designer’s job is not limited to creating a work that is visually appealing or eye-catching. Most importantly, it includes the need to communicate a specific message to a world already filled to the brim with information. A slightly daunting task, but one I’m eager to consistently tackle.

Even as I face an approaching graduation date (this May to be exact), the instructions that include what I’m supposed to do with my degree have yet to surface. I’ve been so lucky to have landed at Sundress Publications, and I’m positive that my experience here will help me get my bearings. I’m determined to fully experience everything I encounter as I navigate through the Wonderland that is adulthood. After all, life is about the journey (including the occasional fall through the rabbit hole).

Katy Bilbrey is a senior at Maryville College and is majoring in graphic design. A lover of vintage advertisements, typography, book-cover design, and the entirety of the Art Nouveau movement, she knows she is in the right field but is unsure of what she’s going to do with her degree. Her talents include reading multiple books at once, making fast decisions, and applying liquid eyeliner. In her free time, she enjoys laughing and FaceTiming her cat, Strawberry.

First-ever Holler Salon planned for August 17 at Firefly Farms!

Introducing a creative extension to our award-winning reading series!

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The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present poet Laura Madeline Wiseman and local artist Chris Johnson in “Art, Myth, and Martians,” the first installment of Holler Salon, an extension of the award winning SAFTA reading series. The event will be held at Firefly Farms in Knoxville at 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 17th.  Holler Salon is an occasional salon series featuring local and national writers and artists. Hosted at Firefly Farms in Knoxville, each salon will provide an intimate setting conducive to discussing and developing the ideas and inspirations of creative individuals from a variety of disciplines.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). She holds a doctorate from the University of Nebraska and has received an Academy of American Poets award and the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Her work is imaginative and provocative and has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Margie, and Feminist Studies.

For Holler Salon, Wiseman will discuss her playful sci-fi book, American Galactic, as well as selections from Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience, her unique, romantic take on the classic Bluebeard myth.

Chris Johnson is a local, self-taught visual artist with Gallery 133. His work is edgy and engaging and hangs in both public galleries and private collections. For Holler Salon, Johnson will feature his paintings “A Study on Berserk”—an homage to his favorite graffiti artist, Berserk—and “The Madness Vase”—based on the Andrea Gibson chapbook The Nutritionist.


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RSVP for this event on the Facebook page!