I was completely unsure what to expect when Erin Elizabeth Smith offered me the chance to test out the new Writer’s Coop at the Sundress Academy for the Arts at Firefly Farms. I had been to several events at the farm itself, and, like most who stay at the farm, I was charmed by the colorful murals of mermaids, flowers, and Sylvia Plath, the shelves full of chapbooks, and, of course, the friendly animals (Jayne, the enormous resident donkey and professional selfie-taker in particular). Though Erin warned me that the coop was still something of a work-in-progress and part of my job was to identify what still needed to be done, I arrived at Firefly Farms with high hopes of a good time full of productive writing. I am happy to say that the Writer’s Coop did not disappoint.
To access the coop, one has two options: you can have someone drive you on a four-wheeler, or you can walk the dirt and gravel path that winds behind Firefly Farms. The walk itself was quite easy; maybe a five minute jaunt when sober or ten when I had some beers down at the farm while getting to know the week’s residents. At the top of a small hill, the path widens and a tiny cabin appears. Indeed, while the Coop started its life housing chickens, the Writer’s Coop resembles a charming re-creation of a log cabin that you might find in a museum more than anything else.
Erin and Joe, anticipating the needs of the future residents like myself, have included all the necessities: a front and back porch for catching the breeze, a comfortable bed, and, of course, a bottle opener mounted just outside the door. The Coop even has its own outhouse close by. Though I am the type of person who is normally horrified by going to the bathroom in outhouses or Port-a-Potties, I found the outhouse at the Coop to be fastidiously clean and completely devoid of smell.
I found my time at the Coop so enjoyable that the first morning, despite my hunger and need for a shower, I found myself lingering, writing poems and catching up on reading rather than making my way down to the farmhouse. If you are like me and you work best in silence with few distractions, the Coop is the best possible place to write. Something about feeling completely alone in nature without even the sound of passing cars really focused me. I wrote five poems in the space of one afternoon while there.
I would recommend the Writer’s Coop to anyone who values alone time, peace and quiet, privacy, and affordability while still having options to commune with other authors (and play with adorable animals). Though I was lucky enough to test out the Coop, I will likely apply for my own residency in the future.
Chloe Hanson is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Tennessee. She earned her MA and BA from Utah State University, where she also helped to establish and direct the Science Writing Center. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in several journals, including Public Pool, Off the Coast, and Driftwood Press. While she’s procrastinating her homework, she can often be found with a beer in her hand and her dog, Simon, by her side. She is the current Staff Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts.
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 generosity.com/community-fundraising/outspoken-needs-your-help. All donations are tax-deductible.
The Sundress Reading Series is pleased to welcome Catherine Moore and Stacey Balkun for the December installment of our reading series! The event will take place this Sunday, December 11, at 2 at Bar Marley.
Stacey Balkun is the author of Jackalope-Girl Learns to Speak (dancing girl 2016) and Lost City Museum (ELJ 2016). A Finalist for the 2016 Event Horizon Science Poetry Competition as well as the Center for Women Writer’s 2016 Rita Dove Award, her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Muzzle, THRUSH, Bayou, and others. A 2015 Hambidge Fellow, Stacey was awarded a SAFTA residency in 2015 and served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2013. She holds an MFA from Fresno State and now lives in New Orleans, where she volunteers for literacy and teaches poetry online at The Poetry Barn.
CatherineMoore’s writing has appeared in Tahoma Literary Review, Cider Press Review, Southampton Review, Caesura, Still: the Journal, Wicked Alice, The Tishman Review, concīs, and in various anthologies. She has two chapbook collections (Finishing Line Press and Kentucky Story Press) with another forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. A Walker Percy fellow, she won the Southeast Review’s 2014 Poetry Prize and had work included in “The Best Small Fictions of 2015.” She’s a recipient of a Nashville MetroArts grant. Catherine earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tampa and she teaches at Columbia State Community College.
Amie Whittemore is the author of the poetry collection Glass Harvest (Autumn House Press) and co-founder of the Charlottesville Reading Series in Virginia. Her poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Sycamore Review, Smartish Pace, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She teaches English at Middle Tennessee State University.
The Sundress Reading Series is free and open to the public! We look forward to seeing you there!
I re-discovered my love of writing prose near the end of my Communications Bachelor degree days. My days are spent feeding my coffee addiction and writing ideas down on paper before sitting down in front of a screen to get the prose out. I tend to write cosmic horror, which is in the realm of HP Lovecraft stuff, but minus the racism. Right now I’m trying to finish a book about a pansexual black girl realizing she’s part of an alien race trying to liberate itself from the planet. I also enjoy being “woke” and enjoy electronic music. Look me up on Soundcloud or my band I do vocals for, Landslide of Signal.
I’m looking forward in being part of Sundress.
Graham Bonnington is a Chattanooga Tennessee native. He graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a master’s degree in creative writing. A reader and writer of cosmic horror, Graham also prides himself as an amateur early middle ages historian (don’t get him started on the Lombard King Grimoald I), a non-believer, an electronica musician, a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and all things astronomical.
Before the Sundress Academy for the Arts can welcome new resident artists in October, we need to spruce up the farmhouse with a fresh coat of paint. In order to raise money for this project, we have initiated our own bucket challenge—a Paint Bucket Challenge!
As comical as it might be, we are not asking you to dump a bucket of (potentially very toxic) paint over your head; we just need your financial support and time to make this happen! It will cost about $1,000 to buy the paint, primer, brushes, sandpaper, and volunteer refreshments, and we still need $500 with five days left to go.
Here are some ways you can help:
Please, if you are able, consider donating to our cause. Even a small amount puts us a little bit closer to a fresh and shiny farmhouse!
After you donate, make a video to challenge your friends to do the same! All donations go directly to SAFTA, a non-profit organization, and help to promote art in East Tennessee.
If you are local and would like to donate your time, sign up to help paint on September 20th from 10 AM to 8 PM. Volunteers can sign up on our website or on our Facebook event!