Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Jacquelyn Scott

FullSizeRender

I was raised in Jefferson City, Tennessee, which is about 40 miles north from where my ancestors were forced off their land for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I grew up in the wilds of my mountains. Hiking and camping, I sometimes traced my way from the Ramsey Cascades to the Whaley-Big Greenbriar Cemetery, where my family is buried. I used to stand in the middle of that cemetery and look down at the headstones, thinking about my relatives beneath me. One headstone reads, “S.B. Whaley.” I imagine her name was Sarah Beth and question if she, too, felt confined by her gender.

There are ruins of an old school on the trail to my ancestors’ graves. I wonder: if there wasn’t a national park, if that school still stood, if my family still lived there, would I have learned the names of Jhumpa Lahiri, Carmen Machado, ZZ Packer, or Aimee Bender? Would I have found my love of writing Appalachia and Appalachian women through a feminist lens? As Carmen Machado wrote, “I have heard all of the stories about girls like me, and I am unafraid to make more of them.”

I am not a traditional student. I took my time returning to college after I graduated from high school, instead searching for a career path in medicine and psychology, and when I moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee for community college, I came back thinking I would major in nursing and try to write on the side. However, I felt unhappy and constrained because I wasn’t learning the craft of writing like I really wanted. Miranda July once wrote, “But, like ivy, we grow where there is room for us,” and I always found room in literature. When I transferred to my university, I changed my major to creative writing, where I could study how to represent women like me in an artful and literary way.

While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I discovered a passion for literary citizenship. I worked my way up from a fiction reader to the assistant editor at my university’s literary magazine, the Sequoya Review, and started working at the writing center as a peer tutor, helping other students become better writers, both academically and creatively, improving my own writing in the process. In addition, I volunteered as a reader for several literary magazines, such as upstreet, Spark, Ember, and Zetetic, and now, as I pursue my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from The University of Tennessee (Go Vols!), I am honored to intern for Sundress PublicationsI look forward to learning the publishing side of the literary world where I have made my home.


Jacquelyn Scott is a student at The University of Tennessee where she is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and The Write Launch. Find her on Twitter @jacquelynlscott.

Project Bookshelf: Kristen Figgins

Books pile everywhere in my house.  My husband and I are both voracious reader who are always saying, “I really shouldn’t” while at the check-out line at a bookstore.

Below is the bookshelf in our living room, what I think of as the NEAT bookshelf, because it’s full of things that we saw that were too NEAT not to buy, like a coffee table book about the circus.

img_2287

And these are the bookshelves that sit in the guest room, the books that live in and around my heart, the books that I read for fun, for classes, books that I read until their spines were falling apart and books that I read once.  I love these messy, lived-in shelves.

When we got married, we spent our wedding gift cards on the bookshelf below, which we spent three days putting together in our living room while watching documentaries about magicians.  This shelf is my favorite for a few reasons.  First, because it holds my favorite books: the collectibles, the beauties, the ones that we both need close at hand on a rainy day.  And second because it represents my husband’s and my collaborative effort to build a home of books; this bookshelf represents the culmination of a dream: the presence of a bookshelf in every room of our house.  It’s a meeting place of our minds and hearts and imaginations, and I love it.

img_2286

__

Kristen Figgins is a writer of fabulism, whose work has appeared in such places as The Gateway Review, Sleet Magazine, Hermeneutic Chaos, Sakura Review, Menacing Hedge, and more. Her story “Track Me With Your Words, Speak Me With Your Feet” was winner of the 2015 Fiction Award from Puerto 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.

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.  

____

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.

Laura B. Robbins’ #ProjectBookshelf

So these are my bookshelves. These are where 95% of my books live. I also have some books scattered around my house, but this is where the majority of them live. My tastes in books clearly span the spectrum of genres, but I tend to read a lot of contemporary fiction and fantasy.

I fully blame my parents for my love of books (you should see their bookshelves), and this love makes it basically impossible to pick a favorite. However, some of the ones I really enjoy are Americanah, Jane Steele, Slaughterhouse-Five, and The Bell Jar.

 


__

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.

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.

Untitled3

 

__

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.

Meet Our New Editorial Intern, Alexandra Chiasson!

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 9.54.41 PM

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.