Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents “Finding an Appetite: Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, and Food Writing”

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is proud to present the next installment of their workshop series, “Finding an Appetite: Poetry Creative Nonfiction, and Food Writing.”  This workshop will be led by Katie Culligan and will be held in Room 252 in the Hodges Library from 6 to 7 pm on October 28th. This event is free and open to the public.

Mark Twain said, “Part of the secret of success is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” When we begin to consider this active role that food plays in our lives and bodies, we must think about the senses, the land we live on, our families, both nuclear and national, and the labor-system-latticework we all must somehow live in the cracks of. In this workshop, we will investigate together how these considerations, and how food writing in general, can enrich your personal essays and poetry. If you’ve ever grown a mint plant in your kitchen, or waited a table, or eaten a hot dog that your mother cut up to look like an octopus, then you have enough to write about for the foreseeable future. Writers we read together will include those who specialize in both journalism and lyric nonfiction. We will not be reading Mark Twain.

Katie Culligan is a nonfiction writer living in Knoxville, TN, where she is the Fall 2019 Writer in Residence at 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

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Tennessee Creative Writing Program and is free and open to the public.

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an artists’ residency that hosts workshops, retreats, and residencies for writers, actors, filmmakers, and visual artists. All are guided by experienced, professional instructors from a variety of creative disciplines who are dedicated to cultivating the arts in East Tennessee.

Sundress Academy for the Arts and UTK’s Creative Writing Department Present Poetry as Activism

In partnership with UTK’s Creative Writing Department, the Sundress Academy for the Arts invites you to join us in the first installment of our Fall Workshop Series “Poetry as Activism” which will be lead by Jeremy Michael Reed!

In this workshop, participants will discuss how today’s poems try to shift our understanding of the world, write new poems using those techniques, and think about how through their use of perspective, question, repetition, and more, speakers of contemporary poems take their reaction to an event and turn it into proactive reflection on self and community. This workshop will ask: what is active when poetry comes alive to you, and how do we use those elements of poetry to help us become more alive to ourselves and others in the face of current events?

This workshop will focus on how in the wake of traumatic events or in the midst of national arguments, we turn to poetry. After the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones” was read online by millions. After the killings of black men and women by police, Jericho Brown’s “Bullet Points” is shared on social media again and again. In the last few years of national political strife, the National Endowment for the Arts says poetry readership is at an all-time high for the new millennium.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 11.45.03 AMJeremy Michael Reed is a PhD candidate in English and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee. His poems are published in Still: The Journal, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere, including the anthology Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing. He’s the editor-in-chief of Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, associate editor of Sundress Publications, co-director of The Only Tenn-I-See Reading Series, and assistant to Joy Harjo.


The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an artists’ residency that hosts workshops, retreats and residencies for writers, actors, filmmakers, and visual arts. All are guided by experience, professional instructors from a variety of creative disciplines who are dedicated to cultivating the arts in East Tennessee.


Meet our New Editorial Intern: Katie Culligan

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My name is Katie Culligan, and every week, I go to a Space Jam-themed cycling class for seniors that I started going to accidentally, but now go to purposefully.

I learned to read in the city of Buffalo, New York, and learned to drive in the mountains of East Tennessee. I’m a junior creative writing student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where I am also an affectionate succulent parent. My writing is currently forthcoming on my mother’s refrigerator.

It was a love story between an intense person and an intense pastime when I became a varsity women’s rower for the University of Tennessee. My teammates reinforce everyday that French braids are where girls keep their secret power reserves and they should make you feel very intimidated.

In my free time, I am a purposeful chaos maker in UT’s youngest improv troupe, Cumberland Striptease (that I did not name). When I grow up, I want to be a stately lady that wears bright orange lipstick very poorly and very confidently. Until then, I’m so excited to be here at the Sundress Academy for the Arts looking for my words.


Katie Culligan is currently young and terrified at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she is a junior studying creative writing. Her favorite responsibilities are NCAA rowing, big sisterhood, and believing unwaveringly in ghosts. Her writing is informed by this age of indestructible men, though she likes to think her life isn’t. She also thinks if you haven’t tried fig newtons with peanut butter yet, you really should.

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.