Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents “Magical Realism & Cultural Context”: A Writers Workshop

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present “Magical Realism & Cultural Context,” a workshop led by Jessica Reidy on August 11, 2021 from 6-7:30PM. This event will be held over Zoom. Participants can access the event at tiny.utk.edu/sundress (password: safta).

This workshop will challenge the idea of magical realism as something imagined within reality with Marquez’s assertion that “surrealism runs through the streets,” and invite students to consider various cultural perspectives on what is real, which include magic or spiritual phenomena as inseparable from reality. The format of this workshop will be part lecture, and part generative. In the lecture, we will examine works by Rajko Đjuríc, Edwidge Danticat, and Joy Harjo as examples of the magic and the mundane coexisting, and we will examine the cultural elements of the story that inform these specific realities.

The second part of the workshop will be focused on generating material through writing prompts that guide students to writing their own magical realism, incorporating their sense of heritage, place, and cosmology into their work. The goal of this workshop is to free up ideas around what is real and what is magical, allowing students to access all forms of their and their characters’ lived experiences, and create a holistic narrative.

While there is no fee for this workshop, those who are able and appreciative can make direct donations to Jessica via Venmo @jezminavonthiele or PayPal at jessica.s.reidy@gmail.com .

Jessica Reidy (she/they) is a writer and educator with works in Narrative Magazine as Story of the Week, Prairie Schooner, The Kenyon Review online, RomArchive, and other publications. She is the winner of the Nancy Thorp Poetry Prize, the Penelope Nivens Award for Creative Nonfiction, and the Glenna Luschei Prize, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net. She is a co-host of Romanistan podcast alongside Paulina Verminski, a celebration of Roma, rebels, and roots. Under the name Jezmina Von Thiele, she is a dancer, healer, artist, art model, and fortune teller, dealing in tarot, palmistry, and tea leaves. She tells fortunes in her mixed Roma/Sinti family’s tradition. She is a queer witch, and can be found at jessicareidy.com and jezminavonthiele.com

The Sundress Academy for the Arts Presents: The Poetry of Technology

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present a writing workshop lead by SAFTA staff director JoAnna Brooker, “The Poetry of Technology”.This workshop will be held onDecember 9th, 2020 from 6-7:30PM EST. In keeping with both the current pandemic and theme of the workshop, this event will be held over Zoom. Participants can access the event at tiny.utk.edu/sundress, with the password ‘safta’ and this event is free and open to the public.

In modern times, technology has woven itself so deeply into our lived experiences that more often than not, we cannot distinguish truth and authenticity from lies and simulations. Especially in the socially distanced world we currently inhabit, experiences often considered ‘better’ in person are simulated via Zoom and other channels. In this workshop, we will take the subtext of technology’s dehumanization as well as the over-saturation of modern media and rip it apart as human beings. We will engage with these instruments and systems as representations of ourselves in relation to what it means to exist online, for better or worse. 

At the end of this workshop, you will be challenged to treat your text messages and DMs as intimate letters. These too are stories and the better we can understand them and the effect they have on us, the better prepared we are to engage with the increasingly digitized world we inhabit.

JoAnna Brooker is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where she studied Journalism and English. She is currently a staff director for Sundress Academy for the Arts and her work has been featured in Jet Fuel Review, Hash JournalMenacing Hedge,and The Knoxville Mercury. She can be found on all social media platforms @cupofjoanna.