Meet our New Intern: Mary B. Sellers

My sweet-tooth for stories and books is entirely my mother’s doing. From the beginning, she ingrained in me the importance of make-believe; the easy, seductive escapism that goes along with a good book. My childhood library was a vast, impressive thing, which my mother also had a hand in making. On my last visit home, I climbed the winding staircase with the odd bend in its middle up to my old bedroom, where I remembered seeing these childhood books last.

I found them neatly stacked—tall and glossy with the hardcover’s requisite fierce laminate shine—on the old twin-sized trundle bed, their pages stuck shut by time and that species-specific dust bunny native only to suburbia.

I tried to be gentle as I sifted through them, rereading some entirely like Audrey Wood’s King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, which I remember being one of my particular favorites as it was about a king who did just that—held court in his bathtub. Bubbles pop and soak marble floors while jesters make silly grimace-grins: I imagine it must have inspired from my then-toddler-self, a deep awe for the interdimensional aspects of the average-looking bathtub. Others, too, like Grandfather Twilight, about a kind old man who puts the moon in the sky after his evening walk each night; The Rainbabies, too—a classically structured folktale dealing in magic rain, the moon, and wishes coming true—depicted in careful sketching and pastel watercolors, soft and cool-toned.

The first time I “seriously” wrote anything was the summer my mother had her first manic episode (bipolar psychosis), and her first stint at the psych ward. It was the summer before eighth grade. It was also the last summer that my mother ever wrote anything seriously again. Specifically, I mean the book she’d started writing a few weeks after quitting her job as a speechwriter. I’d been beyond excited at the prospect of having a real-life author for a mother. I fantasized about this scenario, made sure to brag to my friends at school about it. My mother, the writer.

Because it was true, how it’d always been: my mother was the writer in the family; the reader, the dreamy girl who spent her teenage weekends with bent, seventies’ paperbacks. Looking back on photos of my mother as a teenager and young twenty-something, I see a pretty girl with olive skin and dark fly-away hair who seems to always be laughing with a book in hand. It’s the true sort of happiness that’s hard to fake. Bliss, joy, a silliness I’ve never seen on her. There’s light in those black eyes of hers, and the skin around her happy mouth is stretched tight and young with delight. I wish I’d known her then, could talk to that version of her now that I’m grown.

Originally from Jackson, MS, I now live and work in Seattle, WA, with my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who I (nerdily) christened Daisy Buchanan after the leading lady in The Great Gatsby. (I’ve always loved her ‘beautiful little fool’ quote towards the beginning of the novel.) I currently am a part time children’s creative writing instructor for Pacifica Writers’ Workshop, a Split Lip Press nonfiction reader, and a freelance writer. Side hustles include: web development, selling on Poshmark, dog sitting, and trying to write a novel.

I graduated with a BA in English Literature from the University of Mississippi in 2013 and an MFA in Creative Writing with a Fiction emphasis from Louisiana State University in 2018, where I served as graduate prose editorial assistant for The Southern Review, social media editor for New Delta Review, and cohost for the Underpass Readers & Writers series. In 2018, my graduate thesis—a hybrid novel, Rapunzel Has Insomnia—was a finalist for the University of New Orleans Publishing Laboratory Prize.

My fiction, essays, articles, and reviews appear in Psychopomp Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Grimoire, Third Point Press, Sidereal Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Literary Orphans, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Dream Pop Press, The New Southern Fugitives, Click Magazine, Mississippi Magazine, Young Professionals of Seattle, and New Delta Review, among others.

For the past decade, I’ve attempted to keep at least one toe in the book publishing and literary worlds, which is why I have such eclectic work experiences: summer editorial assistantships for lifestyle magazines, an NYC-based literary agent, and a couple of online magazines, and Thacker Mountain Radio, a weekly radio show. Fresh out of college I even worked for Fat Possum Records, a record label located in my college town of Oxford, MS, while studying for the GRE and applying to 12 MFA programs. After being rejected from all 12 schools and subsequent identity crisis, I spent the next year working remotely as associate publisher for the small indie press Blooming Twig Books and freelance writing. They would later go on to be kind enough to publish my first collection of short stories, Shoulder Bones, in 2014.

During my time in graduate school, I had the opportunity to live and workshop my writing abroad for one month in Prague, thanks to the 2016 Prague Summer Writers Program. Also, in 2017, I participated in the Sewanee Summer Writers Residency. Recently, my short story “The Other Mother” was second runner up in Psychopomp Magazine’s 2019 Short Fiction Contest. My personal essay “Inheritance: A Timeline” was nominated for a 2019 Best of the Net award, and my short story “Alice and the Moon” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


Mary B. Sellers lives and works in Seattle, WA, and is at work on her second book, a novel of autofiction. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Mississippi and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University. Most recently her writing has appeared in Psychopomp Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Grimoire, Third Point Press, Sidereal Magazine, and Young Professionals of Seattle.

Sundress Releases Blood Stripes by Aaron Dylan Graham

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Sundress Releases Blood Stripes by Aaron Dylan Graham

Blood Stripes CoverSundress Publications announces the release of Blood Stripes, the debut full-length poetry collection from Aaron Graham. Blood Stripes is a haunting, unprecedented example of contemporary trench poetry.

Set in Iraq during the mid-2000’s, Blood Stripes delves into the complexity and trauma of modern conflict. Through the eyes of a marine, these poems illustrate the intimacy of violence with candid brutality. Beyond the innate bonds formed between comrades, a strange communion develops across enemy lines as those charged with destroying each other do so with a kind of tenderness. Through inflicting atrocities, the speaker forges human connection—connections that cannot be replicated outside the battle.

In these poems, violence is a new creature, one that is concurrently loathsome yet addictive and sensual. Amid the shrapnel and the sand wet with bits of lung, this violence is perhaps born of a love of the struggle. While the marine unwittingly volunteers to be a harbinger of death, it is a role of eternal confinement. These poems reveal the moral ambiguity of the causal sequence of war, as at home the marine is haunted by trauma while still craving it. The side effects of conflict cannot be outlived—despite quickclot being applied to a ruptured artery—some bleeding cannot be stopped.

“In Aaron Graham’s searing debut, poetry emerges as a full-blooded form of counterintelligence. WWI novelist Henri Barbusse called soldiers ‘forgetting machines,’ built to suppress and deny the trauma they experience in themselves and produce in others. Marine veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Graham trains every fiber of his uncompromising attention on the sacred and obscene task of remembering what, strictly speaking, cannot be known. PTSD tendrils between every line—’all my nows murder all my / vowels – // all my nows justify / the violence’—as the poet reaches through and beyond realism. Deploying his formidable intelligence as linguist, translator, and philosopher, Graham isolates ‘the moment before an explosion / breaks, the word shrapnel becomes / the beginning of the reality shrapnel.’ Under the poet’s targeted pressure, ‘the whole structure of propriety delaminates,’ including the fiction of the reader’s innocence. The poems in this collection sear me, stain me, push me to the point of slamming the book shut until I’m ready to pry the pages open again, to see in Graham’s language what I cannot see.”
-Cassandra Cleghorn

Aaron Graham hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, population 1159, which boasts seven Aaron Grahambars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign, and no stoplights. He served as the editor-in-chief for the Squaw Valley Review, is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and The Ashbury Home School, and the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop. Aaron is currently attending UCNG’s MFA program in poetry and finishing his Ph.D. at Emory University. He currently resides in Greensboro, NC with this wife, Alana, and their three daughters, Alexi, Nora, and Naomi.

Pre-order Blood Stripes here.

 

Shitty First Drafts Episode 4, Featuring Lance Dyzak, is Live!

Picture1Sundress Publications announces the fourth episode of the podcast, Shitty First Drafts. A podcast made for and by writers, the show playfully investigates the creative processes of different artists to determine how a finished draft gets its polish.

Lance Dyzak joins Brynn Martin and Stephanie Phillips to discuss his short story “Extra Innings,” based on a bizarre event he witnessed at a park while walking his dog, and the various forms it went through before reaching its completion.

lance-dyzak-headshot.jpgIn the end, though the event helped Dyzak write a good story, he took it out and cautions writers against “injecting weirdness for the sake of weirdness” they are afraid to write something that feels like it’s been done before. He says, “A lot of writers are afraid of writing a boring story [but] it’s all in the details.”

In this episode, we also discuss the enneagram test (he’s a 5w4), baseball puns, killing your darlings (or filing them away for another time), and the world of online forums.

Lance Dyzak is a Ph.D. student in fiction at the University of Tennessee, where he is writing his first novel. His work has previously appeared in Southwest Review, Southern Indiana ReviewNew Limestone Review, and Per Contra. He is also the co-director of the Only-Tenn-I-See Reading Series, set to kick off in September.

 

Hannah V. Warren Wins Sundress Publications 2019 Chapbook Competition

Hannah V. Warren Wins 2019 Chapbook Contest

 

Sundress Publications is thrilled to announce that Hannah V. Warren with her chapbook, [re]construction of the necromancer, was selected by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello as the winner of Sundress Publications’ eighth annual chapbook competition.

Hannah V. Warren is an MFA graduate of the University of Kansas and, currently, a creative writing Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia where she studies fairytales and other speculative narratives. Her poetry has recently appeared in Prism Review, Whiskey Island, Bear Review, and Room Magazine.

Angela Narciso Torres’ chapbook To the Bone was chosen as this year’s runner-up and will also receive publication.

Angela Narciso Torres is the author of Blood Orange, winner of the Willow Book Literature Awards for Poetry. Recently, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY, Missouri Review, Quarterly West, and PANK. She is an MFA graduate of Warren Wilson College’s Program for Writers and Harvard Graduate School of Education and has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Illinois Arts Council, and Ragdale Foundation. She currently resides in South Florida where she is faculty for the Palm Beach Poetry Festival as a manuscript consultant.

Congratulations, also, to this year’s finalists and semifinalists!

Finalists
“Dispatches re: Year One,” Sarah B. Boyle
“A Field Guide to the Natural Disasters of Southern California,” Charles Jensen

“Counting Softly the Seconds,” John LaPine
“Backstory,” Lisa Mase

“Unerase,” Fargo Tbakhi

Semifinalists
“our lady of deciduous teeth,” Chelsea Bodnar

“Breadcrumbs,” Lois Marie Harrod
“If You Had Left Your Brain Alone,” David James
“Church of the Unnamed Subdivision,” Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

“Tumbling After,” Sara Wagner

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A 501(c)3 non-profit literary press collective founded in 2000, Sundress Publications is an entirely volunteer-run press that publishes chapbooks and full-length collections in both print and digital formats, and hosts numerous literary journals, an online reading series, and the Best of the Net Anthology.

Website: www.sundresspublications.com      Facebook: sundresspublications
Email: sundresspublications@gmail.com          Twitter: @SundressPub

Sundress Announces the First Two Episodes of the New Podcast, Shitty First Drafts

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shitty first drafts

Sundress Publications announces the first two episodes of a new podcast, Shitty First Drafts. A podcast made for and by writers, the show playfully investigates the creative processes of different artists to determine how a finished draft gets its polish.

In the podcast’s first episode, Stephanie Phillips and Brynn Martin are joined by writer Jeremy Michael Reed. Currently living in Knoxville and having finished up his Ph.D. in poetry in early May, Jeremy shares that he didn’t always plan on being a writer or even to study it in school. Of the two poems he shares during the episode, one an early piece of writing from his undergraduate years and the other a more polished piece from graduate school, both touch on Jeremy’s childhood in Michigan, his family, and memory.

In the second episode of Shitty First Drafts, Samantha Edmonds joins Stephanie Phillips and Brynn Martin to talk about her process as a fiction writer. After finishing up her MFA in fiction this spring, Sam is headed to pursue her Ph.D. in the fall at the University of Missouri. While on the podcast, Sam discusses her broad range of publications from essays and short stories to Buzzfeed listicles. The pieces she shares during the episode are two versions of the same flash fiction story about a man who falls in love with the moon with such intensity that he decides he wants to pull it down from the sky.

reed_authorpicJeremy Michael Reed holds a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee. His poems and essays are published in Oxidant|Engine, Still: The Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere, including the anthology Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing. He’s an associate editor for Sundress Publications, and he will join the faculty of Westminster College in Fulton, MO in fall 2019. You can find more of his work at jeremymichaelreed.com

thumbnail.jpegSamantha Edmonds is the author of the fiction chapbook Pretty to Think So, forthcoming from Selcouth Station Press in 2019. Her fiction and nonfiction appear in such journals as The Rumpus, Mississippi Review, Black Warrior Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, LitHub, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among others. She serves as the Fiction Editor for Doubleback Review and the Community Outreach Director for Sundress Academy for the Arts. She currently lives in Knoxville, where earned her MFA from the University of Tennessee. She’ll be starting a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Missouri in the fall. Visit her online at www.samanthaedmonds.com

Call for Submissions: Full-Length Poetry Manuscripts

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unnamed Sundress Publications is open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts. All authors are welcome to submit qualifying manuscripts during our reading period of May 15 to August 15, 2019.

We’re looking for manuscripts of forty-eight to eighty (48-80) single-spaced pages; front matter is excluded from page count. Individual pieces or selections may have been previously published in anthologies, chapbooks, print journals, online journals, etc., but cannot have appeared in any full-length collection, including self-published collections. Single-author and collaborative author manuscripts will be considered. Manuscripts translated from another language will not be accepted. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but we ask that authors notify us immediately if their work has been accepted elsewhere.

The reading fee is $13 per manuscript, though the fee will be waived for entrants who purchase or pre-order any Sundress title or broadside. We will also accept nominations for entrants, provided the nominating person either pays the reading fee or makes a qualifying purchase. Authors may submit and/or nominate as many manuscripts as they would like, so long as each is accompanied by a separate reading fee or purchase/pre-order. Entrants and nominators can place book orders or pay submission fees at our store.

All manuscripts will be read by members of our editorial board, and we will choose at least two manuscripts for publication. We strive to further our commitment to diversity and seek to encounter as many unique and important voices as possible. We are actively seeking collections from writers of color, trans and nonbinary writers, writers with disabilities, and others whose voices are underrepresented in literary publishing. Selected manuscripts will be offered a standard publication contract, which includes 25 copies of the published book, as well as any additional copies at cost.

This year our top selection from the reading period also will receive a free one-week writing residency at the Sundress Academy for the Arts in Knoxville, TN.

To submit, email your Sundress store receipt for submission fee or book purchase, along with your manuscript (DOC, DOCX, or PDF), to sundresspublications@gmail.com. Be sure to note both your name and the title of the manuscript in your email header. For those nominating others for our reading period, please include the name of nominee as well as an email address; we will solicit the manuscript directly.

Although we are conscious of the lack of representation by women writers in literary publishing, we are a non-discriminatory publishing group focused on the creativity of all artists, regardless of race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, education, etc.

A 501(c)3 non-profit literary press collective founded in 2000, Sundress Publications is an entirely volunteer-run press that publishes chapbooks and full-length collections in both print and digital formats, and hosts numerous literary journals, an online reading series, and the Best of the Net Anthology.

 

The Wardrobe is Looking for Books that Honor National Hispanic Heritage Month

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As a part of our mission to extol writers and people of all cultural backgrounds, Sundress Publications is accepting submissions that honor National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15–October 15).

We are looking for work that celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. National Hispanic Heritage Month works to pay tribute to the ways that Hispanic and Latinx Americans have enriched American culture, and we at Sundress Publications are seeking works that lend a voice to these diverse cultural contributions and histories.

Authors or publishers of books published in the past twelve months may submit to The Wardrobe. To do so, please forward an electronic copy of the book (PDFs preferred), author bio, photo of the cover, and a link to the publisher’s website to The Wardrobe’s email with the subject line “Hispanic Heritage.” In addition, we request that one print copy be mailed to Sundress Academy for the Arts, ATTN: The Wardrobe, 195 Tobby Hollow Lane, Knoxville, TN 37931.

Submissions to The Wardrobe will remain eligible for this “Best Dressed” selection for one year. Hard copies will become a permanent part of the Sundress Academy for the Arts library and be made available for review by our editors and/or affiliate journals.

For the complete details and rules, please see The Wardrobe website.

Sundress Announces the Release of a New Podcast, Shitty First Drafts

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Sundress Publications announces the release of a new podcast, Shitty First Drafts. A podcast made for and by writers, the show playfully investigates the creative processes of different artists to determine how a finished draft gets its polish.

Shitty First Drafts, hosted by writers Brynn Martin and Stephanie Lee Phillips, aims to demystify the writing process through conversation and a good sense of humor. During each episode, a guest writer is asked to share an older piece of writing—whether it’s an early draft of a current work or something scrawled in a high school notebook—juxtaposed against a newer, polished piece. While the show is centered around writing and drafting, it also seeks insight into the evolution of writers over time and how that affects the way they approach the page, revision, and getting shit done. SFD plans to interview writers of different genres, experience, and style, while asking the same question: how do you get from the shitty first draft to the final one?

 

brynnBrynn Martin is a Kansas native living in Knoxville, where she received her MFA in poetry from the University of Tennessee. She now works as the Literary Arts Director for Sundress Academy for the Arts. Her poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Contrary Magazine, Yes, Poetry, Rogue Agent, and Crab Orchard Review.

 

 

Stephanie Lee Phillips is a writer and photographer from Tennessee currently working stephanieat her alma mater and hanging out with mostly poets. She has a BFA in English from the University of Tennessee and an MA in fiction from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers program. Currently living in Knoxville, TN, she works closely with the local literary non-profit Sundress Academy for the Arts and serves as art editor for the online literary journal, Stirring. Her fiction appears in Entropy Magazine.

 

 

The Wardrobe Is Looking for Books To Honor Women’s Equality Day

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As a part of Sundress Publications’ mission to lift up women in the literary community, we are looking for submissions that honor Women’s Equality Day (August 26).

Women’s Equality Day commemorates the 19th amendment, which gave women a voice in the political arena in the United States for the first time. We at Sundress feel that is important to celebrate how far we’ve come in our fight for equality and to acknowledge how far we still have to go. We’re looking for writers whose work delves into these concepts and adds its own voice to the chorus of struggles and triumphs in the fight for women’s equality.

Authors or publishers of books published in the past twelve months may submit to The Wardrobe. To do so, please forward an electronic copy of the book (PDFs preferred), author bio, photo of the cover, and a link to the publisher’s website to wardrobe@sundresspublications.com with the subject line “Wardrobe Submission: Equality Day.” In addition, we request that one print copy be mailed to Sundress Academy for the Arts, ATTN: The Wardrobe, 195 Tobby Hollow Lane, Knoxville, TN 37931.

Submissions to The Wardrobe will remain eligible for this “Best Dressed” selection for one year. Hard copies will become a permanent part of the Sundress Academy for the Arts library and be made available for review by our editors and/or affiliate journals.

For the complete guidelines, please see the Wardrobe website HERE.

 

SAFTA Call for Applications

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Call for Applications

Development Writing and Research Internships
Sundress Academy for the Arts

An extension of Sundress Publications, a 501(c)3 nonprofit publication group founded in 2000, the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an artists’ retreat on a 45-acre farm in Knoxville, Tennessee, that offers residencies to writers, visual artists, filmmakers, composers, and other creators from across the country. With two residency rooms and a dry cabin on site, we offer a rotating space for nationally recognized and emerging artists in multiple disciplines. SAFTA also hosts weekend workshops, yearly retreats, and more.

These positions will run from June to December with a chance to be renewed.

The development research intern’s responsibilities include researching and proposing grant opportunities, coordinating with the development writing intern and other SAFTA departments, collating data, and proofreading documents. The intern may also be responsible for writing copy, composing blogs, and assisting in the establishment of new programs, projects, and partnerships. In addition to the below, those applying for this position should have strong online research skills.

The development writing intern’s responsibilities include writing grants, coordinating with the development research intern and other SAFTA departments, collating data, and proofreading documents. The intern may also be responsible for writing copy, composing blogs, and assisting in the establishment of new programs, projects, and partnerships. In addition to the below, those applying for this position should have a keen eye for grammar, punctuation, and syntax.

Qualifications for both include:

  • Strong organizational, creative, problem-solving, and written communication skills
  • A passion for contemporary literature and community arts programs

Knowledge of arts administration and/or grant writing a plus but not required. Applicants are welcome to telecommunicate and therefore are not restricted to living in the Knoxville area.

While this is an unpaid internship, all interns gain real-world experience with a nationally recognized press and arts organization while creating a portfolio of work for future employment opportunities. Interns will also be able to attend all workshops at the Sundress Academy for the Arts at cost.

To apply, please send a resume and a brief cover letter detailing your interest in the position to the Development Director, Lauren Specht, at specht@sundresspublications.com. Applications are due by May 15, 2019.

For more information, visit us at http://www.sundresspublications.com and http://www.sundressacademyforthearts.com. You may also check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.