Sundress Academy for the Arts Announces Writing Retreat for Survival and Healing

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Sundress Academy for the Arts Announces
Writing Retreat for Survival and Healing

Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to announce its third annual generative writing retreat celebrating survival and healing on July 6-7, 2019. This two-day retreat for sexual assault survivors will be held in Oak Ridge, TN and will be a safe space for creativity, generative writing exercises, discussions on ways to write trauma, advice on publishing, and more. Come join us in mutual support for a weekend of writing time for healing, safety, and comfort.

A weekend pass includes one-on-one and group instruction, writing supplies, meals, drinks, and all on-site amenities for $75.

The event will be open to writers of all backgrounds and provide an opportunity to work with many talented, published fiction writers and poets from around the country, including Beth Couture, Rax King, Krista Cox, and Macy French.

coutureBeth Couture is the author of Women Born with Fur (Jaded Ibis Press, 2014) and has published fiction in various journals and anthologies. She holds a PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, an MFA from the University of Notre Dame, and a Master’s in Social Service from Bryn Mawr College, and works as a therapist in the Counseling Center at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She is a licensed social worker (LSW) in the state of Pennsylvania and is beginning training as a registered biblio/poetry therapist. Her approach to therapy is person-centered, psychodynamic, and feminist, and she frequently uses expressive writing and journaling with her clients. She has extensive experience working with college-age students, survivors of sexual trauma, and the trans and LGBTQ communities.

kingRax King is a dog-loving, hedgehog-mothering, beer-swilling, gay and disabled sumbitch who occasionally writes poetry and works as assistant editor for Sundress Publications. She is the author of the collection The People’s Elbow: Thirty Recitatives on Rape and Wrestling (Ursus Americanus, 2018). Her work can also be found in Barrelhouse, Peach Mag, and Glass Poetry.

 

coxFor money, Krista Cox is a paralegal. For joy, she’s an associate poetry editor at Stirring: A Literary Collection, a member of the board of the Feminist Humanist Alliance, and Executive Director of Lit Literary Collective, a nonprofit serving her local literary community. Her poetry has appeared in Columbia Journal, Crab Fat Magazine, The Humanist, and elsewhere. There’s more fascinating information about Krista to be found at http://kristacox.me.

 

 

frenchMacy French is poet from East Tennessee. Her work has appeared in Connotation Press, DASH Literary Journal, Gravel Magazine and others. She is a graduate of Tusculum University with a bachelor’s degree in English and is currently working toward her M.Ed. in Elementary Education.

 

 

 

 

 

We have two full scholarships available for the retreat as well as limited 20% scholarships for those with financial need. To apply for a scholarship, send a packet of no more than (8) pages of creative writing along with a brief statement on why you would like to attend this workshop to Erin Elizabeth Smith at erin@sundresspublications.com no later than May 15th, 2018. Scholarship recipients will be announced in late May.

Space at this workshop is limited to 14 writers, so reserve your place today at https://squareup.com/store/sundress-publications/item/retreat-for-survival-and-healing

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.

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Sundress Announces the Release of Amorak Huey’s Collection, Boom Box

Sundress Releases Amorak Huey’s Collection, Boom Box

Sundress Publications announces the release of Amorak Huey’s collection, Boom Box. In this, Huey’s third published collection, the poems brim with desire and are hounded by the uncertainties of puberty, while Huey’s speaker chronicles the honest arc of an adolescence that is neither purely tragic nor purely ideal.

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In Boom Box, Amorak Huey’s incisive and tender portrait of a GenX childhood, he challenges his readers to reconsider the way in which we relate to the past as we age. “What are the uses of nostalgia?” Huey asks. “What does it conceal, and what does it uncover?” Boom Box is suffused with the loneliness of small-town isolation and punctuated by the deep hurt of divorce. It is also rife with the pleasures of discovering a favorite album, and the powerful, restless energy of being seventeen. With the humor, curiosity, and earnestness of youth, Huey threads references to KISS, Star Wars, and even Dungeons & Dragons throughout the book, invoking at every turn the comforting sweetness of nostalgia. But Huey’s work is never saccharine. Instead, with each successive poem, and the discerning eye of a sage adult, his speaker untangles a web of early memories. By skillfully painting an experience of growing up in the wide rivers, gravel parking lots, and lonely dirt roads of Alabama, and by pairing those images with intimate snapshots of high school break-ups, missed connections, and Little League fathers who “never had a problem disappointment couldn’t solve,” Huey offers his readers a unique opportunity to remember the awkward trappings of youth through his artistically masterful lens. In this way, Boom Box revisits the foundations of the coming-of-age genre with style, clarity, and an emotional resonance that lasts long after its final lines.

Chelsea Dingman, author of What Bodies Have I Moved and Thaw, says, “If poems are magic, then the poems of Boom Box are rife with the magic of childhood in guitar-solo riffs of splendor and nostalgia. Amidst sweeping narratives, the past stands as a monument to be worshipped instead of forgotten. The sorrow, the thrill, the sex, the music, and the awkwardness, are all captured as if in time capsules—these are poems of loss and marrow and place, of time and the wars it wields. They are profound in their honesty, bittersweet, heartbreaking, yet redemptive. Like a stadium-rock anthem. Like the song thrumming in the background of a life that testifies ‘to love a place is to leave it behind.’”

Order your copy HERE.

amorakhuey

Amorak Huey is author of two previous poetry collections: Seducing the Asparagus Queen (Cloudbank Books, 2018), winner of the Vern Rutsala Prize; and Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress Publications, 2015). Co-author of the textbook Poetry: A Writers’ Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), he teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

 

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Interview with Leah Silvieus

arabilis

Leah Silvieus, author of the Arabilis, sat down with our editorial intern Eva Weidenfeld to discuss this upcoming release including the meaning behind its Latin-rooted title, the power of the seasons, the spiritual and sonic resonance of religion, and more.

EW: Can you speak to what prompted you to choose the Latin language to title your work, and why this word specifically?

LS: I have to give full credit for the title to my brilliant editor at Bull City Press, Leslie Sainz, who worked with me publishing my chapbook, Season of Dares. Arabilis came up as a possible title for the chapbook, but I thought it would be a better fit for the full-length collection which encompassed all of the seasons. Here’s what Leslie had to say about the title:

Arabilis acknowledges the specific blend of hope and action that the characters/speakers in the collection put to use. The characters in this manuscript are pervaded by a deep sense of longing, of wanting to escape, belong, honor. They essentially “plow through” circumstance to cope in the only ways they know how. I was interested in etymological titles for the manuscript because this collection, despite its elegies and concerns for the external world, feels deeply rooted in the origin story tradition. Arabilis manages to host both physical environment and temperate climate when taken literally, but also anchors readers emotionally when read through the colloquial lens of “to plow through something.” Returning to the literal denotation, plowing, in and of itself, is a violent, forceful act. This title helps us consider the violence that is mostly suggested: the dead fawn in “Field Elegy,” the bodies piling up in “Maryland Route 210 Elegy, Dusk.” Lastly, I think the musicality of Arabilis is particularly striking, and adds a lyrical delicacy to a collection that’s already sonically heightened.

EW: Arabilis is categorized by seasons, yet you start the book at summer, not spring. What was the significance of attributing each set of poems to a season, and to finish at spring, rather than begin there?

LS: Organizing the manuscript by season felt intuitive to me, perhaps because growing up the way I did (in a rural town in the Mountain West, with my religious background) the turning of the seasons governed the rhythms of our daily lives, whether that was in terms of the changing of the temperate seasons or the turning of the liturgical seasons, or the other kinds of seasons that marked the year like hunting season or wildfire season.

Earlier iterations of this manuscript actually began with spring, but as I was revising, one of my editors pointed out how frequently summer came up and I realized that it was summer, rather than spring, where it felt this collection really wanted to begin—for many reasons. For one, summer, where I grew up, was probably the most dramatic of the seasons and the one I remember most—our northern longitude meant that daylight stretched until around 10 p.m. during the height of summer, and the wildfires that often raged around the valleys in which I grew up felt almost apocalyptic in nature: the air filled with smoke and turned the sun red, and we watched as the ridges glowed with flame at night. It was summer, rather than spring that felt like the season of awakening to me, where, despite our technological advances and preventative measures, it felt as we were at the mercy of God and nature. My father was a wildland firefighter then as well, so summer was the time in which our mortality felt especially close.

I concluded Arabilis with spring because, despite the hope and beauty and rebirth that this season connotes, it also is a very messy time that feels laden with more volatility and uncertainty than answers and closure. I didn’t feel it would be honest to have the collection wrap up tidily because I continue to be haunted by the questions that suffuse the book. Instead, I wanted to end by asking, “What happens after?” After trauma, after loss, after one asks questions and doesn’t receive answers—or if those answers weren’t those that we expected? Re-birth and new beginnings, while liberating in some ways, have always felt weighty and fraught to me—what are we to do with all of this possibility?

EW: Many of your pieces contain allusions or direct references to several religious concepts or works, and you even start your book with Matthew 19:14. You mention that the scriptures from your childhood have haunted you since. Did you find that incorporating these scriptures and ideas came naturally to you? Can you speak to the interrogative process of re-imagining the religion you were raised with?

LS: In the Christian Evangelical tradition I grew up in, scripture was everywhere. We learned to memorize it in Sunday School and Bible clubs, and our youth pastor encouraged us to keep scripture with us at all times: I remember writing passages of scripture and fastening them inside my shoes so I was literally “walking with the Word of God.” Although I practice my faith differently now than I did from the way I grew up, once in a while, certain scriptures will pop into my head, like a song I can’t forget. With regard to re-imagining the religion I was raised with—it wasn’t as much a project of active interrogation as much as it was that certain phrases kept creeping into my poems—and I had to figure out what to do with them.

Sometimes what haunted me weren’t even words, but patterns in cadence and syntax. In some ways, I think my lyrical ear was trained through my exposure to religious ritual growing up, whether it was through call and response, praise music, or prayer. The kind of prayer I grew up with was freeform and often long, and learning to pray was not just about the content of the prayer but also learning to shape cadence of the words into the arc of a prayer that often began in a long and grand address to God, moved through often tearful confessions, meditative gratitude, then swept upward into a dramatic supplication. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rhythms of my poems reflect the metrical patterns of my childhood prayers. In the end, I don’t feel so much that I incorporated these scriptures and rituals into these poems as much as these poems have sprung from the remains of my childhood faith, and this collection is an attempt make a home where both of us now can live.   

EW: Animals are often seen throughout Arabilis in terms of violence—the snake in “Sonnet In Cold Blood,” wasps in “Equinox,” the frog in “Invasive Species,” the doe carcass in “Field Dressing,” the horses in “Agency,” along with many others. What is the significance of juxtaposing the natural world with the painful imagery that is often related to the human world?

LS: I know I tend to anthropomorphize animals and so I was interested in interrogating the limits and possibilities of that phenomenon. How much can we learn about human morality, its attitudes toward violence and otherization, through the lens of our relationship to nature? Juxtaposing the natural world with the human world became a way of exploring anthropomorphism and dehumanization. What, for example, makes it, in some instances, seem OK to kill a non-poisonous snake that enters a house than a rabbit that enters a garden and eats all of the summer’s lettuce? How are we OK with being passive observers of some kind of violences and not of others? Why are we often more empathetic with the suffering of those animals that we can more easily anthropomorphize, say, a baby mammal, than those we find more difficult to relate to—say an insect? What does it mean when in the process of trying to be helpful, we perpetrate another kind of violence?

EW: How has your background of being adopted from South Korea created bridges or obstacles regarding your path to getting your work seen and published?

LS: It wasn’t until I was in college that I was aware that there were other Asian American writers at all, and it wasn’t until I was in South Korea teaching under a Fulbright grant that I met another adoptee poet, my now friend and mentor Lee Herrick. Lee was the first person to publish my work through a magazine feature that he was guest editing. Since then, especially through spaces like Kundiman, I’ve found such a generous and welcoming community of writers that have been supportive in my journey both as a writer and an adoptee and am so grateful to have come of age in a time when adoptee stories are gaining more visibility.

Order your copy of Arabilis today!


 

author imageBorn in South Korea and raised in Montana and Colorado, Leah Silvieus now travels between Florida and New York as a yacht chief stewardess. She is the author of two chapbooks, Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press) and Season of Dares (Bull City Press). Her full-length book of poetry, Arabilis, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications in 2019. She holds an MFA from the University of Miami, is a Kundiman Fellow and serves as a Books Editor at Hyphen magazine. Visit her at leahsilvieus.com.

 

weidenfeld

Eva Weidenfeld is a current senior at Western Washington University. She will complete her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with additional concentrations in Film Studies and Sociology in June of 2019. She is a reader for the 55th edition of WWU’s student-run Jeopardy Magazine. When she isn’t focusing on school work or editing gigs, you can find her at the local arthouse cinemas or somewhere scenic with a book (and a beer) in hand.

 

Timothy Ogene Reads Lenrie Peters

Timothy Ogene 12-16---2bPhoto credit: Clare McKenzie

In the this interview, Timothy Ogene reads a poem by Lenrie Peters, a Gambian poet and surgeon. The poem begins with the line “The first rose of the season,” and is the eighteenth in Peters’ 1967 collection Satellites. In this conversation, Ogene discusses how Peters’ work shows us that moments of silence can be moments of growth, and how Peters’ work offers us a model for writing that is at once optimistic and realistic about what Ogene calls “the violence of subjugation.” Thank you for joining us!

Timothy Ogene reading a poem by Lenrie Peters:

Jessica Hudgins: This poem feels really resolute to me. The heavy beats in each line, and those last two lines, especially. What draws you to this poem?

Timothy Ogene: Maybe he intended it. Maybe not. But the number assigned to the poem, 18, and what the poem suggests, ‘Of that which is to come/ In the power/ Of subdued fragrance,’ makes me think of Time and Maturation, how the later, no matter how delayed, is birthed by the former.
I’m drawn to the force and power of that promised ‘first rose of the season’, how it is revealed ‘layer by layer’ through the mechanism of concealment ( ‘Like the foetal head/ Inside an egg’). It is a poem that manages to stay optimistic while speaking to the violence of subjugation; that raises the imagery of birth and promise, calling on the reader to hold that image, but also drawing attention to the enigma of waiting.

JH: The poem makes me think of time, those beats like a ticking clock, and the easy way Peters moves forward — there’s nothing confusing about it, no word I don’t understand, but I feel like I haven’t fully grasped each moment, and then the next is here. That “subdued power” comes from saying exactly what you mean, and doing only exactly what you do: the rose will bloom because it’s a rose. Is this a political poem?

TO: Yes, Time is at the core of this poem. The time of maturation and the time of liberation, the time of waiting and of silence, and the time of bursting forth and glowing in full colors.  Lenrie was writing at the point when the fire of Independence was sweeping across Africa, when young writers and intellectuals saw themselves as voices of freedom and promise, voices whose ‘subdued power’ lie waiting to release their ‘fragrance.’ Read in that context, of pan-Africanist thought and nationalist sentiments, it is political. But it is also a poem that allows itself room for extraction and transplantation, to be read outside its pan-Africanist frame and significance, to be read merely as a song of hope, an ode (if you may) to the power of waiting, a warning that waiting and silence are not sites of emptiness. That they are, contained in their essence, sites of gestation. Silence, the poem seems to say, does not imply erasure. Growth happens even in silence, and it is Time that eventually gives force to voice.

JH: And I also read a lesson about poetry in the last two lines — how has Lenrie Peters influenced you work?

TO: You’re right. There’s something about those two lines. A gentle reminder that it’s all about the process, the act of waiting, of honing, of patience, of keeping watch for the right time and season, of knowing that one’s ‘fragrance,’ closed off or ‘subdued,’ will find expression somehow. That’s the way I see and read it. But there’s something more about Peters’ work that I find interesting. It is his ability to simultaneously approach and detach from the political, to perform what I call a poetics of extraction, where a single poem or line offers itself as a political cry but also self-standing work of beauty.

 


 

Timothy Ogene is a poet and novelist. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge and a visiting research fellow at Brown University.

Further Reading:

Visit Timothy Ogene’s website
Read three poems by Timothy Ogene at Numero Cinq
Purchase Timothy Ogene’s book Descent & Other Poems at Deerbrook Editions

Lenrie Peters (1932-2009) is a Gambian poet, novelist, and surgeon. He is the author of four books of poetry, including Satellites, which includes the poem discussed in this interview, and a novel, The Second Round. Peters worked for the BBC from 1955-1968, chairing its Africa Forum and broadcasting on several programs. He had a surgical practice in Banjul, and from 1979 to 1987 served as the president of the board of directors  of the National Library of the Gambia and Gambia College.

Further Reading:

Watch a 2006 interview with Lenrie Peters
Read several poems by Lenrie Peters (this link leads to a blog, there may be mistakes in the transcriptions)
Purchase Lenrie Peters’ book Satellites at Bolerium Books


Jessica Hudgins is a poet and teacher currently living in Georgia.
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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: We Call Them Beautiful by KC Trommer

This selection comes from KC Trommer’s poetry collection We Call Them Beautiful, available from Diode Editions.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Karen Craigo.

KC Trommer is the author of the debut poetry collection We Call Them Beautiful (Diode Editions, 2019) and the chapbook The Hasp Tongue (dancing girl press, 2014). She is the founder of the audio project QUEENSBOUND and is the Assistant Director of Communications at NYU Gallatin. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, with her son.

Karen Craigo is the author of two Sundress titles: Passing Through Humansville (2018) and No More Milk (2016). She is a newspaper editor in Marshfield, Missouri.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: We Call Them Beautiful by KC Trommer

 

This selection comes from KC Trommer’s poetry collection We Call Them Beautiful, available from Diode Editions.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Karen Craigo.

KC Trommer is the author of the debut poetry collection We Call Them Beautiful (Diode Editions, 2019) and the chapbook The Hasp Tongue (dancing girl press, 2014). She is the founder of the audio project QUEENSBOUND and is the Assistant Director of Communications at NYU Gallatin. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, with her son.

Karen Craigo is the author of two Sundress titles: Passing Through Humansville (2018) and No More Milk (2016). She is a newspaper editor in Marshfield, Missouri.

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Poetry Prompts to Inspire New Blooms — For National Poetry Month

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Poetry Prompts to Inspire New Blooms for National Poetry Month

T.S. Eliot may have famously christened April “the cruelest month,” but here at Sundress, we tend to associate April with the celebration of poems and the talented poets who give them life. In honor of the 23rd year of National Poetry Month, we’ve gathered up an assortment of prompts that introduce compelling topics, questions, and frameworks intended to catalyze the growth of nascent poems. We present these prompts — each written by a Sundress author, poet, or staff member — with the hope that instead of “breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land,” the month of April inspires fresh work to emerge from all of that creative soil gone fallow in the winter.

Amy Watkins

– “All the poems in my chapbook Lucky use questions from the Facebook ‘Did You Know’ widget as prompts. They’re ‘getting to know you’ type questions like ‘What’s some advice your dad gave you?’ or ‘If you were a musical instrument, what would you be?’ ”

– “I love the one where you write a persona poem based on a Weekly World News headline.”

Donna Vorreyer

– “Choose a book you love. Choose a letter or vowel sound and make a word bank of words starting with/using that sound. (At least 12 words). Then draft, forcing [yourself] to use those words in the order you wrote them down.”

Sarah Marcus Donnelly

– “A poem/letter to your younger self.”

Ashley Elizabeth Evans

– “A burn poem, a poem that no one will read but you. Burn/destroy after writing.”

– “Mother knows…”

– “Where we hide our wild things”

– “Write a letter to the broken parts of yourself.”

Katie Bell

– “Flip to page 58 in the book closest to you. The fourth line down must open/close your piece.”

Emily Capettini

– “Open your text messages and pick the most recent one that you also feel comfortable sharing, including emojis, GIFs, and other images. This is the first line of your poem.”

Sarah A. Chavez

– “Take two lines, the third line from the last song you listened to & the third from the last poem. Use those as the repeating lines in a villanelle.”

– “[I] also love doing literary Mad Libs. I most often do this as group work. Take 2 lines from famous poems, the group picks the word then needs to make a group poem, one line used as the title & the other either the first or last line of the poem.”

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: We Call Them Beautiful by KC Trommer

 

This selection comes from KC Trommer’s poetry collection We Call Them Beautiful, available from Diode Editions.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Karen Craigo.

KC Trommer is the author of the debut poetry collection We Call Them Beautiful (Diode Editions, 2019) and the chapbook The Hasp Tongue (dancing girl press, 2014). She is the founder of the audio project QUEENSBOUND and is the Assistant Director of Communications at NYU Gallatin. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, with her son.

Karen Craigo is the author of two Sundress titles: Passing Through Humansville (2018) and No More Milk (2016). She is a newspaper editor in Marshfield, Missouri.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Animul/Flame by Michelle Lewis

 

This selection comes from Michelle Lewis ’s poetry collection Animul/Flame, available from Conduit Books & Ephemera .  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Karen Craigo.

Michelle Lewis of West Bath, Maine has worked as a writer, editor, teacher, and digital marketer. Michelle is the recipient of the 2018 Marystina Stantiestevan First Book Prize. Her poetry, reviews, and essays have been published in numerous literary journals, and her poetry has been collected in two previous chapbooks, The Desire Line (Moon Pie Press) and Who Will Be Frenchy? (dancing girl press). Lewis earned her M.F.A. from the Stonecoast Program in Creative Writing. She is a contributing writer for Anomaly. You can find out more about her at whitechicken.com.

Karen Craigo is the author of two Sundress titles: Passing Through Humansville (2018) and No More Milk (2016). She is a newspaper editor in Marshfield, Missouri.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Animul/Flame by Michelle Lewis

 

This selection comes from Michelle Lewis ’s poetry collection Animul/Flame, available from Conduit Books & Ephemera .  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Karen Craigo.

Michelle Lewis of West Bath, Maine has worked as a writer, editor, teacher, and digital marketer. Michelle is the recipient of the 2018 Marystina Stantiestevan First Book Prize. Her poetry, reviews, and essays have been published in numerous literary journals, and her poetry has been collected in two previous chapbooks, The Desire Line (Moon Pie Press) and Who Will Be Frenchy? (dancing girl press). Lewis earned her M.F.A. from the Stonecoast Program in Creative Writing. She is a contributing writer for Anomaly. You can find out more about her at whitechicken.com.

Karen Craigo is the author of two Sundress titles: Passing Through Humansville (2018) and No More Milk (2016). She is a newspaper editor in Marshfield, Missouri.

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