This is how far I have come to be a Sundress Intern:
When I was five, my mother took me to see The Lawrence Welk Show, live. He picked me out of the audience, did a little dance with me and complimented me (to my mother—not to me) and then kissed my cheek. The left side of my face is still my best side, photogenically speaking, and the right, not so much. My mother thought the kiss had something to do with it, and I still wonder if he should have kissed the right, too.
Since then, and probably not because of that kiss, I dropped out of high school; had three kids; raised them as a single parent (until I married again in 2013); buried my mother; traveled full-time in an RV for three years with three kids, two cats, and a dog; was diagnosed with a disability; enrolled in community college at 39 (first generation students rock!); bought a house; subsequently went to university where I graduated with a double-major in creative writing and interdisciplinary studies at 42; and am now pursuing my MFA at Arizona State University where I am the editor-in-chief of Hayden’s Ferry Review and a Virginia G. Piper fellow. Although I am enrolled in the poetry program at ASU, I write cross-genre and my current projects are a novel-length experimental long poem about growing up in the Sonoran desert, and (when I have time) a novel.
I’m pretty interested in the ways that our lives interact with space and place, with nature and our seeming need to conquer or tame or label as a means of taming (and by this I mean not just nature but children, women, and everything we put in this “wild” category)—so most of my work is place-based as a foundation to explore these ideas, and I’m also fascinated by the ways we create and destroy utopias and dystopias in reality. The intersections I can see for all of my work are women and primitivism; place and pain; naming and taming; spit and anger.
In what seems like another life, I owned a tea company and was also sea kayak guide in the islands off the coast of Washington state (which I still call home) and where I still love to paddle (and drink tea). So if I’m not writing or building something out of mud (vernacular architecture buff), I’m probably swimming, kayaking, or canoeing, or otherwise trying to catch a ferry to the islands. I’m an advocate for women in every area, a community activist for disability rights, for the importance of the arts, the right to equal food access, and a puzzler of the ways we hold and make space.
Honestly, I could not be more excited to join the Sundress team as an intern. This is a collective organization which I admire deeply. To be a part of things which we love already is a treat and an honor.
Cheyenne L. Black serves as the editor-in-chief for Hayden’s Ferry Review at Arizona State University where she is a third-year MFA candidate and Virginia G. Piper global fellow. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the anthologies We Will be Shelterand In Sight: An Ekphrastic Collaboration, as well as the journals 45th Parallel, American Journal of Poetry, and New Mobilityamong others. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children where she brutally and with much zeal strikes the ‘s’ from directionals like toward, afterward, and backward.