Tag Archives: application

A Week in the Writers Coop

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I was completely unsure what to expect when Erin Elizabeth Smith offered me the chance to test out the new Writer’s Coop at the Sundress Academy for the Arts at Firefly Farms.  I had been to several events at the farm itself, and, like most who stay at the farm, I was charmed by the colorful murals of mermaids, flowers, and Sylvia Plath, the shelves full of chapbooks, and, of course, the friendly animals (Jayne, the enormous resident donkey and professional selfie-taker in particular).  Though Erin warned me that the coop was still something of a work-in-progress and part of my job was to identify what still needed to be done, I arrived at Firefly Farms with high hopes of a good time full of productive writing.  I am happy to say that the Writer’s Coop did not disappoint.

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To access the coop, one has two options: you can have someone drive you on a four-wheeler, or you can walk the dirt and gravel path that winds behind Firefly Farms. The walk itself was quite easy; maybe a five minute jaunt when sober or ten when I had some beers down at the farm while getting to know the week’s residents. At the top of a small hill, the path widens and a tiny cabin appears.  Indeed, while the Coop started its life housing chickens, the Writer’s Coop resembles a charming re-creation of a log cabin that you might find in a museum more than anything else.

Erin and Joe, anticipating the needs of the future residents like myself, have included all the necessities: a front and back porch for catching the breeze, a comfortable bed, and, of course, a bottle opener mounted just outside the door.  The Coop even has its own outhouse close by.  Though I am the type of person who is normally horrified by going to the bathroom in outhouses or Port-a-Potties, I found the outhouse at the Coop to be fastidiously clean and completely devoid of smell.

I found my time at the Coop so enjoyable that the first morning, despite my hunger and need for a shower, I found myself lingering, writing poems and catching up on reading rather than making my way down to the farmhouse.  If you are like me and you work best in silence with few distractions, the Coop is the best possible place to write.  Something about feeling completely alone in nature without even the sound of passing cars really focused me.  I wrote five poems in the space of one afternoon while there.

I would recommend the Writer’s Coop to anyone who values alone time, peace and quiet, privacy, and affordability while still having options to commune with other authors (and play with adorable animals). Though I was lucky enough to test out the Coop, I will likely apply for my own residency in the future.

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is now accepting applications for fall residencies for the Writer’s Coop! Applications are free and rolling!

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Chloe Hanson is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Tennessee. She earned her MA and BA from Utah State University, where she also helped to establish and direct the Science Writing Center. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in several journals, including Public Pool, Off the Coast, and Driftwood Press. While she’s procrastinating her homework, she can often be found with a beer in her hand and her dog, Simon, by her side. She is the current Staff Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts.

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Now Accepting Fall Writer’s Coop Residency Applications


The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is now accepting applications for short-term writers residencies during the fall residency period for our new Writers Coop during the weeks of August 14
th to December 31st, 2017. These residencies are designed to give artists time and space to complete their creative projects in a quiet and productive environment.

SAFTA is located on a working farm that rests on a 45-acre wooded plot in a Tennessee “holler” perfect for hiking, camping, and nature walks. Located less than a half-hour from downtown Knoxville, an exciting and creative city of 200,000 in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, SAFTA is an ideal location for those looking for a rural get-away with access to urban amenities.

The SAFTA Writers Coop is a 10×10′ dry cabin approximately a fourth of a mile from the SAFTA farmhouse. This tiny house is furnished with a twin bed, a desk, a wood-burning stove, a deck that looks over the pasture and pond, as well as a personal detached outhouse. While the cabin has neither electricity nor running water, residents will have full access to the amenities at farmhouse as well as solitude from other residents to write in the rolling hills of East Tennessee.

Each residency costs $150/week and includes your own private dry cabin as well as 24-hour access to the farmhouse amenities.

 

The application deadline for the fall residency period is rolling. All application fees have been waived for applications for the Writers Coop.

Find out more at www.sundressacademyforthearts.com.

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Applying to the MFA: Known Knowns and the Importance of Place

If your application process is anything like mine, you’ll end up doing a lot of compatibility analysis (Figure 1). I’m only slightly dicking around. I didn’t actually crunch numbers like that, but the concept of compatibility was at the forefront of my mind when applying to creative writing programs—so was uglycrying and giving up on my current thesis when I started getting my rejections (Figure 2), so take all this cum grano salis. I’ve spent the past 2 years in a master’s program at Mizzou studying geography, and applying to a second round of graduate schools was no easier than the first.

Figure 1.

Chris Petruccelli Figure 1
That said, the best piece of advice I received when applying to geography programs was to apply to schools in cities I’d actually want to live in. I did not heed that advice on my first go around. To be clear, I love Mizzou, and my experience in the geography department has been amazing; however, take a gander at a map, find where Columbia, Missouri is and imagine having no car—only a bike. Word. That shit sucks. And even if I had a car, #whatever.

Having learned my lesson, applying to MFAs was equally dependent on the location of the program as the quality of the program itself. I knew I wouldn’t produce as much solid writing living anywhere in the Midwest compared to living and writing in places such as Fairbanks, AK or Nashville, TN. Hell, University of Alaska Fairbanks’s motto is “Naturally inspiring.” I dig that. Nashville has hot chicken—no further inspiration required. Ultimately, I knew I could probably live and write in three places: 1) Areas close to mountains/vast expanses of water; 2) Cities > 150,000 people; 3) Almost anywhere in the South.

Figure 2.

Chris Petruccelli Figure 2

But this isn’t about my lack of love for the Midwest, which in all honesty, is kind of cool. Another aspect driving me towards the MFA track is the fact that I no longer have any time for my creative writing. In the last several months, I’ve written one poem and that ain’t right. I love dendroecology, hiking up mountains and conducting challenging scientific research, but doing all that (as well as taking classes and fulfilling teaching assistant duties) in a span of two years and trying to write creatively has got me fried. Science and writing in tandem is possible, but in doing both, one is bound to take precedence while the other suffers. Right now, the writing must come first.

Picking up and moving to a far off place is difficult and expensive. But after living, studying and writing in Missouri, it’s foolish for me to not be where I want to be—a known knowns sort of thing. I’ll be moving to Fairbanks to work on an MFA at UAF after graduation after a quick stint back in Tennessee. I’m looking forward to holin’ up in a dry cabin after a day of skiing, hauling water from Fox Spring and finally sitting down at a desk to write as the aurora borealis does what it does in the sky.

Chris Petruccelli Chris Petruccelli‘s poetry can be found in Connotation Press, Rappahannock Review, RomComPom, and elsewhere. His chapbook Action at a Distance is available at etchingspress.org. In his free time Chris enjoys drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes with older women.

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