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.
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!
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.