Tag Archives: writing

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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Project Bookshelf: Cheyenne L. Black

If I’m trying to look cool I’ll say this is my bookshelf:

And it’s true. When I bought the house in 2010, one of the first things we did was install these shelves. Note how I can never change the size of my television. Which is probably okay since we never turn it on. It’ll last forever I think. Note too that these are in perfect order, there is a fiction section, a poetry section, and a reference section. Most of these books haven’t been touched in at least six years—since I started school. Most of these books don’t even belong to me. They were inherited from my mother or belong to my now-adult-once-teen daughters.

But if I’m being honest about the current state of MY books I’ll show you these instead: 

And I’ll add that there are at least twenty more stacks of books that look exactly like this, on my desk, on my nightstand, on the floor near both of these, and anywhere I regularly try to stake out space in a house full of people. Because right now I’m always bouncing back and forth between home and school, my actual books, the ones I use, read, reference, and sleep with, aren’t on that wall at all. (See also: lesesucht.)

I’m currently in a constant state of flux between Washington state and Arizona, so I’m always carrying whole boxes of books back and forth. I carry more books back and forth than I do items of clothing. And because I’m only in each place for a few months at a time before I have to return to the other, I don’t really bother to unpack them exactly. I more distribute, stack, and scatter strategically. Moreover, when I’m in one place I will inevitably, never mind how many books I brought, need one that is in the other location and will pay shipping to have one of my kids send me the book or will buy another copy. Thus I now have two copies of many books, too, but I can never remember in which state. . . So the truth of my bookshelf presently is that it’s more box than shelf, more floorstack than display, more misplaced panic—than leisure. But I’ll probably pretend I have no idea what you’re talking about if you mention this to me in public.

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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 Shelter and In Sight: An Ekphrastic Collaboration, as well as the journals 45th Parallel, American Journal of Poetry, and New Mobility among 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.

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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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Announcing VIDA Residency Fellowship Winners

sundresslogoSAFTA Presents VIDA Fellowship Winners,
Hera Naguib and Elina Mishuris

Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is pleased to announce the winners of the VIDA fellowships for the fall residency period, Hera Naguib and Elina Mishuris.  SAFTA paired with VIDA, a research-driven organization aiming to increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing and further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture, to offer these fellowships for two women writers in any genre.  The full scholarship was awarded to Hera Naguib and the fifty percent scholarship was awarded to Elina Mishuris.  Idra Novey served as the judge for this year’s VIDA Fellowship.  

hera.jpgHera Naguib is a poet and teacher based in Lahore, Pakistan. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College through the Fulbright Scholarship Program and her M.Litt in Literature in English from Beaconhouse National University, Lahore. Hera’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, World Literature Today, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Spillway, among others.

 

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Elina Mishuris is a writer and translator living in New York. She received an MFA in fiction and translation from Columbia University in 2016, and a BA from the Gallatin School at New York University in 2011. Currently an English Editor at Morningside Translations, she was previously a teaching fellow in the Undergraduate Writing Program at Columbia, and a Writing Fellow at NYU Abu Dhabi. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in
BOMB, Guernica, The Southeast Review, Slice, and Brooklyn Magazine.  In 2016, she was nominated for the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize.

Applications for spring residencies at SAFTA are now open and can be found at our website.

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The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is an artists’ residency on a 45-acre farm in Knoxville, Tennessee, 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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Meet Our New Editorial Intern, Emily Corwin

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Hello! My name is Emily Corwin and here are some things to know about me!

  1. I love lists. Also bread, coffee, dresses, and lipstick.
  2. I live in Bloomington, Indiana with my partner, Joe and my cat, Soup.
  3. I am currently completing an MFA in poetry at IU Bloomington!
  4. As someone with chronic conditions (hip impingement, anxiety disorder, various joint issues), I write a lot about physical and psychic pain, and about fairy tales, the girly and the grotesque, longing, and magic.
  5. Next spring, my first full-length collection, tenderling is forthcoming from Stalking Horse Press. I have two chapbooks, darkling (Platypus Press) and My Tall Handsome (Brain Mill Press) which came out in 2016.
  6. I am a Midwestern girl through and through—I grew up in Michigan, went to school in Ohio, and now, I am in Indiana!
  7. My favorite color is pink, my favorite musician is Grouper, and my favorite flowers are dahlias.
  8. My current poetry inspirations: Diane Seuss, Liz Bowen, Laura Theobald, Jennifer Givhan, Vievee Francis, Kiki Petrosino, and Stacy Gnall.
  9. My ancestor, Jonathan Corwin, was a judge in the Salem Witch Trials.
  10. I just finished my year as Poetry Editor of Indiana Review, and I am looking forward to continuing my editorial work at Sundress!

Emily Corwin is an MFA candidate in poetry at Indiana University-Bloomington and the former Poetry Editor for Indiana Review. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, Day One, Hobart, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, THRUSH, and elsewhere. She has two chapbooks, My Tall Handsome (Brain Mill Press) and darkling (Platypus Press) which were published in 2016. Her first full-length collection, tenderling is forthcoming in 2018 from Stalking Horse Press. You can follow her online at @exitlessblue.

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Sundress Academy for the Arts & Lambda Literary Now Accepting Applications for Spring Artist Residencies

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Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is excited to announce that they are now accepting applications for short-term artists’ residencies in creative writing, visual art, film/theater, music, and more. Each residency includes a room of one’s own, access to a communal kitchen, bathroom, office, and living space, plus wireless internet.

The length of a residency can run from one to three weeks. SAFTA is currently accepting applications for our spring residency period, which runs from January 1st to May 6th, 2018. The deadline for spring residency applications is September 10th, 2017.

For the spring residency period, SAFTA will be pairing with Lambda Literary to offer two fellowships (one full fellowship and one 50% fellowship) for a week-long residency to LGBTQIA+ writers of any genre. Lambda believes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer literature is fundamental to the preservation of our culture, and that LGBTQIA+ lives are affirmed when our stories are written, published and read. All applicants to the two fellowships must identify as LGBTQIA+.  Partial scholarships also available to any applicant with financial need. This year’s judges will be Wren Hanks, Noh Anothai, and librecht baker.

The SAFTA farmhouse 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 residency bedrooms are 130 sq. ft. with queen-size platform bed, closet, dresser, and desk. There is also a communal kitchen supplied with stove, refrigerator, and microwave plus plenty of cook- and dining-ware. The office and library have two working computers—one Mac, one PC—with access to the Adobe Creative Cloud. The library contains over 800 books with a particularly large contemporary poetry section and, thanks to the Wardrobe, many recent titles by female-identified and genderqueer writers. The facility also includes a full-size working 19th century full-size letterpress with type, woodworking tools, and a 1930’s drafting table.

To apply for the Sundress Academy for the Arts residency, you will need the following:

-Application form (including artist’s statement and contact information for two references)
-CV or artist’s resume (optional)
-Artist sample (see website for more details on genre specifications)
-Application fee of $15 or $10 for current students (with student email) payable online*

For more information, visit our website: http://www.sundressacademyforthearts.com/
or find us on Facebook, under Sundress Academy for the Arts
or on Twitter, @SundressPub

 

*Application fee will be waived for those applying for the Lambda Literary scholarship who demonstrate financial need. Please state this in your application under the financial need section.

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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 first annual generative writing retreat celebrating survival and healing on June 24th and 25th. This two-day retreat for sexual assault survivors at SAFTA’s Firefly Farms 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, food, drinks, and all on-site amenities for $75.  Tents, sleeping bags, and other camping equipment are available to rent.

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, Heather Knox, Krista, Cox, and Jennie Frost.

Beth Couture is the author of Women Born with Fur (Jaded Ibis Press). She received her Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Center Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. She currently lives in Philadelphia and is completing a Master’s degree in Social Work at Bryn Mawr College.

Krista Cox is a poet, paralegal, and single mother of two living in Northern Indiana. She edits for Stirring: A Literary Collection and Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and she runs Lit Literary Collective, a nonprofit that celebrates and elevates the literary arts in her local community.  Her work has been or will be published in Columbia Journal, Rappahannock Review, and the Indianola Review, among other places in print and online.

Jennie Frost is a queer poet from Maryville, TN. She is currently the Writer-in-Residence and Literary Arts Director at Sundress Academy for the Arts where she works closely with visiting writers and a herd of sheep. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Border Crossing, Kudzu, Glass Mountain, Indicia, Stirring, and more. She is a dedicated member of the LGBTQ+ community and created the first Sexual Assault Prevention program at her alma mater, Tusculum College, where she studied Title IX closely and presented her Honors Thesis, “Sexual Assault Prevention: Research, Implementation, and Re-Creation in Small, Liberal Arts Colleges.”

Heather Knox is the author of the poetry collection Dowry Meat (Words Dance Publishing) and the forthcoming YA fiction series Vampire Wars (EPIC Escape). Her poetry has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, [PANK], decomP magazinE, Word Riot, Thrush Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Heather currently teaches online for The Poetry Barn and Southern New Hampshire University and serves as Managing Editor for The Wardrobe.

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 April 30th, 2017. Scholarship recipients will be announced in May.

Space at this workshop is limited to 16 writers, so reserve your place today.

For more information, find Sundress Academy for the Arts on our websiteFacebook, or Twitter.

 

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2017 AWP Roundtable 4: Hybrid Practice: Poems in Space, Double Ekphrasis, and Art Outside the Silos

 

The following is the fourth in our series of outstanding AWP panels that were not selected for participation in the conference but deserve to be heard. Today, we’re featuring five multidisciplinary artists, Amaranth Borsuk, Genevieve Kaplan, Addoley Dzegede, Cole Lu, and Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer.

First, tell us a bit about your work and how you’d describe your practice. 

Amaranth Borsuk: I consider myself a poet working with text’s materiality, both on and off the page. My practice spans interactive media, installation, performance, and book arts—I make text-based art in whatever form the work seems to call for.

My interest in materiality comes through in an attention to sound, the use of found material in some cases, and particularly in my construction of artists’ books and ephemera that put the book’s form and content in dialogue. I’m especially interested in the intersection of print and digital media, and the materiality of the digital—something I began to explore in Between Page and Screen (Siglio, 2012; SpringGun, 2016), a book of augmented reality poems created with Brad Bouse. The pages do not contain text, but rather abstract shapes, that, when shown to your webcam, make poems pop up in 3-d space. The poems are written as a series of playful epistles between P and S, two lovers trying to make sense of their relationship, as well as concrete poems that use the language of their letters. We chose to use augmented reality because it requires the viewer to have both a print artifact and a digital one—enacting a dialogue between the two.

That book started as a limited-edition artists’ book and then became a trade edition, but I continue to have a book arts practice, creating small edition works that conceptually integrate form and content. I collaborated with the artist Carrie Bodle this spring on a sound art installation that reflects on the historically vexed relationship of poets and scientists with the moon, treating it as a passive reflector in the sky. In the gallery, visitors standing between two industrial megaphone-style speakers heard a sound poem passing back and forth between them—a call and response between Earth and the Moon in which we can feel their pull on one another.

We extended that project this summer in a limited-edition volvelle that uses our sound poem, a word ladder (one word per line, with only one letter changing in each line), to create a lunar calendar that doubles as a poetry generator. We gave these away at a couple of public participatory performances that were part of the Henry Art Gallery’s Untuning of the Sky, a series of events in relation to the night sky. There, the circular dial of the volvelle allows the reader to see a single word of the poem paired with a lunar phase for the month, and as the dial is turned, both the poem and the moon change incrementally. In the center of the dial, openings reveal words from a cento composed of lines from poems about the moon, with which one can create one’s own poems. In performance, the 31 or so participants seated inside the James Turrell Skyspace, Light Reign, became those 31 lunar phases—their faces in the dim light ringing the space.

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Lunar Volvelle

Genevieve Kaplan: I’m primarily a poet, but I have a background in letterpress printing, weaving, and book arts. For the most of my poetic career I’ve practiced a more traditional poetics of-the-page –specifically the 8 ½” x 11” printer page. Recently, in a bit of writer’s-block-funk, I found myself returning to some more hands-on book-arts techniques as a way to escape that funkiness: I used cut and folded book forms to jump-start my drafting process, I hand-set and hand-stamped a series of short poems, I created a group of miniature poem-books. In these works, my final intention wasn’t to write a poem or to make books, but to think about the creation of the book or poem object as an extension of and complement to my drafting and writing processes. As I worked, I became more interested in exploring the relationship between the act of writing and the act of creating objects, and in thinking more deeply about writing—and potentially reading—as a physical, visual, and tactile event.

All of which has led to my current project, a series of woven broadsides. I don’t have a letterpress, but I do have a loom. So, I took the printed broadside—the poem as art object, to be both read and displayed, to be hung on the wall—as inspiration, and I began. For this project, I sew the letters on a line of ribbon to form words and phrases, creating a poetic line, and then I weave the ribbons/lines together to create the poem. The final iteration will eventually be a tactile, inviting, mostly-legible series of sewn and woven one-of-a-kind poetic broadsides.

Addoley Dzegede: My work is project-based and idea-driven, investigating notions of home, belonging, hybrid identity, and existential migration, which I express through a multitude of forms—ranging from  interactive projects and videos to artist books and textiles.  I create works that are meant to entice viewers to pause, and to question commonly held ideas about what it means to belong. Using both personal and public archives, I contemplate the forces of history, experience, and location, and how they essentially work together to tell a story of longing as a state of being.

Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer: I maintain a hybrid practice of poetry, critical writing, and visual work, which is sometimes collaborative (see below). I am primarily a poet, but I studied sculpture, photography, and writing, so I consider everything an act of making. Writing doesn’t give the same satisfaction as the physical labor of sculpture, but it scratches the same itch. I’m also working on a bunch of picture book manuscripts and a YA thriller.

 

How do you use language as material and/or material as language?

Amaranth Borsuk: While working on artists’ books and ephemera, I also continue to write poems for the eye and ear—my most recent book, Pomegranate Eater (Kore, 2016) is full of word play and etymological experiment (a recurring interest) as a means of getting personal material I otherwise wouldn’t say into a poem. In particular, the book opens with a series of poems addressed to different fruit in which I think of myself as being on both sides of the conversation—an approach to interrogating myself for my assumptions, privileges, and self-representation. I find I’m often trying to write into language as sonic texture, sometimes without worrying about meaning so much as feeling.

In Abra (1913 Press, 2016), a collaboration with Kate Durbin, this comes about through a long and baroque poem that mutates as you progress through the book. As you turn the pages, the poem animates like a flip book, heaving itself open and shut in a way that is supposed to be erotic and grotesque at once. While the book’s themes—excess, mutation, fecundity, hybridity—are clear, the text doesn’t behave as though it wants to communicate something specific to the reader. It mostly wants to blossom and collapse in the reader’s hands. We collaborated with the poet and artist Ian Hatcher on a free app through a grant from the Center for Book and Paper Arts that makes it possible for readers to mutate the text further, using their fingertips to prune the poem and graft new language into it. From a feminist standpoint, this seems to be what Abra was trying to do all along: push itself off the page and away from our authorial control over it. That’s what we started from—a sense that language is material and that it belongs to the reader.

Genevieve Kaplan: Johanna Drucker defines an artist’s book as a book “which is a record of its own making” (The Century 191), an idea I continually return to; I’m fascinated by the notion of presenting the poem as a record of its own making, which I think may also mean 1) allowing the audience to participate in the poem as it unfolds and 2) presenting the creation of the poem as a worthwhile labor-intensive pursuit. These goals are tangential, but potentially integral, to presenting the poem as a beautiful object to experience.

If what I’d like is the poem as a type of record, one question I’d like to answer is how best to record it. I think I’m getting there. In part because this sewing and weaving process is so time-consuming, and because I’m allowing myself to be consumed a bit by it, the sewing time becomes also a time to allow myself to think and reflect: on the letter, on the word, on the poem, on the project, on the process. I’m very interested here in making the poem as tactile as possible – not just for me, but for the reader as well. I want the space of the poem to be a physical space that can be entered, the fuzz of the yarn to be an invitation to experience.

Which is where I’m beginning to answer this question. Yes, the letterforms, the words, the lines—phrases that existed before only in the non-space of my head, or on the two-dimensional space of the page—when woven literally become material; they become three-dimensional, they become cloth, and they hold together.

nothing, to watch the weeds grow

I think the poem, for a non-poet or non-reader, can be a little daunting to enter. By creating the poem as a visual and tactile material, in contrast to creating the poem on a page or in a book, I’m inviting a different, softer type of interaction.

Addoley Dzegede: A lot of my work comes out of time I have spent abroad, nearly always merging these international experiences with materials that speak to both my identity (which I always bring with me) and the specificity of the location. I try to incorporate some aspect of the country’s language into my work, and by language, I also mean material as language. In Finland, the spongy, mosquito-filled forest was a kind of language that found its way into my work. But I was also interested in the way the Finnish language uses compound words to form new words…how kahden (the two of you) and kesken (between) marry to become kahdenkesken (in private). It seemed appropriate then to make a video (titled Failure to Communicate) where I cut up lines from a 1970’s Finnish book on romantic relationships. Given the length of Finnish compound words, the majority of lines in the book required a word wrap. My main criteria for selecting a line of text was that it was whole, which resulted in an absurd text which is read aloud by the computerized voice of Google Translate in English.

More recently, in Iceland I made ceramic versions of the historic wooden bread boards I saw in an Icelandic turf house museum. Text is carved backwards into the material to create a mirror image that imprints a proverb onto the bread dough. I can’t read Icelandic, especially when it’s backwards, so I chose an English proverb (the crow went traveling abroad and came back just as black) and a Ghanaian one (when the snail travels abroad it finds shelter with the tortoise), both referring to travel and ideas of home.

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Breadboard with proverb carving

I often use hidden or double meanings when titling my work. “Duly Noted” becomes “Dually Noted,” referring to Du Bois’s “Double Consciousness,” and most recently, “Farewell” (the title of my most recent exhibition) became “Fare well,” opening the word up to more possibilities than “goodbye.”

Cole Lu: I have always been restless in my interest and realization in language. I am aware how I use language (collage or appropriate it) as a visual artist opposes to a person who writes art (poet). I see language functions several levels in my making— as it continually goes back and forth between meaningful and material. I started my visual art practice with photography after having completed a degree in linguistics. A photographer is someone who draws with light, writing and rewriting the world with illumination and shadow; a linguist is someone who scientifically studies language and its structure. I learned how visual meaning was constructed after I devoted myself to artmaking, realizing that perspective focuses everything on the eye of the beholder.

The blindness of earlier social understanding is the result of my addiction to the language in the making. Before I understood language beyond gender; social status, physical ability and disability, and cultural and national borders, I was viewing language purely as a tool for communication. My earlier work parses communication and miscommunication through various mediums and gradually evolves into language that speaks of the identity of minorities, in racial, gender politics, and geographic marginalization.

Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer: My poems are foremost concerned with sound—I can’t begin a poem if I don’t hear the musicality of it first. That said, I find that my ear grips onto often distinctly unmusical bits of language—the idiosyncratic cadence of the human utterance, especially if it’s something ordinary and idiomatic and plain. All of the poems in Cleavemark were prompted by the cadence of someone else’s language. Sometimes it was Bible verses, which my grandmother (who we called Nan or Nanny) was forever scribbling onto scraps of paper and napkins. Those can be crushingly musical or excruciatingly dull. Other times, it was from movie dialogue that I’d hear a hundred times. Like this scary live action thriller Disney made in the 80s called The Watcher in the Woods—the girl in it has visions and utters these simple little phrases: It hardly ever happens you know or It’s nearly too late. In all of the language, there’s an urgency and often a plangency to the sound—someone is going to die unless you stop it (and, BTW, you can’t stop it). I like to play with the frankness of speech and the baroqueness of sound. Language has to be a lure, whether it’s a warm handholding, or someone dragging you through fire.

 

Do you ever work collaboratively, especially with people outside your genre? Please describe. 

Amaranth Borsuk: As you can probably tell, I spend much of my time working collaboratively. Before Pomegranate Eater, I published As We Know (Subito, 2014), a book-length erasure collaboration with Andy Fitch, who writes more prose than I do—he has a couple of books published by Ugly Duckling Presse that involve narrated walks, which I love. For our project, I selectively erased portions of his redacted diary. The resulting voice is, we hope, a collaged speaker—a bit of both of us, but also neither. Given how popular erasure has become, we wanted to draw attention to its act of silencing, which to us seemed a useful way to intervene into the history of male editors heavily manipulating (and taking credit for) the work of female authors. We also wanted to create a work of non-fiction that points to how constructed even the most unmediated-seeming writing—a person’s daily journal—really is. Based on what we chose to leave in from the redacted passages, you get a sense of someone shaping themselves for a reader’s eyes, but also deeply neurotic about how they come across.

I am not a programmer myself, so my digital projects also draw on the expertise of others. In addition to enabling me to create work that I otherwise couldn’t, I’m drawn to these collaborations because they teach me to see the work from a different perspective and help circumvent some of my assumptions about what it is I do. I’m always highly aware of how my gender, race, class, sexuality, and other factors situate me, and I seek collaborators who help to keep me honest with myself. My other digital collaborations include an erasure bookmarklet, The Deletionistwith Nick Montfort and Jesper Juul, which generates erasure poems from websites; and Whispering Galleries, another work with Brad Bouse, which uses a gesture-based controller to sense reader’s hand movements, allowing them to manipulate the text of a historic diary and reveal whispers from the past.

Addoley Dzegede: I have worked collaboratively with three poets: Phillip B. Williams, Justin Reed, and Aaron Coleman, and with a PhD candidate in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology, Cameron Evans. I also work collaboratively with Lyndon Barrois Jr. as LAB:D. These projects come out of conversations we have and the places where we find overlaps in our work. With Cameron, for example, we made a silent video, Misperception, on the subject of implicit bias, using clips from film and television, and providing duck-rabbit cards directing viewers towards Harvard’s Project Implicit. With Phillip, in Conversation: Tree and Cotton, we merged his poem with my animation of black hair, some of it his own and some of it mine.

Cole Lu: I work collaboratively with various artists, writers, designers and curators for curatorial aspect or as part of a program in predominately institutional-based project, which is very different from the collaboration that I had in my work. The desire to write in the English language is accompanied and nearly drowned by an opposite desire: the desire not to write in the English language. As a person who reads written text fanatically almost like a disease, the entropic tendency of both wanting and resisting to composing a piece regarding written text has always been a driven force for collaboration. It never happened easily, it almost always occurred as an accident, as stumble upon a piece of written text or a visual work and felt propelled to work with that particular person collaboratively.

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Cole Lu, For the Longest Time I Remembered, 2016

Two of my collaborative works are composed in the distance and also with artists who are (mainly) outside of my genre. Palimpsest (2013) is a piece that I collaborate with Philadelphia-based fiction writer Dolly Laninga; the piece is essentially a fictional correspondence, through the erasure of the last two pages of “Love (Puberty)” by Andy Warhol in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975). Oops// All Ball Sad Bad (2016) is a composition of digitally printed photo, headline vinyl letters, and a 10 x14-inch Utility Mailer. The piece is made after Beth Caird, a Melbourne-based artist and writer, for a text piece she produced during “Common Characters,” a project by artist Heman Chong. It was a 24-hour workshop that took place at Artspace, Sydney as part of The Bureau of Writing by the 20th Biennale of Sydney. I am currently working on a new video piece for future collaboration.

Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer: I often collaborate with visual artists. Sometimes it’s on expected projects, like illustrated books, which I’ve done with Jeff Pike (Strangers with a Lifeboat) and am hoping to do with this project I worked on with Jana Harper and her mother, Joie Bourisseau, that Yew was kind enough to publish online. Harper has worked with this cache of cloud images that her mother, who suffers from Bipolar I, and I wrote a series of ekphrastic poems inspired by those images and my discussions with Jana about her relationship with her mother. I write a lot of ekphrastic pieces, and I work that way visually, as well. The sculptural installation Cleavemark Drive that I collaborated with Cheryl Wassenaar on was based on the poems in Cleavemark, so that wound up being a kind of double-ekphrastic. I’m really eager to do more of that, but where I’d write the initial ekphrastic, and then hand it over to a visual artist to make a piece based on the poem based on the art. Like a game of operator. Except art operator. I love the back and forth between artists. When Cheryl and I were installing Cleavemark Drive, she had what I thought was an INSANE idea to paint one of the walls a bright, dark blue. Cheryl is a color genius, but I really couldn’t see it. Until she painted it. And then I was like, ohhhhhhhhhhh. Cheryl often works with text, so she took the text of my poems and visually reinterpreted them on the gallery walls in cut vinyl lettering, and I visually reinterpreted them in domestic objects and materials, like spools and soap and pickling salt. We also letterpressed some of the text into the sugar, and I’ve done another video (The Mouse in Me) with that technique in salt. We’re hoping to do a second iteration of this piece, but we need to find the right venue for it.

 

Schlaifer-Wassenaar from Cleavemark Drive

From Cleavemark Drive 

 

Who and what is influencing your work and your thinking the most right now? Where do you see your work going in the next five years? 

Amaranth Borsuk: My research into the history and future of the book will probably continue to trickle into my work over the next five years. I’m thinking a lot about sound lately, and working with it where I can.

What is perhaps most influencing me is the work of the contemporary poets and artists I am reading as I seek models of how to make work in this scary, bleak time. I’m most looking forward to a symposium my colleagues and I put together that will take place at the Simpson Center for the Humanities at UW Seattle this February—Affect and Audience: Activist Poetics. We began work on it last year, and it feels even more urgent to me now to hear our participants—Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Carmen Gimenez-Smith, C. Davida Ingram, Dawn Lundy Martin, Kai Green, and Layli Long Soldier—speak about their work. I’m grateful to and inspired by my collaborators in this event, micha cárdenas and Sarah Dowling.

Genevieve Kaplan: Certainly many poets and artists are influencing my current work: Johanna Drucker, Susan Howe, Cecilia Vicuña, Jen Bervin, Jen Hofer, Jill Magi, Emmelea Russo. My fellow panelists. In particular, the poets and artists who are exploring and questioning ideas of “work” and materiality – how to justify taking up the space in the world to write the poem, how to present the poem as something built and scaffolded and fought for, something simultaneously meaningful and inviting.

An artist friend of mine recently suggested “letters of the poem as big as a head,” which is an idea I’m intrigued by – beyond this current broadside project, I’m looking forward to thinking about the sewn/woven poem on a larger scale. More billboard than broadside, the poem as forcible—but soft, inviting, woven—encounter, a sort of (more or less) pleasant entrapment.

Addoley Dzegede: Right now, as always, my work is influenced simultaneously by my current circumstances and location in a constant conversation with my ever present past.  I’m thinking a lot about Ghana, and how long it has been since I have been there. As a place where so much of my identity and history is tied, I feel the strong need to stay connected to it materially, as time increasingly fades my memories of times spent there and people who are now lost to me.  Some of my newest work is coming out of West African traditions like kente weaving and adire, as well as the very hybridized history of wax prints.

In the next five years, I hope that I will get another opportunity to live and make work abroad, long term. While I have always felt a sense of foreignness about my identity in the US despite being an American all my life, I revel in truly being a foreigner and find that the work I can make in other countries has a sense of playfulness that I am unable to conjure while stateside. That may also have to do with just being away from the preoccupations of daily life, away from US-style bias and racism, and more, but I think there is definitely a feeling of freedom that I get from being overseas. In the next five years, my main goal would be to remain open, to continue to be responsive to place and conditions I find myself in, to live and make fearlessly.

Cole Lu: My new work always came from the residue of my old work, the work that is required as a point of departure, a place of contemplation. It mainly generates from my desires, and my desires generate from what I read, what I watch, what I listen, and who I talk to. Language has always been a persistent existence, as the form required its presence, visually or spatially. Lately, I had an installation debuted in June 2016 that contains my personal library, from a general point of view, books shapes, creates and participate our cultural mythologies, and can be used as an archive for a past incident, or a reminder of the memories being forgotten. I see the library as a self-portrait, and I am interested in the idea of copy, to create a library from a library as a fictional self-portrait out of the original. I am also working on an installation as a continuation of a project that I did which related to Asian culinary culture and philosophical absurdities, and a piece for a cartoon based on Finnish literature. It is almost impossible for me to predict my work even three months from now, though I had a concrete plan, it usually changes as it goes. I hope in the next five years my work can build a new vocabulary that explores the intersectionality, the richness, and the complexity of our culture, and hopefully the capable to generate the act of self-reflection.

Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer: Obviously the current political climate is at the forefront of my brain, and it’s already making its way into my work. Those poems come out fast and urgently. I’ve never been a prolific writer or maker, but these are dangerous times. The kind that say sit your ass down and respond. I’m always influenced by whatever music I’m listening to, and I tend to listen obsessively. For a while it was The National’s Trouble Will Find Me, and I still listen to the albums my sister introduced me to when she was in art school—Peter Gabriel’s Passion, the soundtrack to Tout Les Matins Du Monde. And Bach. I played piano, so I’ve been pre-programmed to perk up to that. I’ll always have my go-to favorite dead writers—Moore, Bishop, Celan, Eliot, Rich, Plath—but the living writers whose voices really guide me, those push me in a different way (present company included)—Bridgette Lowe, Jessica Baran, Jeff Hamilton, Shane McCrae, Robyn Schiff, my thesis advisors from grad school, Claudia Rankine, Cole Swenson, and James Galvin, and many others. Claudia and John Lucas’ video work, too. That’s been hugely influential. And visual work—highbrow, lowbrow—everything. Everything tethered to acute observation. As for where my work is going: I want art to be bigger and more present. I want it to be important as a value. I want it to be un-cloistered and brave and more authentic. So I’m working for that.

 


Amaranth Borsuk is a poet, scholar, and book artist whose work encompasses print and digital media, performance and installation. Her books of poetry include Pomegranate Eater (Kore Press, 2016); As We Know (Subito, 2014), an erasure collaboration with Andy Fitch; Handiwork (Slope Editions, 2012); and, with Brad Bouse, Between Page and Screen (Siglio Press, 2012), a book of augmented-reality poems. Her intermedia project Abra (trade edition 1913 Press, 2016), created with Kate Durbin and Ian Hatcher, received an NEA-sponsored Expanded Artists’ Books grant from the Center for Book and Paper Arts and was issued in 2015 as a limited edition hand-made book and free iPad / iPhone app. Her other digital collaborations include The Deletionist, an erasure bookmarklet created with Nick Montfort and Jesper Juul; and Whispering Galleries, a site-specific LeapMotion interactive textwork for the New Haven Free Public Library. Amaranth is currently an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell, where she also teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics.

Addoley Dzegede is a Ghanaian-American interdisciplinary artist based in St Louis. Her practice is idea-driven, mixed media, and through a combination of words and images, investigates notions of belonging, home, location, and identity. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, and she has been an artist-in-residence at the Arteles Creative Center in Finland, Foundation Obras in Portugal, and Nes Artist Residency in Iceland, as well as a post-graduate apprentice at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. She received a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, and was awarded a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship at Washington University in St Louis, where she completed an MFA degree in Visual Art in 2015. Recent exhibitions and screenings include In Deep Ecology at Tenerife Espacio de las Artes in Spain; Now & After ‘16, at The State Darwin Museum in Moscow, Russia; 2015 St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase Experimental program at the Tivoli Theater in St Louis, Missouri; Fare Well at Fort gondo  Compound for the Arts in St Louis; and the triennial Concept/Focus, at the Hardesty Art Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Recent awards include a grant from the John Anson Kittredge Fund; an honorarium from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition; a Creative Stimulus Award from Critical Mass for the Visual Arts; a St. Louis Regional Arts Commission Artist Support Grant; and a Graduate Student Grant for the Mellon Vertical Seminar: The Role of Arts Practice in the Research University at Washington University in St Louis.

Genevieve Kaplan is the author of In the ice house (Red Hen Press, 2011), winner of the A Room of Her Own Foundation‘s poetry publication prize, and three chapbooks: In an aviary (Grey Book Press, 2016); travelogue (Dancing Girl, 2016); and settings for these scenes (Convulsive Editions, 2013), a chapbook of continual erasures. She lives in southern California and edits the Toad Press International chapbook series, publishing contemporary translations of poetry and prose.

Cole Lu is an artist and curator. She received her MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art at Washington University in St. Louis. She holds a B.A. in linguistic from Ming Chuan University, Taipei Taiwan and A.A. in Japanese in Jinwen University in Taipei, Taiwan. Lu is known for her varied, multimedia practice, which articulates the subject of a contemporary, fragmented identity. She uses text, installation, sculpture, and video to explore the complex layers of what is lost in the era of digital communication. Her work has been included in exhibitions throughout the US, UK, Brazil, Greece, Mexico and Taiwan. Lu’s work has been exhibited at venues including the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (St. Louis, MO), Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE), Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis, MO), Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (Grand Rapids, MI); The Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), The Luminary (St. Louis, MO), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (Los Angeles, CA), AHHA Tulsa (Tulsa, OK), Roman Susan (Chicago, IL), Westminster Press (St. Louis, MO), Fort Gondo compound for the arts (St. Louis, MO), CENTRAL BOOKING ARTSPACE (New York, NY), K-Gold Temporary Gallery (Lesvois Island, Greece) and Invisible Space (Taipei, Taiwan). Her videos and fine art books have been included in numerous national and international fairs and festivals including The 3rd New Digital Art Biennale – The Wrong (Again)FILE: Electronic Language International Festival (São Paulo, Brazil), I Never Read, Art Book Fair Basel (Basel, Switzerland) and Printed Matter’s New York & LA Art Book Fair (New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA). Additionally, she has been awarded the Concept/Focus Artist Award, and residencies at The Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY) and Endless Editions (New York, NY). Her Risograph publication, “SMELLS LIKE CONTENT” is in the public collection of the MoMA Museum of Modern Art Library (New York, NY). Her latest endeavor in The Soothing Center at Satellite Art Show (Miami Beach, FL) opens December 1st, 2016. She is the Assistant Director at the 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts forum Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts.

Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer is a poet and installation artist in St. Louis. Her debut collection of poems, Cleavemark, is just out from BOAAT Press. Schlaifer has an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her poems have appeared in Georgia Review, AGNI, Denver Quarterly, LIT, Colorado Review, Fence, and elsewhere. Schlaifer was a semi-finalist for the 2015 Discovery/Boston Review Prize, and she was selected for Best New Poets 2015. She frequently collaborates with other artists, most recently with Jeff Pike on the illustrated chapbook, Strangers with a Lifeboat, and with Cheryl Wassenaar on the installation Cleavemark Drive. Schlaifer is a compulsive baker and also very handy with a pitchfork. Schlaifer’s work can be viewed at criticalbonnet.com

 

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2017 Summer Fiction Writing Retreat Sign-Ups Open

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The Sundress Academy for the Arts is thrilled to announce its Summer Fiction Writing Retreat, which runs from Friday, June 2nd to June 4th, 2017.  The three-day, two-night camping retreat will be held at SAFTA’s own Firefly Farms in Knoxville, Tennessee.  This year’s retreat will focus on generative fiction writing and include two break-out sessions “Transmogrification: Magic and the Body” and “The Most Weird and Practical Dream: Advice on How to Communicate With Strangers, or, Everything I’ve Learned in the Last 20 Years Cut Down to 2 Hours,” plus discussions on kicking writer’s block, publishing, and more.

A weekend pass includes one-on-one and group instruction, writing supplies, food, drinks, transportation to and from the airport, and all on-site amenities for $250.  Tents, sleeping bags, and other camping equipment are available to rent for $25.  Payment plans are available if you reserve by March 31, 2017; inquire via email for details.

The event will be open to writers of all backgrounds and provide an opportunity to work with many talented, published fiction writers from around the country, including Chen Chen and Emilia Phillips.

M.O. Walsh

 

M.O. Walsh is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He is the author of the short story collection The Prospect of Magic and the novel My Sunshine Away, which was a New York Times Bestseller, an Amazon Featured Debut, and won the Pat Conroy Book Award for Southern Fiction.  His stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, Oxford American, The Southern Review, and others. He currently lives in New Orleans, LA, where he is the director of the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans.

 

tessa-mellas-for-gristTessa Mellas received the 2013 Iowa Short Fiction Award for her collection, Lungs Full of Noise. She holds an MFA from Bowling Green State University and a PhD from the University of Cincinnati. She teaches writing at the University of Maine at Machias, a college so far east it is the first in the nation each morning to see the sun. Figure skater, vermicomposter, vegan, and tender of a fierce feline twosome, she relates to soil and snow.

We have one full scholarship 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 poetry 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 March 31, 2017. Winners will be announced in April.

 

Space at this workshop is limited to 15 writers, so reserve your place today!

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Now Accepting Applications for Fall Artist Residencies

Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is excited to announce that they are now accepting applications for short-term artists’ residencies in creative writing, visual art, film/theater, music, and more. Each residency includes a room of one’s own, access to a communal kitchen, bathroom, office, and living space, plus wireless internet.

The length of a residency can run from one to three weeks. SAFTA is currently accepting applications for our fall residency period, which runs from August 21st to December 31st, 2017.   The deadline for fall residency applications is May 7th, 2016.

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-2-00-27-pmFor the fall residency period, SAFTA will be pairing with VIDA to offer two fellowships (one full fellowship and one 50% fellowship) for a week-long residency to two women writers of
any genre. VIDA’s mission as a research-driven organization is to increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing as well as further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture. Fellowships will be chosen by guest judge, Idra Novey.

Idra Novey is the author of the novel Ways to Disappear, winner of the 2016 Brooklyn Eagles Prize and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her most recent poetry collection  Exit, Civilian

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Idra Novey

was selected by Patri­cia Smith for the 2011 National Poetry Series. Her fiction and poetry have been translated into ten languages and she’s written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Paris Review. She is the recipient of awards from the National Endow­ment for the Arts, Poets & Writ­ers Mag­a­zine, the PEN Trans­la­tion Fund, the Poetry Foundation, and the Poetry Society of America. She’s also translated the work of several prominent Brazilian writers, most recently Clarice Lispector’s novel The Pas­sion Accord­ing to G.H.

The SAFTA farmhouse 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 residency bedrooms are 130 sq. ft. with queen-size platform bed, closet, dresser, and desk. There is also a communal kitchen supplied with stove, refrigerator, and microwave plus plenty of cook- and dining-ware.  The facility also includes a full-size working 19th century full-size letterpress with type, woodworking tools, a 1930’s drafting table, and an extensive library of contemporary literature.

To apply for the Sundress Academy for the Arts residency, you will need the following:

  • Application form (including artist’s statement and contact information for two references)
  • CV or artist’s resume (optional)
  • Artist sample (see website for more details on genre specifications)
  • Application fee of $25 or $15 for current students (with student email) payable online*

For more information and application material, visit our website or find us on Facebook or on Twitter.

*Application fee will be waived for those applying for the VIDA scholarship who demonstrate financial need. Please state this in your application under the financial need section.

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