"I guess I sort of expected a rooster to crow, but no—what woke me my first morning at SAFTA was the braying of Jayne, the donkey. It sounded exactly like a table saw collapsing into sobs. In my writing life, I often feel the need to break free from the dailiness, to hear something other than my own voice in my head. Jayne called me to a different place, and my writing time at SAFTA was one of the most productive periods of my artistic life."
-Karen Craigo, Springfield, MO
"My time at Sundress Academy for the Arts was among the best two weeks of my life. From SAFTA's kind and supportive workshop atmosphere, to the idyllic cabin-in-the-woods residency vibe, to sitting by a small waterfall surrounded by butterflies in nearby Smoky Mountains National Park, I loved every minute of it. I bonded with my fellow residents, and we continue to offer one another support. My writing grew richer and more lustrous with the day. I cannot emphasize enough that for the young woman-identified writer who seeks a quiet escape to engage lovingly with her muse, SAFTA is unequalled in value."
-Ariadne Wolf, Berkley, CA
"The SAFTA residency was perfect for me. Time, quiet, and a comfortable setting in the inspired countryside around Knoxville provided all the elements I needed to get a lot of work done. The location is ideal, the foothills create a remote feeling yet with access to all the comforts you might want in a short drive. I could have stayed another week! SAFTA is a hidden gem, and that includes the dedicated staff. I am so grateful for my time there, and look forward to returning."
-Amy Sayre Baptista, Chicago, IL
"A rooster crows. A donkey brays. The ducks and chickens come to greet you at the fence of their coop as you make your way to the wooded path in the foothills for a good midmorning run. And did I mention how fresh the eggs are? If, like me, you have only ever had supermarket eggs, you are missing out. In my bright red room, painted with atavistic butterflies and a giant white oak tree (I think), I worked with a truly singular focus. And when I needed a change of scenery, I could work on the front porch, sitting on a porch swing. And the experience was capped off with a wonderful Holler Salon reading and dinner at Erin Elizabeth Smith's house. These are truly generous and kind people and I cannot wait to go back and do it all over again."
-Carlo Matos, Chicago, IL
"Firefly Farms in a haven in the low hills of Tennessee. As you drive the winding road into Tobby Hollow (or 'Toby Holler', as the locals call it), you may hear Jayne the donkey braying you welcome. The farmhouse itself is a perfect getaway for an artist looking to finish a project or find inspiration for a new one. It is so obvious to anyone visiting for the first time that Firefly Farms is a labor of love. From the handmade kitchen table, to the hand-poured kitchen counters, to the whimsical and hilarious murals (I spent the week talking to the jet-pack toting pupa on my wall), every part of the place is touched with a beautiful combination of artistry and communal effort. My productivity sky-rocketed while I was here. After getting up to feed the small and friendly crew of animals (a new experience for me), I found myself more than ready to try new things while writing. In a week's time, I was able to finish my first book manuscript and produce a chapbook's worth of new work. And I haven't even mentioned the incredible people, yet! If you are prone to cynical ass-holery (as I sadly am), you will find at Firefly Farms a much needed reminder that the world still contains brilliant (and refreshingly unpretentious) people who are making great things happen for both their local and national literary community. The energy of the SAFTA team is inspiring and contagious."
-Sara Biggs Chaney, White River Junction, VT
"My week at SAFTA was a perfect opportunity to focus on a complicated work-in-progress. Spending a few minutes every day with the farm critters, or hiking on the land, balanced the hours I got to spend hunched over my notes at the kitchen table or at my desk. The farmhouse is full of amazing books and art. The 'holler' is quiet, lovely, and mysterious. And the SAFTA community is incredibly welcoming and completely inspiring. Who says being an artist has to be a lonely endeavor? I left SAFTA inspired and excited to continue my work, having made a lot of progress, and having made new connections with a whole new group of fellow travelers on this narrow path strewn with words."
-Jennifer McCharren, Montgomery, AL