The Sundress Academy for the Arts hosts the several focused retreats a year that provide focused, personalized instruction to writers of all skill levels. Participants are treated to guidance from advanced instructors who help them to not only hone their craft but also find suitable venues for their work. These two-day events are run online or in-person, depending on the event.


Trans/Nonbinary Writers Retreat
June 7th-8th, 2024

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is thrilled to announce its Trans/Nonbinary Retreat, which runs from Friday, June 7th, 2024 through Saturday June 8th, 2024. This event will be entirely virtual held via Zoom.  All SAFTA retreats focus on generative writing, and this year’s retreat will also include the following craft talk sessions: “Elegies for Past Selves” and “Writing Together: On the Poetics of Citation.”

The event will be open to trans and nonbinary writers of all backgrounds and experience levels and provide an opportunity to work with many talented authors and poets from around the country, including workshop leaders Evelyn Berry and Aerik Francis, and keynote speaker Ching-In Chen.

The total cost of attendance is $75. Space at this workshop may be limited, so please reserve your place today here.



Elegies For Past Selves

How can queer writers celebrate, mourn, and complicate literary depictions of our past selves? How do we contend with writing about bodies, self-conceptions, and attitudes that are in transition? How do we hold space in our work for continuing to evolve, stylistically, emotionally, and physically?

In this craft talk, we’ll explore the concept of self-elegy, an act of grieving, understanding, and letting go of our pasts. We’ll chat about the dangers of nostalgia, the urge to revise the past, and the challenges of writing about and through gender transition. We’ll read queer poets who have invented poetic forms (burning haibun, footnote poems, erasures, revisions) that approach these difficult questions. And we’ll discuss strategies, on and off the page, to write about the trans self.

Writing Together: On the Poetics of Citation

“Citations can be feminist bricks: they are the materials through which, from which, we create our dwellings… we can hope to create a crisis around citation, even just a hesitation, a wondering, that might help us not to follow the well-trodden citational paths.”
– Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life

In our current social-political climate where books are being banned, people are being censored, and labor is being replaced by artificial intelligence, cultivating ways to come together and craft lasting sustainable bonds in our work is as urgent as ever. Pushing against the infamous quotation that “creativity is hiding your sources,” this craft talk will explore creative ways to cite our sources and highlight our interlocutors in our poetry. Especially as people with sexual and gender identities that are marginalized, how can we effectively acknowledge the peoples and histories that come together in our writing and art? In this way, citation can be an intimate practice, an artistic endeavor, and/or an open field that combines play and study. In this exploration we will consider the device of allusion, the form of the after poem, methods of poetic annotation and redaction, and the creative approaches to notes and acknowledgments sections of projects. In this exploration we will read work from writers like Danez Smith, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Morgan Parker, Christina Sharpe, Solmaz Sharif, Eve Ewing, Mai Der Vang, Anthony Cody, and Ocean Vuong.

Workshop Leaders

An Asian American person wearing a dark shirt stands in front of a brick wall and smiles.

Descended from ocean dwellers, Ching-In Chen is a genderqueer Chinese American writer, community organizer and teacher. They are author of The Heart’s Traffic: a novel in poems (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press, 2009) and recombinant (Kelsey Street Press, 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry) as well as chapbooks to make black paper sing (speCt! Books) and Kundiman for Kin :: Information Retrieval for Monsters (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, Leslie Scalapino Finalist). Chen is co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 1st edition; AK Press, 2nd edition) and currently a core member of the Massage Parlor Outreach Project. They are also a Kelsey Street Press collective member and an Airlie Press editor. They have received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Can Serrat, Imagining America, Jack Straw Cultural Center and the Intercultural Leadership Institute as well as the Judith A. Markowitz Award for Exceptional New LGBTQ Writers. They are currently collaborating with Cassie Mira and others on Breathing in a Time of Disaster, a performance, installation and speculative writing project exploring breath through meditation, health and environmental justice. They teach in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the MFA program in Creative Writing and Poetics at University of Washington Bothell and serve as the Poet Laureate of the City of Redmond.

The subject of the photo is Evelyn Berry standing on an elevated boardwalk in a park. She is surrounded by greenery. She is wearing a tulle dress off the shoulders, oversized earrings shaped like strawberries, a headband, and glitter.

Evelyn Berry is a trans, Southern writer, editor, and educator. She’s the author of Grief Slut (Sundress Publications, 2023) and a recipient of a 2023 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship.

Photo of Aerik Francis standing outside with green leaves of trees in the background. They are smiling and wearing a blue denim jacket with a white floral patterned t-shirt underneath. The portrait is illuminated with afternoon sunlight.

Aerik Francis is a Queer Black & Latinx poet based in Denver, CO. They are the author of the poetry chapbook Miseducation (NDR 2023), named the winner of the 2022 New Delta Review Chapbook Prize, and poetry chapbook BodyElectronic (Trouble Department 2022). Check out their website for more fun poetry stuff & things.

Workshop Facilitators

Person with green and blue hair is shown from the shoulders up. They have makeup on, gold and orange eyeshadow, and eyeliner. They have a black star under the eye on the left. They have a hand behind their head and their elbow is bent in the air. They are wearing a black and white shirt.
Emory Dinsmore-Night is queer author from East Tennessee. They are currently a senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and are working on getting their bachelor’s in creative writing. They have worked as an intern for both Sundress Publications and SAFTA. They have been published in The Phoenix, a literary magazine at the University of Tennessee. During their free time you’ll find them hanging out with their cats, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or playing video games.