The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is now accepting applications for short-term artists’ writing residencies for creatives and academics. These residencies are designed to give writers time and space to complete their creative projects in a quiet and productive environment. You can read testimonials from our former residents here.

About the Residency at Firefly Farms

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 half an hour from downtown Knoxville, a dynamic and art-forward 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.

Our short-term residency bedroom is 130 sq. ft. with queen-size platform bed, closet, small dresser, and desk. The window faces the front of the house with a view of the butterfly bush in the yard. The room is painted with a rich brick-colored mural by local artist Chris Johnson.

The communal bathroom, shared with one to two other visiting artists, features an oversized mirror, matte-finish white tile floors, white-and-black walls and back splashes, toilet, and bathtub with large fixed shower head. The room also contains a wall-length mural by Sundress artist Rhonda Lott.

There is also a communal kitchen supplied with stove, refrigerator, and microwave plus plenty of cook- and dining-ware. The basic food stuffs like spices, flour, etc are also supplied, though residents will be responsible for their own food and meals. (Though no need for eggs! The Firefly Farms ducks and chickens supply those daily!) Laundry facilities are also available on site as well as wi-fi and central heat and air.

The office has a Mac with access to Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud, among other applications. A large selection of craft supplies is also available. Our library contains nearly 2,000 books, including a large contemporary poetry section and, thanks to The Wardrobe, many recent titles by women and nonbinary authors.

The facility also includes a full-size working 19th century Challenge copy of a C&P old-style letterpress with type, woodworking tools, and a 1930’s drafting table. Tools are available to residency artists upon training. If you are interested in working with the press during your residency time, please let us know when you return your contract as some projects require advanced ordering and scheduled training.

In 2017 SAFTA opened our Writers Coop, a 10×10′ dry cabin approximately 1/4 of a mile from the farmhouse. This tiny house is furnished with a single 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. Check out pictures here.


The Sundress Academy for the Arts is committed to making our facilities and programs accessible to disabled writers and artists, and we are in the process of reevaluating our physical spaces to ensure compliance. Currently, our primary residency spaces—both the farmhouse and dry cabin—are built upon rehabilitated structures original to the property. We have worked to make path of travel within these spaces as open as possible; however, certain renovations are not readily achievable for an organization of our size and means. To resolve this issue, we are removing barriers and making readily achievable alterations to the main farmhouse and our events. In addition, we will be building a fully accessible residency space, which is scheduled to be open in 2022.

The Coop’s accessibility is described as follows: approaching the Coop, and surrounding the Coop, the terrain consists of unsteady ground. The path to the Coop is clear and graveled, but may be hard to walk for some. You may drive to and from it, but your car should be equipped with four-wheel or all-wheel drive. To turn your car around to head back to the road, you must drive past it for a moment to an area of the path that is wide and cove-like to turn around easily. Coming into the coop, there is a single step to access the structure. The height of the roof is approximately 6’2″. The outhouse is approximately 50 yards away. To get there and back, you must walk up and down a gravel walkway that is lit by small lights at night for your convenience. The outhouse itself is a small structure with a light on the inside for you to be able to see; there is also a flashlight if you happen to need extra lighting.

Unfortunately the residency cannot accommodate pets or children at this time.

Cost and Fellowships

Each farmhouse residency costs $300/week, which includes a room of one’s own, as well as access to our communal kitchen, bathroom, office, and living space, plus wireless internet.

Residencies in the Writers Coop are $150/week and include your own private dry cabin as well as access to the farmhouse amenities. Because of the low cost, we are rarely able to offer scholarships for Writers Coop residents.

Our full scholarship opportunities for each residency period are listed below. No other full scholarships are available.

    • Fellowship for LGBTQIA Writers (Spring 2022) – Deadline September 15, 2021: SAFTA will offer two fellowships–one 100% and one 50%–to writers who identify as LGBTQIA. This year’s judge for this fellowship is Nicole Shawan Junior, a counter-storyteller who was bred in the bass-heavy beat and scratch of Brooklyn, where the cool of beautiful inner-city life barely survived crack cocaine’s burn. Her work appears in The Rumpus, SLICE Magazine, Kweli Journal, CURA, ZORA, Gay Mag, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere. Nicole has received residencies and fellowships from Hedgebrook, PERIPLUS, New York Foundation for the Arts, Lambda Literary, RADAR Productions and the San Francisco Public Library’s James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center, and more. Her work has received support from Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, Hurston/Wright Writers Week, Tin House Summer Workshop, VONA, Carnegie Hall, Sundress Academy for the Arts, and others. Nicole is the founder of Roots. Wounds. Words. (a literary arts revolution that serves BIPOC storytellers), editor in chief of Black Femme Collective, has guest edited for The Rumpus, and serves on the editorial board at Sundress Publications.
    • Dr. Kristi Larkin Havens Memorial Fellowship for Service to the Community (Spring 2022 or Fall 2022) – Deadline September 15, 2021: Dr. Kristi Larkin Havens served as the Community Outreach Director for Sundress Academy for the Arts and then as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Sundress Publications for over six years. She earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she was a Lecturer and the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies. She was a photographer who served as a producer on films for several local competitions including The Knoxville 24-Hour Film Festival and the Grindhouse Grind-out. For many years she served as a coordinator for the Knoxville Girls Rock Camp, an organization dedicated to fostering inclusivity and creativity. For her, the arts were a natural venue for pursuing the aims of social justice.This fellowship will be awarded to a writer who has shown exceptional service to their own community through any of the following: volunteering, organizing, fundraising, board membership, etc. Fellowship winners will receive a one-week fully-funded residency the Sundress Academy for the Arts at Firefly Farms in Knoxville, TN for either the spring or fall of 2022. The spring residency period runs from January 3 to May 15, 2022, and the fall period runs from August 23-January 2, 2023.
    • BIPOC Writers Fellowships (Summer 2022) – Deadline February 15, 2022: SAFTA will be offering one full fellowship and one 50% fellowship for BIPOC identifying writers for a week-long farmhouse residency.
    • Black & Indigenous Writers Fellowships (Summer 2022) – Deadline February 15, 2022: SAFTA will be offering one full fellowship for a week-long farmhouse residency to a Black and/or Indigenous identifying writer in any genre.Black and/or Indigenous identifying writers are also invited to apply for a $350 support grant to help cover the costs of food, travel, childcare, and/or any other needs while they are at the residency. We are currently able to offer two of these grants per residency period (spring/summer/fall).

    If you would like to donate to expand this funding, you may do so here. As part of our commitment to anti-racist work, we are now using a reparations payment model for our farmhouse residencies which consists of the following:

    • 3 reparations weeks of equally divided payments for Black and/or Indigenous identifying writers – $150/week
    • 3 discounted weeks of equally divided payments for BIPOC writers $250/week
    • 6 equitable weeks of equally divided payments – $300/weekThere are also limited partial scholarships (10-30%) for any writer with large-scale financial hardship; please indicate this in your application if you feel you qualify.

    The application fee is waived for all writers of color as well as any writer applying for financial need. Please state this in your application under the financial need section. All paid application fees will fund support grants for Black and/or Indigenous identifying writers.


Residents are expected to perform approximately five hours per week of service work at the farm as part of their residency. This mostly includes feeding and caring for farm animals as well as general day-to-day maintenance at Firefly Farms. For more information, you can see our Firefly Farms guide.

A Note Regarding COVID-19: Masks will be required social spaces if all residents are not vaccinated.

Residency Length

The length of a residency can run from one to three weeks. We are currently accepting applications for:

    • Fall 2021 Writers Coop Residencies (Available weeks: August 23-29, September 20-26, December 20-26)
    • Spring 2022 Residencies (January 3 to May 15, 2022)The deadline for Spring residency applications is September 15, 2021. Fall 2021 Writers Coop applications are rolling.

Transportation and Check-In

While residents are responsible for their own transportation to and from the farm, our staff will be able to pick up groceries for residents if they are without a vehicle. Please note that there is no public transportation that travels to the farm, though Uber, Lyft, or cabs are available.

It is also important to remember that the residency is supported solely by volunteers, and during the summer months, those running the residency do not live on-site. While we are flexible on arrival times, it is important that you arrive when you say you will. This will allow our team to get you situated comfortably at the residency space. If an emergency or unforeseen circumstance—flight delay, flat tire, etc.—forces you to change your arrival time, please contact us immediately to make new arrangements.

Residency weeks run from Monday to Sunday. Check-out is by noon on Sunday of the your final week.


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

Application form* (including brief project statement and contact information for two references)
-Writing sample (see below)
-CV or artist’s resume (optional)
-Application fee of $15 or $10 for current students (with student email) payable online (NOTE: For BIPOC writers, the application fee has been waived.)


-For Poetry: Writing sample of 8-12 pages
-For Fiction: Writing sample of 10-20 pages
-For Nonfiction: Writing sample of 10-20 pages
-For Playwrights/Screenwriters: Writing sample of 10-25 pages
-For Hybrid Work: Writing sample of 10-20 pages
-For Translators: Writing sample of 10-20 pages
-For Academic Work: Writing sample of 10-25 pages

Be sure to attach all of these documents to one email that is sent to

*If the PDF does not work, you can download a DOCX version of it here.

Member of the Knoxville Arts and Culture Alliance