Great Smoky Mountains Association is now accepting applications for its fourth Steve Kemp Writer’s Residency. The annual residency hosted by GSMA is designed to help writers of any medium connect in meaningful ways with Great Smoky Mountains National Park by providing space for successful applicants to focus on their craft in an inspiring, retreat-like setting.
Following the application process, one writer will be selected to live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for six weeks in 2024. The chosen writer will engage with the natural environment of the Smokies, learning about the park in ways that will inform their chosen genre — whether this is nonfiction narrative, fiction, poetry, playwriting, music, or another form of writing. Applications for the 2024 Kemp Residency are being accepted now through November 1.
The program is named for 30-year GSMA veteran Steve Kemp, who retired in 2017 after directing the publication of hundreds of books, magazines, brochures, and newsletters that continue to support the preservation of the national park. As part of the residency, each writer works with Kemp, GSMA Creative Director Frances Figart, and other park professionals and partners.
The 2023 Writer in Residence, Western Carolina University professor Dr. Brian Railsback, is a published author of numerous articles, essays, and book chapters, including the nonfiction Parallel Expeditions: Charles Darwin and the Art of John Steinbeck and the novel The Darkest Clearing. He spent his six weeks in the park working on an environmental novel about a man who turns into a black bear. After this shocking transformation, the man’s wife sets out to track and kill the beast, which she believes has killed her husband.
“The focus provided by the residency, given its setting in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enabled me to not only finish my novel but also a first structural revision,” said Railsback. “On the day I finished the first draft, I wrote most of the day and biked the Cades Cove loop in between. I saw five bears, including one who was a few feet from my window as I was (literally) on the last few pages. I would never have been able to complete this complicated writing project under the ambitious deadline I set for myself had it not been for the residency.”
Previous program awardees include naturalist writer Sue Wasserman, journalist Latria Graham, and poet Elise Anderson.
For full residency details, as well as instructions for submitting an application prior to the November 1 deadline, visit smokiesinformation.org/the-steve-kemp-writers-residency.