KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Great Smoky Mountains Association has an opportunity for people who want to become inspiring writers.
The association is accepting applications for its third annual Steve Kemp Writers’ Residency, named after GSMA veteran Steve Kemp. He retired in 2017 after directing the publication of hundreds of books, magazines, brochures and newsletters that support the preservation of the national park. The residency was created to connect writers with the Smokies to help inspire their work.
Applications will be accepted through Nov. 1. The writer chosen will live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for six weeks in 2023. During their time in the park, the writer will work with Frances Figart, Steve Kemp, and other park professionals and partners.
“This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for writers to stretch and grow by immersing themselves in a sense of place that cannot be experienced anywhere but in the Smokies,” said Figart, creative services director for GSMA and the coordinator of the residency. “I enjoy helping to foster connections between not only National Park Service staff but also park partner staff and these writers, who become some of our greatest spokespersons in communicating interpretive messages such as protecting resources like hemlocks and ensuring visitor safety around black bears.”
The 2022 Writer in Residence, Sue Wasserman, spent her time in the Smokies writing and gathering inspiration in and around the park.
In addition to being a writer, Wasserman is a nature photographer, teaching artist and book editor. She has published two books, “A Moment’s Notice” and “Walk with Me: Exploring Nature’s Wisdom.” Her work has also been featured in the New York Times, Southern Living, American Style, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and GSMA’s “Smokies Life.”
She was originally chosen to be the 2020 recipient, but it was delayed until 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she said it was worth the wait.
“Prior to the residency, I knew little about the park with the exception of the few trails I’d hiked,” Wasserman said. “Where once I was primarily interested in the wildflowers, I’m now learning about aquatic life, entomology and park history. All while meeting some rather fascinating interpretive rangers, scientists and fellow meanderers.”
“Having discovered just how wondrous the park is, makes me want to share the wealth that much more through my writing,” she continued. “I have a sense, too, my work here is going to open new doors for me.”
According to GSMA, Kemp’s first story on managing wildlife in national parks was published in 1983 and won the Montana Audubon Society Journalism Award. His other writing credentials include a variety of periodicals and journals, including Outside, Outdoor Life, National Parks, Outdoor Photographer, Discovery Travel Adventures, Blue Ridge Country, Smokies Guide and Smokies Life.
Books written by Kemp include “Trees of the Smokies,” “Great Smoky Mountains: Simply Beautiful,” “Great Smoky Mountains: A Visual Journey,” “We’re Going to the Mountains,” “Great Smoky Mountains: Natural Wonder,” “National Park,” and, most notably, “Who Pooped in the Park?”
For more details on the writers’ residency, visit smokiesinformation.org/writers-residency. To apply, a person must be 18 or older.