A writer’s retreat: GSMA offers writing residency in the Smokies

Steve Kemp moved to the Great Smoky Mountains in 1987 for what would become a 30-year career with the Great Smoky Mountains Association, and following his 2017 retirement GSMA is looking to honor his contributions to the organization through a new writer’s residency.

“There is a specific skill in writing in a way that engages the reader and inspires curiosity and passion in the reader, and that’s what we want to be able to cultivate,” said Laurel Rematore, executive director of GSMA, “because we’re in the business of helping people to connect with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, connect on an emotional level so they will take care of it.”

Kemp is exceptionally good at that kind of writing, Rematore said, making it fitting that the new program will be called the Steve Kemp Writer’s Residency. Out of those applying, one writer will be chosen to live in park employee housing near Park Headquarters — located outside of Gatlinburg — from March 3 to April 13, 2019.

“It’s access, and it’s the opportunity to focus, focus without being concerned about outside deadlines or requirements,” said Rematore. “I think oftentimes artists are looking for inspiration, and what better inspiration than to come and immerse yourself in this place for six whole weeks?”

The selected writer will have more opportunity available to him or her than just the chance to sit in a cabin for six weeks. The writer will spend time with Kemp to “get a flavor of his view of things,” said Rematore, have access to park archives and personnel and have the opportunity to host events and be published in GSMA works.

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