Kali Meister

University of Tennessee Libraries Writer in Residence

Is it hard to write with all that football going on?

Wow, you know, I don't even try to come over here when the football is going on. I used to live in the Fort when I moved here 11 years ago, where you just better plan a day in the apartment on game day.

You came to the Fort from... ?

Mt. Pleasant, Texas. I tell people you could paint that town red and it would only take a gallon of semi-gloss. My fiance at the time was accepted to UT and we moved here with 1,000 bucks and no friends. We were very young, and very brave.

Were you selected because of some already published work?

I'm the first official playwright they've had in the position. The first successful play of mine is Exposed, a cross-genre memoir I perform with three other people, as we did for the Actors Co-op Fringe Festival and the Knoxville Writers Guild—poetry and monologues and a couple of scenes and some singing and dancing and harmonica playing. I'm really proud of it, but it's not published.

Why not?

Playwriting is the most difficult genre to get published. As I told the members of a non-credit workshop I'm teaching, "If you want to sustain yourself, playwriting is not the way to do it. You write plays because you love them."

So how do you pay the bills?

This residency, teaching performance, writing anything I can get.

Have you worked odd jobs?

As an artist, you have to be creative about sustaining yourself. I've done home health care, read Tarot cards, clowned for children's parties. I did palm reading at Bark in the Park and at one point people were bringing their dogs and asking me to read their palms.

What did you say to them?

I was like sure, why not?