Daron K. Roberts selected as 2024 Kemp Writer in Residence


Daron K. Roberts
Daron K. Roberts, the 2024 Steve Kemp Writer in Residence, was a participant at the inaugural Tremont Writers Conference in October 2023. Provided by Michele Sons.

This year’s Steve Kemp Writer-in-Residence, Daron K. Roberts, has arrived in the Smokies for part of his six-week stay. During his time in the Smokies, Roberts will explore diverse stories of individuals who spent their prime years building and maintaining the foundation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Job Corps camps in the Tremont area between Cades Cove and Townsend, TN.

Roberts’ writing has appeared in The Houston Chronicle and Huffington Post, as well as Forbes and Fortune magazines. He is the author of A Kids Book About Empathy and Call an Audible, which was selected by Sports Illustrated as one of its Best Sports Business Books of 2017. Roberts previously served as a university lecturer, football coach and the founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas. In October 2023, he was a participant in the inaugural Tremont Writers Conference, coordinated by Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and Smokies Life.

Steve Kemp and Daron K. Roberts.
Steve Kemp and Daron K. Roberts on the Little River Trail. Provided by Daron K. Roberts.

“To say that my time in the Smokies this past fall reshaped my writing life would be an understatement,” said Roberts. “I am eager to return to such a special place with a mandate to craft a new way of seeing the people who helped to build its infrastructure.”

Roberts will closely work with program namesake Steve Kemp and Smokies Life Creative Director Frances Figart, who oversees the program, as well as other park professionals and partners. The annual residency, funded by Smokies Life, is designed to help writers of any medium connect in meaningful ways with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, providing space for each individual to focus on his or her craft in a retreat-like setting while potentially inspiring some of their best work.

“Daron is someone who can articulate an amazing curriculum for learning and exploring aspects of this park we have not yet uncovered,” said Figart. “I think the work he proposes—including aspects that will spring to life during the residency—is going to have an impact on the way we communicate about the Smokies’ cultural history.”

The application period for the 2025 Kemp Residency will open in August of 2024. For more information on the Steve Kemp Writer’s Residency, visit smokieslife.org/the-steve-kemp-writers-residency.


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The Great Smokies Welcome Center is located on U.S. 321 in Townsend, TN, 2 miles from the west entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors can get information about things to see and do in and around the national park and shop from a wide selection of books, gifts, and other Smokies merchandise. Daily, weekly, and annual parking tags for the national park are also available.

Physical Address

7929 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway Townsend TN 37882


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