Who We Are

Sandy Coomer – Founder and Director

Sandy Coomer is a poet, artist, and endurance athlete. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and magazines and she is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Continuum (Finishing Line Press), The Presence of Absence (Winner of the Janice Keck Literary Award for Poetry), and Rivers Within Us (Unsolicited Press). One full-length collection, Available Light, was published by Iris Press in 2019. Another, The Broken Places, was published by Saddle Road Press in 2021. Sandy’s art has been featured in local art shows and exhibits and has been published in over 40 publications. She is a marathon runner and an Ironman triathlete, having completed a full Ironman and qualified for and raced in the World Championships for the Half Ironman distance.

Sandy has been a writer-in-residence four times at three different facilities and dreamed of starting a writers’ colony in middle Tennessee. In March 2018, that dream became reality when Sandy and her husband, Tim, purchased 65 acres of land in College Grove, TN. The property had once been a bed and breakfast, making it a perfect candidate for a writers’ colony. Since then, Sandy and Tim have worked to build and shape the property into Rockvale Writers’ Colony.

Cognizant of her blessings and the recipient of generosity and kindness from countless other writers, Sandy feels a keen responsibility to give back to the community, particularly to the community of poets and writers. She is a tutor with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council, a past poetry mentor in the AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, the founding editor of Rockvale Review, an online poetry journal, and actively participates in the literary scene of middle Tennessee with open-mics and readings. Sandy is a teacher, a dreamer, a seeker, and an explorer. Her favorite word (so much so that she has it tattooed on her left forearm) is “Believe.”

Heather Burch – Assistant Director

Heather Burch is a creative non-fiction writer and author of the Substack newsletter, Simple + Good. She has served as the Assistant Director of RWC since 2018, and finds peace and purpose in providing a special haven for her fellow creatives both in-person and online as Rockvale’s social media manager. After pursuing a competitive career in Nashville’s music business,  she now lives a slower existence on her family horse farm in College Grove, TN, where she is the proud mama of 14 Nigerian Dwarf Goat children.

Heather is a collector of rocks, feathers, bones, and other found items. She writes about the simplicity of choosing to live a slower life in the country and the forgotten beauty of that which has been cast aside by the fast-paced hustle culture of the world. She hopes her words serve as inspiration for those who are unsure of where their winding paths might be leading them.