Authors Talk: Stan Sanvel Rubin

Today we are pleased to feature author Stan Sanvel Rubin as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Stan discusses two of his poems, “Entre Des Etrangers” (the meaning of which is “Between Strangers”) and “Tickle.”

Stan states that these poems “weren’t written together, although they were written fairly close in time.” While he continues that these poems weren’t “meant to be paired,” he describes how each “holds the page in a similar way— that is, they have a similar visual weight.” Each poem also has 14 lines; which, Stan admits, is unique considering that he is “instinctively drawn to 13-line units.” He emphasizes the fact that “Tickle” is a single-sentence poem, while “Entre Des Etrangers” is broken up into several sentences, and that this structure serves to reflect the overall meaning of each piece. While Stan continues that these two poems “are not sonnets, and they’re not trying to be,” he describes how both poems are “examples of what lyric poetry is especially about— the creation of a sound body…what you might call the music of each poem.”

“Each poem has some connection to narrative,” Stan continues. While “Entre Des Etrangers” , he states, “has a kind of embedded story involving two strangers coming together….’Tickle’ has a narrative instance of a young boy having just caught a trout, and holding that trout in his hand.” While each poem differs in terms of plot, Stan declares that the significance of both pieces goes “beyond the particular actions of the participants of the poem,” and is “owned again by… the way sound and words can be put together and juxtaposed in somewhat complex ways.”

You can read Stan’s two poems, “Entre Des Etrangers” and “Tickle,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.

 

#ArtLitPhx: Borderlands Poetry

 

#artlitphx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Event Description:

Natalie Diaz and [archi]TEXTS present Borderlands Poetry: A Reading and Conversation with Eduardo C. Corral benefitting No More Deaths/No Más Muertes

Date(s): Monday, November 19, 2018, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Pima Auditorium, Memorial Union, Arizona State University, 301 E. Orange St., Tempe, AZ 85281
Type(s): Conversation, Discussion, Lecture, Reading
Genre and Form(s): Multi-genre, Poetry
Cost: Free; Suggested donation to No Más Muertes

Live streaming will be available at the date and time listed at https://asunow.asu.edu/asulive

To make a donation to No Más Muertes, visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/nomoredeaths?code=asu

To learn more and RSVP, visit http://piper.asu.edu/classes/eduardo-c-corral/borderlands-poetry

About the Conversation
What are the physical and metaphysical conditions of borders and borderlands? How do borders span the imaginary, emotional, and physical landscapes of the human condition? Join a conversation and reading with poet and educator, Eduardo Corral, exploring the imaginative, bodily, societal, political, emotional, physical, and linguistic impacts of borders to us as human beings, our connections, and our artistic bodies of work.

Fundraising for No Más Muertes
This conversation benefits No Más Muertes (No More Deaths), a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona dedicated to increasing efforts to stop deaths of migrants in the desert. Their mission is to “end death and suffering in the Mexico–US borderlands through civil initiative: people of conscience working openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights” (No Más Muertes).

About Eduardo C. Corral
Eduardo C. Corral is the author of Slow Lightning, which won the 2011 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. His second book, Guillotine, will be published by Graywolf Press in 2020. He’s the recipient of Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Holmes National Poetry Prize and the Hodder Fellowship, both from Princeton University. He teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

Presented by [archi]TEXTS and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU

Original photo credits: Sonoran desert by No Más Muertes; Eduardo C. Corral by Matt Valentine.

Guest Blog Post, Denise Emanuel Clemen: At the Heart of Memory

A woman's shadow on sand.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Editor’s note: This piece contains discussion of sexual assault and rape. 

I’m interested in lies. I’m interested in truth. And in memory. How accurate are my memories? Do I trust that what I remember is true?

A few days ago I had coffee with a friend I see only every couple of years. Rebooting our conversation from when we last met, he wanted to know if he correctly remembered the story of the end of my marriage. “You were on a weekend get-away with your husband in San Diego,” he said. “He told you as you were unpacking your suitcases that the marriage was over, he was in love with someone from the office, she was pregnant, they were getting married, and he wanted to keep the house so he could raise his new family there.” Except for the weekend in San Diego and the pregnancy my friend’s memory had served him well.

It’s easy to explain the insertion of these two erroneous details. I had probably told my friend that only a month before our end-of-marriage conversation, my husband and I, and our children, and grandchildren had gone to San Diego for a family vacation. As for the pregnancy, in the fractured aftermath of learning that the life I knew was over, I concocted a scenario for my own survival. My husband didn’t want to end our marriage, but he was in a tough spot. Yes, he’d slept with her. Once. Maybe twice. She was on the pill, she’d told him, but that was a lie. Now she was pregnant. Or said she was. She wanted the baby, but her parents would be devastated that she was unmarried. They’d been saving and planning for her wedding since the day she was born. After much angst, my husband promised her that he’d leave me. They announced their engagement to her parents, and then she had a “miscarriage.” My husband had been duped, but he didn’t know it.

This tale helped me get out of bed in the morning. It was the story I told myself in the dark, alone. But as far as I recall, I hadn’t shared it with anyone. Then again, where did my friend come up with the idea of the pregnancy? Had I recounted my byzantine fake pregnancy, fake miscarriage theory to him? Was I so unhinged that I uttered it aloud? Maybe. And maybe, in the course of my ramblings, my friend was paying more attention to how I was negotiating the wreckage of my life than to the parsing of theory and fact. Regardless, the heart of the story as my friend remembered it was true.

Forty-two years ago I was raped by a business associate. I don’t remember his last name. I don’t remember if it happened in Indianapolis or South Bend. A couple of years earlier an acquaintance attacked me and nearly strangled me. I don’t remember his last name either. In fact, I don’t even remember his first name. What I remember is how swiftly he pinned me to the front seat of my car. What I remember is the pressure of his thumbs against my throat.

I write both nonfiction and fiction, and sometimes when there are details I don’t recall while writing an essay or memoir, I ask myself if it might be better to use my idea as a jumping off point for a short story. How can I write the piece as nonfiction when there are so many things I don’t remember? How do I flesh out the missing pieces of a true story?  Is it even necessary to do that?

Since watching the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, I feel stronger than ever that the bones of a personal essay can stand on their own, sans padding. Those exposed bones, like a skeleton hanging from a porch on Halloween night, are more dramatic without additional detail. The bareness delivers commonality.  My skeleton, in so many ways, looks just like yours.

There’s power in forgetting. Sometimes forgetting saves us. What we don’t remember is what we want to forget. The details that stay with us, in combination with the details that lay submerged beyond the access of memory, combine to render a story woven with complexity. There’s no need to embellish or invent. There’s a whole story lodged in our bones. Negative space is part of the picture. The erasure wrought by trauma tells its own part of the story. Just as sensory detail can engage the reader, the writer can draw the reader into the emptiness. I cannot recall a single feature of my attacker’s face. I can’t see his eyes, or whether or not he had a mustache, or freckles, or any type of a scar. He was quite pale, I think, or maybe just seemed so there on the dark street where he’d offered to walk me to my car.

The emptiness unites writer and reader. We struggle together to make out that pale face in the dark car. You are with me, clawing back your own memories just as I am with Dr. Basey Ford, running down the stairs and out the door of a house on a street with no name—a street that led us back home without knowing how we got there. Our memories can fail us. That failure is part of the story.

Authors Talk: Anna Geary-Meyer

Today we are pleased to feature author Anna Geary-Meyer as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Anna discusses the process of creating her short story, “Natural People,” which she says was “born through a writing exercise.”

Anna describes how one day, in a writing workshop sponsored by The Reader Berlin, she was given an assignment to write on the mythical “Adaro” creature. Based on her having worked in several different startups at the time, she “ended up fashioning this…merman-like spirit into a hyper-exercised, hyper-optimized boss character,” who acts as a negative force in the life of the protagonist. This, she says, relates to the overall theme of animals in her story, and the degree to which they’re found throughout the piece.

Anna states that the “crux of the story is the main character’s realization that, to find a home in the world, she has to make one herself,” and that,  while “I didn’t write with this theme in mind, it’s where I was at as a person.” She continues that the main character “could only really begin to find a home in herself and her environment…when she accepts this feeling of being lost”, which occurs both literally and metaphorically. Eventually, Anna concludes, the main character is able to “find a rhythm in her own body.”

You can read Anna’s story, “Natural People,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.

#ArtLitPhx: Maggie Smith: Reading

#artlitphx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: November 29th

Time: 7:00pm

Location: University of Arizona: Poetry Center, 1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85719

Event Description:

We are proud to present Maggie Smith, who will read from her work. After the reading, there will be a short Q&A and a book signing.

Maggie Smith’s fall residency is presented with support from the Amazon Literary Partnership.

Guest Blog Post, Elizabeth Maria Naranjo: Start at the Beginning– Using Titles as Prompts

Lightbulbs glowing in a brick warehouse.

Photo credit: Patrick Tomasso on unsplash.com

In the spring of 2015, I was beginning to emerge from the midst of a post-publication funk. Since the release of my debut novel the year before, I’d been swept up in the thrills and disappointments of book marketing, and after several abandoned projects I spent a long quiet winter simply reading.

Giving myself permission not to write had the desired effect; come spring I felt ready to dust the cobwebs from my creative brain and begin again. But the ideas wouldn’t come. Staring at the blank page day after day, I began to fear they never would.

My breakthrough came in the form of a prompt provided by my son, then seven years old. We were taking our evening walk around the neighborhood, hand in hand, and I confided to him that I’d been struggling with ideas for my writing and did he have any good ones? “Just give me a title,” I said, “and I’ll write you a story.”

It was a bold promise in the face of my persistent writer’s block, but that’s what I needed—accountability and conviction. I also hoped to tap into the unselfconscious well of creativity that all children possess and that makes writing fiction so much fun. I knew that my seven-year-old wouldn’t say “I don’t know,” or “I just can’t think of anything,” because kids can always think of something. And mine did: when I asked him for the title to my next story, he said, without hesitation, “The Shell of Light.”

“Okay,” I said. “’The Shell of Light’ it is.”

The title sounded ominous and ghostly, and its weirdness intrigued me. I imagined something dark—a tale meant for Halloween. I pictured a boy my son’s age, and a night out trick-or-treating that goes horribly wrong. I pictured a conch shell that emitted not the sound of the ocean but the sound of screams. I pictured a haunted house, girls who disappeared in the night, another girl with a black heart who gets what’s coming to her in the end.

Not exactly a kid’s story, but at least, finally, I had something. Soon I was writing again, not only “The Shell of Light,” but other stories; in fact, in six weeks’ time I wrote more than 30,000 words of new fiction. I wrote about a woman who finds her childhood diary and decides to rewrite her past, about a boy with a terrible secret who steals away at night to meet a girl beneath a willow tree—only to discover she has a secret of her own, about a father going through a divorce who witnesses a seemingly impossible motorcycle accident and is forced to question everything he thought was real.

One idea led to another that led to another. Of course, not all of them turned out the way I’d originally envisioned. Ideas often come in black and white, but the writing always finds shades of gray. In “The Shell of Light,” for example, my black-hearted antagonist wasn’t quite so simple, and neither was her fate. Characterization superseded plot, forcing me to change the title that had kickstarted my inspiration. Now that story is called “The Lost Girls.” It won runner-up in a contest last year and was published this Halloween in YA Review Net (YARN). My son, now eleven, is still not allowed to read it, but maybe in a few more years. He doesn’t mind waiting, or the fact that his title changed.

The important thing is that his odd little string of random words unlocked my imagination. Prompts do that, and it’s because they’re restrictive—they give a writer something to visualize and work with. In his book of essays Zen in the Art of Writing Ray Bradbury discusses how, when he was a fledgling writer in his early twenties, he began making lists of titles: The Lake, The Crown, The Fog Horn, The Carnival. He would then choose one of these titles, free-write for a page or two until he discovered the story, and then he would write the story. Sometimes, as in the case of The Carnival, he wrote a book.

Another beloved author, R.L. Stine (creator of the children’s horror series Goosebumps), has written over 300 books in his 30-year career. When asked where he gets his seemingly never-ending wealth of ideas, he reveals that he always starts with a title—just a title—and from there he builds the story. 

Essentially, he gives himself a prompt.

It’s been four years since my post-publication dry spell and I’m happy to say that I’ve never suffered from writer’s block like that again. Never sat before a computer screen day after day and agonized over the blinking cursor on a blank page. Never sat at the coffee shop for an hour with a pencil poised over an unmarked notebook, convinced I had nothing to say. I’ve gone through periods where I didn’t feel like writing and allowed myself time off—weeks, months even. But it was intentional, something that felt healthy and needed at the time. If I’m ever at a loss for ideas, I simply pick a word, a phrase, or even an image, and begin to free-write. Knowing the prompt will lead me to the story and trusting the story enough to follow.

Contributor Update, Karen Bender: The New Order

The New Order book coverToday we are pleased to share news about past contributor Karen Bender. Karen’s collection of stories, The New Order, is out now from Counterpoint Press. The New Order has been listed as “1 of 10 Books to Be Thankful for This November” by O, The Oprah Magazine, as well as “1 of 34 Fall 2018 Books We Can’t Wait to Read” by HuffPost. The New Order is available for purchase at Counterpoint Press here.

Congratulations, Karen!

You can read our interview with Karen in Issue 16 of Superstition Review.