An Interview with Mary Sojourner


Superstition Review
will be hosting Mary Sojourner during our 2011 Fall Reading Series, on Wednesday, November 9 at 7 p.m. on the ASU Tempe Campus in the Pima Auditorium at the Memorial Union Building.

On Thursday, November 10, NPR commentator and novelist Mary Sojourner hosts a writing workshop called The Jump Start Circle “for those,” she says, “who have always wanted to write and somehow haven’t begun; for writers who have blocked; and for writers who want to move to the next level of their work.” The Jump Start Circle is not a lecture workshop—participants write for most of the session. November 10, 6:30-8:30. Cost: $25. Registration and pre-payment at 480.730.0205.

We are incredibly excited to host Mary Sojourner on our campus, and encourage all to come out to see her. Admission is free and anyone can attend.

Superstition Review recently had the opportunity to talk to Sojourner and ask her a few questions, and her answers have us on the edge of our seat, eagerly anticipating more of her insight during her upcoming events in Arizona.

Superstition Review: What got you started as a writer? How did you decide to take that (career) path?

Mary Sojourner: I wrote in my memoir, Solace: Rituals of Loss and Desire, about growing up in a frightening childhood. My mother was a brilliant and gifted bi-polar psychotic. Every two years, she would descend toward a suicide attempt and be taken away to the grim shelter of the State Mental Hospital. My dad was terrified and helpless in the face of her illness. I learned fast to disappear into books – and into the safety of the outdoors. That was the beginning. I knew from the time I was 8 years old that I wanted to be a writer – only a little more than I wanted to be a cowboy on the Western plains.

The writing path took me. It is not a career, especially now in these mean days of contemporary publishing. I teach in order to earn my living. Writing is a possession, a torment and the most compelling love I’ve ever known.

SR: What is the most rewarding thing you’ve taken from your career? Is it teaching? Participating in public readings?

MS: Every day I take the knowledge that writing has chosen me. Only a little less, I take the knowledge that teaching other writers also owns me. And, of course, there are those moments when lightning arcs through me and onto the page.

SR: What advice would you offer aspiring writers and artists currently attending undergraduate universities?

MS: Either drop out of school right now or plan to do so once you graduate. Resist the pressure and impulse to get an advanced degree. Apprentice yourself to your creativity. Let it map your route. You – unless you have a trust fund – can plan on being poor, scared, frustrated. You might, if you’re lucky, find yourself walking the blade of an obsidian knife. Howling. Laughing. Being grateful for every breath you take.

She added:

“Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.” — Albert Einstein. Make beauty. Make change. Make trouble for the settled and secure.

Mary Sojourner’s personal blog can be found here: marysojourner.com

 

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7 thoughts on “An Interview with Mary Sojourner

  • November 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm
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    “Either drop out of school right now or plan to do so once you graduate. Resist the pressure and impulse to get an advanced degree. Apprentice yourself to your creativity.”

    Love that advice! Ms. Sojourner sounds like she would be an interesting person to talk to!

    Reply
  • November 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm
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    “Walking the blade of an obsidian knife. Howling. Laughing. Being grateful for every breath you take.”

    That does sound like the writer’s life. What an amazing quote. I’m so excited for this reading!

    Reply
  • November 4, 2011 at 8:04 am
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    “Writing is a possession, a torment and the most compelling love I’ve ever known.” It’s amazing how what we love to do can also drive us crazy.

    Reply
  • November 4, 2011 at 11:06 am
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    This interview is so rich. Ms. Sojourner’s insight is profound; she describes the process and escape of writing in a very real way. I can’t wait for the reading next week!

    Reply
  • December 28, 2011 at 8:33 pm
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    My talk and time with Trish Murphy and her folks was enriching – I learned a lot about how others are moving through these hard times in what can often be a hard country. Thank you. ms

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    • January 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm
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      Thank you Mary. Your kind words are definitely appreciated. Your work is always fantastic and we’re glad to have you.

      Reply
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