Forthcoming: Patrick Madden

Superstition Review is thrilled to announce our publication of Patrick Madden in our upcoming issue, set to launch this December. Madden is a wonderful essayist who curates his own website which features classical and renowned essays from the most esteemed authors in history and currently teaches at Brigham Young University. Check out his website at www.quotidiana.org.

Patrick Madden joined the BYU English Department in 2004 after completing his Ph.D. at Ohio University. He specializes in theory and practice of the personal essay and its sister genres (travel, aphorism, etc.) in literary nonfiction. He is also interested in Latin American Literature.

His first book, Quotidiana, a collection of personal essays, was published in early 2010 by the University of Nebraska Press. It was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction; it won a gold medal in the Independent Publisher Book of the Year Awards for Creative Nonfiction, a bronze medal in the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards for Essay, and the Association for Mormon Letters Award for the Personal Essay. He has published individual essays in The Iowa Review, Fourth Genre, Hotel Amerika, Portland Magazine, and many other journals, plus some of these essays have been anthologized in The Best American Spiritual Writing 2007 and The Best Creative Nonfiction vol. 2 or noted in the back of The Best American Essays.

He enjoys volleyball, basketball, web design, strategy games, singing, Rush, and Notre Dame football. He and his wife, Karina, have three sons and three daughters.

We are honored to have the opportunity to publish Madden’s work ourselves, and look forward to our readership enjoying his work as much as we have.

Below is a link to one of Madden’s essays, entitled, “On Laughter”
http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=2390

Or you can listen to him read the same essay by downloading the .mp3 from this link:

http://magazine.byu.edu/issues/121/2390/files/patrickmaddenonlaughter.mp3

 

An Interview with Lee Martin

Superstition Review is excited to announce our publication of Lee Martin for our next issue, due out this December.

Martin is the author of The Bright Forever, and three other novels, including his latest, Break the Skin, which was published by Crown in June 2011. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such places as Harper’s, Ms., Creative Nonfiction, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and Glimmer Train. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA Program at Ohio State University, where he was the winner of the 2006 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Click here for a trailer for Martin’s latest novel, and here for a brief clip of Lee Martin speaking about the story and characters he has created for it.

Superstition Review also had the opportunity to speak with Martin:

Superstition Review: What first made you fall in love with literature?

Lee Martin: I was an only child who spent a good deal of time sitting on porches, in kitchens, in barber shops, listening to the adults tell stories. I was always in love with language. My mother was a grade school teacher, and she had books in our home. She read to me when I was a child. When I started school, I asked my teacher for permission to take my books home to show my mother. I was so proud of them! Before those first school days, when I stayed with my grandmother while my mother was teaching, I would take books off the shelves in her bedroom and sit on the floor with them. I couldn’t read, but I loved the way the books felt in my hands. I loved the way they smelled. I loved the patterns the text made on the pages. All of this is to say, that from an early age I knew books and I had an aesthetic response to them. It was only natural that I would eventually want to write books of my own. I got serious about the prospect of that when I went to the MFA program at the University of Arkansas in 1982. Five years later, I published my first story. At the time, I decided to apply at Arkansas, I was coordinating an Educational Talent Search program that helped culturally or financially disadvantaged people get into college. I shouldn’t admit this to the taxpayers (we were a federally funded program), but I always found ways to spend some time working on my stories when I was supposed to be doing other things for my job. I knew, then, it was time to make a choice to either pursue my craft completely or to give it up. My decision to accept the offer from Arkansas sent me down a path that I’ve never regretted.

SR: What are some of the best things about being both a teacher of literature, as well as a creator of it?

LM: I do love to teach. I love the intense conversations we can have over the choices a writer has made in a story or an essay. I love seeing students develop their skills. I also love those moments of solitude when it’s just me and the page, and I have this material I want to shape, and little by little I do it, which makes me feel that I’ve reached into the world and done something with a little part of it. I like the uncertainty of that process and how it finally comes to something that coheres. Finally, I love doing a reading or talking to classes at the universities I visit. I love performing my work, and I love sharing what I’ve come to know over the years with writers who are just at the beginning of their journeys. I guess, to answer your question more pointedly, I love it all. I love everything about being a teacher and a writer.

SR: If you could offer your students–or any aspiring writers for that matter–just one piece of advice, what would it be?

LM: I think it’s so important to begin to read a good deal and to read the way a writer does–to read with an eye toward the various artistic choices that a writer makes and what those choices allow and, perhaps, don’t allow. Young writers in undergraduate programs will have plenty of opportunity to read the way a literary theorist does, but it’s important to remember that stories, poems, essays, and novels are made objects. If you want to write them yourselves, you have to start figuring out how they get made.

Look for Lee Martin’s work in the forthcoming issue of Superstition Review.

 

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

 

Tribute to Steve Jobs

The news that everyone is talking about this week is the passing of Apple’s Steve Jobs.

His abrupt death came as a shock to not just the nation, but the entire world, as Jobs’ creations and ideas have pervaded almost every country on Earth.

The company that Jobs built served to deliver excellent technology — which was always groundbreaking — and has led the charge into the age of the internet.

His work cultivated mass globalization, revolutionizing the way we all communicate and live on a daily basis. It’s hard to go anywhere these days and not find someone sitting with a Macbook on their lap or an iPhone at their ear. Even something as simple as managing our music collection and listening to it on the go was radically reinvented by Apple in only a few short years. The strides that Jobs and Apple have made in technology are astounding. The Apple logo now competes with the Golden Arches of McDonald’s as the most recognized icon in the world.

The most powerful and influential people in our society have stopped and taken time to pay tribute to the man who helped bring magic to our fingertips.

President Obama, on the White House Blog, was quoted as saying, “The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

Even Bill Gates, perhaps Jobs foremost rival and competitor, has said, “The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.”

Jobs pushed the world in an entirely new direction, and he has certainly found his place in the history books. His contributions will surely grow as Apple continues to strive for excellence. Superstition Review, and other online literary magazines simply could not do what they do if not for the work of Steve Jobs. In fact, the world would look a lot different today had it not been for his inventive genius and creative spirit.

 

What’s Happening to Our News?

Wired magazine has recently published an article entitled, “Rate This Article: What’s Wrong with the Culture of Critique,” which discusses some interestingly subtle side-effects of the digital age of information.

Author Chris Colin argues that the overwhelming amount of information we are now inculcated with, thanks to the internet, has its pros and cons. While anyone on the planet now has the ability to access all sorts of knowledge from their cell phone, much of that knowledge is user-generated content. Colin writes:

Technoculture critic and former Wired contributor Erik Davis is concerned…too. “Our culture is afflicted with knowingness,” he says. “We exalt in being able to know as much as possible. And that’s great on many levels. But we’re forgetting the pleasures of not knowing. I’m no Luddite, but we’ve started replacing actual experience with someone else’s already digested knowledge.”

The constant influx of user-reviews and ratings can act to contaminate our own opinions, and sway us towards or away from restaurants, taxi services and even news articles. With charts and tickers winking at internet users from every webpage, it can become difficult to discern what you agree with and what you disagree with, what is fact versus one person’s perspective.

The concept of consumer feedback isn’t a new one. The question, “how are we doing?” has been printed on the side of McDonald’s take-out bags for years, and commercial trucks still bear the bumper stickers which read, “how am I driving?” But the internet takes consumer response to an entirely new level, compiling feedback from hundreds if not thousands of users.

Colin argues, “Our ever more sophisticated arsenal of stars and thumbs will eventually serve to curtail serendipity, adventure, and idiotic floundering…there’s an essential freedom in being alone with one’s thoughts, oblivious to and unpolluted by anyone else’s.”

What are your thoughts on what’s happening to our news?