#ArtLitPhx: Art Exhibition “To See the Words Unspoken”

Through objects and a series of related performances, artist Shannon Ludington explores the community and rituals surrounding textiles traditionally made by women. The gallery will function as Ludington’s studio and serve as a space for ongoing conversations as the artist invites viewers to join with her in making.

Performances will occur at 8 p.m. on March 16, 23, 30 and April 6. Exhibition runs March 16 through April 20, closing reception will be on April 20 at the The ASU Art Museum Project Space, located at 821 N. 3rd St. Phoenix, AZ 85004.

Schedule an appointment with the artist Wednesday–Saturday by emailing wordsunspokenexhibition@gmail.com.


Guest Post, Michelle Ross, Kim Magowan: Delightful Anarchy: Why and How We Collaborate

Origin Story

Kim: It wasn’t our idea. Some journal—Sundog, I think—was running a collaboration contest, and Michelle proposed that we give it a shot. We each wrote an opening paragraph of a story and lobbed it to the other. The first of those stories has never been published—indeed, I think neither of us has submitted it anywhere for ages—though I still like it (recalling it now, I want to dust it off and send it to some journal). The second, “My Co-Worker Aldona,” is one of my favorites.

Michelle: Actually, I’d been thinking for some time about trying out collaborating, but it’s true it took the Sundog contest to motivate me to act on it. There was no question that Kim would be the writer I’d ask. Oddly enough, we didn’t actually end up submitting to the contest because by the time the deadline rolled around, our flash fictions had been accepted elsewhere (other than the one Kim mentions above that we’re less sure about).


Kim: We don’t have any. Michelle writes a few sentences and tosses it my way, I write more and toss it back. We decide when it’s done, and we edit together, sometimes as we go. We have no word count, no implicit or explicit regulation on when it’s time to lob the story to the other. Basically we toss it when we get stuck, or when we’ve handed the other person a good shoehorn in. It’s delightful anarchy.

Michelle: If there’s any rule it’s that we try to keep the momentum going by not letting a story sit for long. Often we lob a story back and forth several times in a day. Rarely do we allow a story to sit longer than a day or two.

Reasons to Do It

Kim: Because writing is lonely and isolating—one is isolated at one’s desk, isolated in one’s head. It’s much more fun to turn it into a conversation.

Because it’s fast! Solo, we each belabor a story, tweak it, tweeze it, get annoyed by it, and chuck it in a (metaphorical) drawer. Stories huddle in those drawers for years. When we’re collaborating, we run. We don’t wring our hands over a sentence: we hurl that smoking potato at the other. We wrote one of my favorites, “War,” in a day; it was accepted by Monkeybicycle the following day.

Because it’s good practice on how to adopt a different voice, try on a different style; it’s narrative dress-up.

Because it stretches us. I think we’re writing one kind of story, and then Michelle throws in some unforeseen element—a self-defense class, a book on how to fix home appliances, a surreally boring movie—and suddenly the story has morphed into something else altogether, something weird and unpredictable. The flower just became a cactus or a toucan.

Michelle: Because it’s tremendously freeing to surrender some of the control over a story’s plot and aboutness. Knowing that at Kim’s next turn she could take the story somewhere I don’t anticipate, I don’t need to concern myself too much with where the story will go. I can focus on where the story is now.

Because collaborating helps me break the bad habit of expecting too much of myself too quickly. That is, when I write a story solo, it’s tempting to sit at the computer too long, to exhaust myself to the point that when I finally walk away, I’m leaving on a low point instead of a high point. When all I have to concern myself with is the next paragraph or two, that’s a very doable task and a relatively a short time commitment. I’m much more likely to walk away from the computer feeling energized and eager to come back to the story when Kim returns it to me.

Because it’s fun.

Lessons Gleaned

Michelle: I feel I’ve learned so much from collaborating with Kim, but most importantly the value of writing in short bursts of an hour or so at a time, the value of keeping up the momentum by not letting a first draft sit unfinished for long (a terrible habit of mine), the value of pushing to the end before revising (another terrible habit of mine), and the value of not overthinking a first draft (terrible habit #3). I still make some of these mistakes in my own writing, but less and less so.

Kim: The best take-away for me is collaboration makes me freer and less fussy. Collaboration feels like the writing version of improvisation. It gets me out of ruts. Also, we are not at all proprietary about our parts of the story. I feel as comfortable changing a Michelle sentence as one of mine; I don’t have any sense of, “This part of the story belongs to me, this to Michelle.” In fact, I occasionally read a sentence in one of our stories and I can’t immediately remember which one of us wrote it (though if it’s about science, that’s a good clue that it’s Michelle! When I throw in something science-y—I think working with Michelle gives me the bug—there’s a good chance she’ll need to fix it. “Actually, I think you mean beakers”). Michelle and I have pretty different styles, so it’s been fascinating to me how well we blend.


Michelle: Submitting collaborative fiction can be a bit trickier—figuring who will send a story where, keeping each other updated about where stories are being considered, where they’ve been rejected.

Kim: One journal wouldn’t allow us to submit a collaborative piece, which shocked us both.

How to Find Your Collaborator

Michelle: Obviously, you want to choose someone whose writing you admire and whose instincts you trust. It’s perfectly fine, and perhaps even for the best, if you have different writing styles or preoccupations as a writer. It’s also perfectly fine to disagree some of the time, as long as you’re able to resolve those disagreements. I think that ideally you should collaborate with a writer you know fairly well, with whom you already exchange drafts. Kim and I had been exchanging work for several years before we began collaborating. We were already each other’s first readers.

Kim: What Michelle said—find a writer whose work you love and whose judgments you value. Michelle and I first “met” each other over a story: I loved her story (“Cinema Verite”), and the comments I gave her were useful. Also, find someone who has strengths you want to borrow. I’ve always admired the humor in Michelle’s stories— her writing, like Lorrie Moore’s or Amy Hempel’s, makes me laugh. And I think our collaboration stories are pretty funny, even the sad ones. She lightens me. Michelle is ninja when it comes to restructuring stories, moving around pieces. It’s like being on one of those crazy Top Chef team quickfires: we’re good together because we can lean on each other’s skills.

Michelle: I do love moving pieces around. Quite often I find the fix to a story that isn’t quite working is largely in reshuffling the pieces. And funny that Kim says I lighten her with humor. I think Kim does the same for me plenty of the time. Also, I think that working with Kim makes be a better constructor of sentences. Her sentences are always at once so elegant and sharp, like dancers wielding scissors.




Michelle Ross is the author of There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, which won the 2016 Moon City Press Short Fiction Award (MCP 2017). Her work has recently appeared in Cream City ReviewThe ForgeMonkeybicycleTriQuarterly, and other venues. She is fiction editor of Atticus Review and a consulting editor for the 2018 Best Small Fictions anthology. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Michelle Ross’s website



Kim Magowan lives in San Francisco and teaches in the Department of Literatures and Languages at Mills College. Her short story collection Undoing won the 2017 Moon City Press Fiction Award and is forthcoming in 2018. Her novel The Light Source is forthcoming from 7.13 Books. Her fiction is published or forthcoming in Atticus ReviewBird’s ThumbCleaverThe Gettysburg ReviewHobartNew World WritingSixfoldWord Riot, and many other journals.

Kim Magowan’s website

Contributor Update: Michael Henson

Cover for Maggie BoylanToday we are pleased to share news about past SR contributor Michael Henson. Michael’s upcoming book Maggie Boylan is available for preorder from Ohio University Press here. Of the author, Amy Greene, author of Long Man and Bloodroot, says:“Michael Henson is one of the finest authors of literary fiction writing today. His Maggie Boylan stories give voice to those among us who are seldom heard. Maggie Boylan is an important work of art, beautifully rendered.”

The Girl Who Spoke Foreign” by Michael Henson can be read in Issue 10 of Superstition Review.

Congratulations, Michael!


#ArtLitPhx: “Cli-Fi Bodies, Heart-Born Worlds” with Lidia Yuknavitch


National bestselling author Lidia Yuknavitch presents her talk “Cli-Fi Bodies, Heart-Born Worlds” First Friday, March 2nd, 2018 in the Whiteman Hall at the Phoenix Art Museum (1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004) at 7:00 p.m.

A growing number of contemporary Cli Fi novels are changing what we mean when we say dystopian fiction—Station Eleven, Borne, American War, Future Home of the Living God, and The Book of Joan are all examples where authors are asking how we might radically reinvent our relationship with the planet, each other, and ourselves. What if we loved the planet the way we claim to love our partners or children? What if being meant understanding our existence as relational to eco-systems and animals? What if that stuff we are made of, the matter of the cosmos and universe, isn’t as “out there” as we pretend; what if the stories inside of us, including our biology and physiology, our consciousness and emotions, have everything to do with what is around us? What if parallel universes or timelines—as reflected in new scientific discoveries as well as ancient indigenous forms of knowing—are informing our present tense? New directions in narrative help us ask more interesting questions about ourselves and the world—or worlds—we inhabit.

You can find out more information about about the event at at the Virginia G. Piper Center website and tickets here, but here are a few more details:

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the National Bestselling novels The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children, winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award’s Ken Kesey Award for Fiction as well as the Reader’s Choice Award, the novel Dora: A Headcase, and three books of short stories. Her widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water was a finalist for a PEN Center USA award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award and the Oregon Book Award Reader’s Choice. She founded the workshop series Corporeal Writing in Portland Oregon, where she also teaches Women’s Studies, Film Studies, Writing, and Literature. She received her doctorate in Literature from the University of Oregon. She lives in Oregon with her husband Andy Mingo and their renaissance man son, Miles. She is a very good swimmer.


Contributor Update: Emilia Phillips

Cover for Empty Clip by Emilia PhillipsToday we are pleased to share news about past contributor Emilia Phillips. Empty Clip, Phillips’ third poetry collection, will be released by University of Akron Press on April 23, 2018. The collection deals with the cultures of violence in the United States and the effect they have on female body image and mental health. Empty Clip is available for preorder from University of Akron Press here.

Four poems by Emilia Phillips can be read in Issue 6 of Superstition Review.

Congratulations, Emilia!

Contributor Update: Elaine Ford

Elaine Ford Today, we here at Superstition Review want to take time to mourn the loss of past contributor Elaine Ford, who passed away in August 2017 at the age of 78. We will forever be grateful for Elaine’s contribution to our magazine and are honored to announce the release of her seventh book, This Time Might Be Different, which will be out from Islandport Press on March 13, 2018. The books is available for preorder from both Amazon and Islandport PressThis Time Might Be Different Book Cover

Foreclosure” by Elaine Ford can be read in Issue 16 of Superstition Review.

Contributor Update: Allison Benis White 2018 UNT Rilke Prize Winner

Allison Benis White

We are pleased to announce that Alison Benis White’s Please Bury Me in This won the UNT (University of North Texas) Rike Prize for 2018.

To learn more about the UNT Rike Prize and events, visit the announcement page here.

Allison and Please Bury Me in This last appeared on the blog in a contributor update back in April of 2017 announcing that selections of her work were featured in the Spring-Summer 2017 edition of American Poets.

Please Bury Me in This is available from both the publisher Four Way Books and Amazon. You can also read, “Everything That Is Not Conversation,” an Interview with Allison Benis White featured in Issue 15 of Superstition Review.

Congratulations, Allison!