Today we are pleased to feature DJ Lee as our Authors Talk series contributor. She takes the opportunity to talk with her daughter, Steph Lee, about her creative essay “A Syntax of Splits and Ruptures”. The essay covers the period in which DJ and her daughter were estranged, their reconciliation and, in a broader sense, the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters.
The two discuss the difficulty of writing a personal piece about family, but they acknowledge writing can be a way to process family traumas. DJ considers Steph’s reaction to the essay, as she felt the person in the essay is “another form of me.” After reconciling, DJ felt she needed to publicly share their story through her writing, speaking to “people dealing with this kind of loss, especially of a child.”
DJ also considers the inspiration she found in the earthwork sculpture, Spiral Jetty, built by Robert Smithson in the Great Salt Lake. The art piece, significant to the pair, became an important element in the piece as she constructed the essay “to have a spiral form, to sort of fold back on itself like the relationship between mothers and daughters.” She also considers the idea of “something very beautiful and precious and special being under the surface.” Not only does she find meaning in this inspiring art piece but uses numbers to connect the fragments of her essay in order demonstrate the “ruptures in peoples lives” and how “a fractured relationship” can be made whole.
Today we are pleased to feature Thomas Gresham as our Authors Talk series contributor. He takes the time to discuss his work “Iris.” Touching on many aspects of his writing, he details the impetus for writing the piece and his mental process in developing it in addition to many other topics. His varied discussion demonstrates organic sources of creativity and an inside look at how literary fiction is developed.
Writing the piece for a monthly reading event, Thomas draws on his real-life experiences weaving in themes of time as he contemplates how “we talk about the past while the past is happening” in events of tragedy and violence. Considering modern issues of mass violence and domestic abuse, he reflects on the feeling of being “trapped in the horror” of hearing bad news and applies the idea to concept of recalling such events where things begin “fading in and out of memory.” However, through this grim focus on violence in its many manifestations, he seeks to emphasize the phenomenon of “negative things resulting in positive things” which stems from his own worldview. His discussion shows writing’s complicated process and varied influences.
Today we are pleased to feature author Laurie Blauner as our Authors Talk series contributor. She discusses her experience working with creative nonfiction in her work “I Was One of My Memories” in which she writes to grieve the loss of her pet cat, Cyrus, but the book encompasses much more than that. Rich Ives joins her to talk about the ins and outs of writing creative nonfiction and distinguish its significance and strength as a literary form.
Having appeared in previous issues of SR, Laurie has worked in poetry and fiction writing, now she has chosen to tackle the creative nonfiction genre with some advice from Rich Ives. They first discuss the importance of analogy in nonfiction and Laurie, when she began writing this piece, asked herself “how much am I allowed to use my imagination”. Rich responds to this question by highlighting the “complexity of certain kinds of truth” determining that “truth is not singular” which distinguishes the creative nonfiction genre from a typical research-based essay. According to the pair, truth and context are some of the main concerns of creative nonfiction. Laurie notes that the genre allows people “to become each other’s witnesses” providing a thoughtful insight to the writing process and how to approach creative nonfiction.
Today we are pleased to feature author Sunny Nestler as our Authors Talk series contributor. The artist takes the time to discuss their recently self-published artist book Undergrowth in which five drawings previously published in SR are featured. They consider the creation of the book with their collaborator, A A Spencer, as they talk about the artistic and creative choices that went into developing it.
Accompanied by audio meant to elaborate on the drawings, Sunny describes the “imagined parallel universe” which the art illustrates, representing a “journey through the hairy underbelly of desert”. The imagery of the book is uniquely interspersed with text by other creative minds in collaboration with the art. In speaking of his own relation to the artwork, Spencer considers the presence of “a lot of time and a lot of space” which seemed particularly “immeasurable”. This contributed to the work of “visionary fiction” which he produces as a companion to Sunny’s art. Sunny also discusses the drawing Tectonic Microgrowth which shows “various snapshots of growth”, speaking to the overall theme and purpose of the artistic work.
Today, we are pleased to feature author Elaine Parks as our Authors Talk series contributor. Elaine discusses both her inspirational sources and how she creates her sculptures. She draws on the quiet desert surrounding her Nevada home and, as she wanders, uses the connection she feels to nature and the past to inform her artistic choices. By this method, sculpture becomes the language by which she translates her experience.
She asks that the viewer “reads her work as an artifact” as she contemplates both the history illustrated through nature and her personal experiences. In considering the past tenants of the region, she remarks that “the vastness of this country both day and night must be the same” and that connection to history is resonant in her art. Using “earth objects” to represent these feelings, she chooses “each thing for a reason that is aesthetic, textural and resonant in some specific way,” though the meaning of her work lies beyond the material. She thoughtfully considers the enormity of night sky and the various constellations we see in it as a representation of humanity that may help us consider how “for all our human activity, we’re just tiny specks,” part of something “impossibly large.”
Today we are pleased to feature author Joe Bardin as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Joe discusses the process of envisioning and writing his essay “Trenton into Time.”
Joe reflects how he first realized “that there was an essay to write” during a conversation with his housemates, where he “started talking about this period of my life…And I realized… that the things I was recounting were, in some sense, remarkable.” He affirms that “I think there’s a kind of epiphany that some writers experience, when at different points we realize that… our experience matters, that it has some kind of meaning or substance,” and states that, “That’s what got me going onto ‘Trenton into Time.'”
“We all sort of live ‘on top’ of these stories and experiences that have happened to us,” Joe declares. “We may remember or not remember [them] clearly, or consider or not consider [them] important, but underneath lie these moments in time that are part of who we are.” He calls the exploration of such moments “a kind of archaeology,” stating that “the person we are now is like the city built on top of a hill that’s full of relics of the past.” He emphasizes that “there’s something very intimate about remembering… and making some kind of sense of it now.”
You can read Joe’s essay, “Trenton into Time,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature artist Sarah Morejohn as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Sarah discusses her five drawings: “Blue-Green Anise Mushroom,” “Crystallizing Almond Mushroom,” “Freezing Pine Spike,” “Pink Earth Tonguled,” and “Strawberry Blite,” that were featured in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Sarah describes these pieces as “dreams and diaries; repetitions that catch the flow of thought.” She illustrates how each drawing “is made with small, intricate dotted lines” on a piece of printmaking paper, and that “the drawings have a center, with shapes growing or navigating outwards from that center.” All of the drawings, she states, “were inspired by snow crystals,” based on a recurring dream of catching snow crystals in her hand after a hometown blizzard.
“I have been naming my work after plants and mushrooms that are primarily found in Oregon,” Sarah declares, adding that she often uses guidebooks for inspiration. “I will find a common name or likeness that resonates with the drawing,” Sarah continues, and will name the piece after it’s finished. She concludes by referencing “a phrase that I once wrote in an old sketchbook of mine: ‘Drawing is matter set into motion,’ and responds that “I must have meant that imaginatively.”
You can view Sarah’s five drawings in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author John Milas as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, John discusses his short story “Tide Roll Away,” and emphasizes the theme of the “humanity of people who wear uniforms.”
John states that “We live in a society in which we are taught to dehumanize the uniformed, regardless of our place on the political spectrum.” Whether it’s the uniformed police, members of the military, or even “the teenager behind the cash register at a fast-food franchise,” John emphasizes that we are taught to use uniforms as a way to “dehumanize and exploit” those who wear them, and to only see such individuals “as part of a larger group.”
John muses on the idea if we, as members of society, “ever interrogate the specific, detailed reasons that an individual may have for wearing [their] uniform.” Eventually, he finds that “we spend more time jumping to conclusions than we do exercising our ability…to empathize with individuals, or our imperative as artists to do so.” He concludes by quoting “fellow veteran writer” Ulf Pike, who says that “I can’t tell anybody else what they should be writing about in terms of war or the military…My responsibility is to myself, that I write from a genuine conviction…to find traction and friction and move forward.”
You can read John’s story, “Tide Roll Away,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
We listed the wrong URL for Sunny Nestler in our newsletter. Please view her author’s talk here.
Today we are pleased to feature artist Paula Izydorek as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this short video, Paula discusses five paintings from her series titled (Self) Worth, as well as her overall artistic proclivities.
Paula declares that one thing she truly enjoys about (Self) Worth is that “the image itself repeats, but the composition changes based on the wood grain,” or the materials of production. While each painting is a self-portrait, they are not exclusively portraits of Paula alone; as she states, “I like to have the viewer put themselves in the place of the face that’s in the abstract composition, and to review your own self-worth.” That way, she emphasizes, viewers can identify with the story being expressed, and “connect with the image based on their own personal experience.”
As she concludes, Paula expresses her desire that each viewer will be able to “identify with the energy around the subject, rather than get lost in the subject as a portrait.” That way, she stresses, viewers will be able to use the work as a gauge to “evaluate…where you want to be with regards to your self worth.”
You can view five paintings from Paula’s (Self) Worth series in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature poet John-Michael Bloomquist as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, John-Michael discusses how living in Poland for the past year and a half has “influenced my understanding of poetry in general, as well as given me some perspective on a question…what is the soul of American poetry?”
While John-Michael admits that he “doesn’t think he knows the answer to this question,” or that “the answer is necessarily important,” he affirms that “the question is always worth thinking about.” From his recent experience of reading several works of Polish poetry, he concludes that, “I don’t think I can say what the soul of Polish poetry is, but I can say that it has really affected my soul”, and that “by immersing myself in the poetry and trying to learn some of the language…I have been able to feel more comfortable with the question, ‘What is the soul of American poetry?’ and what it means for me.”
Based on his experiences in Poland, and the high value that Polish society in general places on poetry as the “salt of language,” as William Butler Yeats puts it, John-Michael emphasizes that “Right now, in the age of the Internet…and these politically tumultuous times that we are living in, it is really important to write poetry that speaks to the soul and to the private life that we share and that connects us to our history; poetry that makes us loyal to the truth, not only of ourselves but to the world around us.”He concludes by saying that “I have felt a heightened sense of awareness that [these themes of] morality, loyalty to truth and history… and valuing the private life over the life of the state have brought me a lot of peace and joy.”
You can read two poems by John-Michael: “The Prodigal’s Return,” and “Vajra of the Octopus,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.