Today we are pleased to feature artist Louise Fisher as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Louise discusses the creation of her video performance “A Letter I Long and Dread to Close,” as well as her own artistic journey.
Louise begins by describing her childhood in rural Iowa, where, as she states, “the tallgrass prairie was my first art teacher.” Eventually, she declares, “my curiosity and ambition drove me… to find a community who could relate to my strange creative impulse.” In search of this creative community, she is currently pursuing her MFA in printmaking from Arizona State University, where she says that “my work is very tied to the experience of ‘place.'” Speaking on the concept of “place,” she states that, “I knew a desert metropolis was the complete opposite of my upbringing, so I wanted to challenge myself and see how my work would change.”
“A Letter I Long and Dread to Close” is, in Louise’s words, “a perfect example of…this concern with the past and the process of deterioration.” Inspired by a poem titled “Toward the Solstice,” by Adrienne Rich, the video was “informed by an interest in domestic history, and how our lived spaces can hold impressions of inhabitants.” It was filmed in a house that Louise’s mother “grew up playing in, standing next to the house that I grew up in,” and was a “site-specific response” to how “aspects of the home are often ignored” in historical narratives. In filming the video, Louise states that her first impulse was to “peel the wallpaper away and investigate what was there; to see how deep the time went, like an archaeological dig.”
You can watch Louise’s video, “A Letter I Long and Dread to Close,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
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.
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.
Today we are pleased to feature author William Auten as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, William discusses the role of memory and detail in his short story, “Something in the Way.”
William states that he wrote “Something in the Way” as “a way to connect unsettling personal and cultural events.” The story, he says, “combines fact and fiction,” and “blurs imagined scenarios with real-life experiences.” He declares that these memories can be “broad and abstract enough to point to their universal application,” while, in the confines of the story, be susceptible to “amplifying, editing, or renovating.”
William emphasizes that people share “similar traits, feelings, and reactions,” and that “mundane details” in a story can heighten the reader’s empathetic response. However, he says, these “mundane details have to play off of what the piece aims for; its overall effect.” He concludes by stating that “‘Something in the Way’ is an act of fiction, even the parts that I didn’t have to make up.”
You can read William’s story, “Something in the Way,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Melissa Olson-Petrie as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Melissa discusses the inspiration behind her short story, “To Walk Chalk.”
As Melissa reflects on the story, she says that she’s “surprised by how much family lore has been an inspiration.” To her, she says, “the biggest inspiration was the setting: a Victorian house my great-great-grandfather built in 1898, in a Wisconsin town known for its tobacco farming.” She describes an experience that she had as a twelve-year-old, where she was told that “they embalmed people in the basement,” and how it “gave me a Gothic twist on a seemingly typical Victorian home.”
In addition, Melissa explains the meaning behind the phrase “To walk chalk,” and its relationship to field sobriety tests. She says that the phrase “seemed to resonate with the struggles and the whiskey consumption of the main character.” She describes the police scanner that her grandfather would periodically use to “see what was happening across town,” and how this true-to-life detail “took on new significance” in the story. In the end, she says, “every once in a while” as she writes stories, details like these will “come back, like an unearthed gemstone.”
You can read Melissa’s story, “To Walk Chalk,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Kelly Hill as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Kelly discusses two books she has recently read that both inspire and enlighten her: Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick, by Maya Dusenbery, and We Show What We Have Learned & Other Stories, by Clare Beams.
Kelly states that Dusenbery’s book is interesting because it “looks at the systemic sexism that is present in the medical condition.” In the book, Kelly continues, Dusenbery interviews several woman who have been medically misdiagnosed and were told, upon visiting the doctor, that their physical symptoms were simply due to stress. In addition, Kelly discusses Dusenbery’s approach to medical research, showing how, until recently, such research was practically “only done on men,” and the repercussions this can contain for women’s health.
Kelly’s discussion of the second book, We Show What We Have Learned & Other Stories, focuses on Beams’ ability to craft beautiful descriptions of characters. Kelly quotes a passage from one of Beams’ stories, “World’s End,” and admires the high degree of authorial skill that can be seen in various descriptive passages. Kelly concludes by thanking all listeners of her podcast, expressing her hope that “you’re working on a project that inspires you, and one that you’re happy to return to every day.”
You can read Kelly’s story, “The Neighbor,” in Issue 14 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Pete Stevens as our Authors Talk series contributor. In the podcast, Pete discusses the process of creating the short story “Smoked Fish,” and how, as he states, “This wasn’t the story I [originally] intended to write.”
Originally, Pete says, “Smoked Fish” was a story about “this couple, told through the perspective of “a guy…who [isn’t] really wanting to or ready to get married.” However, as Pete says, “we know as writers and as readers that some of the best results are the results that are unexpected,” so he instead decided to explore the idea of a father-son dynamic, and the “unique conflicts and challenges that would come from that relationship.”
Eventually, Pete states, “it’s the son who understands that he…can mature and progress past his own father,” which leads to his “appreciating all that his father has done for him.” “Even though his father [has set] this groundwork,” Pete emphasizes, “the son, now, is becoming a man.”
You can read Pete’s story, “Smoked Fish,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Timothy Reilly as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Timothy discusses the inspiration behind his short story, “The Task at Hand,” calling it a “nod to the old Grail romances.”
Timothy states that “‘The Task at Hand’ is not a ‘Baby Boomer’ story,” even though it concerns a protagonist from that generation. Instead, he says, it is “an internal quest… framed within a common 21st-century excursion.” During that quest the protagonist “deals with the challenges of age and memory,” as well as “the fickleness of pop culture.”
Timothy, hearkening back to his lifelong interest in Grail legends, declares that “myths are about truth, not facts.” He ends by referencing a quote from C.S Lewis, saying that when he realized this fact and “was old enough to read fairy tales again,” he began to write short stories of his own.
You can read Timothy’s story, “The Task at Hand,” in Issue 16 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Deborah Bogen as our Authors Talk series contributor. The topic of Deborah’s podcast, as she says, is “prose poems: the how and why of writing them.”
She confesses that after writing three books of “mostly lineated poems,” she took a break from poetry, or as she emphasizes “poetry took a break from me.” She describes her struggle to write a poem, saying that she “tried, but could not do it.” After a time spent writing novels, she states that “a strange thing happened: I was filled, and I do mean filled, with the urge to make new poems.” Due to her time writing in a novelistic style, she declares that she “quite naturally… fell into the world of prose poems.” She had previously enjoyed the style, but now, “the joy…was that I had a form, a box into which I could place… what I was noticing in what we call the world.” She closes by urging fellow poets to “have some fun [with prose poems],” and to “write a bunch.”
You can read Deborah’s poem, “This Poem May Be Read In Any Order,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature poet Ephraim Scott Sommers as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this brief interview, Ephraim discusses his life as a poet and as a singer/songwriter, and how each endeavor creatively informs the other.
While Ephraim grew up in a musical household, he said that he “didn’t really think about being in a band until I turned 18,” when he formed the group known as Siko with other musically inclined friends. He admits that he originally “was way far behind in his musicianship”, but that through years of dedication and hard work, he was able to “create something…from nothing” and craft many memorable experiences.
Speaking on the interrelationship of poetry and music, Ephraim states that “he came to lyricism and to poetry writing through music.” He elaborates that “what really drew me to poetry at first was the sound of words,” and that this inspired him to “try to tell stories in a musical way” through his pieces. In light of this, he expresses his interest in the lyric tradition of people like Dante and Virgil, who are “singing you a story” through their poetic work.
You can read another interview with Ephraim, “The Funeral Pyre of Poetry,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.