Authors Talk: Aaron Reeder

Aaron ReederToday we are pleased to feature author Aaron Reeder as our Authors Talk series contributor. In his podcast, Aaron provides insights into his poems, “Untangling” and “Failed Poem for My Mother,” both published in Issue 18. He reveals that, when he was writing these poems, he was interested in the systems people fall back on to deal with trauma and grief, specifically the system of family.

Aaron also discusses his poems in the context of communication and conversation; both of his poems involve issues in communication, specifically with the speakers’ parents. For example, in “Failed Poem for My Mother,” Aaron shares, “ultimately what I think the speaker wants is that…these two individuals, the mother and the son, would be on the same plane.”

You can access Aaron’s poems in Issue 18 of Superstition Review.

Interview with Artist Shiloh Ashley: On Constructing Language, Relationships, & Identity

Shiloh AshleyIntermedia Grad Student Shiloh Ashley has been hard at work preparing for their thesis show, including the arduous task of constructing their own language. Our Art Editor, Regan Henley was lucky enough to get some time with Shiloh to talk about this process and see what exactly this whole project entails.


Regan Henley: So, my understanding is that you are creating your own language as part of your thesis. Can you speak a little about that?

Shiloh Ashley: I am very interested in languages, codes, puzzles, and games, and the ways in which these things intersect during play. I wanted to deepen my knowledge and expand my understanding of the how language, codes, puzzles, and games influence communication and interpersonal relationships. I felt that the best way to investigate the dynamics between the intersections of those elements and how they lead to transformation would be to create my own language.

RH: This project is obviously a huge undertaking. What has been your process throughout this work? Have you been following some outline for creating language or is it more of an intuitive task?

SA: I am working intuitively with a plan of action, which means that I set aside time to focus on only writing, only music, only building, etc., and the work develops from there. It helps me to corral my thoughts but not limit them too much to a set of expectations as I find art has a way of making itself regardless of what, I, as the artist think it should be.

RH: Has language always had an important element in your work, or is this a more recent fascination of yours?

SA: Language has been a constant in my work.

Language is important to me because I believe languages are adventurous journeys to new worlds, not just verbal or gestural languages, but also languages like mathematics, coding, and the use of acronyms in cyberspace. There are many different ways to say the same thing, there are similar ways to say different things, and too many ways to say the wrong thing.

RH: Do you think language plays an important role in defining personal identity to you? And if so, what are you saying in creating your own?

SA: I grew up in a multilingual setting. My family is Lakota from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, and so I grew up around English and Lakota. I got in trouble in first grade for coloring out of the lines on a picture of a pig that we were going to cut out and put on a wall. In protest of getting reprimanded by the teacher, I called her a name in Lakota and was sent to the principal’s office. I learned that there was a lot of power in terms of what is said, who is saying it, and who what is being said is being said to.

Also around that time, my parents worked at a summer camp along the Missouri River, and the majority of the counselors were international coming from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Australia, Jordan, and Japan. It exposed me to the world in a way that still informs my curiosity about people and how lives are lived across the globe.

Outside of those experiences, I took a couple years of Spanish, learned to read music, became interested in technology, and am learning to code.

I have in the last year started to learn Lakota. The extent of my knowledge comes from language used in ceremony and things I remember from my aunts and uncles. My parents spoke mostly English. It is important for me to reconnect with the language of my people because it connects me to who I am, where I come from, and the values of my people. All of these languages are important to me because they help me understand and process the world. I am creating my own language because I feel a responsibility to communicate sincerely with the world in an attempt to join in on the conversations that address issues related to our planet and the future of humanity.

RH: The idea of ceremony definitely seems present in how you construct language. Last semester I got to see you do a performance art piece at a live art platform in which you used audience participation and line dancing to teach participants your new language. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

SA: Line dances and dance crazes interest me because they facilitate space for temporary communities to come together for about five minutes to just have a good time. Momentarily, race, sex, class, gender, politics, and prejudice are suspended, and people just dance. There are other ways of looking at it, but I am focusing on work that brings people together, and I felt like the line dance was a good way to integrate learning, performance, and participation into the work.

RH: Will you be following this line of thought (doing any more line dancing/performative elements) in your thesis show?

SA: I sure hope so! Bring your dancing shoes just in case.

RH: This work has definitely been a long time coming for you, given your background and experiences it seems. What have you learned throughout this process?

SA: The most helpful thing I’ve learned is about having the patience to allow space for the work to evolve and to trust that it will eventually come to make some sort of sense. It is new territory, and I am very excited about the process moving toward thesis show as I am approaching the work in a more focused manner now that the foundations of the language have been established.

RH: Last but not least, where can we see you and your work?

SA: You can find my work in progress website from 2010 at www.shilohashley.com, updates coming soon. I post images of my process on Instagram (@shilohmfa) and if you are into music you can check out my band, Ashley at https://soundcloud.com/ashley-musicaz.

Shiloh’s Thesis Show with open at ASU Step Gallery in Grant Street Studios on April 1st.

 

 

Past Intern Updates: Danielle Kuffler

Danielle Kuffler, from Issue 2 and 3, talks about her perception of “work,” how that perception has changed, and what “work” she is looking forward to doing in the future.

I am a tutor at a community college writing center in south Phoenix. Since graduating from ASU two years ago, I have been a nanny, a waitress, a bartender, and a freelance copywriter, among other things. When I started college, I viewed work as something physical with immediately visible results. I thought it meant serving others, and I thought it defined who you are. After holding an internship with Superstition Review, I knew that work had more meanings. I learned work can have tangible and rewarding results over a period of time, work can involve your brain and not only your hands, and a job is not who you are.

Superstition Review was still in its early stages when I was an intern. I helped write a manual for future interns, and Trish was constantly coming up with new approaches to make the publication better. When the site finally launched at the end of the semester, I felt proud of the long hours of sometimes tedious work. I gained appreciation for working towards a long-term goal.

Tutoring recreates this feeling in miniature. Each session is an opportunity for growth and learning, and at the end, I try to impart to students what change took place in even just 10 minutes. I want them to be proud of their work and look forward to making it even better. Tutoring takes patience and foresight. For each session with a student, I first assess what the student should take away from our meeting, and then set up a structure in my mind that will best utilize our time. Sometimes we will spend 30 minutes talking about sentence structure or verbs, and other times we create an outline for a long research paper.

As solicitations coordinator at Superstition Review, I honed my planning skills. I quickly learned that without attention to detail and structured use of time, I would lose control of the solicitations process. Equally important was clear and quick email communication with artists and fellow interns. Being able to get to the point and communicate clearly has served me well as a tutor working with a diverse student body.

I’ve struggled with committing to a career, but it helps to remember that a job is not who you are, even when you care deeply about what you’re doing. Being part of Superstition Review prepared me to pursue a career I feel something for. Nothing excites me more than diagramming a sentence with a student. Superstition Review challenged me to discover things not only about publishing, but also about myself. Taking all sorts of jobs and internships allowed me to see different ways of living, and I’ve slowly built confidence in and appreciation for my talents and skills. I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in linguistics in the near future, and I know my time at Superstition Review will continue to be a source of pride and motivation to grow, change, and do good work.

Past Intern Updates: Sarah Snyder

Sarah Snyder, from Issues 1 and 2, has traveled to the Far East and back–and discovered a true passion for teaching English as a foreign language. She shares with us her experience:

Grandma always said, “Everything in moderation—even moderation.” As a junior at ASU, taking 18 credits a semester, being the Reading Series Coordinator for Superstition Review, working at the Polytechnic campus Writing Center, serving as the President of ASU’s Devil Dancesport ballroom dancing team, and volunteering as a Peer Advisor for the School of Applied Arts and Sciences, I was no stranger to overextending myself, to going deeper than I could swim back up in time for air.  When I graduated in 2009, I made a strategic career move and took a job in Japan teaching English in two high schools. It was only strategic because I couldn’t even get anything close to a job in the United States. Luckily for me, this job helped me realize what I really wanted to do with my life: create positive cultural exchange and communication. This lesson came to me through all of the artists that I coordinated through SR, the students that I worked with in the Writing Center, as the President of a student organization, as a Peer Advisor and in Japan.

After a year in the Land of the Rising Sun, I moved back home to the Valley of the Sun. My parents were happy to have me home in the flesh instead of pixelated and robotic on Skype. They were perfectly content to keep me there, but I was soon restless. I needed something to keep me happy, healthy and productive, but I experienced the same depression that my father remembered as an adolescent. He told me his story from the 1970s when he was expressing the same feeling of helplessness to his grandfather. To that, Great-Grandpa Krebbs said, “There is always work for those who want it.” To this day, my father doesn’t know whether or not that was a challenge or a jab, but I took it as a challenge. I pulsed all of my networks for careers in academia for months. I applied to everything. I also kept myself busy taking Spanish and Japanese at the local community colleges to keep my morale up. Around month six, I was called for my first interview. It was my chance to vie for my dream job of being an academic advisor! At the age of 24 (my lucky Japanese year of the Rabbit) I was hired as the youngest member of an academic advising team with my mentors from undergrad as my supervisors.

After some serious soul-searching, I had to sacrifice my dream job in favor of the English and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) programs at Northern Arizona University, where I am happily immersed in concurrent graduate programs and teaching freshman composition for native and non-native speakers of English. I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Composition and Linguistics in the near future. This, I believe, will help me bring positive cultural exchange and communication to more people than I could have ever hoped while being one teacher working with just 30 students at a time in a sea of millions. It will be more work that I have probably ever had in my life—but I also have itty-bitty daydreams of being the President of the United States as well, so bring it on.

As I look back now, all I can say is that Grandma was right. “Everything in moderation–even moderation.” If I could go back in time with all of this 20/20 retrospect, I wouldn’t change one thing. Now, I am making sure that I give just as much as I have received, and these last sentences are little karmic presents for anyone who wants them: In order to survive in the world that we live in today, concentration and positive thinking are the keys to getting what the universe thinks you deserve. Nobody gets anywhere anymore by stepping on people. We’re in the age of Google, people! Also, it really DOES matter who you know and how you treat the people around you…No one ever knows who they will be interacting with in the future. Network, network, NETWORK! Oh, and always brush your teeth (another Grandma quote).

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.

 

Where Are They Now?: Haley Larson

Haley Larson, Poetry Editor for Issue 3, received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology and with a minor in Music from the University of Nebraska. I took some time to catch up with her about her experience and how Superstition Review has helped shaped her future.

 

Superstition Review: Which issue did you work on with Superstition Review and what was your position?

Haley Larson: I worked on Issue 3 of Superstition Review. I was one of two poetry editors that year, and it was quite an opportunity. I had the chance to correspond with some esteemed poets, many of whom I’d admired for some time.

SR: What skills did you take away from the experience?

HL: I owe a lot of my confidence and tenacity to the Superstition Review internship. A huge part of the internship is learning to not only embody but also balance professionalism and confidence. I think such professionalism encompasses a whole mess of other skills: organization, prioritizing, meeting deadlines, even–can I say–eloquence in emails. The confidence translates into so many other outlets, whether this includes applying for graduate programs or submitting one’s own work to a literary journal. Trish was kind enough to grant me a wonderful opportunity to flex these skills at AWP’s most recent conference. I had the chance to be a part of a presenting panel with her and representatives from two other undergraduate literary magazines. She was (is!) a fantastic, generous mentor. The experience continues.

SR: Creatively, what are you currently working on?

HL: I am working on a few different projects, most obsessively, a couple of different series of poetry. I’m trying to explore/exploit some of my background in music and psychology through this, allowing music, sound/silence, communication, and disorder to talk and tangle in my work.

SR: What are some of your career highlights after leaving SR?

HL: I am currently pursuing my MFA degree in poetry at Colorado State University. I’ve had opportunities to teach at CSU, intern with the Colorado Review, and co-curate a student reading series. A few journals have been kind enough to publish a poem or two, even a couple of my reviews. A few colleagues and I are working to start a non-profit organization, The Strophe Project, aimed at forming and facilitating writing communities in underserved populations of Fort Collins. You can learn more at www.thestropheproject.wordpress.com.

Meet the Interns: Jenny Brundage, Art Editor

jennybrundage_0Jenny Brundage, a senior at Arizona State University majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Communications, is currently one of the Superstition Review Art Editors.

Superstition Review: What do you do for SR? Please list job activities/explanation.

Jenny Brundage: Art Editor–solicit art, help decide both what’s chosen and how it’s displayed, do artist interviews, acquire and edit artists’ bios, acquire artist pics for their bios.

SR: How did you hear about or get involved with Superstition Review?

JB: I don’t recall. I do remember Trish being one of my favorite teachers I’ve had at ASU–although we’ve never met in real life.

SR: What is your favorite section of SR? Why?

JB: Art, because it truly suits the digital medium.

SR: Who is your dream contributor to the journal?

JB: Dorothea Tanning. She’s somewhere near the century mark, but still alive and working. She was associated with the Surrealist and Dadaist movements, as an artist, but really did her own thing. She’s a legendary painter, a skilled poet, and an excellent creative nonfiction author.

SR: What job, other than your own, would you like to try out in the journal?

JB: One of the managerial or PR types of positions.

SR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming issue?

JB: I’m most excited to see the completed issue, all new and shiny.

SR: What was the first book you remember falling in love with and what made it so special?

JB: No Flying in the House in Kindergarten was my first big book, and so it was an achievement as well as a fun book.

SR: What are you currently reading?

JB: I recently finished volume 5 of Ross Campbell’s Wet Moon, which was amazing and ended on a huge cliffhanger.

SR: What are some of your favorite literary links?

JB: My favorite writing site is Ralan.com, and most of my other favorites (Submitting to the Black Hole, Preditors and Editors, etc…) link from there. It’s where I check market listings and hear information. Plus, it’s free! I also subscribe to the free mini-version of Publishers Weekly.

SR: Have you ever submitted to or been published in a literary/art magazine? How was that process? What was it like, waiting?

JB: Yes, I have had a story in The Pedestal Magazine, which you can still find in their archives (“The Jig”). They were quick to reply with a “yes”–I think it was under two months. It was standard process: sign the contract and get the check. It was nice having my story discussed in that issue’s intro, not just seeing the story itself appear.

I’ve never had my art in any literary magazines (might’ve modeled for, but not created). I’ve had paintings and photography in larger shows (subject-specific, not my work featured) at Alwun House in the past. I’ve sold a commission before, but don’t really focus on art because I’m not that great at it.