Guest Blog Post, Brooke Passey: Top Ten Literary Newsletters

Before I started as an intern for Superstition Review, I wasn’t aware that most literary magazines and organizations send out biweekly newsletters. As I’ve become more acquainted with the literary scene, I’ve realized just how much information I have been missing. Let’s talk about why newsletters in general are so great.

First of all, newsletters are one of the best resources for compact and relevant literary information. They cover literary news, updates and advice from published authors, upcoming literary events, and articles on a wide range of beneficial writing topics.

Better yet, the information comes to you—delivered right to your inbox. Other sources of information such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader are useful, but newsletters allow you to get the information as soon as it is published. Most newsletters are monthly or biweekly, so they won’t ever crowd your inbox.

Most importantly, they’re free! And who doesn’t like free things? Especially free things that help you to become a better writer, be involved in a network with successful authors, and stay up to date in the field.

Over the last few months I have subscribed to over 20 newsletters not only to improve my own writing skills, but also to take advantage of all the beneficial, interesting, and free information. Here are my top 10 newsletters. They are my favorites because they have consistently provided fresh and useful information along with dependable resources.

  1. Poets & Writers http://www.pw.org
  2. Poets.org https://www.poets.org
  3. The Paris Review http://www.theparisreview.org
  4. The Review Review http://www.thereviewreview.net
  5. The Nervous Breakdown http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com
  6. Tin House http://www.tinhouse.com
  7. Creative Nonfiction https://www.creativenonfiction.org
  8. Willow Springs http://willowsprings.ewu.edu
  9. Five Points http://www.fivepoints.gsu.edu
  10. Kenyon Review http://www.kenyonreview.org

And of course I recommend our own newsletter here at Superstition Review. Even my own mother subscribed recently. So join our mailing list by clicking here.

Esalen: A Place for Exploration

Intern Guest Post: Esalen: A Place for Exploration

Earlier this millennium, I learned from my friend Stan about the Esalen Institute a remote 27 acre retreat on the Big Sur coastline between Monterey and San Luis Obispo, California. Digging, I learned that Esalen was founded in 1962 as “an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the ‘human potential’—the world of unrealized human capacities that lies beyond the imagination.” I was intrigued. So in the summer of 2004, I made my first journey to Esalen.

I arrived at Esalen with my friend Stan after driving the better part of a day from Orange County, departing from civilization at San Luis Obispo and another 90 miles of the 2-lane Pacific Coast Highway, California 1. Arriving, I was taken by the striking beauty of the place. After checking in at the lodge, we found our simple but very comfortable accommodations. After a brief exploration of the grounds, we headed to dinner at the lodge. Esalen’s meals are served camp style and the food is excellent. Meat, dairy, vegetarian, vegan, and raw foods are served at every meal and produce is picked daily from Esalen’s five-acre organic farm.

Stan and I had enrolled in a five-day workshop led by Steven Harper, an eco-psychologist, wilderness guide, author, and artist. At 8:30 p.m. on arrival day, we had our first session, an orientation to the week’s activities and brief explanation of the goals of the workshop. Harper’s work focuses on wild nature as a vehicle for awakening. For the remainder of the week, he took us for practiced meditative walks through four diverse natural areas in Big Sur’s Ventana Wilderness—a deeply satisfying, introspective experience. After 20 or so years in business, I so needed to reconnect with nature and Steve’s workshop was the ideal medium.

Since that first workshop, I have returned to Esalen four more times and each experience has brought new perspectives and opportunities for inward exploration. For instance, a workshop with cultural anthropologist Dr. Angeles Arrien, The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer utilized Shamanic dreaming techniques and practice that allowed me to reconnect with long forgotten experiences in overcoming personal and professional challenges today.

Another time I came with my wife and young children for a week-long session with Rick Jarrow that helped me change course in my career, providing the impetus for me to return to school. Esalen has a children’s program for seminarians through its Gazebo Park School Early Childhood Program and babysitters are available during evening sessions.

In addition to the workshops, Esalen is known for its Arts Center, distinct Massage style, movement and activity programs, and mineral Hot Springs. Esalen produces two catalogs per year covering 500 workshops on diverse topics including writing and visual arts. Here are a couple of examples of courses from the July – December, 2012 catalog:

Writing the Wild led by Marisa Handler, author of Loyal to the Sky, which won a 2008 Nautilus Gold Award for world-changing books. Her essays, journalism, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications, and she teaches creative writing at Stanford and the California Institute for Integral Studies.

Framing Nature: Photography as Meditation and Mirror led by Andy Abrahams Wilson, an award-winning filmmaker and photographer. Recent projects include the Academy Award semifinalist Under Our Skin and the PBS broadcast The Grove. His focus is using the camera to create a bridge between ourselves and our environment.

Generally, depending on my level of stress it takes up to two days to melt into the Esalen experience. It is for this reason that I recommend at least a five-day workshop, ideally seven-days with a five-day and a three-day workshop.

Former SR Intern Carter Nacke, Web Content Editor for KTAR

Little did I know, my future career began when I was a junior at Arizona State University. I was  enrolled as a slightly-disinterested print journalism major in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism – prestigious, I know – with a tourism minor. My goal was to become a travel writer, like those fortunate enough to be sent around the world to extravagant locations, much like the hosts of Travel Channel Shows.

But then I took a class entitled Business and Future of Journalism. Not only was I exposed to the fact that my field of journalism was forecasted – not predicted, forecasted – to be extinct within 30 years, but I also learned that the future of journalism as a whole was quickly moving to the digital realm, something I only used to submit papers or slaughter a few friends in Call of Duty. Having been faced with the very real possibility of graduating college into a dying field, I decided to bite the bullet and enroll myself in an online media course, hoping it would at least move my resume further up in the pile of the eventually unemployed.

I loved my online media class. I went from a person who basically only used the Internet to access Wikipedia to a full-blown web geek. I even took the advanced portion of the course the next semester, learning to design my own webpages and how to make Flash objects. I found myself shifting away from the ideal of being a travel writer (another job that could soon be left hungry) to some sort of multimedia journalist, something I still am pursuing.

I interned with a local radio station’s website, News/Talk 92.3 KTAR. While I spent my time, as many interns do, performing menial site updates, transcribing audio and maybe working on a few press releases, I did get to experience a fair bit of breaking news. At the end of the internship, I inquired about employment, was told there were no openings (I probably shouldn’t have shown up 30 minutes late a few times), but we parted ways amicably.

Fast forward one year. To make ends meet, I was bartending and managing a restaurant that I had worked at since I was 18. But then I got a call from my old boss at KTAR, who was looking for immediate help. I took the job and was moved from a part-time employee to a full-time Web Content Editor at KTAR.com in December 2011, after a year of working poor shifts and bugging my boss daily to bump me up.

Looking back on it, a series of well-taken hints and a leap of faith lead me to my current job, but it’s much more than that. I graduated with honors from a prestigious journalism school. I worked hard to make ends meet and even turned down a few job offers from sites like Yelp! that I knew were not for me. I held out for the job that would allow me to pay the bills, but that would also interest and challenge me.

What I took from everything was this: try everything you can once. Don’t take no for an answer and don’t sell yourself short. The economy and job market are really, really bad right now. You have to fight for every inch. But if you don’t fight for it, no one is sitting by waiting to help. Sometimes you have to make ends meet and there’s no shame in that, but make sure, when you sign that W-2 at the start of your new career, you’re where you want to be and doing what you want to do.

Culinary Magic at Pomegranate Cafe

Poetry and culinary magic unite at Pomegranate Café, an Ahwatukee restaurant that focuses on a new way of eating. By “utilizing fresh organic ingredients” to “tempt the palate and create wellbeing,” Pomegranate Café’s ever-expanding menu defies the idea that healthy foods must lack flavor. My experiences at Pomegranate Café have confirmed that health foods are true indulgences, delivering tastes of wondrous vibrancy in every bite. Pomegranate Café is owned by mother-and-daughter pair Cassie Tolman, a former Superstition Review intern, and her mother Marlene Tolman.

Delicious hummus & veggies courtesy of The Pomegranate Cafe.

Pomegranate Café has a diverse menu, full of wholesome vegan, gluten-free, and raw items. During my dinner there, I had a yummy potato-leek soup with a generous slice of gluten-free pomegranate-chocolate cake. I asked Cassie Tolman about how she conceptualized Pomegranate Café. I asked her if preparing a meal and writing poetry involve a similar process. A meal, she writes, “can be devoured”—perhaps like a poem. While poetry involves rhyme, meter, words, and sounds, the magic in food comes alive when “ordinary things—a bunch of beets, some garlic, a drop of oil, a handful of herbs—all begin to work together with elements like time and heat.” The work of a cook is similar to the work of a poet: the casting of ordinary objects into something that nourishes the soul. Cassie finds ingredients for nourishment in seasonal fruits and vegetables, supporting local farmers, and creates a beautiful meal.

Delicious vegan rolls courtesy of The Pomegranate Cafe.

True to form, Pomegranate Café’s chocolate cake was the richest cake I’ve ever had. The pomegranate seeds that top the cake add a bright note of citrus and remind me just how deliciously smooth the cake is—even though it is completely egg and dairy free.

Pomegranate Café truly values food. It’s evident that Cassie and her mother have worked hard to extract wholesome delights out of ordinary ingredients. In a culture of processed foods, where ingredient lists seem endless, the ingredients of Pomegranate’s meals are proudly simple. I am inspired by Cassie’s belief in the transformative power of food. She loves to “create raw vegan dishes because the colors, textures, and flavors remain crisp, bold and beautiful.” I am so excited that she catered Superstition Review’s launch party. Cassie’s love of food is evidenced by Pomegranate Café. It inspires me to experiment in my own kitchen, testing different flavors and textures together—as I’d experiment with different sounds and words as a writer—to craft something delicious, wholesome, and nourishing.

Meet the Review Crew: Caitlin Demo

Each week we will be featuring one of our many talented interns here at Superstition Review.

Caitlin Demo is a Nonfiction editor at Superstition Review and a senior at Arizona State University. She will be graduating in May with a major in Creative Writing (with a specialization in Fiction) and two minors in French and Political Science. She is hoping to be accepted into the MFA program at Arizona State and then to escape the heat of Arizona summers.

Caitlin has lived most of her life in Arizona, but the allure of big city life has been calling her name. Living in the beautiful San Francisco bay or the bustling streets of New York City has been a constant dream of hers. After school, Caitlin is packing her bags and plans to become a well-seasoned traveler, especially abroad.

Caitlin’s intimacy with literary magazines and the world of short fiction has been instructed both at Arizona State and particularly at Superstition Review. She has limited knowledge about individual magazines, but through these two avenues she has come to realize that it is a wide and ever-expanding field. Her interest in writing is mainly focused around prose, but in reading she is drawn to flash fiction and poetry.

If she had to live the rest of her life with only a handful of books, she would need Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs, Jane Austen’s collected works, Hemingway’s short stories, Fitzgerald’s novels and Allen Ginsberg’s poetry.

This is her first semester with Superstition Review, but she looks forward to plunging further into the literary publishing world. She’ll be the girl in high heels.

Meet the Review Crew: Jennie Ricks

Each week we will be featuring one of our many talented interns here at Superstition Review.

Jennie Ricks is a Nonfiction Editor at Superstition Review. She is majoring in Literature, Writing, and Film with an emphasis in Creative Writing at ASU. Jennie is currently a senior and will graduate in May 2012. After graduation, Jennie plans to find employment in the editing and publishing fields. She loves to write and will continue working on her novel, fiction, and nonfiction pieces. Jennie’s excited to be a part of Superstition Review and the opportunities it gives her to understand the hands on processes of editing and publishing.

Jennie is an avid reader and is drawn toward a range of works by Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Aimee Bender, Flannery O’Connor, and Edgar Allan Poe. She likes stories that are thought provoking and in high school, she read Lord of the Flies, by William Golding which got her hooked on books that pushed her to think and analyze. Jennie has many stories and books she considers favorites. When reading, she wants something that will make her remember the writing or the concept of the work.

There are many hobbies and talents Jennie has incorporated into her life. The first is writing. Jennie prefers fictional pieces, although many of the stories she writes surround nonfiction examples from her own life. She loves to run and has been running since her middle school years. Jennie has run a marathon but prefers training and running in half marathons. She enjoys hiking, golfing, and eating good food.

Originally Jennie started her education in Behavioral Science but put things on hold to get married and have children. Since finding herself a single mom of four kids, she decided to go back to school and finish her education in what she felt most passionate about, reading and writing. She loves the direction her life is taking and the opportunities opening up for her.

Meet the Review Crew: Bri Perkins


Behind every blog is a blogger. They are the unspoken authors of the internet that filter in a constant stream of news into your RSS Feed. As a Social Networking Coordinator for Superstition Review, Bri Perkins has learned first-hand just how challenging that job can be.

Working with a small team, Bri helps to maintain and write for the SR blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, which can include everything from interviews with esteemed authors to email correspondence to creating the latest trending topic. A resident night-owl, Bri usually can be seen tweeting in the wee hours of the morning or slumped over a keyboard asleep.

Having never really experienced the editorial process and the inner workings of a publication, Perkins applied to Superstition Review in hopes of getting hands-on experience in the literary world. Since then, her taste and exposure to art, literature, and writing has grown exponentially. Now a fan of Tin House and Ploughshares (and of course SR), she has developed a love of fiction and short stories. Her favorite readings range all the way from J.K. Rowling to Flannery O’Connor to the labels on shampoo bottles.

Bri is quickly approaching the finish-line of her undergraduate degree at ASU. Studying the unique combination of English and Psychology, she found she had a passion for the anatomy and physiology of the body, and in particular, the human brain. After graduation, she is planning to take a gap year to travel and read, which will be something new for a girl that has been barely beyond Arizona state borders. She subsequently plans to attend medical school at Midwestern University where she will study to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine, and ultimately, a neurologist or neurosurgeon. Bri hopes to translate the underlying themes of the liberal arts into the science realm in order to take a more well-rounded approach to healthcare.

Bri is 22 years old and is a Glendale, Arizona native. She loves overcast and rainy days, which are a rarity in the Valley of the Sun. She has no children and no husband, but she keeps the company of four very lovable mutts and one very fluffy kitty. Perkins currently works as a technician (also known as a Genius) at Apple fixing iPods, iPhones, Macs and iPads. She also volunteers as a Research Assistant at ASU’s Cognition and Natural Behavior Laboratory where she is studying the effects of shared space on productivity, and the effects of physical interaction on mental faculty and memory. Bri also works as a Psychology and Writing Tutor with the STEM/TRIO program on the ASU West Campus, which focuses its efforts on providing support for first generation and minority students.