Good afternoon, dear readers! Today we’re turning the spotlight to past contributor Micah Dean Hicks, who was recently interviewed by Abbie Lahmers over at Arts & Letters, a national literary journal housed over in Georgia College’s MFA program. The interview covers everything from Micah’s strategies for world-building within fiction to his influences and present reading recommendations: all of this and more can be found here! Micah’s story “The Man With Strange Luck” was featured in the Fiction section of our 13th issue, and can be read here. And if you’re hungry for more of Micah’s work, his collection of stories “Electricity and Other Dreams,” out from New American Press, is available for purchase here. Do yourself a favor and immerse yourself in the rich landscapes of Micah Dean Hicks, and stay posted for details about new work from him, and all of the other immensely talented folks that have contributed to Superstition Review.
My definition of a “good poem” is expanding and shifting every day. As I continue to read, write, and learn poetry, I find that my understanding and appreciation for the art also continues to grow exponentially.
I believe that the poem, at its very best, is a discovery. I find that the best poems are invitations to see an object, an idea, the self, the very world, in a different light. Gaston Bachelard describes poets as individuals who are unafraid to take even the corners of a house and bring them to life. I am interested in the corners, in the ordinary that is explored and made meaningful through poetry. The unexpected image, the lyrical line, the compelling thought, the voice that flows familiar—these are all ways in which I am immediately drawn into a poem. I leave the poem not quite the same as when I entered it, and the poem still never quite leaves me.
I also believe the poem is an intellectual pursuit. I believe that art is meant to be constantly challenged within its own forms and notions—Dean Young says that we must “disrupt the habitations of use”. There is incredible importance in this, but ultimately, it should still be done well. As writers, we are always faced with this question in the revision process: did I say this well? Is this worthy of the page? Whether it is the utilization of form and technique, or the challenge of such through the experimental, our choices on the page should reflect our investment in the craft. I am interested in poems that are well-crafted and conscious of technique, but more importantly I am interested in poems that are meaningful enough to make the technique worthy. To quote Mary Ruefle, “It is not what a poem says with its mouth, it’s what a poem does with its eyes.”
Ultimately, I am always drawn to the honesty of a poem. The poem that is unafraid to explore simultaneous vulnerability and strength, authority and hesitancy, directness and tenderness. As Dorianne Laux writes in her poem “Tonight I Am in Love”: “I am wounded with tenderness for all who labored / in dim rooms with their handful of words / battering their full hearts against the moon.” Like Laux, I too appreciate poets and their ability to constantly bare themselves open through words.
Mary Lee is completing her Bachelor’s degree in English at Arizona State University. She is in Barrett, The Honors College and is currently the poetry editor for Superstition Review.
Greetings, true believers! We here at Superstition Review have an extra-special announcement: Our dear friends over at diode have released their 10th Anniversary Issue, replete with the profoundly excellent poetic stylings of more than a few past contributors to Superstition Review, including (but not limited to);
- John Gallaher
- Rae Gouirand
- Carolyn Guinzio
- Kathleen Hellen
- Bob Hicok
- Susan Rich
- Lee Ann Roripaugh
- Patricia Colleen Murphy
Do yourself the immense kindness of taking a lil’ poetry break with the 10th Anniversary issue of diode, and to the goodly gaggle over at diode, Superstition Review says congratulations! Here’s to a hundred more years of poetry.
How does the day find you, readers? It finds us supremely excited, as we’ve got some great news for you. The wonderful poet and friend of the Superstition Review, Colleen Abel, recently was crowned the victor of Sundress Publications Chapbook Contest for 2016, and as is often the case with these contests, everybody wins with the release of her upcoming chapbook “Deviants,” which is available FOR FREE over at Sundress Publications’ website, found here.
Regarding “Deviants” Victoria Chang writes:
“Colleen Abel’s wonderful book, Deviant, is mesmerizing—once I began, I couldn’t stop reading. The speaker provides a moving account—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes wry, and oftentimes both—of what it means to be ‘fat’ in this world. The central piece is called ‘Fat Studies’ with references to sociologists and humorous pieces about Jackie Kennedy. Ultimately, Deviants is a beautiful book by a talented writer on material so many of us can understand and relate to, but oftentimes don’t have the opportunity to read in this form.”
Staci R. Schoenfeld, the judge for the Chapbook Contest, writes:
“In Deviants, ‘The eye alters all that it falls on.’ And the eye is everywhere—in every poem and in the lyric essay, ‘Fat Studies.’ There is no escape, even in the darkness: ‘It’s true I like you better in the dark. / Deep dark. Where I can’t even see your face.’ And the eye is keen in its appraisal. What it sees is what is most often offered up for alteration—the female body. The poems and the lyric essay all deal in issues of body. These bodies are not, however, places of comfort and safety. Instead the body is dangerous: ‘My heart is not a heart, it is a little nest of razorblades. I look soft, but if you touch me, your hands will be instantly pulverized, as if you had slammed them into concrete.’ Or the body becomes something to escape: ‘If it helps, I don’t want to be myself / either—to slip out of this body when / when you enter, to exchange within the puff / of magic smoke my life for another. / Leave me other.’ The body is in turns stark and lush and finally ‘the body / is a planet you tilt / on its axis spinning.’ Deviants left me both spinning and altered. It made me want to say, Thank you for helping me understand.”
Check out the full press release from Sundress Publications here.
Download, read, and be as inspired as we find ourselves by Colleen Abel’s “Deviants.”
Poets Sarah Vap, Dexter L. Booth, and Patricia Colleen Murphy will read from their recent work at Hayden Library on the Tempe Campus as part of the MFA Alumni Reading Series, presented by ASU’s Creative Writing Program. The event takes place on Thursday, September 22nd. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the reading begins at 7:00 p.m. A book signing and reception with light refreshments will follow the reading.
Sarah Vap received her MFA from Arizona State University. Vap is the author of six collections of poetry. Her most recent book, Viability, was selected by Mary Jo Bang for the National Poetry Series, and was released by Penguin in 2016.
Dexter L. Booth earned an MFA in creative writing from Arizona State University. His collection Scratching the Ghost was selected by Major Jackson for the Cave Canem Poetry Prize.
Patricia Colleen Murphy, a graduate of ASU’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, founded Superstition Review at Arizona State University, where she teaches creative writing and magazine production. Her collection, Hemming Flames, was selected by Stephen Dunn for the May Swenson Poetry Award.
First, let me tell you about the room I don’t have, the one at home. I’m the mother of a son with autism, now 32, and my work space is a corner of the dining room, where I can be at the computer and still see the short bus when it arrives. My “desk” is a book bag, highly portable. My actual books are in book cases scattered throughout the house. And my work day is fragmented, too—we have to provide transportation for him now that he’s out of school, plus there are household tasks, doctor appointments, trips to the gym. . . .I’ve got a yard full of perennials and a vegetable garden which need my attention. My work day is also rife with interruptions—the doorbell, the phone, my beloved husband wandering in to read me items from the newspaper (which I’ve already read). And there are the other parts of caregiving: making up med sets, running a behavior modification program, cooking gluten and dairy-free meals; in general, I “run” things— But I also try to engage in the written word, even if it’s just reading, every day. I find it a small miracle that I’ve actually written anything at all, even though at this point I’ve published close to 900 poems. . . .
So, every eighteen months, I try to go away to a colony, specifically The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts http://www.vcca.com/main/index.php, in Amherst, VA. It’s competitive; I don’t always get in, plus sometimes there are things “in real life” that make getting away impossible. But right now, here I am, in sweet Virginia, on a May morning; paradise restored. It’s nothing fancy; the studios are basic, austere, even, in a repurposed dairy farm. I believe my room formerly housed cows. The outside is cinder block; the floors are poured cement. But there’s a twin bed (you can sleep in your studio, but I prefer to walk back to the residence at night); a “distressed” (many writers have put butt to chair here) but comfortable leather arm chair and ottoman; a large desk, big enough to hold my printer, laptop, slant desk, and then some; two small tables; a book case; and two lamps. And four big windows with a view of the hedgerow, the dirt road that winds through the campus, a meadow of wild grasses and daisies, and the Blue Ridge Mountains stretching beyond.
Lately, I’ve been reading blogs about “how to keep going after the MFA,” which leave me puzzled. We’re writers; writers write. Or they construct manuscripts, which is going to be my primary task here, to put, not as Coleridge said, “Best words, best order” (his definition of a poem), but “best poem, best order” for two book length manuscripts. If I finish these projects, I plan to take a look at where the poems that don’t fit in either of these manuscripts are going, what the themes are, etc., with an eye to another book down the road. And I’d like to write some new poems, as well.
All these days, stretching out before me. It’s amazing, when you take food prep (planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning up afterward) out of the equation how many hours there are in a day. I could hardly wait to get here. I roll up my sleeves and begin.
Here’s a poem I wrote after a previous residency:
Wrapping up a residency, new work done,
car packed with poems, computer, books.
There’s a bluebird on the tree limb over my head,
white belly, orange throat, blue back.
His only job is to be beautiful.
For weeks here, there’s been nothing but work,
no jobs or families or domestic duties, not a pan
to wash or a meal to prepare. We have reverted
to childhood, trade items from our lunchboxes.
Play Truth or Dare at night. Put on plays,
read each other stories. On warm days,
we sit in the sun and drink lemonade.
No one tells us to clean up our rooms or our prose.
We write more and more. Whole forests have died
for our work. Each day, we are closer to capturing
beauty, though it flies out of reach.
I’d like to sit here forever, on the Pasternak bench,
and try to decide which is lovelier, the pink
dogwood or the white, write a few
more lines, watch the high white clouds scroll
on a brilliant blue sky, stay until
the sticky little leaves unfurl
to an audience of waving hands.
I’d like to sit here,
until the cows come home,
or Mother calls us in.
published in New Works Review, 2004