Join us in congratulating SR poetry interview contributor Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo. Xochitl was invited as a guest instructor to teach a class on poetry for current times at Writing Workshops Los Angeles. The course takes place from July 22 to September 16 and allows students to read, analyze and discuss contemporary poetry from women, people of color, and queer poets “cultivating their own poems of resistance, persistence, and celebration.”
To read more about Xochitl and her upcoming workshop, click here. You can find her interview from Issue 19 here.
Poetry selections from the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music
WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 2019 – 5:30PM
This event takes place at the Copper Room at Hotel Congress (311 Congress St., Tucson AZ).
Join the University of Arizona Poetry Center for a short reading of poems that the Poetry Center library staff has selected for the programs of the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music (AFCM) Programs over the past two years. Supporting AFCM’s diverse and excellent programming, the featured poems speak to the pleasures of music and the transformative experience of excellent art. Poems will be read by Library Director Sarah Kortemeier and Senior Library Specialist Julie Swarstad Johnson. The band Young MacDonald will play before and after the event.
There will be a short 20 minute reading of curated poems. Event will feature complimentary snacks and a cash bar; doors at 5:30, program at 6 p.m.
Join us in congratulating past poetry contributor Joannie Stangeland. Joannie recently won Crosswind Poetry’s grand prize for her poem, “Air on Air.” The Crosswinds Poetry Journal looks for well-crafted English language poetry on all subjects, supports poetry and outreach efforts, and completes charitable work each year.
More information about Joannie and her award can be found here. You can find her poetry from Issue 10 here.
Today we are pleased to feature Megan J. Arlett as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, she takes the time to discuss her nonfiction piece, “Narrative,” published in SR’s Issue 21. The lyric essay explores the 2008 disappearance of Amy Fitzpatrick as well as language and storytelling.
Megan looks back at her 2017 notebook to discover what she was reading while she drafted “Narrative” and to find out which texts influenced her work. While she struggles to remember an initial spark of inspiration, aside from constantly thinking about the disappearance of her classmate and neighbor, she does notice how certain writers have tapped into her “brain space” to influence what she originally “thought was going to be a poem,” but later became the lyric essay that sits nicely between the nonfiction and poetry genres.
Looking to the musings in her old notebook, Megan discovers that she was obsessing over the poetry of Li-Young Lee at the time. She had written a note to herself about his work that reads, “Long poems need externalities.” In her old notes, she also finds a scribbled question— “Bowman-style meditation for the cyclical obsession with missing people?”—referring to Catherine Bowman’s poem “A Thousand Lines.” Lastly, Megan realizes that the newsprint style of “Narrative” was influenced by Jehanne Debrow’s The Arranged Marriage, which helped give her lyric essay form and made the nonfiction piece feel complete.
It seems that Megan’s creative work was driven by her obsessions at the time: her fascination with poets Li-Young Lee and Catherine Bowman, her admiration for Jehanne Debrow’s literary style, her love for true crime, and her curiosity about Amy Fitzpatrick’s disappearance.
Reflecting on her writing, Megan wants her readers to acknowledge that beauty and horror can exist simultaneously, concluding “There can be voicelessness even amid countless voices.”
Superstition Review is sad to share that Four Chambers Press is closing. Please join us in thanking this group for their strong support of the local literary community by attending the Four Chambers’ Final Farewell, “Our Hearts Go Out to You.”
A note from Four Chambers Press:
After five years of pumping literary blood through our local community, Four Chambers officially flatlined in January, 2019. But even though we’re gone, our stories and poems live on in you. Please. We don’t want your money. We just want your love. Let us give you a piece of our heart.
Join us on Sunday, May 19th from 4 to 6 pm at Changing Hands Phoenix and help us finally put this thing to rest. We have 1,000 books and artwork that we would like to give away for free. Maybe they’ll find a home on your coffee table, or in your bathroom, or your classroom, or your child’s Christmas stockings. Who knows. Wherever it may be, we hope Four Chambers can occupy a space in your life and the life of Phoenix as we all continue to work, collaborate, and create in the ever-growing Phoenix literary community. (There will also be a short reading at 5:30.) We’re so grateful to have been a part of it. We hope to see you there.
**If you are a local creative writing or literature professor or instructor and would like a specific Four Chambers title in bulk, please email email@example.com for availability and reservation.
Day: Sunday, May 19
Time: 4 to 6 p.m.
Location: Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 W. Camelback Rd., Suite 1, Phoenix
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research 1215 E Lowell St, Tucson, AZ 85721
Under the title of cross-pollination: poetry and science sustaining our world, we will host a series of 3 discussions of eco-poetry, a collaboration of the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research and the UA Poetry Center and led by docents from each facility.
Discussions will be held in the Bryant Bannister Building, 1215 E Lowell Street on the following Saturdays: March 9, April 13, and May 11 from 1:30-3:00 pm. Participants will receive a different packet of poems prepared by the docents for each date. No previous experience with poetry is necessary.
Today we are happy to announce the news of past contributor Ruben Quesada! His interview with Image Journal was just published last month, following the publication of his chapbook of poetry and translations by Sibling Rivalry Press, titled Revelations. Ruben, an LGBT+ author and translator, intertwines his own work with the translated work of Spanish poet Luis Cernuda. The interviewer Cassidy Hall focuses on the relationship between religion, sexuality and poetry, as well as Ruben’s own experiences with the three.
More information on Ruben’s chapbook can be found here, his piece for S[r]’s Issue 13 can be found here.
Last year, I had the extraordinary privilege of teaching an undergraduate class on music and poetry. I was thrilled to witness the camaraderie that developed between the musicians, poets, and fiction writers who enrolled as they built our classroom community through workshop and discussion. I watched them collaborate, and watched many genuine friendships form. During the last week, I put together my last planned lesson of the course, a sampling of “how-tos” for the professional writing world – how to publish in undergraduate literary journals, how to write a cover letter, how to find resources and enroll in online poetry classes, etc. Thirty seconds into my presentation, one of my students – let’s call her Viola – said, “but Miss Cole, how do you know whenyou’re a poet? When do you count?”
This question both deeply resonated with me and also broke my heart. I abandoned my previous lesson plan, reentered the circle of students, and told them that when I was in my second-ever poetry class, I capped off my portfolio with a poem called “When I am a Poet.” The poem itself has been lost, but the general gist was “when I’m a real poet, my work is going to be so much better, I’m going to be so much smarter, and I’ll be taken so much more seriously.”
To be an artist of any kind is to live with the constant, nagging doubt that your art is not legitimate. We believe, instead, that our legitimacy as artists comes from the world around us – from poems and books we have published, to accolades we have won, to degrees we have earned. We believe that these things are concrete and tangible proof that we “count” as artists in our chosen fields.
And it’s not to say that those things don’t matter. They can be helpful to a poet’s career, especially if one wishes to enter academia, where right amount of acclaim and professional connections can sometimes translate into a teaching job. Publication increases our work’s visibility. Awards and grants provide us funding to continue our work. Books allow a poet to showcase a range of work that readers can keep on their bookshelves or bedsides.
But none of these trappings, however useful to someone’s poetry career, make us poets.
Fewer than ten of Emily Dickinson’s poems were ever published during her lifetime, all of them anonymously, possibly without her knowledge, and she is one of the greatest American poets of all time. But even her greatness, her innovation and brilliance is not what made her a poet. Her poetry made her a poet. And that lesson is less about poetry itself, and more about the system that young American poets are brought up in, a system that teaches them to value their work based on publication credits, awards, Facebook likes, and, ultimately, money.
As poets, and all too often as people, we define ourselves by our external accomplishments because the “marketplace” of poetry – of capitalism, of America – teaches us that the value of our artistic work is directly correlated with how many people see that work and thus how much money it makes and/or how famous we become because of it.
Until Viola asked her vulnerable and important question, I was doing all my students a disservice by focusing their attention on publication, rather than teaching them the far more important lesson that their work has intrinsic value all on its own.
So I invoked another metric. “Class,” I asked, “How many of you think that Viola is a poet?”
The class responded with a chorus of affirmation that, yes, Viola was not only a poet, but a talented poet, one with a gift for strange, defamiliarizing syntax and potent, memorable metaphor. “But you’re my friends!” Viola cried.
“Precisely.” I said. “Now, is there anyone else who feels that they aren’t a poet?”
Every hand went up. Including mine.
When they stared at me—but you’re the teacher—I told them that the “marketplace” of poetry would have them believe that they are not a real poet until they’ve collected a certain, often arbitrary, number of accomplishments. I told them that even with dozens of publications in nationally-recognized journals, with a CV full of accolades, a chapbook publication, an MFA, there are days, weeks, whole months, that I don’t feel like a real poet. I told them about poet-friends I know, friends who have books and NEA grants and lists of accomplishments pages long, who still consider themselves to be “emerging” poets, because the poetry marketplace has told that they don’t count as “real poets” yet.
Viola isn’t alone. Every poet I know wonders, at one time or another, at what point they “count.” At what point they will count as “real.” But that’s just the marketplace talking. It’s an easy thing to forget, in the midst of all the other noise, but it’s the poetry that makes the poet. Not the money. Not the brand. Not the number of fans, or of followers on Twitter or Instagram.
Before class ended that day, I asked my students to do one more thing. They looked to their left and their right, and told each other the one truth that I hope they’ve taken away from class, the truth more important than any advice about publication than I could ever give them: You are already a poet, they said to one another. You already count.
Location: Piper Writers House, 450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281
Cost: $99 Regular, $79 Student
About the Class
Re-lineate, incorporate, untranslate, narrate, collaborate, investigate and capsize your ailing poem. Participants will look at the work of Brenda Hillman, Sean Singer, Latasha Nevada Diggs, Tusiata Avia, Maureen Seaton/Neil de la Floor/Kristine Snodgrass, Jayy Dodd to illustrate charged ways to reinvigorate stale or unformed material. Please bring a poem that needs resurrection and be prepared to celebrate at its innate genius – and play.
Meet Your Instructor
A Guggenheim fellow, Terese Svoboda is the author most recently of Professor Harriman’s Steam Air-Ship (poetry, 2016) and Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet(biography, 2018), and Great American Desert (stories, 2019). She’s won the Bobst Prize in fiction, the Iowa Prize for poetry, an NEH grant for translation, the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, the O. Henry award for the short story, the Bobst prize for the novel, and a Pushcart Prize for the essay. Her opera WET premiered at L.A.’s Disney Hall. She’s taught at Williams, Columbia School of the Arts, William and Mary, Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, New School, Davidson, the Universities of Tampa, Miami and Hawaii, as well as in Tbilisi, Nairobi and St. Petersburg for the Summer Literary Seminars.
For more information or to register for the event, please visit the Piper website.