Alison Hawthorne Deming Reading Wrap-Up: Myths, Rope and Dog Tags

Deming reading from her manuscript ZOOLOGIES.

Last Wednesday at ASU’s Tempe campus, Superstition Review held the latest event in its reading series with poet, author and educator, Alison Hawthorne Deming. She read a selection of poems from her latest book Rope. She also read a few short prose pieces from her manuscript ZOOLOGIES.

Students, colleagues and friends gathered in the Education Lecture Hall and after a few words from Superstition Review founding editor Patricia Murphy, and a brief introduction from Professor Joni Adamson, Deming took the podium and she read from her writings about the importance of dog tags, modern day Greek myths and finding salty, sea soaked rope on the coast. After the reading and applause she took time to sign copies of her books and speak to colleagues and friends.

Superstition Review staff and interns would like to thank everyone who attended the reading and we would like to extend a special thanks to Alison Hawthorne Deming for coming in to town and sharing her wonderful work with us.

Patricia Murphy discuss the upcoming launch of Issue 7.

Alison signs books.

Melissa Pritchard reads from “Echorché, Flayed Man”

On November 8 the Superstition Review reading series was pleased to feature Melissa Pritchard. The intimate atmosphere of the reading allowed for a personal view of her story Echorché, Flayed Man. Music from an Italian composer, the pungent scent of incense and a few words from Patricia Murphy and Reading Series Coordinator Mary Richardson provided the perfect introduction. While a large group of friends, colleagues and admirers filled the Pima Auditorium in the Memorial Union at ASU, her voice was quiet and seemed to engage us individually as she read. As Melissa stood against a backdrop lit with magenta bulbs, the audience silently absorbed each emotion-filled sentence.

After the applause from eager listeners Melissa answered several questions. She touched on working with A Public Space and the technicalities of writing a story that is both fiction, and also the true story of certain individuals from La Specula, the museum in Italy upon which the story takes place. Echorché, Flayed Man has been published in Issue 11 of A Public Space and will also appear in her latest book The Odditorium, to be released in January 2011.

 

Melissa Pritchard discusses Superstition Review reading and other works

On November 8th the Superstition Review Reading Series will feature Melissa Pritchard at Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus. Her reading will take place at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union’s Pima Auditorium. Pritchard has published several books such as Phoenix: A Novel, Late Bloomer and Devotedly, Virginia: The Life of Virginia Galvin Piper. She has also published her essays Finding Ashton and A Woman’s Garden, Sown in Blood in O, The Oprah Magazine, and The Collagist 4, respectively. I had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming reading and Pritchard’s latest novel The Odditorium.

Superstition Review: How is The Odditorium different from your other works?

Melissa Pritchard: The Odditorium is a collection of seven stories and a novella. Most are based on unusual or enigmatic historical figures, all look at the ways architecture exerts subtle or unsubtle pressures on human consciousness. So they are different in those ways from most of my previous stories. More than half of them do not approach narrative in a traditional or conventional way. I experiment in one story, “Watanya Cicilia,” with a pastiche of historical documents, songs, research and fiction, contrasting the Wild West Show and the real, genocidal story of the West. “The Hauser Variations,” based on the life of Kaspar Hauser, a German boy kept in an underground dungeon throughout his childhood and then mysteriously released into a second tragic fate, is based, in terms of narrative strategy, on Bach’s Goldberg Variations. In another story, “Patricide,” two sisters meet in a haunted hotel in Richmond, Virginia, its courtyard said to be a place where Edgar Allen Poe once played as a child. In this hotel, one of the sisters goes mad. So I was less interested in the traditional structure of plot and expected emotional release than in ethics, history, architecture and the effects of these upon both historically based and purely imagined characters.

SR: What has in been like working with Bellevue Literary Press?

MP: We are in the earliest phases; I accepted their offer to publish The Odditorium in January, 2012, and had a lengthy phone conversation with the publisher, Erika Goldman. I was so impressed with her aesthetic understanding of the collection, her excitement over the departures I had taken in terms of subject and form, I became convinced this was the proper home for these pieces. The BLP website is terrific, too, as is their history with Bellevue Hospital and New York University’s Medical Center. They publish elegant books at the nexus of art, science and medicine, and only publish two fiction titles a year. One of this year’s fiction titles, Tinkers, by Paul Harding, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, resulting in a flurry of attention for the press, with articles and interviews in The New York Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and other media venues. It’s a tiny press operating out of Bellevue Hospital, and they do terrific work. I come from a family of surgeons, doctors and nurses, and have always been fascinated by science, medicine and the history of medicine, so this could not be a better place for this book, as a number of the stories deal with medical histories, issues and questions.

SR: How has your time at ASU influenced your writing?

MP: Because my time to write is limited, I have to be disciplined. Sometimes I find it quite difficult, having time and energy to both write and teach. A fragile balance at best. On the other hand, teaching keeps me awake to current trends in literature, to remaining relevant to students year after year, and I am blessed to work with some incredibly gifted students, both graduates and undergraduates. I always say my students teach me in equal proportion to what I teach them. At least I feel that. Also, ASU has always been tremendously supportive of my outside work–traveling for research, traveling to conferences, traveling for reportage or for humanitarian work, which I also do. I am extremely grateful for the university’s support.

SR: What are you most looking forward to as the Superstition Review reading draws near?

MP: I have a background in theater, in acting, so I always love reading my work aloud in a public setting…for me, it is as close to performance as I come these days. I love an audience and I love hearing the piece I’ve chosen come alive in the room, seeing the reactions of the listeners, answering questions afterwards. It is truly a wonderful exchange. This past summer at The Glen, a writing workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, part of Seattle Pacific University’s MFA Program, I read my collection’s title story, “The Odditorium,” to a full house. It is a comic piece about Robert Ripley of Believe It or Not fame, and other audiences have responded with laughter and lively commentary afterwards. This audience was dead silent. The room was dark, I couldn’t see anyone. I kept reading, on and on, by the little glow from the podium light. Afterwards, no one even asked questions! I was horrified, sure I had failed, sure the story had been a failure…I wanted to crawl under a carpet had there been one. What I found out later, was that the story had gone over so well, people couldn’t react, they went silent–stunned. I won’t repeat the praises I later heard, but then I became overwhelmed the other direction–was my story really that good? So one never knows, and one always doubts. Also, I’m always a little nervous before a reading, hoping it goes well, that I don’t disappoint people who made the time and effort to come to my reading when there are dozens of other things for them to do….I am also always scared no one will show up, and thrilled to pieces when they do. Finally, I’m looking forward to meeting all the staff and interns at Superstition Review. They’ve even managed to arrange to have copies of A Public Space #11 mailed from New York to be available for sale on the night of the reading. (I’ll be reading a story, “Ecorche, The Flayed Man,” from that issue.)

SR: What are you currently working on creatively?

MP: I’m in between three pieces right now…a non-fiction piece about my miniature dachshund, Simon, a speech about Sr. Airman Ashton Goodman and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project that I will be giving at the Air Force Institute of Technology in December, and a novella set in 19th century Florence, Italy.

SR: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

MP: Read voraciously. Read the best work you can find. Read what interests you. Be observant. Practice empathy and compassion. Know that what you write ultimately reflects who you are. Write every day, even if only for an hour and be humble in your practice while aspiring to greatness. Be gentle with yourself, and always reward yourself in some small way after a writing session. Leave the writing at a place where you are eager to return the next day.

 

Progress Update: Melissa Pritchard Featured for Reading Series

While awaiting responses from solicited writers of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, Superstition Review Section Editors are dedicating their time this week to reading and organizing incoming submissions via Submishmash. Go to http://superstitionreview.submishmash.com/submit for our submission guidelines and to see our new submissions manager. Our Art Editors have visited exhibits locally and elsewhere, and are now communicating with hopeful incoming artists.

Also this week, Superstition Review Reading Series Editor Mary Richardson has confirmed that we will feature Melissa Pritchard at our Superstition Review reading this semester. Date and venue will be announced soon.

Check back regularly for updates on our highly anticipated reading, and other Superstition Review updates.

Progress Update: On The Fast Track

Although we were all introduced just four short weeks ago, we are already a quarter of the way into the semester. Our section editors have finalized their solicitation lists and will begin to contact potential artists, interviewees, poets, fiction, poetry and nonfiction authors. Expect more information on our highly anticipated Superstition Review reading series in the following weeks.

Our Content Coordinator is creating Submishmash accounts for each Superstition Review section editor. Using these accounts, editors will be able to effectively read and organize incoming submissions. Go to http://superstitionreview.submishmash.com/submit for our guidelines, and to see our new submissions manager. We’re very excited to try Submishmash this semester.

We have also introduced our Art Editors, Anthony Torres and Rebecca Glenn via a segment entitled “Meet The Interns.” At suggestion of one of our readers, I will be introducing a “Where Are They Now” segment to the Superstition Review blog later this week. These brief interviews will allow insight into the endeavors of past Superstition Review interns, both in academics and in the literary sphere.

Early Announcement for SR Reading with Franz Wright

While we’ve yet to work out the details for our first reading of the semester, we are proud to announce that we’ve recently solidified our final reading series event for Issue 5. Superstition Review is teaming up with the Piper Center for Creative Writing to present a reading with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Franz Wright.

Poet FRANZ WRIGHT
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Reading and Booksigning, 7:30 pm
Pima Auditorium (Room 230) / Memorial Union – ASU Tempe Campus
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Public Craft Q&A, 11 a.m.
Piper Writers House – ASU Tempe Campus

I’ll announce it again as the event gets closer, but we wanted to give you plenty of time to plan ahead!

Superstition Review Reading 3

What: Superstition Review Reading 3: Featuring Carol Ann Bassett
When: Monday, November 30, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: ASU Memorial Union Building, Pima Auditorium (Room 230)

In conjunction with the ASU School of Life Sciences and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, Superstition Review proudly announces its final reading of the Issue 4 Reading Series featuring renowned nonfiction writer and journalist Carol Ann Bassett. Author of three books of literary nonfiction, including her most recent release Galapagos at the Crossroads, Bassett’s work has received high acclaim, being anthologized in the American Nature Writing series. She was a regular contributor to The New York Times and Time Life Inc. and her work has appeared in such national publications as The Nation and The Los Angeles Times. Her work focuses on natural history, the environment, and traditional cultures in transition.