Interview with Cary Holladay

Cary Holladay grew up in Virginia. She is the author of five volumes of fiction, including A Fight in the Doctor’s Office (Miami UP 2008) and The Quick-Change Artist: Stories (Swallow Press / Ohio UP 2006). Her work has appeared in New Stories From the South: The Year’s Best. Her awards include an O. Henry Prize and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the NEA.

She teaches at the University of Memphis, where she is Director of the River City Writers Series and a First Tennessee Professor.

Interview with Cary Holladay

Superstition Review: In your story, “Land of Lightning,” why did you decide to use Tinsley’s voice for the narrator?

Cary Holladay: Because Tinsley has lost so much—his wife, his marriage, his daughter. All of that grief has tested his strength of character and has brought him to a state of wondering—about being a husband, being a father, and what it means to send your daughter off to war.

SR: Burton Laughinghouse is a name and a character that really sticks out in the story. Why did you decide that the name would be fitting for him? How does it embody his character?

CH: “Laughinghouse” is a name I heard or read somewhere and was captivated by. I have a weakness for unusual names, but using them in a story can be risky, like a joke. The name embodies Burton Laughinghouse’s character in an ironic way; he’s playful but selfish, a disruptive force, a con man. His love of birds is real, but he exploits the people who befriend and assist him.

SR: There is an element of religion in the story when the characters speak of God, praying, and the devil being present in Glenna’s life or when the devil was asked to leave. What do you believe it brought to the story and what importance does religion have for the characters?

CH: It’s such a part of them that they feel the pull of its compass no matter what they do. Glenna, especially, feels the burden of her sin for having injured Ned Page. She feels guilt for being attracted to Burton Laughinghouse. Religion is part of the personal mystery that these characters carry with them.

SR: The incident with Glenna Dancy and Ned Page with the arrow was briefly mentioned in the beginning of the story but is really brought to life at the end. Tell us why you decided that this story would make for a perfect ending. What way did it tie the whole story together?

CH: That incident grew out of the fear I felt in high school archery class. A bow and arrow is a powerful, primitive, effective weapon. To aim and let that arrow fly at a living target is to pronounce a death sentence, or at least pose severe danger. The scene tied the story together because it expressed the contradictions in Glenna’s tormented inner self—her sexuality, her anger, her ego. She’s combative. Like Tinsley’s daughter who died in a helicopter accident in Iraq, Glenna has a warrior’s heart.

SR: What are you writing now? What are you reading?

I’m finishing a collection of stories set in Virginia’s horse country and have begun writing a novel about the pirate Blackbeard. I’m reading buccaneer legends, lore, and history.

 

Forthcoming: Michael Velliquette

Michael Velliquette

What many artists do with paint and canvas and clay Madison-based artist Michael Velliquette does with paper. The results are spectacular. Using strips of brilliantly colored, often hand-painted paper, Velliquette creates complex three dimensional installations that draw the eye with bold geometric shapes and intricate feathered textures. University of Wisconsin’s Lawton Gallery compares his work to the religious symbolism of “a culture devoted to the worship of vivid hues and complex patterning,” while a New York Times article describes it as both “shrinelike” and “reminiscent of party decorations and grade school art projects.” His paper sculptures are deeply evocative of a spiritual experience informed by the tradition of sacred objects, such as masks and icons and totems. Indeed, it is not hard to imagine the installations of his recent exhibit, “ChromaSouls” at the Haggery Museum in Milwaukee as the real idols of a brightly-hued pantheon.

Velliquette’s evocation of sacred relics is all part of his deeper message. While his work does indeed reflect the trans-cultural practice of what he calls “devotional ornamentation,” his paper sculptures are also a direct response to the current cultural and economic environment. Describing his work from 2010-2011, Velliquette states that “In times of crisis, people often turn to religion and faith…As the country was drawing deeper into recession, everything I was hearing in the media was about shortage and scarcity. I wanted my work to express abundance and exuberance, and for the viewer to experience an aesthetic of plenitude.” With its stunning complexity of line, color, shape, and pattern, this is a goal that Velliquette’s work has unarguably achieved.

Read more about Michael Velliquette’s work at Hand Eye Magazine. Visit his website here.

You can purchase the book Lairs of the Unconscious, a survey of Velliquette’s work here.

Superstition Review is thrilled to feature Michael’s work in Issue 8, which will launch in December 2011.

 

Meet the Interns: April Stolarz

Poetry Editor April Stolarz is a senior at ASU pursuing concurrent degrees in Print/Online Journalism and Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry. Along with her Superstition Review internship April also writes for ASU’s Media Relations Office and freelances for a variety of publications. She has studied poetry under Norman Dubie and Terry Hummer and is currently studying under Sally Ball. She maintains a blog about local music, Dose of Rock, and hopes to work for a music publication someday. This is April’s first experience with Superstition Review.

 

1. What is your position with Superstition Review and what are your responsibilities?

I am one of the poetry editors for Superstition Review’s Spring 2011 issue. I am responsible for reviewing poetry submissions and voting for certain poems to be published. Once those poems are given the go ahead I contact the authors and send them final proofs to be featured in the magazine.

2. Why did you decide to get involved with Superstition Review?

I’ve always loved words and any form of expression, especially written expression. In high school I was the editor of my literary magazine and absolutely loved being a part of that process. I wanted to expand my knowledge and be a part of the next step in order to gain more professional experience.

3. How do you like to spend your free time?

My life is a balancing act of 18 credits and multiple jobs. Most of my free time is swallowed up by writing; I freelance for various publications. My absolute favorite thing to do is see live music. I try to spend as much time as possible at concerts and music festivals. Other than that I love reading, being outside and doing anything outdoorsy.

4. What other position(s) for Superstition Review would you like to try out?

I’d like to be the non fiction editor, interview editor and web design editor. I think they’d all be a great learning experience and equally as interesting and fun.

5. Describe one of your favorite literary works.

A simple story about a girl with extremely large thumbs that manages to encompass wide-ranging and heart-aching themes such as religion, sexuality, marriage, freedom, traveling, magic and everything in between. This book, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins, is a journey through the human experience with rainbow colored sprinkles, whipped cream, hot fudge and a cherry on top. Tom Robbins is the master of metaphor, and he’s not afraid to show it.

6. What are you currently reading?

Every chance I get (which isn’t as often as I’d like) I reach for one of the books on my shelf. I’m currently thumbing through and trying to digest: Skinny Legs And All by Tom Robbins, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen and Transformations of Myth Through Time by Joseph Campbell.

7. Creatively, what are you currently working on?

As a poetry senior in the capstone writing class I’m working on a new poem every week and a new revision as much as possible. For one of my jobs I’m writing a feature story about a professor for ASU’s website. I blog about local music a few times a month and am working on updating my personal website.

8. What inspires you?

Inspiration is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Discovering new things, reading a certain word, being outside, spontaneity, vibrancy, color, conversation, cities, people who aren’t afraid to say what they think and do what they want, trees, the sky, free spirits, people who take the different path, who aren’t afraid to travel and explore.

9. What are you most proud of?

This is a weird question for me. While I’ve always prided myself on doing very well in school while simultaneously being involved in other things, what’s given me the most internal pride and satisfaction has been helping my friends realize their dreams.

10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I don’t think about the future; it comes soon enough. But I hope I’m living in a beautiful place, maybe an island somewhere, maybe another continent, surrounded by a strong community of friends, music and love. By then I hope I’ll be working in some form of music business whether it be for a music magazine such as Spin or for some other music company. I hope my life is filled with laughter.