Contributor Update: Roxane Gay

Today we have some very exciting news to share about past contributor Roxane Gay. Roxane was recently featured in an interview with Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show.” In the interview, Roxane speaks of her newest book Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. The interview is powerfully honest and shows her experience with obesity in the modern world.

You can read our interview with Roxane in issue 13 of Superstition Review here.

Guest Post, Elizabeth Sheets: The Illusion of Ascending

dad readsI’ve always been a reader. I don’t know if this is my parents’ fault or not. Recently I found a crayon drawing and questionnaire book I made when I was in elementary school. On one of the pages it asks what my parents do during the day while I’m at school. My answers were: My Dad builds Rockets. My Mom sits on the couch all day and reads love stories. I don’t think that was entirely true, I mean, my Dad read books too. In any case, I do remember that prior to puberty, trips to the mall were exciting for two reasons: first, because I could climb up and sit in the conversion vans in the car dealership that was actually in our mall; and second, we got to go to Walden Books. My family didn’t have a lot of money, so we didn’t buy a lot of new books there, but it was a thrill just to be there and look around. I knew that eventually the books on those shelves would find their way to our city library.

As a kid, I was fairly well read. Once I got beyond Dr. Seuss, I enjoyed Roald Dahl, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Scott O’Dell, Louisa May Alcott, Franklin Dixon, Carolyn Keene, the Choose Your Own Adventure Series, and of course, Judy Blume. There are a few in that list some might consider literary, but many fall into the category of good old genre fiction. I still have many of them because I saved them for my children. And now I’m saving them for my grandchildren, because I don’t think I was as successful as my parents were at passing down the love of literature.

As I got older, I dove harder into genre writing. Once I could get books from the library that didn’t have the purple dot on them, my literary world was blown wide open. I devoured everything from Jean Auel, Piers Anthony, and Marion Zimmer Bradley to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice. Some of these authors I still read today. Because they’re good, and because I can get lost in the worlds they bring to my mind’s eye.

Once I started my degree program, my literary world was blown open again. Even with all of the reading in my youth, there was much that I missed. Memoirs? Whatever were those? Well, all of those English Lit classes filled me in, and filled me up to the brim with writing on every social topic I could imagine, and a few more besides.

Writing classes and workshops introduced me to the short story, and the idea that writers who don’t get paid are somehow of more value than those who do. I’m not much for martyrs, but I bought in. In my few years in school, my professors helped nurture in me a love of the short story, and an appreciation for the craft of drawing them out of myself and others. And so now, my private library grows full of chapbooks and short story collections. To my list of favorite authors I’m adding Roxane Gay, Aimee Bender, Stacey Richter, Matt Bell, Dan Chaon, Tara Ison, Margaret Atwood, and so many more.

But for all my education, and my editorship with a literary magazine, and my degree in English and Creative Writing… I still read Anne Rice. In fact, she might just be my very favorite person ever (not that I know her personally, but I do follow her on Facebook, so I feel like that counts… anyway).

I’m reminded of this funny thing that happened recently.

modest houseMy husband and I raised our children in a suburban neighborhood of the sprawling Phoenix Metropolitan Area. We had a modest income, and a modest house. We drove practical cars, and our kids went to public schools. There was a house of worship a half mile in any direction from our house. Our neighbors were diverse. To the east was a family of folks who spoke little English, had obnoxious barking dogs, and always had parties in the front yard instead of the back. To the south were the drug dealers. The husband rode a very noisy Harley and cut his entire lawn holding a Weedwacker in one hand and a beer in the other. His wife had no teeth and only wore a bra on Sundays. (I guess they weren’t very good drug dealers.)

We lived in that house 15 years, and our kids came up just fine.

And just a couple of months ago, we moved. Since our income has doubled, so has our mortgage and the square footage of our new house. Our new block is glorious. The neighbors all cut their grass on Wednesdays, and everyone drives a new car. There are bunnies and quail everywhere, and no one parks in their lawn.

School just started a couple weeks ago, and as I was driving past the elementary school on my way back from my morning Starbucks run, I noted that the crossing guard drives a Jaguar. A Jaguar.

This is it, I thought, we have definitely arrived. All of that hard work, education, ladder climbing, etc., has all paid off. Finally. Now we can live among the educated folk. People like us. Cultured people. People who read. If the people across the street are drug dealers, well they’re damn good ones because their kids drive BMWs.

And then I turned down our street. It was a Thursday. Blue barrel pick up day. About three houses in, out came a neighbor down his drive way, pushing his barrel out to the curb. He was wearing a pair of very snug fitting, bright red boxer briefs. His hairy belly was spilling over the waistband, and his tangled bedhead hair pointed in all directions from his unshaven face. He looked up as I drove past. Smiled.

I about choked on my chai.

But it’s okay. I’m glad I saw him. It’s a great reminder: there’s room on the block for everyone.  He cuts his grass, he parks in the garage. Maybe his wife builds rockets.

SR at NonfictionNOW 2015 Flagstaff

Nonfictionow Conference

28th – 31st October 2015, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ

NonfictioNOW is a conference where all kinds of nonfiction are celebrated. From long form journalism to the lyric essay, panelists, keynote speakers, readers, and student come together to discuss the craft of writing. Panel topics range from The Beasts Among Us to The Essay as Ruin, from Creative Nonfiction and Cognitive Science to Unusual Foods. For the first time ever, we are hosting a book fair for literary magazines and presses with a special interest in nonfiction, including Superstition Review.

The conference is in its fifth iteration. In 2005, it was first held in Iowa City. In 2012, RMIT hosted the conference in Melbourne, Australia. This has become an international conference devoted to every walk of nonfiction life. Keynote speakers this year include Roxane Gay, Michael Martone, Ander Monson, Maggie Nelson, Brian Doyle, and Tim Flannery with special guests Alison Deming and Joni Tevis.

Nicole Walker of Northern Arizona University is so thrilled to host the conference this year in Flagstaff, Arizona. Not only does she want to show off this great city with its surprisingly excellent restaurants and its mainstay coffee houses but also to showcase Flagstaff’s nearby access to nine National Parks. Since place informs so much about nonfiction writing, it’s important that the conference be hosted in a fascinating one. When writers converge in one, great place, great things happen.

Intern Post, Jessica Marie Fletcher: (AWP15) Yes, We Are All Writers, Relax

When I was asked to go to AWP Minneapolis and represent Superstition Review, I didn’t really know what AWP was and what it would entail. I had only just learned a few weeks earlier of its existence. Panicked, I wanted to learned everything and read everyone so that I could fully appreciate the experience. Once I had the flight booked, I heard people talking about AWP left and right. How did I miss this? It became the code. AWP? Yeah, you? Yeah. It sounded like the party of the year, but it was at some speakeasy where only the elite could go, and I somehow got a golden ticket undeserved.

This is how I thought: do I even belong here? How funny that I spent the greater time worrying about humbling myself before the Great that I assumed would be there. I eventually realized that there was no real way to prep for the conference, so I just sat back and watched the #badAWPadvice roll in while I packed my bag (not quite well enough for the snow). I sensed the theme of all the advice: yes, we are all writers, relax.

I was the first to launnamednd on the ground in Minneapolis, so my selfie was the one plastered across the ASU News page and other social media. Already still wondering how I got there, I was even more confused by seeing this. Yes, you are here. This picture in the article was found by my sweet mom, who unknowingly professed her love for me on the Facebook post. Already unsure of myself, I thought that this was even more embarrassing. Quickly, I realized I needed to not take myself so seriously. Many moments on the trip felt like these little nuggets of life wisdom.

I spent that hour alone in the city wandering, getting my bearings, trying to center myself for the event. I never felt like I stopped moving (which made sense given the plane, subway, bus, and walk to the hotel I took to start) that entire trip.

The girls I roomed with were the highlight of the conference. Early on, we bonded, and I was able to learn from these like-minded women, who were in the same undergraduate, lost boat as I was. This bonding—this sense of community—defined the trip. I got it: an association of writers.

We spent our first night in a crowded, local Normal World Pub that couldn’t fit more people in if it tried–and it did try. The Literary Death Match was hosted there, and right away the trip began with awkward bump ins and “excuse me, coming throughs” with fabulous writers like Roxane Gay, Mark Doten, Matt Bell, and Claire Vaye Watkins. We pushed, shoved to the front of the crowd and had the equally the best and worst spot up front and right next to the bathrooms  where the waiters/passerbys had to continuously shove to pass. None of that mattered because everyone was enjoying the readings, the impromptu performance of Matt Bell, and the literary charades to follow.

The conference itself felt like swirling dream sequences. I had a dream before the trip that the conference was like a casino. There were no lights and gambling tones rising above the crowd, but we were enticed into various panels and rooms until we reached the last day and were all ready to go home, slightly broke from buying books and cool totes and souvenirs at the book fair.

I learned a lot from the panels I did go to, and I also learned to relax when I didn’t go to a panel. Everything began to bleed into everything else like watercolors, and I was okay with that. I even sort of liked that better than the regimented plan that I originally assumed would get me through the conference.

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Left to right: Stephanie Funk, Sydni Budelier and Erin Regan

I was not discouraged by the advice, but rather uplifted because every person that I met only reminded me that you write because you love it. I understood that the conference served as a reunion for many writers, who after years teaching or living elsewhere, were able to catch up and engage in the same thought-provoking conversations with other like-minded and intuitive people.
I was thrilled to meet the humans behind the contributors list in SR, to take part in curious conversations, and to connect with the past SR Editor-in-Chiefs, Erin Regan and Sydni Budelier, and the most recent fiction editor and my mentor, Stephanie Funk. It truly was a treat, and I won a golden ticket with the friendships and memories from AWP15.

Photos by Jessica Marie Fletcher 

Indiana Review 2014 Fiction Prize, Final Judge: Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay JudgeContest Opens: September 1, 2014 Submissions Deadline: October 31, 2014

ROXANE GAY

Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy culture blog, and many others. She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus. Her novel, An Untamed State, was published by Grove Atlantic and her essay collection, Bad Feminist, was published by Harper Perennial, both in 2014. Her book Hunger will be published by Harper in 2016.

Reading Fee: $20 USD—Includes a one-year subscription

The winner of our contest will receive $1,000, publication in Indiana Review, and a scholarship to attend the 75th Annual Indiana University Writers’ Conference, an additional $600 value.

All entries are considered for publication.

All entries are considered anonymously.

Previously published works and works forthcoming elsewhere cannot be considered.

Simultaneous submissions are okay, but the fee is non-refundable if accepted elsewhere.

Multiple entries are okay, as long as a separate reading fee is included with each entry.

Further, IR cannot consider work from anyone currently or recently affiliated with Indiana University or the prize judge.

For more information, click here.

TO SUBMIT

  • Send one piece of fiction per entry, maximum length 8,000 words
  • As of September 2014 we no longer accept hard-copy submissions.
  • Entrant’s name must not appear on the submission.
  • Cover letter must include name, address, phone number, and title. Entrant’s name should appear ONLY in the cover letter.
  • Each fee entitles entrant to a one-year subscription, an extension of a current subscription, or a gift subscription. Please indicate your choice and enclose complete address information for subscriptions. International addresses, please add $12 for postage ($7 for addresses in Canada).
  • Be sure to select the genre “Fiction Prize” on the submission form.

Treehouse Celebrates its First Birthday

TreehouseFor the past year, Treehouse has been dedicated to exhibiting pleasantly unusual and interesting writing that is short enough to read on a coffee break but good enough to linger over.  We feature previously unpublished work from emerging and established writers alike. We accept writing no longer than 1,000 words in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry genres. Simultaneous and multiple (up to three) submissions are accepted. Submissions are read on a rolling basis (unless otherwise noted).

To celebrate our successful first year, Treehouse is proud to present our First Annual Literary Loot Contest for Unusual Prose! In addition to publication in Treehouse, the contest winner will also receive: a one year subscription to Barrelhouse, Booth, Carolina Quarterly, Ecotone, Gigantic, Gulf Coast, [PANK], and REAL: Regarding Arts & Letters; two new Fall titles from brand new (but no less awesome) indie press A Strange Object, two new titles from Dzanc Books and a six-month subscription to their e-book club; a copy of Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard) and First Year (an MLP Anthology) from Mud Luscious Press; and a t-shirt from A Strange Object and [PANK].

Our favorite non-winning contest entries will also be published in Treehouse.The rules:

  1. We’re interested in prose that does unusual stuff. In the past we’ve published stories in the form of to-do lists, invisible text with footnotes, survival guides, landlord-tenant correspondence, recipes, and also all kinds of inventive work that was linguistically, but not necessarily structurally, experimental. So if you think your story, essay, prose poem, or genrebender fits the bill, send it our way. (Sorry, no poetry with line breaks for this one.)
  2. Entries are to be a maximum of 750 words.
  3. All entries must be emailed to treehouse.editors@gmail.com by April 30. Preferred format is .doc, but .docx and .pdf are also acceptable.
  4. Subject line of contest entries must say: CONTEST ENTRY. Otherwise, they will simply be filed as regular submissions and will have zero chance of receiving cool swag.
  5. Your name MUST NOT APPEAR ANYWHERE ON YOUR PIECE. Since we often get writing from people we kind of know, either via real life or the internet, we want to be extra careful that everything is getting read blind. We’re even going to implement our ultra-secret “assigning numbers to stories and then not telling anybody what the numbers mean” system.
  6. In the interest of fairness, we can’t accept submission from editors at any of the magazines or publishing houses that are participating. UNCW students may submit work, so long as they’re not currently on staff at Ecotone.
  7. Former Treehouse contributors are invited to submit work.
  8. We also can’t accept submissions from anyone who has gotten past second base with any member of the editorial staff. (In this case, “second base” refers to urban second base; rural second base is okay.) However, if you have gotten past second base with a member of the editorial staff: why don’t you call us already? It’s been more than three days.
  9. One of the main things we’re trying to communicate with this contest is that literature is a community. We picked out the journals and publishing houses we’re most excited about because we wanted to share them with you—our favorite readers. (And pretty much everybody we asked to participate eagerly agreed.) As such, we’ll be featuring a different participating magazine or indie house every week. Please check out their sites and consider subscribing or buying books—not because they’re helping our contest, but because they’re sustaining a thriving literary community that you’re not going to get from mainstream publishing. And because they publish cool shit!
  10. We really believe in doing as much as we can without getting money involved. So even if you can’t afford to subscribe to any of our partners’ publications, consider spreading the word—about the contest and/or about any of the publishers you see that tickle your fancy—via facebook, twitter, or other social media. Or, you know, your mouth.

Our authors have been featured in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize AnthologyBest New American VoicesBest American Mystery Stories, and Best American Fantasy. In the past year we’ve published new work from acclaimed young writers like Roxane Gay, Matt Bell, Patrick Somerville, Marie-Helene Bertino, and many others.

We look forward to reading your work! To support Treehouse, you can read the magazine, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!