Authors Talk: Marilyn McCabe

Marilyn McCabe

Today we are pleased to feature author Marilyn McCabe as our Authors Talk series contributor. In her podcast, Marilyn discusses the inspiration behind the poems from her project “Yield,” one of which was published in Issue 18.

Marilyn reveals how she quit her job and life in an urban setting and moved to the country alone. Out in the country, she began to feel like the last and/or first person on earth, “and it was from that imagining of being the first woman, a solitary Eve, that [she] began writing the poems of Yield.” She started rethinking the Judeo-Christian myth, exploring time as a human construct, and evaluating the nature of community.

You can access Marilyn’s poem in Issue 18 of Superstition Review.

Authors Talk: Timothy Liu

Timothy Liu (and Karthik)Today we are pleased to feature author Timothy Liu as our Authors Talk series contributor. In his podcast, Timothy is interviewed by Karthik Purushothaman, one of his graduate students, about his newest book, Kingdom Come: A Fantasia, which released March 1, 2017.

Kingdom Come A FantasiaThe pair discusses the book as a hybrid novel, and they explore the way it blends poetry and prose. Timothy also shares his process for this novel and reveals how he completed the first draft in 2008 after writing every day for three months. Karthik then asks Timothy about his inspirations, and Timothy talks about the different books that he kept on his desk while writing and how they influenced the book.

Finally, Timothy discusses the concept of time, “the idea that the act of writing can somehow change our past,” and the “weird belief that time can flow in two directions.”

You can read Timothy’s poems in Issue 4 of Superstition Review, and you can purchase Kingdom Come: A Fantasia here.

Guest Post, Eric Maroney: The Limited, Forever Living Thing

Man Reading Torah“Rabbi Meir said, anyone who engages in Torah study for its own sake (‘lishma’) merits many things”


We are always torn apart. Behind the face we present to the world, there is a fracture. Two rudiments in our nature spar: the craving for control, and the dread of disorder. These opposing states, so closely linked, cause us no small misery, but the dynamic is so much a part of our ingrained habit of thinking that we constantly try, though with little success, to smother it with all manner of distractions.

We frequently wake up early in the morning with a crashing, dawn-clarity in the form of the question: What can I do about some awful problem? What we are really asking above and behind this question, is “can this problem be contained or controlled?” And if not – if the problem can’t be mended – how do we live with our sense that by not resolving this difficulty, and by allowing it to stand shamelessly unresolved, life’s great promise of joy will unravel from its spool? Further refined, we can distill the question to its rock hard core: How do I live with pain, grief, anguish?

We have all encountered such moments. But nothing distresses the quest for control more than a crisis of health. The body lurks, waiting; it conceals sickness under skin, tissue and bone. Beneath the veil of our physical stability, a system bubbles toward disorder. My own crock boiled over when I was twenty-nine and diagnosed with cancer. At a time of life when people typically view mortality though a long lens, my death seemed more immediate. I had no resources to deal with the reality of death: therefore my responses were limited. My mind contracted under the idea of death. My notions were hedged by binary postures: fight, win, move on, or fight, lose, die.

Pressed in this vice, I ultimately found it most reassuring to learn to abandon the notion of continued life. This brought a measure of peace. Death is the ultimate negation – a blunt, inescapable fact. Somewhere on a cosmic script, the conclusion is written in indelible ink: you will die. So by embracing death, by laying down at its feet, I let go of the struggle against its oppressive strain. I was still bound to life, to be certain, but only by sheer threads.

In the first few years after surgeries and treatments, I devalued existence. This attitude worked under a certain set of narrow conditions. But as I expanded my horizons after the disease, this stance evolved into a crisis of conscience. How can we live without embracing life? Clinging to death is a poor long term-solution, for even after the cancer was in remission, there was still the fact that I might die at any moment. Death simmers inside of us. My unbending cheapening of life did not solve the problem of death – it merely postponed it. I had driven myself to the verge of an existential cliff. In order to continue to live, I had to change the mental formula that had been useful since I was diagnosed with cancer – because the thin gruel of indifference to life cannot sustain a flea.

If we face suffering, sickness, depression and death, we can turn to something well beyond us: religion. In the years following a great crisis, I turned to Judaism. But my reason for this move, I believe, veers very far from the common expectation. Religion did not provide me comfort. A Jewish life did not offer me hope of a healthy body as a reward for my virtuous actions, or the recompense of an enchanted afterlife beyond a bodily existence marked by pain and suffering; nor did I seek the protection of a powerful and providential deity who could answer my prayers.

On the contrary, Jewish practice catapulted me beyond the bounds of reward and punishment to a real “space” where my deeds are free from the expectation of reward. This is a crucial point: by practicing Judaism, I can relinquish control to the realm of pure Jewish action. In the language of Judaism I perform the mitzvoth, the Jewish religious requirements, not for any payoff, but, as is said in Hebrew lishma, for and in themselves. This perspective has steered my apathy and indifference into more disciplined channels.

I practice Judaism to practice it. This sounds like an echo, but the seeds of this practice produce sturdy foliage. With Jewish ritual practice detached from reward, I can pursue a goal without the restraints of expectation. My mind and heart practice Judaism’s ritual demands with detachment. Detachment, of course, has pejorative implications – a lack of caring, a stance of aloofness – but it can also emancipate; and in a paradoxical turn, the freedom of detachment can transform our indifference into a more vital, lasting form of care. And the practice of lishma, of doing a deed in and for itself, can be exercised everywhere. By living life lishma, the mind is freed from the stark habit of thinking that the two rudiments in our nature spar: the craving for control and the dread of disorder.

In lishma, we transcend the need to control the events of our lives. Order happens, disorder happens – they are states that come and go and we have no control over either. But no matter what happens, we perform our duty and live life. Our imperative to action is action itself. With patience and practice, even life’s gravest challenges and abrupt transformations become shaded in different hues. Events take on the color of the moment, rather than the stain of our anxiety for specious stability. When we are no longer distracted about the issue of control, we are able to free ourselves from the slavery of expectations. And by doing so, we are able to see ourselves in the light of the singular, precious instant.

#ArtLitPhx: Night of the Open Door on Polytechnic Campus

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#ArtLitPhx: Night of the Open Door – Trajectories

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Trajectories: an open talk about the many paths to becoming a writer.

trajectoriesCome listen to a panel discussion about some of the career trajectories that are available for English graduates on Friday, February 19th at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus Night of the Open Door. Superstition Review will be hosting this event in partnership with Four Chambers, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mesa Community College, and Combs High School.
The panel will be free and open to the public in the UNION, Cooley Ball Room at Polytechnic Campus from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. Q & A will be welcome.
Meet the panel:

IMG_3217 (2)Gary Joshua Garrison is a prose editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appeared in or is forthcoming from Southwest ReviewMoon City ReviewThe McNeese ReviewWord RiotGigantic Sequins, and others. He lives in Arizona with his wife and their two torpid cats.

Jess Burnquist received her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Arizona State University. Her wunnamedork has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry ReviewPersonaThe Washington Post, Salon, Jezebel, GOOD Magazine, Education Weekly, Time and various online journals. She is a recipient of the Joan Frazier Memorial Award for the Arts at ASU. Jess currently teaches English and Creative Writing in San Tan Valley and has been honored with a Sylvan Silver Apple Award for teaching. She resides in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area with her husband, son, and daughter. Links to her most recent work are available at www.jessburnquist.com.

image (1)Patrick Michael Finn is the author of the novella A Martyr for Suzy Kosasovich and the short story collection From the Darkness Right Under Our Feet.  He teaches writing at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

 Jake Friedman is the Founder and Editor iKaren Loschiavo 02n Chief of an independent community literary journal and small press based in Phoenix, AZ called Four Chambers. He is also; drinking coffee (as the picture would indicate); a waiter and sometimes bartender at an unnamed casual-upscale restaurant (the restaurant being unnamed to protect it’s identity, not actually unnamed); working on a long-form experimental prose manuscript titled The Waiter Explains (no coincidence with his current profession, he swears; long-form experimental prose being a pretentious way of saying novel, even though he has legitimate reasons for doing so involving narrative perspective and deep structure he still feels pretentious). http://fourchamberspress.com.

color headshotJessica Marie Fletcher serves as the current Superstition Review Student Editor-in-Chief and was fiction editor for issue 16. She studies creative writing, psychology, and family and human development in the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. She has worked as an Opinion Columnist for The State Press, and one of her short stories has been featured in LUX Undergraduate Creative Review.

Sam Harris at Changing Hands Bookstore

At Superstition Review, we like to update our readers about upcoming literary events in the Phoenix area. On Friday, November 5th at 7 p.m., Sam Harris will visit Changing Hands Bookstore. Sam Harris’ work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic and others. His other books include The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. Harris is also CEO and Co-Founder of Project Reason, a group devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values.

At the reading on Friday Sam Harris will be discussing his most recent New York Times bestseller entitled The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values. The controversial nature of his writing has challenged what readers believe as the line between science and morality fades. Because of the heated debate, his work has been discussed in over 15 languages in publications such as TIME, Scientific American, Nature and other journals.

Sam Harris’ website, http://www.samharris.org/, features assorted media about his publications as well as a recommended readings list. Books on this list purchased through his website generate a 7% return for his charitable foundation, Project Reason. A few of the recommended texts include Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Thinking and Deciding by Jonathan Baron and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by J.D, Bauby. For more information on Changing Hands Bookstore and their visiting writers you can check out their website at http://changinghands.com/.