#ArtLitPhx: Alejandro Zambra in Residency

Alejandro ZambraAlejandro Zambra will be in residency the first week of October – Cardboard House PressCALA Alliance, and Palabras Bilingual Bookstore is hosting three free events with Zambra throughout the week. These events include a bilingual workshop, a visit to ASU, and a talk at Changing Hands in Phoenix.

The New York Times Book Review named Zambra “the most talked-about writer to come out of Chile since Bolaño.” He has published poetry and five novels: Multiple Choice, Bonsai, The Private Lives of Trees, Ways of Going Home and My Documents. His stories have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House, and McSweeney’s. He was also named one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists in 2010. Born in Chile in 1975, Zambra’s fiction often explores how a society is haunted by legacies of the past. He often toys with originality and humor – his new book, Multiple Choice, is even written in the structure of Chile’s Academic Aptitude Test, the standardized college admissions test in Chile until 2003. In it, he explores how education and testing restricted art and ideas during the dictatorship.

The first event is a bilingual workshop titled “How To Forget How to Write Fiction.” The 12 workshop participants will “explore and break conventions of fiction writing based on a text about their first memories.” The workshop will be conducted in both English and Spanish, and it will take place October 3-6. Unfortunately, the deadline to apply for the workshop has already passed. However, if you missed the opportunity to apply, you can still attend the other two events!

The second event is a visit to ASU, in which Zambra will discuss his works and fiction. It will take place on Thursday, October 5 from 12:00pm to 1:15pm on the ASU Tempe campus in COOR 184. For more information, check out the Facebook page.

The third event is a bilingual talk and reading at the Phoenix Changing Hands Bookstore (300 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, Arizona 85013). It will also take place on Thursday, October 5 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. For more information, check out the Facebook page.

#ArtLitPhx: Rosemarie Dombrowski presents “The Art of Memory in 750 Words or Less”

Rosemarie DombrowskiRosemarie Dombrowski will be hosting a two-part writing workshop on flash memoir, titled “The Art of Memory in 750 Words or Less.” The workshop will take place at Changing Hands in Tempe from 6pm to 8pm on September 11 and September 25. Admission is $35 for both sessions.

During the first class, attendees will read and discuss examples of flash fiction and participate in a writing exercise. They will then receive a take-home writing prompt. In the second class, attendees will workshop their new, original piece of flash memoir and receive individualized feedback.

Rosemarie Dombrowski is a writer with a long list of accomplishments. She is the co-founder of the Phoenix Poetry Series, a poetry editor for Four Chambers Press, the founder of Rinky Dink Press, a three-time Pushcart nominee, and the inaugural Phoenix Poet Laureate. She is also a Senior Lecturer at Arizona State University’s Downtown campus. You can read more about her accomplishments on her website.

For more information about the workshop and to register, click here.

#ArtLitPhx: Workshop with Daniel Magariel

On Monday, August 28th, Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix will host Daniel Magariel for a workshop and conversation about his new novel One of the Boys. Purchase the book and you’ll get access to his workshop, “Editing with Abandon.” After the workshop, join the author for a presentation about the book. More information can be found here.

#ArtLitPhx: Rachel Egboro “Telling the Whole Story”

Rachel Egboro bio photoOn Saturday, August 12th Rachel Egboro will be conducting a two-hour introductory storytelling workshop. Rachel is the co-founder of thestoryline.org, a Phoenix storytelling collective. During the workshop, Rachel will give some simple steps to begin and develop a story for an audience. The workshop costs $25 and will be at the Changing Hands Phoenix location. You can find more information and buy tickets here.

#ArtLitPhx: Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Workshop at the Juneteenth Festival

We Jazz JuneThis Saturday June 17th is the annual Juneteenth Valley of the Sun Festival. The Juneteenth festival is a state holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. This one day free festival will be held at Eastlake Park from 4-9PM and features guest speakers, art, music, dance, sporting events, and vendors.

We Jazz June will host a Gwendolyn Brooks workshop at the event from 4-6PM. In addition to the writers’ workshop, the event will hold a discussion about Brooks’ poems, and an in-depth look at the Golden Shovel poetic form.

You can RSVP to the event on Facebook here. And more information about the Juneteenth Festival can be found here.

Guest Post, Vytautas Malesh: Face Your Critics, Face Your Fears, Face Yourself.

Vytautas Malesh Bio PhotoSooner or later, we all have to deal with critics. The old chestnut goes something along the lines of “but my mom says I’m brilliant,” and so we’ll have to forego any maternal input on our literary efforts in favor of words less warm, but probably more honest. Whether we’re talking about a submission editor’s hasty notes, a mentor’s line-by-line markup, or an Iowa-style “dead author” workshop session, the writer’s job in the face of criticism is to learn from that criticism. It’s a herculean task, but one which you the writer must master since, well, go back and read the first sentence.

While it is tempting to rest assured of your own brilliance, know that you dismiss any piece of criticism at your own peril. You’ll get the occasional ill-informed vagary along the lines of “I dunno, I just didn’t like it” or something else equally unhelpful. You’ll often find this sort of criticism in low-level undergraduate writing workshops around midterm and finals weeks, or following a weekend of epic tailgating. No need to really pay that too much attention if you are not so inclined.

But I digress.

Assuming that the critic has indeed read your work, considered it, and wants to offer constructive and helpful notes, it’s important to humble yourself and to listen. Criticism can sting, badly. That’s not quite doing it justice:  criticism can make you want to curl up into a ball and never write again. But that’s what happens when you let your ego get in the way of your craft, and if you’re going to write – and, as a consequence, deal with critics – you must let go of your ego.

Some critics are relatively easy to endure – pedants checking your spelling and grammar, for example. Others are easy to dismiss if they are trying too hard to inject their own style matter into your work – the minimalist who insists you could chop your complex character drama down to about the length of a sonnet.

But other criticism cuts deeper. When you’ve had a gaping and irreconcilable plot hole revealed, or if someone should point out that your story so strongly echoes something else already in the world that no publisher would ever show it the light of day. Or that your characterization reveals you to be, or perhaps suggests that you are, sexist, or racist, or misogynistic, or homophobic, or otherwise holding a deep character flaw that perhaps you didn’t even know you had.

When faced with such criticism, it’s important to remember your service to the words – if you’ve been called out over questionable or even hurtful politics, take the time to think about what you’re doing and where you’re coming from. This is the sort of criticism that must not be ignored for both your own sake and, in a very real way, for the sake of the societies and cultures in which we find ourselves. If your work has struck a nerve and offended*, then observe the awesome power that words have in the world, and strive to use that power responsibly.

And of course, sometimes we just have to torch a piece. Perhaps the plot isn’t salvageable, or we realize we have plagiarized something we’ve never read (or at least that’s what our critics say). Cheer up – burn the failure and use the ashes like fertilizer to nourish the next piece. If the worst thing that happens after an encounter with hard criticism is more writing, then consider yourself lucky and get back to work.

*Disclaimer:  “You shouldn’t be offended,” “I didn’t mean to offend anyone,” and “explain it to me – how is that offensive?” are not appropriate in this circumstance. If you have offended someone, you listen to what they have to say. Similarly, “I’m being offensive on purpose” is debatable at best, and you’re probably not being as witty as you think you are – people’s failure to “get it” is more likely your failure to deliver it.

Contributor Update: Ruben Quesada Brings His Talents To The UCLA Extension This Summer

Hey readers! Superstition Review is proud to announce that Ruben Quesada, a former faculty member at Eastern Illinois University who was featured in the Poetry section of Issue 13, has been named a faculty member at the UCLA Extension, and will be teaching a course on Poetry and Popular Culture alongside Rosebud Ben-Oni this summer. Do yourself a favor, and check out Ruben Quesada’s poem “On Witness” here, and stay tuned to the blog for more updates on the beautiful happenings here at Superstition Review.

Ruben Quesada, featured in the Poetry Section of Issue 13, will be teaching at the UCLA Extension this summer!

Ruben Quesada, featured in the Poetry Section of Issue 13, will be teaching at the UCLA Extension this summer!