Contributor Update: Stevie Edwards

Stevie Edwards bio headshotCongratulations to our former contributor Stevie Edwards! Stevie’s poem, Sadness Workshop, is a finalist for the Button Poetry chapbook.  Superstition Review first published Sadness Workshop in Issue 17 with three other poems by Stevie. Button Poetry produces and distributes poetry media, including: video from local and national events, chapbooks, collaborative audio recordings, scholarship and criticism, and many other products. Keep an eye out for their upcoming chapbook, on their facebook and on their website.

 

Guest Post, Michael Berberich: Arts and Letters

“Most likely, I shall starve, a degenerate.”

“I threw away my cigarette, and began to make little mystic symbols in the sand with the rubber toe of my left combat boot.  Two early fireflies left the limb of a willow, and drifted past my face in two trailing arcs of yellow that remained marked in the twilit air in afterimages of green and blue.”

Michael Berberich bio photoQuotes from two personal letters (1946 & 1949) by poet James Wright, in A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright (2005)

Mail dropped in the mailbox at 15th and Ball gets picked up at 12:30 pm weekdays, 10:30 am Saturdays.  The mailbox outside the grocery store I shop at has a pickup time of 2:20.  The post office nearest my home has a drive through where it collects dropped off mail three times a day (late morning at 11:00, a mid-afternoon collection at 3:30, and a final pick up at 5:00 pm), but alas they’re down to that lone solitary pickup at 5:00.  The main post office on 25th St. has its sole pick up at 5:30.  And if I get obsessive—though the truth be told I have only done this once and it was so long ago I no longer remember the occasion or the urgency (it was not to get my income tax in on time, of that I am sure)—I can drive 48 miles up the interstate from Galveston where I live to the central downtown post office in Houston and if I make it by midnight my letter can be postmarked for that same day.

However, if my day is leisurely I’ll stand in line at the post office and request my letter be hand-stamped.  In a small gesture of caring that breaks up the monotony of taking letters and plopping them into a bucket alongside the counter, I’ve noticed that many counter clerks smile subconsciously as they carefully align the oversized hand stamp ever so right so that the unsmudged purple ink barely catches the lower inside corner of the stamp.  Thus has my stamp been officially cancelled by a most unofficially humane touch.

I run home during the noon hour not for lunch, which I can take anytime, but to check the mail, which my carrier, George, usually delivers between 11:30 and noon.  My family has long found this quirk a source of mirth.

For me, every letter received is a delight.  And in a world sorely in need of delight, I’ll squeeze every delight I can from every minute of the day that I can.  And my mailbox is that place where I most find such easy pleasures.  It’s better than Easter because I know where to find the colored eggs and chocolate bunnies.  Plus it’s less fattening.

A truism of book publishing holds that while coming out with an edition of collected letters may, but only just barely may, be good for the publishing house’s prestige, it’s hardly good for the bottom line.  To no great surprise the book of collected letters the above quotes from James Wright come from ranks 3,132,500 on the Amazon Best Sellers list.  Is there any better way I could know the 19 year old man who would later write two of my favorite poems, “A Blessing” and “Autumn Begins in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio” than to read a letter he wrote as a high school senior?  I can imagine no reason for ever wanting to go to Martin’s Ferry, Ohio, save for having read that poem.

And there is that second quote, a gem of belles lettres which captures what it was like to have been alive in a particular moment in a particular place.  Nonetheless, its beauty would never else have been shared with more than one uniquely privileged, intended reader save for that finding its way into print.  That now gives me two reasons for wanting to meander about the environs of Martin’s Ferry, Ohio.  And so I confess to another quirk: I collect Collected Letters.

Writing letters.  I am convinced this is where my love of writing began.  Before I ever had a public reader, there were readers of my crayon notes, pencil scribblings, cards with doodles, and finally letters.  My readers responded, albeit sometimes their responses meant calling me on the phone.  No matter.  We are not all writers.  But in the writing of letters I believe that this is where we most readily come to life on the page as we cross our i’s and dot our t’s, with or sans serifs.  I understood intuitively then what I know articulately now: each response to every letter channels holiness in its gift of time, in the beauty of its encouragement, and ultimately in the precious act of its love.

So I make no apologies.  I am enamored of letters, both in the sending and receiving.  And I do so why?  Because I am a writer.  Letter writing makes us all, makes every participant—sender, receiver, counter clerk, street box pick up person, mail carrier—more fully human.

Editorial Preferences in Fiction: H. Rae Monk

Editorial Preferences in Fiction: H. Rae Monk (Spring 2017)

I remember fondly an Advanced Fiction class, where my peers and I workshopped two previously published short stories. The first piece took up only a few minutes of discussion, because everything about the craft, the content and the emotion was air-tight. The second, with many a swiftly moving editing pen and several hands risen, in need to remark on this or that took much, much longer to finish with. I think the instructor had us do this exercise for multiple reasons, however I remember the experience, because I couldn’t help asking, “Why did so-and-so publish this when it’s so obviously not a fully realized draft?” I think there has to be an honesty contract between editors and those who submit. I won’t push a story for consideration because it’s just “good enough”, but I’ll advocate for stories that I believe in, from the title to the final punctuation mark.

I love short literary fiction because there are no places to hide; unnecessary information is erased, prose are polished, and a truth about genuine human experience and emotion remain. I search for fearless, relatable, fully-formed stories that keep me engaged from the first sentence to the last. I tend to focus on stories with clean, well-paced writing, attention to detail, sentence variation, as well as situations and interactions that subvert my expectations. E. Annie Proulx writes, “I find it satisfying and intellectually stimulating to work with the intensity, brevity, balance and word play of the short story.” I look forward to working with, and helping put the concise beauties of submitting contemporary authors out into the public eye.

 

 

 

Bio: Student Fiction Editor H. Rae Monk is a Wyoming native and an almost graduate of ASU’s Creative Writing program. When she isn’t reading every book that comes under her nose, she enjoys creating short fiction driven by characters that see the world through the lens of their abnormal vocations. She also enjoys strong coffee, bouldering, traveling on a tiny budget with a big backpack and engaging with her local literary community. Her future plans are constantly changing, but she is considering both MFA programs and jobs in publishing.

Editorial Preferences in Poetry: Mary Lee

My definition of a “good poem” is expanding and shifting every day. As I continue to read, write, and learn poetry, I find that my understanding and appreciation for the art also continues to grow exponentially.

 

I believe that the poem, at its very best, is a discovery. I find that the best poems are invitations to see an object, an idea, the self, the very world, in a different light. Gaston Bachelard describes poets as individuals who are unafraid to take even the corners of a house and bring them to life. I am interested in the corners, in the ordinary that is explored and made meaningful through poetry. The unexpected image, the lyrical line, the compelling thought, the voice that flows familiar—these are all ways in which I am immediately drawn into a poem. I leave the poem not quite the same as when I entered it, and the poem still never quite leaves me.

 

I also believe the poem is an intellectual pursuit. I believe that art is meant to be constantly challenged within its own forms and notions—Dean Young says that we must “disrupt the habitations of use”. There is incredible importance in this, but ultimately, it should still be done well. As writers, we are always faced with this question in the revision process: did I say this well? Is this worthy of the page? Whether it is the utilization of form and technique, or the challenge of such through the experimental, our choices on the page should reflect our investment in the craft. I am interested in poems that are well-crafted and conscious of technique, but more importantly I am interested in poems that are meaningful enough to make the technique worthy. To quote Mary Ruefle, “It is not what a poem says with its mouth, it’s what a poem does with its eyes.”

 

Ultimately, I am always drawn to the honesty of a poem. The poem that is unafraid to explore simultaneous vulnerability and strength, authority and hesitancy, directness and tenderness. As Dorianne Laux writes in her poem “Tonight I Am in Love”: “I am wounded with tenderness for all who labored / in dim rooms with their handful of words / battering their full hearts against the moon.” Like Laux, I too appreciate poets and their ability to constantly bare themselves open through words.

Bio:

Our poetry editor for Issue 19, Mary Lee.

Our poetry editor for Issue 19, Mary Lee.

Mary Lee is completing her Bachelor’s degree in English at Arizona State University. She is in Barrett, The Honors College and is currently the poetry editor for Superstition Review.

 

Contributor Update: Come A Little Closer With Amanda Eyre Ward’s “The Nearness of You”

Good afternoon, readers! We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Amanda Eyre Ward, a contributor featured in the Interview Section of our 7th issue, has a new novel available for preorder, titled “The Nearness of You,” which will be put out from the good people at Ballantine Books, an imprint of the literary titan Random House. Jodi Picoult calls the book “Wrenching, honest, painstakingly researched.,” while People Magazine calls “The Nearness of You” “Deeply affecting.” Ward has created a  braiding of perspectives that offer the reader a number of intertwining narratives, all centered around the story of a family in its formation, meditating on ideas of motherhood, love, relationships, and what it means to be a family in this day and age. Don’t wait another moment to go out and preorder yourself a copy of Amanda Eyre Ward’s transformative new novel, “The Nearness of You.”

Buy this book!

The utterly gorgeous cover art for Amanda Eyre’s “The Nearness of You.”

Guest Post, Patricia Caspers, Poetry: A Meal Served at the Table of Resistance

Poetry: A Meal Served at the Table of Resistance

Patricia Caspers headshot

 

 

 

On a recent Saturday morning seven of us sat around a table with steaming cups of tea and homemade blueberry muffins. Good friends, we spent a fair amount of time sharing our common despair over the current state of the U.S. government. We had come together to talk writing, but the two Ps – politics and poetry – seem to roll around each other like shards of broken glass in a swelling sea.

 

I do know English and, therefore, when hungry, can ask for more than minimum wage, pointing repeatedly at my mouth and yours. – Eileen Tabios [1]

 

We live in Northern California’s red towns. The conversation we had wouldn’t be welcome in other parts of our lives: at work, with our neighbors, with our families. The ability to speak freely felt like discovering a camellia tree pink as a valentine in bloom during a long, rainy winter.

12.what once passed for kindling

13.  fireworks at dawn

14. brilliant, shadow hued coral – Danez Smith[2]

 

As we finished up, gathered our bags and coats and headed out the door, I was filled with dread at the idea of going back out to a world where I look at everyone I meet and think, “Did you vote for this?” knowing that half of those people would say yes.

In the entryway, I said to my friend, “Time to return to the unsafe spaces.”

It wasn’t until later it occurred to me: I said these words to a woman who at one time was forced out of her home because she’s a lesbian. She’s been living in unsafe spaces for years.

 

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk –
Audre Lorde[3]

 

As a white, able-bodied woman who’s married to a man, I’m not really experiencing unsafe spaces, other than the usual walk through a dark parking lot with my keys between my fingers. That’s nothing new.

Now, though, I am afraid – of what? – that someone will wear a “Make America Great Again” hat to our neighborhood block party, and we’ll no longer have conversations over the fence while pulling weeds? Yes. But what’s the worst that’s really going to happen at that party? I might feel compelled to turn in early for the night.

 

Someone asks 

if the black girl knows she has already been beaten, as if 

the black girl hasn’t always survived beatings. – Deonte Osayande[4]

 

It’s not on quite the same level as a black person who’s worried that the neighbors are white supremacists who feel they’ve been given the go-ahead to burn down homes because racism is now employed in the highest levels of government.

There’s nothing I am or wear that makes me a target.

And yet, every day feels like a long walk alone through a poorly lit garage.

 

I pay taxes and I am a child and
I grow into a bright fleshy fruit.
White bites: I stain the uniform.
I am thrown black type-
face in a headline with no name.
– Morgan Parker[5]

 

I’ve always been prone to bouts of inexplicable sadness, but since November there have been so many nights when, last to bed, falling asleep in the dark, I’ve wished I wouldn’t wake, and in the grayish numb dawn the heaviness clings to me, and I have to talk myself into an upright position.

 

Quit bothering with angels, I say. They’re no good for Indians.

Remember what happened last time

some white god came floating across the ocean – Natalie Diaz[6]

 

My conversation with myself begins this way:

If I die, someone else will raise my 9-year-old son, and she’ll let him watch rated-R movies and swig Monster energy drinks for breakfast.

If I die, my daughter will drop out of college, and unable to re-pay her student loans she’ll be forced to live on the streets.

 

Isiah is dead— or

Isiah is standing right in front of me,

he doesn’t even know what a bullet means.  – Sean Desvignes[7]

 

If I die, my husband will become an alcoholic, lose his job, lose the house.

No one will walk the dog and as a result he’ll bite people and have to be put down.

If I die, I won’t be here to see the glorious defeat of evil.

I want to see the glorious defeat of evil.

Finally, the fact that I choose whether or not I continue to live is my white privilege.

It’s highly unlikely that another person is going to take my life because of who I am, and I understand that there are so many who aren’t given the choice to stay alive.

 

for even after the dead, there are things to learn,
like reading, and maps, and minus one.
– Zeina Hashem Beck[8]

 

I’ve heard people from marginalized communities say again and again: You thought America was a safe space? That’s cute. Welcome to our reality: Educate yourself.

It’s fair.

 

No difference

if we don’t get along with each other

or speak perfect English—

you can’t help mixing us up –Amy Uyematsu[9]

 

And little by little, I am trying to educate myself, beginning with poetry.

A few kind people have pointed me in the right direction, some poets I have discovered on my own, and some I am reading anew.

It’s not perfect, this fragile understanding. It will never be perfect, but I keep reading, along with many other forms of resistance. Maybe it will help. Maybe it won’t. In any case, I don’t want my death to be a tiny white flag of surrender. If it comes to it, I want to die fighting this beast, a sword in one hand and a poem in the other.

 

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying,  

            eating of the last sweet bite. – Joy Harjo[10]

 

 

[1] “I Do,” Eileen Tabios, Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/53813

[2] “alternate names for black boys,” Danez Smith, Buzz Feed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/danezsmith/not-an-elegy-for-mike-brown-two-poems-for-ferguson?utm_term=.owQXarYpp#.viXVe12oo

[3] “A Litany for Survival,” Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn

[4] “Gradual Transformations,” Deonte Osayande, COG: https://www.cogzine.com/deonte-osayande

[5] “I Feel Most Colored When I Am Thrown Against a Sharp, White Background: An Elegy,” Morgan Parker, Apogee: http://apogeejournal.org/2014/08/27/i-feel-most-colored-when-i-am-thrown-against-a-sharp-white-background-an-elegy/

[6] “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglican Seraphym Subjugation of Wild Indian Rezervation,” Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was an Aztec

[7] “In Offense of Vision,” Sean Desvignes, PANK

[8] “The Invented Mothers,” Zeina Hashem Beck, Heart Online:

http://www.heartjournalonline.com/zeina/2015/6/6/two-poems-by-zeina-hashem-beck

[9] “Someone Is Trying to Warn You,” Amy Uyematsu, Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain

[10] “Perhaps the World Ends Here,” Joy Harjo, Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/49622#poem

 

Contributor Update: Patrick Madden Is A Machine (With A Heart Of Gold)

Top of the afternoon, dearest readers! We here at Superstition Review  are rife with news from the Occident after a barn-burner of a conference at this year’s AWP, held in the belly of the beast in Washington, D.C. Past contributor Patrick Madden is co-editing the 21st Century Essays series with none other than David Lazar! 21st Century Essays is put out through Ohio State University Press, and they themselves have some great news: The 2017 Gournay Prize is taking submissions from now until March 15. If anyone out there has a book-length collection of essays, or knows someone who might, tell them to check out this link here. There’s a publication deal with a cash prize of $1,000 in it for ’em if they win!

"Oh yeah. We happy."

“What we imagine it might be like to win a book deal and get $1,000.”

And the proliferation doesn’t stop there: Madden also has provided us with the announcement for not one but TWO collections of essays, titled (respectively) “After Montaigne” (which was also co-edited with David Lazar), out from University of Georgia Press, and “Sublime Physick” (for which Patrick Madden is the sole progenitor), put out through University of Nebraska Press.

Buy these books!

Covers for both “After Montaigne” and “Sublime Physick.”

Suffice it to say, Patrick Madden keeps the hits comin’, and we here at Superstition Review are only too happy to share these with you, dear readers. Congratulations to Patrick Madden, and David Lazar, for all their hard work!

That about does it for us today, gang. Thanks for reading, and always, let us know what you think in the comments section below.