#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.

Authors Talk: James Pate

Today we are pleased to feature author James Pate as our Authors Talk series contributor. James talks about how writing poetry and fiction seem to use two different parts of the James Pate Bio Photobrain. He compares it to writing with your right hand versus your left. James takes his influence from writers that focus greatly on language and how it contributes to the narrative. In the podcast, James reads a few of his poems and discusses the inspiration behind them.

You can read James’ story “Michael Hill” in issue 17 of Superstition Review here.

#ArtLitPhx: Changing Hands presents Ahmad Daniels, M.Ed.: From Queens to Quantico: A United States Marine’s Story

Book cover for From Queens to QuanticoOn Friday June 30th at 7PM, Changing Hands will host PFC Ahmad Daniels as he speaks about his new book, From Queens to Quantico: A United States Marine’s Story. The speaker speaks of his idyllic life in Queens, New York and his time in the marine corps. Ahmad’s story explores, first hand, the racial tensions of the 60’s.

The event will be held at the Changing Hands Tempe location at 6428 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283. Find out more information here.

#ArtLitPhx: Changing Hands Presents Nora McInerny Purmort

Book cover for It's Okay to LaughOn Thursday June 29th at 7PM Changing Hands Phoenix will host Nora Mclnerny Purmort to discuss her new memoir, It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too). Nora is the Gracie-award winning host of the podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking. Her memoir follows her husband Aaron’s battle with cancer, and Nora’s views on mortality and resilience.

Find out more about the event here. Changing hands Phoenix is located at 300 W Camelback, Phoenix, AZ 85013.

 

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.

#ArtLitPhx: Changing Hands presents Paul Brinkley-Rogers

Paul Brinkley-Rogers bio pictureOn Wednesday June 14th at 7PM, Changing Hands Phoenix will be hosting Paul Brinkley-Rogers as he discusses his new memoir, Please Enjoy Your Happiness. The memoir focuses on his time in 1959 when he had a love affair with an older Japanese woman while serving aboard a US Navy vessel outside of Yokusaka. Paul is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and veteran war correspondent that worked for many years in Asia, covering the war in Vietnam and Camboadia for Newsweek. 

Find out more about the event at Changing Hands’ Phoenix location (300 W Camelback Phoenix, AZ 85013) here.

Authors Talk: Michelle Ross

Michelle RossToday we are pleased to feature author Michelle Ross as our Authors Talk series contributor. Michelle reads from and discusses her short story, “Stories People Tell.” She talks about how the story originated with a kind of confession of almost hitting a pedestrian with her car.

 

You can read Michelle’s piece, “Stories People Tell,” in Issue 17 of Superstition Review.