Hey there dear readers! Superstition Review is back after a brief hiatus with more good news: past contributor Victor Lodato’s essay “When Your Greatest Romance Is a Friendship” has been published in The New York Times‘ “Modern Love” column. Lodato was featured in our Interview section of Issue 8 in an interview conducted by former intern Marie Lazaro. In addition to being a recipient of the PEN Center USA Award for fiction, Victor Lodato has also been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Institute as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. His latest novel, “Edgar and Lucy” is out now from Macmillan, and can be found both online as well as at most major bookstores. Do yourself a favor and check out the essay here, and buy one (or two, or seven) copies of “Edgar and Lucy” here. Congratulations Victor, we couldn’t be happier to know you!
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.
Congratulations 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.
“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.”
Quotes 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 (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.
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.
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.
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.”