Congratulations are in order for past contributor E.J. Levy, whose newest book, The Cape Doctor, was released this summer. E.J. was kind enough to send us her own description of the book, found below.
I’m delighted to have had my debut novel, The Cape Doctor, out from Little Brown on June 15th, after nearly a decade of work. The book is inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry–born Margaret Ann Bulkley circa 1795 in Cork, Ireland–a brilliant, irascible, dandified, army surgeon who advocated for the rights of the marginalized and was the first person known to perform a successful caesarian in Africa; Barry was caught in a sodomy scandal with the aristocratic governor of Cape Town (then the Cape Colony) in 1824, and eventually rose to the level of Inspector General, only to be discovered after death to have been “a perfect female” and to have carried a pregnancy late to term.
In the 150 years since Barry died, the doctor has been celebrated as both a feminist icon (as the first female-born person to receive a medical degree in the UK, 50 years before Elizabeth Garrett Anderson would, and 35 years before Elizabeth Blackwell would earn her degree in the US) and more recently as a trans icon. Both are valid interpretations in my view. I agree with biographer Jeremy Dronfield (author of Dr. James Barry: A Woman Ahead of Her Time) who has said that he sees validity in both a feminist and a trans reading of Barry’s life, but he rejects any effort to impose one interpretation to the exclusion of the other or to present one as definitive. Mine is one reading of a richly ambiguous historical record of the fascinating and courageous life of Margaret Bulkley and James Barry. In writing the book, I was aiming for something like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando–in which the protagonist changes sex over centuries–but I think I’ve ended up with something closer to Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield.
I have changed Barry’s name to be clear that mine is a work of fiction. But it has felt at times more like a seance. I first learned of Barry on a trip to Cape Town; as we traveled around the city and into the countryside, I felt a little possessed by that spirit, as if Dr. Barry was whispering in my ear; I’m delighted that others have a chance to hear that same voice now.
I’m gratified that Booklist has given The Cape Doctor a Starred Review, calling it “Remarkable…Absolutely superb… beautifully written…In sum, an unforgettable work of art that deserves raves.” The book was also named among Barnes & Noble’s “Best 100 Books of Summer” and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.
I hope The Cape Doctor helps bring wider attention to and awareness of the remarkable life of both Margaret and James.
Are you an ASU student interested in creative writing, publishing, marketing, social networking, blogging, or advertising? Do you wish you could get marketable job skills while earning college credit? Do you like to have a little fun while you learn?
Then an internship with Superstition Review is right for you.
Superstition Review is the online literary magazine produced by creative writing and web design students at Arizona State University. Founded in 2008, the mission of the journal is to promote contemporary art and literature by providing a free, easy-to-navigate, high quality online publication that features work by established and emerging artists and authors from all over the world.
We publish two issues a year with art, fiction, interviews, nonfiction, and poetry. We also enjoy honoring all members of our Superstition Review family by maintaining a strong year-round community of editors, submitters, contributors, and readers on our blog and social networks.
Trainees will register for a 3 credit-hour ENG 394 course. The course will offer a study of the field of literary magazines.
Upon successful completion of ENG 394, trainees will enroll in ENG 484 and become active interns with the magazine.
All work is done completely online.
We welcome interns from all fields.
The internship is not available to ASU Online students.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
What Interns Say:
Trish provided valuable experience in my field of interest that is not offered anywhere else. This class has been a huge eye-opener for me and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work in the publishing and editing industry before graduating.
The skills I learned have given me a huge amount of confidence as I begin my search for a job, and I’m so glad this course was available.
Trish is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and very trusting of her students. Although all the work for SR goes through her, she allows for students to take control and engage in the work fully. Thanks for the wonderful experience!
Trish is extremely personable and is great at making people feel welcomed and she listens very well to her students.
Trish is extremely accessible and welcoming. I felt very comfortable coming to her with questions. I feel I got a great internship experience that will help me post graduation.
Summer 2021 was a fruitful season for our past contributors! We’re back to announce another contributor’s new book: Anna B. Sutton’s poetry collection Savage Flower. Anna’s debut book includes “Postpartum,” which was featured in Issue 13. Savage Flower, winner of the 2019 St. Lawrence Book Award, centers on women in the American South. Reproductive rights, gender, religion, oppression, and family are just some of the timely and weighty topics brought up.
Make no mistake: the poems in Savage Flower will break you open with their beauty, with their unflinching ability to turn and keep the gaze on the moments of life so painful we try not to look at them: death and abandonment, injury and loss. Through Sutton’s work, we see the world as a continual process of loss and gain, of departure and return, in which “like prayer, waves fall back against the earth.” But these poems break you in a way that heals you, that continuously reminds you that despite its deaths and losses, this world still “[a] thing of beauty that / blossoms even as it withers.”
Emma Bolden, Author of House Is an Enigma
Savage Flower is available for purchase from Black Lawrence Press and Anna kindly mentions SR in the acknowledgements. Learn lots more about Anna and her work on her website and Twitter. Congratulations, Anna!
We are excited to share that past contributor Kasey Jueds is releasing a poetry collection, The Thicket, this November. Jueds’ poem “The Tool Shed” was featured in Issue 25. She is also the author of the poetry collection Keeper.
As its name suggests, The Thicket evokes themes of the natural world and poems often center on the less-prominent aspects of nature. Unique to this collection, the reader contends with an undefined force: it may be self, God, both, neither. Advance praise describes The Thicket as timely, serene, and observant.
Long after finishing The Thicket, I felt rocked inside its motion, a music made of wind and river current, blood, breath and wingbeat. In poem after poem Jueds leads us across the natural world, turned fabular by lavishly lyric detail, to passages unseen, through which deer spotted one moment vanish the next. The Thicket is a true beauty of a book, fully awake to the many spells of our existence.
Kathy Fagan, author of Sycamore
The Thicket will be available in November, 2021, from University of Pittsburgh Press. You can pre-order the collection from Pitt or Bookshop. Find more from Kasey on her website and Twitter. Congratulations, Kasey!
We’re so excited to share that past contributor Paul Luikart has published a new book! The Museum of Heartache, a short story collection, debuted this week from Pski’s Porch Publishing.
Paul Luikart earns his spot on the shortlist of writers who can sink you right into the skin of a character in only a few lines. This collection of stories, some almost poetry, captures moments in his characters’ lives when they aren’t just down and out but squeezed in the vice of their circumstances, whether peculiar or mundane. In their shoes, you’ll grapple with what it means to be fully human and come out the other side changed.
Audrey Keown, Author of the Ivy Nichols Mysteries
The book includes Paul’s story “Blessed Assurance,” originally published by Superstition Review in Issue 22. That story touches on the reality of things we may never expect to encounter, framed by the binaries of heaven and hell, alive and dead. It’s an honest and intense glimpse into a life the narrator wanted to escape. Yet we leave the story hopeful. To read “Blessed Assurance,” click here.
The Museum of Heartache is available on Amazon and more information can be found on the Pski’s Porch website. Check out Paul on Twitter.
We are pleased to share that past contributor Marieken Cochius’s art will be on show this fall at the Lockwood Gallery in Kingston, New York! The exhibit, One Thing Leads to Another, features the contemporary, abstractionist work of Marieken and four others: Karlos Carcamo, Meg Hitchcock, Matthew Langley, and Greg Slick. Pieces from Marieken’s recent “Frequencies” series, such as the one seen above, will be on display, some for the first time. These layered ink on paper drawings capture transient moments in nature and their innate energy. The effect is enchanting.
[Marieken Cochius’s] work is continually evolving formally while consistently and skillfully expressing a passion for the beauty, mystery, and meaningfulness of the natural world. A visit to her website will reveal many variations on the art of abstraction in media that include oil painting, sculpture, and works on paper. There is nevertheless a consistency in her visual language that runs through its many dialects. She’s after a certain kind of energy that can’t be easily captured and held; it can only be experienced and communicated directly. The pieces in this show are records of awakening realized over time and can be seen as a call to the viewer to share a revelatory experience. … A tapestry of these visual moments gradually weaves itself together into a whole. Without specific identifiable imagery to grasp onto Cochius invites us to join in the conscious emergence of the cosmos.
Carl Van Brunt Beacon, The Lockwood Gallery
One Thing Leads to Another runs September 4th until October 3rd. For more information, visit the Lockwood Gallery website. To view Marieken’s art in Issue 25, click here. And don’t forget to check out Marieken’s website and social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Saatchi Art.
Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, The Poetry Review (UK), and TriQuarterly, as well as other journals and magazines.
Jane’s Poem, “Still Life With”, originally published in Basalt:
Still Life With
There is nothing with which
you can still life.
Even so, the painter strives
in his atelier to ransom hams
and greater his art
who can garnish the dish
with a blood-sozzled fly.
Less stunning are the lobsters
and fish in sequin sheaths
is the unplucked duck
that dangles on the wall.
There is nothing with which
you can still life.
Even the veriest vase
is subject to cracks
as sure as silver ewers cloud
and handmade goblets drip
glass is viscous,
who waits and waits.
There is nothing with which
you can still life.
Even the twin halves
of fruits ferment
and peaches’ cheeks
as the jowls of a gran
who takes her dentures out.
Art cannot halt
this lavish thing
With life still so unsated
and so corruptible,
can still it,
shifty iridescent life.
Jane’s Poem, “Rarity”, originally published in The Shore:
My sons, given crayon bins, mine for the rarities: cadmium
red and razzmatazz. Given a baseball diamond, they kneel
in a kibble of limestone, each sifting for chipped jewels,
each sure to come home with his fist of small stones, asking
to be told they are gems. Already they have learned to want
what is scarce.
I want to draw such afternoons
a corral of colored wax. I want to rake a moat around them,
to defend as an island this trove of gravel, this now.
Jane’s Poem, “I read that the moon is rusting”, originally published in Wilderness:
I read that the moon is rusting
My son defines time--its river, not its measure--
as the way one event changes into another.
I am letting what my son knows of time
climb and turn a laddered wheel in my mind.
I am letting the river run the mill that changes
one kind of unknowing into another.
. . .
Once a student told me that her mother kept
vases of flowers long past their prime.
She thought them still beautiful, wizened tulips,
their petals knuckling into pecans.
. . .
I read that the moon is rusting. Here on earth
a breeze kicked up by passing cars
fans a dead katydid. Invisible thumbs shuffle
her wings’ gauzy underthings.
. . .
One event is turning into another. My son grows
tall but is still young enough to trail
a hand, offhandedly, in the current that carries him.
There is so little we can demand from time
but I would ask to be like a tulip, like a katydid,
like the henna-chinned moon:
one of those who, done or undone, changes next
into another kind of wonder.
The following is an interview conducted by Superstition Review‘s Poetry Editor, Carolina Quintero, on April 27, 2021. It regards Jane’s poetry, looking specifically at both her process and inspirations.
Carolina Quintero: Hi, Jane! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview with me. It was such a joy reading your poetry. You have such grace with your word choice and craft… Motherhood is a frequent theme in your work. How has your writing evolved through motherhood?
Jane Zwart: Early on, having kids meant I wrote fewer poems, but that was a matter of time and mental space, not any shortage of material. On the contrary, the raw material I found for poetry multiplied wildly when my boys were born. Of course it did. Babies are fragile enough that you can see the miracles pulsing under their skin and gripped in their tiny irrational hands. As for toddlers, they tutor you in the ways language works and breaks, its patterns and exceptions; in picking up syntax, they are full of defiance and delight, and that’s a good thing for a writer to steep in. So I did, when my boys were little, rake in so many gems. But most of them I had to store for those years, that season. Which is why I labeled a folder “poem crumbs” and stuffed it with notes, giving myself something to mine when they got bigger, more independent. I’ll add this: as Wendell (11) and Ambrose (7) grow older, I find whole lines of poetry in things they say. I borrow their wonder. And their tenderness toward the world heightens my tenderness toward the world.
CQ: Your poetry is dense with imagery and concise with word choice. What is your process like to achieve these traits in your work?
JZ: Well, thank you. The images come to me first, almost always, and I suppose that’s why the poems are, as you say, “dense with imagery.” Sometimes that density occurs collage-wise, through a bunch of images testing their angles and echoes against each other. But sometimes in a poem, a single image grows dense; the poem stuffs and coats the picture or object with so many hints and arguments. And this will sound foolish, but for me the process behind wielding imagery is looking and thinking. I owe my art history professors, Henry Luttikhuizen and Charles Young, a huge debt of gratitude for training me to do just that: to look and to think. I’m also indebted when it comes to word choice. To my parents, who filled our house with shelves and shelves of words. To other poets, who have sent me to the dictionary but who have also let me fall in love with perfectly ordinary words transfigured by their neighbors on the page. And to Roget.
CQ: What inspired you to write about time and its unpredictability?
JZ: The easiest way to answer this question would be to name writers I love who capture the way time snags, how the past and future breathe down the neck of the present, how history loops. I think of novelists first: Toni Morrison, W.G. Sebald, William Faulkner, Gabriel García Márquez, Virginia Woolf, David Mitchell. But of course the answer is also subjective, and for me it has to do with the awful mortality of all these people I love, the shortness of a life–which I hold in tension with the belief that our souls are not mortal but, rather, each breathed by God into the little husk of a self. I use poetry, then, to adjust my grasp on time. A poem slows time, a little, but it is also a way of loosening my grasp on the perishable world of people and things that I tend to hold too tightly. After all, to write something is to relinquish it as well as to preserve it.
CQ: What are your poetic influences as of late?
JZ: Amit Majmudar. All of his books–What He Did in Solitary is the most recent–have influenced me. Or at least I hope they have. Amit balances wit and weight so deftly; with him, “the work is play for mortal stakes,” as Frost put it. Amit, though, has also influenced me more directly–an immense kindness on his part. Over the past couple years, he and I have “mirror-written” a great deal, taking turns conjuring titles for which we both then improvise a poem, swapping them when time’s up. Put simply, Amit has taught me to write to fill in a given shape. Before, I always waited on the poem to sprout on its own. But there are many others, too. For instance, I love Catherine Pierce’s work so much that it borders on covetise. And her new book, Danger Days, has more or less converted my husband into reading contemporary poets to whom he is not married–no small feat. Who else? Well, Danusha Laméris’s Bonfire Opera is vivid and heartbreaking and heartmending, and having finished it, I still keep it in my bag for good company in long lines. And I return to Christian Wiman and Naomi Shihab Nye and Wisława Szymborska’s poems (Szymborksa’s in translation) again and again. Finally, I cannot wait to be further influenced by Kasey Jueds’s new book (I loved Keeper), Kaveh Akbar’s Pilgrim Bell, and W.S. Herbert’s Dear Specimen.
CQ: What advice would you give to young writers?
JZ: Read. Read the dead and the living. Read in translation. Read the work of writers who make you feel less lonely and of writers who feel like absolute strangers. Pay the world around you the sweetest, fiercest attention that you can, and take notes. Write. Write hoping that you outgrow your art again and again. Write as if you were unafraid. Write as if you were patient. Find your kin. Review books. Send fan mail. Register for the workshop. Attend the reading.
CQ: What are you currently working on in your writing?
JZ: I keep writing poems, and I keep writing book reviews. I keep trying to figure out where to prune for clarity’s sake and where to embellish for beauty’s. I’m also trying to find a publisher for my full-length manuscript. The odds are always so slender, of course, but perhaps this latest incarnation of the thing–which the brilliant poet W.S. Herbert reordered for me, schooling me in manuscript construction along the way–will be lucky. I do think a little luck is a must.
Brittney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collections Navigation, 40 Weeks, and most recently, Breaking, a chapbook responding to events in the news over the past several years. Daughters, a series of persona poems in the voices of daughters of various characters from folklore, mythology, and popular culture, is forthcoming from Airlie Press in September, 2021. Corrigan was raised in Colorado and has lived in Portland, Oregon for the past three decades, where she is an alumna and employee of Reed College. She is currently at work on her first short story collection and on a collection of poems about climate change and the Anthropocene age.
Brittney’s poem, “Whale Fall”, originally published in Thalia:
The ocean’s innumerable tiny mouths
await the muffled impact like baby birds.
Sediment clouds up at the deadened
settling, and the flesh is set upon. How
the weight of loss can be beautiful
in its opening. Luminous worms undulate
like party streamers as isopods
and lobsters arrive to feast. This body
holds an ecosystem unto itself: species
found nowhere else but here, cleaved
to the sunken remains. Sleeper sharks
move in slow and gentle, ease
the messy carcass to gleaming bones.
And then, how the skeletal rafters
of grief fuzz and bloom. How sometimes
the coldest depths allow for such measured
undoing. All the while hungry lives
swarm and spread, come to stay.
Limpets attach to the unhidden core. Sorrow
in its abundance crushes, cycles, feeds.
How the body rests, rich in what sustains.
Brittney’s poem, “Iteration”, originally published in Feral:
after the Aldabra rail
One flightless bird evolves twice, before and after extinction.
Collective bodies remember what it is to feel safe.
You remember this, too. Before the world came lapping.
A coral atoll—lagoon brimming with black-tipped sharks,
no people—flourishes. Giant tortoises wander between
turquoise worlds of sea and sky. The birds have no
reason to fly away. A body with no enemies simplifies.
There was a time when you didn’t need wings.
Nothing is wasted. The birds push their long, ruddy necks
through the coastal grass. Nothing chases them down.
There was a time when you never looked behind you.
The first time the ocean takes the island, every species on it
goes extinct. A mass drowning. Thousands of years later,
the water recedes. Fossils and sand surface; flora blooms.
The bird’s white-throated cousins land on the shores.
There was a time when your throat was open to the sky.
The bird evolves again. Again relinquishes its wings.
Again has no enemies. Again is a singular kind of being.
You can do this, too. Sharks circle but can’t cross land.
Bodies remold. Bodies wingless. Bones tell stories. Versions
of stories. You recolonize your body. What it is to survive.
Brittney’s poem, “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit”, originally published in The Wild Word:
The night a neighbor girl knocks on our door,
baby rabbit in the bowl of her hands, I place
it in a darkened box of straw, know it won’t
make it to morning. My grandmother’s tradition
for the first day of each month: stand at the edge
of the bed upon waking, make a wish, yell
Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! and jump. Tiny rabbit
body in my palm, soft and cold and still.
Rabbit sitting on the moon, pestling herbs
for the gods. A chant of white or grey rabbits
to ward off smoke. The Black Rabbit of Inlé:
his taking of this small life, his taking of my
grandmother when I was still small. I must
give this little un-rabbit back to the ground.
Oh, to be so frightened that your heart cannot
go on. But first, I must wake my young child.
On this first of the month, I ease tangles
separate through my hands. Sense something
quivering just beneath what’s real as I leave
the room. From down the hall, I hear
the bedframe sigh. Little undone heart cupped
in my hands. Little voice shouting a herd
of rabbits onto the floorboards. I hop
from foot to foot as they run past.
The following is an interview conducted on April 28, 2021, by Superstition Review‘s Poetry Editor, Carolina Quintero. It is in regards to Brittney’s works, writing process, and inspirations.
Carolina Quintero:Hello, Brittney! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview with me. I really enjoyed reading your poetry. You have such a passion for animals and our environment and you put their importance into beautiful words. I also thought it was really striking and genius how you connect animal life to human life…Your writing frequently involves animals and the environment. What experiences or special interests have driven you to center your writing around this topic?
Brittney Corrigan: I’ve been drawn to animals and the natural world since I was a small child. I grew up in the gorgeous landscape of Colorado where my family spent a lot of time in the mountains and generally outdoors. And when I wasn’t playing outside or surrounded by a zoo’s worth of pets, I was watching episodes of Wild Kingdom. For years I wanted to become a marine biologist, drawn to the ocean and its creatures from my land-locked home. Though I’ve always felt connected with and protective of the environment, living in Oregon for the past three decades—with its wild coasts, wild animals, and wildfires—has strengthened that affinity and resolve. As the realities of climate change have made their way into my consciousness over the years—from my founding of an “environmental action club” in high school in the 1980s, to my love for the flora and fauna of the place where I live, to raising up my children in a world fraught with natural disasters and extinctions—I wanted to move toward action to preserve this planet and the life forms with which we share it, beginning with bringing awareness to these issues through my writing.
CQ:Your poems carry thorough knowledge about animals and ecosystems. What inspires you to learn about this?
BC: Voracious curiosity! I subscribe to countless email newsletters that showcase all things weird, wild, and wonderful (such as Atlas Obscura and National Geographic), and I love listening to podcasts of that ilk, as well (such as RadioLab and Ologies). I keep a running document of links to articles and oddities I find particularly fascinating that I come back to time and again to mine ideas for my work. In both my science-oriented poetry and my short fiction, the research is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. I love diving headlong into educating myself about a place or a species that I haven’t encountered before or that I just want to learn more about. In a high school English class, my teacher once presented me with a quote by Henry James: “Be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!” I carry that desire to notice, explore, and elucidate the world around me into my writing life.
CQ:What advocacy do you hope your poems will achieve? What audience do you hope your poems will reach?
BC: By bringing the plight of various ecosystems and species into my work, I hope to make what can seem like an overwhelming problem to tackle both particular and personal. I think if folks feel connected to the natural world and its creatures in specific, tangible ways, they will want to help and make change in small, meaningful ways. I hope that my poems reach folks of many interests, backgrounds, and generations and move them to learn more, and to do more, to combat climate change, extinction, and the effects of our current Anthropocene age.
CQ:What are your poetic influences as of late?
BC: My current favorite poets are Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ada Limón, Ross Gay, Natalie Diaz, and Camille Dungy. I’m also enjoying reading essays on topics of extinction and the natural world by writers such as Michelle Nijhuis, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Elena Passarello, Linda Hogan, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs.
CQ:What advice would you give to young writers?
BC: I would say start with what you know and move outward toward your passions and ideas or topics you want to find out more about. First write for yourself, and then, when you are ready to share your writing with others, find your people. Seek out your fellow writers and readers with whom to share your work. Find a group of folks you trust and can share your roughest drafts with, and also find the mentors whose feedback will help your writing become stronger. And don’t be afraid to write outside of the boundaries you’ve been taught or the parameters you’ve been given. Break the rules and bust the genres open.
CQ:What are you currently working on in your writing?
BC: I recently completed a manuscript of poems about climate change, extinction, and the Anthropocene age. I’m now exploring those same topics in my first collection of short stories. As to poetry, I think science, ecology, and the natural world will always find their way into my work. I’m not sure exactly what’s next, but I’ve no doubt it will reveal itself to me, like bright animal eyes blinking out of the dark.
On March 15, past contributor, author of nine books (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction), Daniel Olivas, was invited on to the Beckett’s Babies podcast. Within the podcast, the group discussed topics such as Daniel’s play, Waiting for Godínez, being selected for the Playwrights’ Arena 2020 Summer Reading Series, Daniel’s first memory, how he has been selected for Circle X Theatre Co.’s inaugural Evolving Playwrights Group where he is adapting his 2011 novel, The Book of Want, with a planned Zoom reading in 2021, among a variety of other matters.
We are excited to announce the date of our official virtual launch party for Issue 27. Join us April 21 at 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM PST to hear a reading from our contributor Sally Ball. We look forward to seeing you there!