Contributor Update: Sloane Crosley

Congratulations to previous contributor Sloane Crosley on her new memoir Grief Is for People. The memoir goes on sale February 27th, 2024 but you can pre-order it from her website here.

Grief Is for People is a deeply moving and surprisingly suspenseful portrait of friendship and a book about loss packed with a verve for life. Sloane Crosley is one of our most renowned observers of contemporary behavior, and now, the pathos that has been ever-present in her trademark wit is on full display. After the pain and confusion of losing her closest friend to suicide, Crosley looks for answers in friends, philosophy, and art, hoping for a framework more useful than the unavoidable stages of grief.

For most of her adult life, Sloane and Russell worked together and played together, as they navigated the corridors of office life, the literary world, and the dramatic cultural shifts in New York City. One day, while Russell is still alive, Sloane’s apartment is broken into. Along with her most prized possessions, the thief makes off with her sense of security, leaving a mystery in its place.

When Russell dies exactly one month later, his suicide propels her on a wild quest to right the unrightable, to explore what constitutes family and possession as the city itself faces the staggering toll brought on by the pandemic.

Crosley’s search for truth is frank, darkly funny, and gilded with a resounding empathy. Upending the “grief memoir,” Grief Is for People is the category-defying story of the struggle to hold on to the past without being consumed by it. A modern elegy, it rises precisely to console and challenge our notions of mourning during these grief-stricken times.

Crosley has received astounding reviews for this piece:

“[An] aching meditation on loss and friendship… Crosley elegantly links the two losses by explaining how her fevered desire to reclaim her burglarized items stood in for her inability to reclaim Russel. Her characteristically whip-smart prose takes on a newly introspective quality as she reinvigorates dusty publishing memoir tropes and captures the minutiae of a complicated friendship with humor and heart. This is a must-read.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Novelist and essayist Crosley is a tightrope writer of devastating wit and plain devastation, a balancing act no doubt requiring even more muscle in this memoir of her grief…Also a story of the shifting sands of the last two decades in book publishing and the author’s and her friend’s changing places within it, this is a searching, impassioned, cathartic, and loving elegy.”


Sloane Crosley is the author of The New York Times bestselling essay collections, I Was Told There’d Be Cake (a 2009 finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor) and How Did You Get This Number, as well as Look Alive Out There (a 2019 finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor) and the bestselling novels, The Clasp and Cult Classic. She served as editor of The Best American Travel Writing series and is featured in The Library of America’s 50 Funniest American Writers, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Phillip Lopate’s The Contemporary American Essay and others. She was the inaugural columnist for The New York Times Op-Ed “Townies” series, a contributing editor at Interview Magazine, and a columnist for The Village Voice, Vanity Fair, The Independent, Black Book, Departures and The New York Observer.

Superstition Review did an interview with Crosley in issue 7, you can access that here. To learn more about her and her work, visit her website here.

Objects – Pigeons, Vowels, and Teeth (Part III)

This is the final installment of the three-part Authors Talk by Mackenzie Polonyi.


Welcome to the third and last part of my series. I will talk now, and finally, about fogak, or teeth. Post Volcanic Folk Tales

Teeth very quickly became a significant motif in my book. I was drawn intuitively to the strata of meaning teeth encapsulate: human beings have two sets of teeth, adult teeth and baby teeth (also called milk teeth or deciduous teeth), which speaks, for me, toward a profound harmonic twoness or doubleness I repetitively play with in my poetry (reality and [rather than versus] myth, devotion and [rather than versus] disobedience, for example) and also toward subjects like growing and time; the emergence of the adult set is called eruption, like active volcanic discharge, which is a prominent psychoemotional image in my book; and lastly, teeth are distinctive, unique to each skull, each person, just like fingerprints––forensic odontology relies on teeth for identification of human remains, even after decades, centuries, millennia.

Here are some instances in Post-Volcanic Folk Tales in which I write about teeth:

‘A deciduous

tooth for a twoway ticket!’

‘I heat-sought the molars of my foremothers’ graves without names.’

‘Subcarpathian tooth after Transylvanian tooth after Ural tooth,

my own mouth palate-staticked with ice particles, with fractoemissions.’

‘(O her lard-stained apron rippling

music of scaled tooth after scaled tooth;

a Balatonian school of tuning forks!)’

‘I listen I grip my Subcarpathian millstone tooth (my ticket!)’

‘And when our train reached Eger from Keleti Pályaudvar, I stuck my Subcarpathian phantom molar back into my jaw like a tulip bulb.’

I also have a poem entitled ‘Self-portrait with Fangs’ and a poem entitled ‘Ameloglyphics.’ Teeth are knots in the network of my relationships with both dead and living women-relatives from Transylvania and Subcarpathia, women whose long-ago origin is placed within the Ural mountain range. The transmutation of nameless graves into teeth provides unrecognized dead women-relatives with recognition. A tooth provides me the right to enter, exit, move, peregrinate, participate. A tooth is an acoustic resonator, producing pitch, amplifying sound waves, gauging vibrational sensations among generations of women, across death’s distances. (Tuning forks are also, interestingly, present in sound therapy.)

During my drafting of Post-Volcanic Folk Tales, I researched tooth print subpatterns and in ‘Ameloglyphics,’ brushed away dirt from the alphabetical letters of each subpattern’s name or title, revealing metaphorical petrified prehistoric organisms of reaching underneath:

From WAVY BRANCHED, I uncovered A ACHE,

From STRAIGHT, I uncovered RIGHT,






From LOOP––OO,


The OO is a multidirectional coo, a polyphonic movement of air through a shared syrinx.

What, then, do pigeons, vowels, and teeth propose intratextually (among or across the pieces in Post-Volcanic Folk Tales, how do my objects operate like propulsive forcesand sustain pedals)? With pigeons, I can jump or leap into pools of memory, past dialogues, relationships I mourn and celebrate and nourish beyond death’s distances; I can dig into multiplicitous meanings of home without limit, skyward, renouncing gravity. With portal-vowels, I can world-build in lyric-narrative poetry, bridging individual pieces together, honoring my own understanding of and experience with a mythic-factual homeland, while simultaneously condemning Hungary’s dangerous, scary, and violent political realities (like those of the U.S.), and practicing my mother’s mother-tongue; fluency regrettably kept from me for my mother’s former fear of difference and ridicule and laughter. A linguistic reclamation. With teeth, I can move in, around, about, out of a mythic-factual homeland, and move in, around, about, out of imagination. Rather than claiming I can in my book, my objects let me do.

If you are interested, I put together the following writing and revision activity centering objects.

An object activity for writers:

You can complete this activity with a single poem, a group of poems, or even a manuscript. Whether nascentand still-in-progress or already relatively complete, fleshed out, and in a more final state of revision-refection, this activity will help you form fuller relationships with your pieces. First, identify your poem’s orienting details (or scene-making-adjacent details, place and time, where[s] and when[s] and what[s] and their various descriptions)and granular details (hyper-specific, hyper-vivid: for example, lost belongings, furniture, instruments, utensils, jewelry, trinkets, fabric, insects, animals, anatomical particulars, botanical particulars, geological particulars, inheritances or archival particulars, etc.). Highlight them so that they stick out for you.

I combed through an already finalized poem from my book and highlighted the following orienting details: metallic, fleshy, rainclouds, candlelit, shadow-casting, rainy, medicinal brine, mineral water, and the following granular details: portrait, mouth, auroral doorways, lachrymatory lily-mirror, involuted uterus, orbweaver’s spinnerets, navel, genealogical bottle, rainy shoe prints, masks, masks, arachnidian hands, oviparous throats, live coals, ear canals, nutrient-rich narrative.

Now I ask myself: what do these words chart? Across my poem, what space or state is being spell-casted into existence? Many of the orienting details I have recorded gesture towards fluidity. Perhaps, in refection, I better understand that my poem is, at its core, about transgenerational movement, permeability, trickling, omnidirectionality, reverberations, the medicinal qualities of storytelling.

What do granular details suggest, indicate, demonstrate about relationships, psychoemotional gravitational bodies, tensions, stakes, etc. This poem is called ‘Doorways’ and it is the first poem of my book. A prelude, an overture. Many of my granular details are anatomic, especially in relation to voice, vocality, sound, polyphony, digestion, indigestion, giving or providing and receiving or internalizing. An interior-exterior corridor or passageway: mouth, throat, navel (umbilical cord), uterus. Transmission and inheritance of narrative. Furthermore, spider spinneret sand fingers that resemble spiders suggest, for me, multitudes, polymorphism, sewing or spinning. The oviparous throat signals voice box, incubation, hatching, perhaps of utterances, truths, wounds, secrets. Live coals or cinders denote survival, persistence, endurance. And masks occur twice, why?

These are some of my notes:

The portrait, genealogical bottle, and live coals become calcified or set chronic objects throughout my book. A portrait, in itself, is a two-way mirror, a medium or vessel for psychometry, telepathy, invocation. My second poem in Post-Volcanic Folk Tales is called ‘Megidézni Ilona Dédnagynéni Szellemét’, meaning To Summon The Spirit of Great Aunt Ilona, which I do by way of an old portrait. The genealogical bottle is either of Egri Bikavér meaning Eger Bull’s Blood, a famous red wine from Eger, Heves County, Hungary (near Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, the county wherein my grandmother was born and raised; Gönc District), and Barackpálinka, apricot brandy, made in Gönc, a district of apricots. Ancestral alcohol often used medicinally represents absorption, being ‘under the influence’ of imagination, and even folk topical medicine for tooth pain and numbing. The word bottle can also be reminiscent of milk for an infant.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do such granular details or objects propose about (or how do they inform) what you itch, wish, hunger and burn for in your poem, what you doubt, dread, are apprehensive about, what risks exist?
  2. What do such granular details or objects propose about (or how do they inform) your gut sensations, hunches, instincts, intuitions. In your poem, what goosebumps arise, what butterflies, stomach pits, why?
  3. What have you resolved to do in the ecosystem, realm, scope of your poem? What must you reconcile? How are your objects involved or implicated? Regarding your decisions, actions, resolutions (in the world of your poem) what reversals, transitions, shifts, revisions, innovations, developments, modulations, repercussions, aftermaths occur because of them?
  4. In your poem, what have you interrupted, what have you unlocked, unspooled, unearthed, what have you precipitated, set in motion? What is the seismographic activity in your body, in your relationships, in your understandings and beliefs and perceptions? How are your objects involved or implicated? How are your objects their very own language?
  5. What are your movements now (within your poem, beyond your poem, into your next poem)? And where will the trajectory of your footprints lead, into what landscapes of thought and feeling? Are you rooting, ascending, alighting, leaping, resting, burrowing, hibernating, embracing, reaching, birthing, etc.? How do your objects teach your reader about your movements?

I hope you will have meaningful revelations while experimenting with this exercise.

Five questions inspired by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon’s teachings on desire, danger, discovery, decision, and diference in narrative craft.

Contributor Update: Lisa Ko

Congratulations to past contributor Lisa Ko, who has a new novel coming out in March! The novel is titled Memory Piece and will be available for purchase March 19th, 2024. Visit Penguin Random House for preorder information.

In the early 1980s, Giselle Chin, Jackie Ong, and Ellen Ng are three teenagers drawn together by their shared sense of alienation and desire for something different. “Allied in the weirdest parts of themselves,” they envision each other as artistic collaborators and embark on a future defined by freedom and creativity.

By the time they are adults, their dreams are murkier. As a performance artist, Giselle must navigate an elite social world she never conceived of. As a coder thrilled by the internet’s early egalitarian promise, Jackie must contend with its more sinister shift toward monetization and surveillance. And as a community activist, Ellen confronts the increasing gentrification and policing overwhelming her New York City neighborhood. Over time their friendship matures and changes, their definitions of success become complicated, and their sense of what matters evolves.

Moving from the predigital 1980s to the art and tech subcultures of the 1990s to a strikingly imagined portrait of the 2040s, Memory Piece is an innovative and audacious story of three lifelong friends as they strive to build satisfying lives in a world that turns out to be radically different from the one they were promised.

This novel has received outstanding reviews:

“A moving, strikingly evocative exploration of New York’s art, tech, and activism scenes across the decades.”

Vogue, Best books of 2024

“Lisa Ko has brought us one of those rare, sumptuous tales of art and friendship that feels both universal and inimitable.”

Elle, Best (and most anticipated) Fiction Books of 2024

“This novel serves as an archive of our past and a vision for what’s to come, hauntingly beautiful in a way that’s both nostalgic and dystopian. In essence Memory Piece is about the power of remembering, especially when it’s painful.”


Lisa Ko is the author of the nationally bestselling novel The Leavers, which was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. Ko’s short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and her essays and nonfiction have been published in The New York Times and The Believer.

Superstition Review did an interview with Ko in issue 21, you can view that here. To learn more about Ko and her work visit her website here.

Contributor Update: Barbara Crooker

We at Superstition Review would like to congratulate Barbara Crooker on the release of her new book Slow Wreckage!

The poems in this collection consider the “slow wreckage” that comes with advancing years. As well as considering the travails of an aging individual, Barbara Crooker uses a wider lens to examine the damages inflicted by society and its failings. And through it all, or despite it all, Crooker finds beauty and hope in the physical world. In Slow Wreckage, she writes with candor, irony, and ultimately, love.

This collection has received notable praise:

“Barbara Crooker ushers us seamlessly into each moment, whether it happened last spring or fifty years ago. Though on the surface, Slow Wreckage might seem to be about aging and loss, Crooker brings us back again and again to the physical pleasures of being alive, in spite of surgeries and intense pain, in spite of those ‘delicious burdens’ we must carry each day… Her expansive, honest, and clear-eyed poems are exactly the medicine we need to ‘love in these dangerous times.’,”

—James Crews, author of Unlocking the heart: writing for mindfulness, creativity, and self-compassion

“For years I have been an admirer of Barbara Crooker’s poems, her voice and intelligence, its truth and grounded vision offering such specific attention to the world. Slow Wreckage raises her poetic project to yet higher ground, interrogating irony, wit, humor, and metaphysical cast into the difficulties we all come to in age-the scope and range of this collection is remarkable. These poems take up loss and well as love, yet resonate ultimately with praise and thanks, singing authentically as all the best poetry does.”

—Christopher Buckley, author of One Sky to the Next

Barbara Crooker is the author of twelve chapbooks and nine previous full-length books of poetry. A recent collection, Some Glad Morning, was longlisted for the Julie Suk award from Jacar Press. Her previous collection, The Book of Kellls, won the Best Poetry Book of 2019 Award from Poetry by the Sea. Her other awards include: Grammy Spoken Word Finalist, the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council fellowships in literature.

Barbara has three poems featured in Issue 2 of Superstition Review. You can view more of Barbara’s work on her website here, and purchase Slow Wreckage here.

ASU Book Group Meeting

When: Thursday, February 29th 2024 from 12:00-1:00pm

Where: Piper Writers House (PWH) 450 E. Tyler Mall, ASU Tempe Campus OR Online

What: The ASU Book Group’s February 2024 reading selection is To Name the Bigger Lie: A Memoir in Two Stories by Sarah Viren. The book group is open to all in the ASU community and meets monthly from noon–1 p.m. with two different options for attendance: either in-person at the Piper Writers House or virtually on Zoom (registration required for online attendance). In-person attendees are invited to join the author for lunch after at the University Club, no-host.

Haven’t read the book? Come anyway! Authors are always present.

Synopsis of the Book: Past and present collide in this propulsive, one-of-a-kind meditation on truth and conspiracy, based on Viren’s viral essay of the same name. “This all started after the [2016] election,” Viren begins, “when the main narrative I kept hearing was that only uneducated whites believed the lies that were being told.” At first, she set out to write a book about her charismatic high school philosophy teacher, whose instruction sometimes bordered on conspiracy theory, interviewing teachers and classmates from her past to pick at the ways reasonable people can be manipulated to believe far-flung fictions. Then Viren’s wife received an email accusing her of sexual misconduct at the university where both worked, and Viren tapped into her background as an investigative journalist to untangle the accusations and clear her wife’s name.

Sarah Viren is an assistant professor in the Department of English’s creative writing program.

About the book group:

Remaining ASU Book Group meetings and selections for 2023–24 are:

The ASU Book Group is sponsored as a community outreach initiative by the Department of English and organized in partnership with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

For more information about the book group contact Judith Smith at and follow the link provided for all the details and to register for the meeting:

Objects – Pigeons, Vowels, and Teeth (Part II)

This is the second installment in a three-part series Authors Talk by Mackenzie Polonyi.


Welcome to the second part of my series. I will talk now about magánhangzók, or vowels.

In Post-Volcanic Folk Tales, I sculpt portals from vowels, particularly A, which occurs thrice in my
grandmother’s first name, and O, which is a poetic Apostrophe; a figure or integer of address.

In her Literary Hub interview with Michael Prior, entitled ‘I Trust Nothing But Music,’ Valzhyna Mort writes of apostrophe: ‘There is an intense connection between the experience of dislocation and apostrophe. It’s an address at a safe distance. Unlike other forms of address, apostrophe talks to somebody or something but doesn’t really want to receive an answer, at least not an answer made of words.’

Michael Prior writes: ‘Apostrophe is closely related to prayer – and can be form of consolation – active, a way to speak to and of people and places lost.’

In Hungarian language, O has four variations (including the original), differing by diacritical markings: O, Ó, Ö, Ő.

For me, my mother-language’s four O’s are cardinal directions or the absence of. They are generations of feathering throats. All together, they form a compass made from a string quartet of circular vowels (soundholes of resonance chambers) but the compass is broken. A weather vane, but the weather vane is broken. An answer made of words, there is no such thing.

I write, for example, throughout Post-Volcanic Folk Tales:

‘O umbilical chord’

‘O stone ruins cob-webbing my sternum,

O sacral orchards erupting pedunculate oak,

O fossa echoic with ubiquitous dog-song’

‘O sunflower’

‘O sheaves of wheat O wetland reeds’

‘O glucose of oak’

‘O cipher O stuck note’

‘O blood-whisperings’

‘O her’

I reach out for, towards: anatomy, landscape, place, environment, rural village, architectonics, beloveds, sugar of the blood, arterial-venous-capillary plaits of the circulatory system, ecological music. I cast my telluric prayers. I endeavor to console. But to console what or whom? My grandmother? Her many selves, shadows, hackled-angels, wounds? To console land we are hurting

‘a pikeperch skeleton haunting a poisoned river,

punishing gold miners with temporary gills,

swished its hour hand tail,’

land I love? To console my mother? Myself? Eldest or only daughters of diaspora, tasked with archiving, preservation of tongue, scriptotherapy, caretaking, cycle-breaking? The libraries of wolf-birds we are? I reach out for the only language left after dementia took unyielding insurmountable hold of my house: music.

O, an object, is a mirror, a window, a keyhole. An eye, a mouth, a navel, a grape, a gate, a star, a moon, a sun, a whole note, a birth canal. O is entrance, exit, crater or vent of volcano. The diacritical markings: antennae, beaks, wings, knitting pins, binary star systems, ash clouds, umbilical cords, cuspid teeth.

A is another portal-vowel. Arrow, roost or nest, fang, bull or ox, sky-ladder, soil-ladder. A allows for my hopping from time to time to time, place to place to place, poem to poem to poem. Using the trinity of A’s in my grandmother’s name, each A being a compartment for pigeon nests or funerary urns, I portal into: A volcaniclastic lake formed in an abandoned millstone quarry (or the absence of it), a sessile oak forest from which botrytized wine casks are made of (or the absence of it), a subcarpathian village orchestrating annual apricot fiestas (or absence of it).

I write recurrently about what I call an ‘inverted negative surface.’ Inverted is inside out, reversed, transposed, retrograde, backwards, turned back. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, negative is: absence, without, an absolute lack of something. In arithmetic, subtracted from or a quantity less than zero, denoting a direction of decrease or reversal; in photography, light and shade reversed from original; in physics (like a magnet), an electric charge carried by electrons, beckoning a positive charge (who or what am I calling upon and who or what is calling upon me?); in astrology, earth or water, passive in nature: soil and river.

Reading ‘inverted negative surface,’ one may initially understand that the surface is hyper-nonexistent, upturned, under, but in arithmetical operations (multiplication), two negatives make a positive, and in English grammatical operations, double negatives reveal an opposite meaning. Then, a surface (according to my own syntactic-semantic ‘equation’) that is both real and not real, material and immaterial, above and below, earth and sky. A and O are portals into amalgamated mythical realities. The grammatical lack of a comma between inverted and negative allows for multiple readings, multiple meanings.

In her Catapult essay, entitled Writing Letters To Mao, Jennifer S. Cheng questions: What does it mean to experience a history of trauma and blood in ephemeralities, in residue?

‘Knowledge in an immigrant household,’ she writes, ‘comes in tides that approach and recede.’ ‘There are always gaps and missing ghosts.’ ‘All the fear and protection and silence and love comes so mixed together, it would be a falsehood to separate them.’ For the child of an immigrant (or one raised like the child of an immigrant), ‘history,’ Jennifer writes, is ‘blurry, leaky, vague,’ a ‘specter.’ Involved are ‘complicated feelings of anger, curiosity, tenderness, intimacy.’ ‘There is so much I did not know,’ Jennifer continues, ‘and even if I asked questions, I never received a straightforward or comprehensive answer.’ ‘At some point, I decided that either my parents didn’t know much of their family narratives––a lineage misplaced among the turbulence––or they didn’t have the language, linguistically or emotionally, to communicate with me about it. As for so many children of immigrants, their lives came to me in little fragments and echoes that I collected in my palm like rainwater.’ I experienced what Jennifer has articulated here deeply, fully, precisely. The cupped palms of A. The bucket of O. Such rainwater-like fragments often require supplementary information. For a refugee with dementia, because of trauma, imperfections and limitations of memory, disease, displacement or dislocation, linguistic barriers, silence, archival holes, storytelling becomes tattered, honeycombed, frayed.

In my experience, for one raised like the child of a refugee, a true narrative, then, is only made truer, fleshier, by certain mythic or imaginative additions. The story of my relationship to my mother’s mother-country cannot be told truly without mythical inclusion, for along with research, how else can I fill the gaps hacked by shame, fear, borders, exile, violence, distance, and time? Home is real, a shape on a map, it has coordinates, it has airports and train stations, it has buses and trams, people live there, my family lives there, I have gone there. But, for me personally, home can also only be touched in my grandmother’s stories of it when I was a child. So, intricately, it is also a far-far-away. How does a daughter of diaspora who loves her language, land, gastronomic traditions, folk embroidery, folk music, thermal spa culture, and wine-growing culture, but is categorically ashamed of, revolted by, and in opposition to her home country’s political reality, its dictatorial, kleptocratic, propagandistic prime minister wielding misogynistic, homophobic, racist, anti-immigration rhetoric reconcile her longing for home while necessarily condemning violent political materialities (painfully similar to those within my birth country) of home itself?

Home is neither a matter of geography, nor graveyards; neither a matter of nation, nor nostalgia; neither a matter of tickets, nor time zones. It is more fabled, more relational, more private, more ineffable. I cannot name it myself, but I do get whiffs, whispers, glimmers of it: dirt vibrations, interoceptive and exteroceptive insight, uterine ambient nose, oven-warm candlelit magic of traditions. A is the only aircraft that can reach it (a dragon), O is the only worm-like phantom train.

After Dinner Conversation: Technology and Ethics

Congratulations to After Dinner Conversation literary magazine on the recent publication of their first themed short story collection! Technology Ethics is part of a series of nine themed editions the magazine is releasing throughout 2024.

The dawn of AI, transhumanism, and robotics, will rise just like the sun, inexorably, and we are now struggling to imagine that future, to understand what it might mean for humanity when/if something else takes the wheel. There is no doubt now that AI will surpass our abilities in many areas: radiological analysis, data entry, medical diagnosis, paralegal research, and the list expands daily, as does the worry surrounding the disruption to our jobs, and to our lives.

This issue of ADC speaks to the growing unease with respect to our loss of control and our involuntary delegation of decision-making to technology. This powerful and accelerating wave will be transformative.

Deborah Serra – Technology Ethics Edition Editor

You can purchase the Technology Ethics collection on Amazon. Their next collection, Crimes and Punishments is available for preorder and will be released on February 21!

This collection has already received well-deserved praise:

“These collections can offer a spine for such courses, or the individual stories could be added to a course as illustrative material to stimulate discussion; outside of educational contexts, they work nicely to stimulate conversation in families, elder hostels, youth clubs, or book groups.”

Luc Bovens, PhD – Philosophy Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

After Dinner Conversation is an independent, nonprofit, literary magazine that focuses on short story fiction that encourages philosophical and ethical discussions with friends, family, and students.  Each story comes with five suggested discussion questions. You can discover more on their website and social media: f x i.

Internships for ASU Undergrads

Superstition Review

Internship Opportunities with Superstition Review 

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.
  • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

What Interns Say:

“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.”

“I feel I got a great internship experience that will help me post graduation.”

Objects – Pigeons, Vowels, and Teeth (Part I)

This month Superstition Review is presenting a three part Authors Talk by Mackenzie Polonyi.

Below is the audio file for her author talk and under that is the transcript.


Thank you for being with me here, for your intentional listening. My name is Mackenzie Polonyi, I am the author of Post-Volcanic Folk Tales, my debut poetry collection, which was a winner of The National Poetry Series 2023 and is under contract for publication with Akashic Books, 2024. In my three part series, I will be talking about objects and their possibilities, particularly notable objects from my forthcoming book: pigeons, vowels, and teeth.

In Laura van den Berg’s craft essay in Craft Literary, entitled Object Lessons: An Exploration, Laura writes first about orienting details (her examples: ‘Is a character inside or outside? Is it sunny or raining?’ They ‘ground readers’ and establish scene) and granular details (According to Laura, they are ‘hyper-specific, hyper-vivid.’ They ‘hold layers of time and meaning … and resonance,’ they ‘introduce questions and dimensions,’ and they ‘startle and destabilize’). The latter has the potential to develop or metamorpihize into an object. Here is Laura’s accumulative definition of an object; inter-knitting her own thoughts, theories, and conceptualizations about the presence, purpose, promise, power, and aboutness of objects along with those of Italo Calvino, Virginia Woolf, Charles Baxter, and Alexander Chee:

An object has the power to shift, deepen, and even reshape moments; it is charged with a special force and becomes like the pole of a magnetic, a knot in the network of invisible relationships; it takes on a luminous halo; it contains worlds, troubled and fractured histories, unanswerable mysteries, forcefields of thought and feeling; it communicates the matter that exists beyond the limits of language; it is a mirror and a window and a refraction all at once, it extends both keys and questions, at once deepening and further unsettling our understanding of characters and their inner worlds; it evokes shaping forces, both known and unknown, visible and invisible.

Now, while Laura applies her accumulative definition of an object directly to the craft of fiction, it is also pertinent to the craft of poetry.

Today, in the first part of my series, I will talk about galambok, or pigeons.

In a poem called ‘The Shoe Maker’s Daughter’ from my forthcoming book, I write about how my grandmother, who suffered for years from dementia, would get vacuumed back into German-occupied and Soviet-occupied Hungary in dreams, reliving fragmented traumatic occurrences. Her dreamscape and my dreamscape coagulate or clot together and I try sending her warnings (of sexual violence and other psychological injuries and thieveries) by way of lily-of-the-valley, pollen, nectar, and pigeon. All are granular details, but only the pigeon materializes recurrently (enigmatic then epiphanic then enigmatic again) in ‘The Shoe Maker’s Daughter’ and throughout Post-Volcanic Folk Tales. I write:

‘My dream ripens like an angel-

trumpet into a prehistoric forest where her ubiquitous

nocturnal pings are lightning splitting deciduous beech.

Where soldiers’ stereoscopic scent-hound snouts

desecrate Southeastern wetlands, Northeastern wheat fields, proboscises

sucking bone-marrow from earth-built homes, ectoparasitic.

Kleptoparasitic––swarming willowing villages.

Rose-knobbed sugar bowls, jam pots, sauce boats, stale bread, spoiled

meat, women’s shucked bodies now belonged

to hives of field-grey then red soldiers.’

I provide context for my reader; showing my reader a woman’s reality in an occupied country, under authority of a hostile military threat. Later, I write:

‘She zeroes in on a distant

iridescent pigeon. Her private focal point

for survival. My failed holographic mail.’


‘She vomits

a stiff pigeon foot gripping a pinwheel bouquet of bile-wrinkled letters.’

What is the ‘special force’ of the pigeon, what is the ‘luminous halo’? What troubled and fractured histories, unanswerable mysteries, forcefields of thought and feeling does it contain? What keys and questions does it extend?

A mirror: A grand-daughter must stomach and reconcile the fact that she could not have protected, rescued, or safe-kept her grandmother; furthermore, she is a powerless presence still in her grandmother’s nightmares.

A window: In their present together, in day-scape, in belatedness, what are alternative spells, gestures, or measures of protection, rescue, safekeeping, and reverse-mothering?

A refraction: Perhaps healing is not in having had an impossible, inverted, retrograde alphabet of warning. (I am not prescient omniscient.) Perhaps healing, instead, is in helping a grandmother (from a generation of silence) tend to and find a language for a physical-psychical wound of the past in the future rather than wishing for its very prevention in the frst place. How is a pigeon a multidirectional ‘reaching’?

The vomiting is representative of the impossibility of receiving, internalizing, digesting the heraldic pigeon and all of the portentous correspondences from the future it gripped stiff in its foot. The bile is the immediate indigestion of it. My grandmother, in the poem’s many ‘heres,’ is empty-stomached; unknowing, uninformed. The sodden, warped, unreadable letters, however, are also simultaneously of her own past making. What words was she desperate to cast like stones into the future? How is the act of saying interrupted? Some questions, extended: A carrier pigeon generally summons up suggestions of arrival and departure, delivery, homecoming, but here, delivery and homecoming are non-existent, they are ‘nevers.’ There is a sense of deadendness. What can be said about direction? What can be said about a refugee’s sense of home; her rejection of home’s perceived rigid one-dimensionality? Her orientation, her balance, her splintered compass? Or that of the child of a refugee, or one raised like the child of a refugee? What do longing and returning mean? Along with such complications and complexities involved in weather-vaning home, trauma, additionally, often annihilates articulation. Is trauma-facing dialogue between grand-daughter and grandmother––especially tacking on the interpersonal or intersubjective distances notched by dementia––only possible then in a liminal subconscious dream state, in other words, a poem?

Here area few lines throughout Post-Volcanic Folk Tales in which pigeons manifest again:

‘Whenever I opened my blood-sucking beak,

you regurgitated homesick pigeon

milk like a tonic.’

‘Iridescent pigeons nest like nonsensical sentences in my

unbrushed bat roost hair.’

‘Here: I once measured volumes of your voicefall.

The water in my right ear is a pigeon nest,

the water is cooing what is lost.’

‘There is pigeon traffic between us.’