#ArtLitPhx: Tania Katan: Creative Trespassing


Date: Friday, February 22, 2019
Time: 7pm
Location: Virginia G. Piper Theater (Scottsdale Center of the Performing Arts), 7380 East Second Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Individual + 1 signed book: $40
Pair + 1 signed book: $60
VIP (includes signed book, admission to VIP reception and reserved front seat): $75
Student (with valid ID): $10

Purchase tickets here.

Event Description:

Join us in celebrating this special book launch for Tania Katan’s Creative Trespassing: How to Put the Spark and Joy Back Into Your Work and Life. Creative disruptor, inspirational speaker and co-creator of the internationally viral campaign #ItWasNeverADress, Tania Katan shows you how to sneak more creativity and imagination into your work and life. Whether you’re an entrepreneur seeking new ways to innovate, a newbie trying to spice up routine entry-level work, a free spirit with a rich creative life outside the office looking to bring more of that magic into your job or just someone who occasionally feels the urge to scream “Why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam?!!,” Katan will show you how to transform monotony into novelty and get your freakin’ spark back between the hours of nine and five.

Peppered with stories of her own shenanigans — from organizing a wrestling match in the middle of Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to staging a corporate culture intervention via post-its — this book (and event) is a rollicking, uninhibited guide to using creativity as fuel for a freer and more awesome life. As Katan puts it, “This book is an invitation to find inspiration where others see only limitations, because when we believe that logic and limits are subject to change, the world is full of possibilities.”

About the Author:

Tania Katan is creative disruptor, inspirational speaker and co-creator of the internationally viral #ItWasNeverADress campaign. She has been a featured speaker at CiscoLive!, Expedia, Humana, Etsy, S.H.E. Summit, Social Innovation Summit, TEDx, Comedy Central Stage and more. Formerly the curator of performing arts at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and then the brand evangelist for tech company Axosoft, Katan currently empowers people and companies to be a little unruly, a lot imaginative and sneak more creativity into less overtly creative spaces like cubicles, boardrooms and bathrooms. Her creative sneakery has been featured in the New York Times, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Huffington Post, Glamour, TIME, BuzzFeed, Mashable, USA Today, CNN and other media outlets. Katan’s forthcoming book, Creative Trespassing, will be published by Penguin Random House in February 2019. www.taniakatan.com

Organized in partnership with Changing Hands Bookstore.

Guest Blog Post, Hannah Jones: Cutting Loose: The Case for A Language Without Limits

Picture courtesy of Kollage KidRecently a friend showed me the pleasure that can be had in not knowing something. Something a younger and far less patient version of myself would have been very insistent about “knowing.”
My friend’s name is Dean, and we were standing in his kitchen sharing a meal of barbecue and potato salad when the subject of our parents came up. “God bless America,” he said (what Dean means when he says “God bless America” is “by the grace of God”). Then he added, “my mother saved me. I love her. She’s gone now but I carry her with me all the time.” In that hour at the dinner table we spoke about our mothers. We shared their strengths and resilience and the blessings they’d brought into our lives — how they might have been aloof or maybe drank a lot or beaten us or shamed us, but were still our mothers and therefore part of us. Later, when Dean said good night, I saw an old man of French and Cherokee descent who’d led a tough and volatile life, but also a deeply fulfilling one. And he ended our conversation with a word or phrase in an unfamiliar tongue that sounded beautiful to me. “Oh-shee-tay, my friend,” he said as he shook my hand. “And you will never find out what that means, because my father made me swear never to tell anybody, just like his father before him, and his father before that.”
This of course greatly roused my indignation. And my imagination. And because I’m a writer, and it’s my nature to get swept up by language and its myriad hidden treasures, I went to find out what “Oh-shee-tay” meant. I’m now ashamed to admit that I tried to look it up online, and when that yielded nothing, I guilted and begged Dean a little, and when he still wouldn’t tell me, I resorted to eliminating possible meanings by carefully noting down the context every time he said it. I didn’t get far. The most I was able to gather was that it did not mean “f*ck you” or “go to hell.”
Mystified, I found myself driven progressively deeper into a place of search and puzzlement — which, looking back, I now suspect was the kernel of a lesson I think Dean was trying, consciously or not, to impart to me. And the lesson I found in that deep dark forest of not-knowing was that language at its richest, contrary to the uses civilization would have for it, wants one thing more than anything: to be relational more than rational.
I bring this up because we live in a time of distancing, due in no small part to how we use or abuse language, and the stories we tell ourselves. Most of us are acquainted through essays like Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” with the corrosive effects of language on public opinion and social freedom when we don’t pay enough attention. Yet I’d go even further than Orwell to suggest that by naming or needing to name everything that exists in our world, we abstract ourselves from it and thereby impoverish our sense of its possibility. Rather than a genocide in Rwanda because one group dehumanizes another, it’s now about our states of mind. Steeped as we are in a hyper-Cartesian outlook on science and culture, it doesn’t matter whether what we seek is the name of a secret admirer or the suspect responsible for the latest bombing or shooting; our insistence on clarity and certainty has colonized us. Patience, deliberation, and awe and wonder and mystery have all been replaced by a growing feeling of alienation, loneliness, and above all, fear — that we will flunk the exam, not land the plum job, fail in our witch hunt; be on the losing side of a game or an election or a war.
To explain what relational language sounds like, a friend once described to me two possible ways one might give somebody directions to a place. How do you get to Grandpa’s new house? One version of the answer, he said, has us taking a left onto Latona Avenue from 50th Street in Seattle, going three blocks and then looking for the yellow house with the big red door. The relational version would sound something more like, that place where you got your first tattoo? His house is two blocks from there, kitty corner across from the burrito truck where we had breakfast last Saturday. Look for the watering can you gave him, it’ll be just outside the fence. 
Why is it useful to think in this way? Because it’s inherently creative and intimate instead of distancing and static. The one approach favors efficiency and saves us time, but lost in that is our inborn capacity to envision the world as a place of possibility, alive with not one but many stories.
Perhaps this is why I so love the petroglyphs of my southwest desert home, with their wordless multitudes of possible meanings; why my appreciation continues to grow for those who chafe at binary and nondualistic views regarding gender and politics and who choose an infinitely circular way of thinking instead of the tyranny of the linear or the square. One of my favorite short stories by Ursula K. LeGuin, “She Unnames Them,” suggests what can happen when we take the things we love out of their limiting conceptual boxes. How would the world change, LeGuin seems to ask, if we came to understand a dolphin or whale not by the letters that make up its name but by its clicks or songs over the vast distances of an infinite ocean?
William Stafford, in his poem “Cutting Loose”:
Arbitrary, sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell you where it is…
And could this be what Dean was trying to tell me, in his own way, when he said, “Oh-shee-tay?”

#ArtLitPhx: Blooming Chicanx Identities: A Bilingual Poetry Reading


Date: Friday, February 15, 2019

Time: 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Location: Coor 184, 976 S. Forest Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281

Event Details:

A bilingual poetry reading by Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs from Seattle University (modern languages, and women and gender studies).


Authors Talk: Sunny Nestler

Authors Talk: Sunny Nestler

Sunny NestlerToday we are pleased to feature author Sunny Nestler as our Authors Talk series contributor. The artist takes the time to discuss their recently self-published artist book Undergrowth in which five drawings previously published in SR are featured. They consider the creation of the book with their collaborator, A A Spencer, as they talk about the artistic and creative choices that went into developing it.

Accompanied by audio meant to elaborate on the drawings, Sunny describes the “imagined parallel universe” which the art illustrates, representing a “journey through the hairy underbelly of desert”. The imagery of the book is uniquely interspersed with text by other creative minds in collaboration with the art. In speaking of his own relation to the artwork, Spencer considers the presence of “a lot of time and a lot of space” which seemed particularly “immeasurable”. This contributed to the work of “visionary fiction” which he produces as a companion to Sunny’s art. Sunny also discusses the drawing Tectonic Microgrowth which shows “various snapshots of growth”, speaking to the overall theme and purpose of the artistic work.

You can view Sunny’s work in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.

#ArtLitPhx: Storyline Slam: “Crushing It!”


Date: February 15, 2019
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Location: Changing Hands Phoenix, 300 West Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85013
Cost: TICKET (admits one) is $6 in advance, $8 on event day/at the door of Changing Hands Phoenix.

Get tickets here.

Event Description:

Ten tellers will have 6 minutes each to share a story based on the theme “Crushing It!”

Sign up on TheStoryline.org January 19th through Saturday, February 9th to tell a story. Eight names will be drawn on Sunday, February 10th and posted on the TheStoryline.org SLAM lineup page. Two more names will be drawn live at the beginning of the show.

Five members of the audience will be the judges and the story with the most points at the end of the show receives a $30 cash prize.

Learn more about the event here.

THE STORYLINE SLAM is a monthly slam competition hosted by Dan Hoen Hull and Joy Young aimed to further storytelling in The Valley and foster a spirit of fun in the community.

#ArtLitPhx: POETRY WORKSHOP – Merle Nudelman: “Ekphrasis Poetry”


Date: February 12, 2019
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Location: Changing Hands Tempe, 6428 South McClintock Drive, Tempe, AZ 85283
Cost: $25+

Register for the event here.

Event Description:
Poet Merle Nudelman hosts a creative writing workshop on ekphrasis poetry.

Ekphrastic poems are written in response to works of art and engage with the subject piece. Ekphrasis dates back to Homer’s description of Achilles’ shield in the Iliad. For the past eleven years Merle Nudelman has been part of a collaboration between the Long Dash Poetry Group and studio artists of the Women’s Art Association of Canada. Many of the poems in Merle’s most recent collection, The Seeker Ascends, were born of this artistic exploration. The Seeker Ascends follows the poet’s emotional and spiritual journey during and after her son’s arduous battle with cancer. The Seeker Ascends is a meditation on strength, survival, healing, and love.

Merle Nudelman will discuss the process of crafting ekphrastic poems. She will illustrate this literary form with some of her own ekphrastic poetry from The Seeker Ascends accompanied by the paintings that inspired these poems. Participants in this workshop will have the opportunity to experience this creative process directly by writing their own ekphrastic poems in dialogue with original paintings that will be displayed. Participants will also have the option of sharing their poems with the group.

Cost: $25 + fees.
Refunds will not be issued within one day of the event.
Bring pen/pencil and a notebook.

Merle Nudelman is a poet, essayist, memoirist, educator, and lawyer. She has written five books of poetry ̶ most recently The Seeker Ascends. Merle’s first collection, Borrowed Light, won the 2004 Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry and a prize in the Arizona Authors Association 2004 Literary Contest. Merle’s prize-winning poems appear in literary journals, zines, and anthologies in Canada and in the United States and her essays have been included in academic texts. Merle teaches memoir and poetry writing and gives workshops on healing through writing. For the past eleven years Merle has been part of a collaboration between the Long Dash Poetry Group and studio artists of the Women’s Art Association of Canada. Many of the poems in Merle’s most recent collection, The Seeker Ascends, were born of this artistic exploration.

Guest Blog Post, Michelle Bracken: When Your Writing Comes Through the Ether


Photo courtesy of author. A chance encounter with the muse at LAX. 

I’m a slow writer.

It’s been three years since I’ve actively written, rewritten or revised a solid piece of writing. It’s been three years since graduating with my MFA and for all kinds of reasons, the writing was put on pause.

That’s the question when you’re in an MFA program. What’s life like afterwards?

For me, it was a hopeful one. I’d continue working full-time and write in the evenings. On the weekends. Be finished with my novel in a year, tops! Wouldn’t I be so much more productive without my night classes at Cal State?

Then life happened. I fell in love. Sold my house. Moved to a new city. Got married. Every now and again, I’d pull up a story, or part of my novel, and see the parts that needed change. I’d reread sections and see where I could make things better. Wrote notes about future characters, and little scenes that seemed full of promise. And then I’d put them away, and tell myself that later – I’ll have time later.

That’s why I’m a slow writer. It’s not that I wait for inspiration, or the muse to appear. It’s more of a feeling, a yearning, for what I’m not sure, but when I feel that sense of longing or nostalgia, I can spend hours, sometimes days, fully committed to the page. The last two years, however, I just wasn’t feeling it.

After getting married, my husband and I were in the early stages of designing our home, which involved tearing down his parents’ garage and in its place constructing a mother-in-law suite of sorts, formally known by the city of Los Angeles as an accessory dwelling unit. This would be our home in his parents’ backyard. Drafting and designing plans with an architect fully took up whatever free time we had. As we hit the spring of 2018, we had been married all of four months, and were excited to break ground in the summer.

A decision had to be made. After moving to LA, would I continue my full-time position and make the two-hour commute each way? And what about the writing?

This seems like a roundabout of a story. But here’s where the writing comes into play. I had been aching to write again, to feel that sense of urgency on the page, and this next chapter in my life seemed to be the perfect moment for me to make a big decision.

People say you don’t need to quit your day job to pursue your passions, and for a while that rang true for me. It did until it didn’t. I wanted the luxury of time, if only for a year, to spend my “full-time” energy on the writing. To just see what I could make of it, and then go back to the grind.

My grind? Teaching. For years, every waking moment was dedicated to my students and how I could be better for them. My writing needed that version of me.

It seemed crazy to just quit, to lose my medical benefits, to live off of savings. But then, along the way, there’s been a sign or two that perhaps it’s not so crazy.

I believe that your writing speaks to you. That even when you’re not working on it, it’s there, in the background, hovering. It goes where you go, your shadow of sorts, helps you see the light differently, hear the conversations of folks you didn’t know you needed to hear, and sometimes it’s silent until it’s ready to remind you of what you really need to do.

I know this to be true.

Three weeks before I was to give my employer notice, I attended a work event in the desert city of La Quinta. It’s only relevant to my narrative because of the last day. I wanted to treat myself to something nice, to have a small moment of luxury before we broke ground on our little mother-in-law abode, and so scheduled a pedicure at the resort salon in which I had been staying.

When I arrived, there were two other women also waiting, and we sat quietly in the lounge. That week, I had been thinking a lot about my future, and if I was really going to go through with quitting my job. As I sat reviewing the pros and cons, the nail technician, a petite woman with dark blonde hair pulled back in a bun, approached me. I’ll never know why or how I was lucky enough to have her work with me, it could have been any other person, but the ether determined that it was meant to be her.

“I’m Isis,” she smiled. We shook hands, and as we did, I just kept thinking about her name. Here is where the writing came through the ether and said hello. The muse coming to life. You see, the main character in my novel-in-progress, her name? It’s also Isis. I couldn’t get over this coincidence. It’s not a name you hear beyond CNN and Fox News.

And yet, I had found Isis, or she had found me. I first met my Isis in 2009. She was my third grade student, all of nine years old, spunky and lively, and the muse behind my novel, the protagonist I had been carrying with me ever since I met her. I never imagined I’d encounter another person with her name.

And yet, here we were. We talked about the origin of her name, why her father chose it, what it meant to her, and how since 9/11 no one likes to say it. How they shorten it to Is or Izzy. When I told her I was writing a novel about a young girl named Isis, her eyes lit up, and she was genuinely moved. “When you finish, you must send it to me. I would be so happy to read it, just to see my name.”

This moment between us was like the stars had aligned in that small desert community. Here I was, on the precipice of leaving my career and tenure, questioning my decisions, and there before me was the namesake of my project. It was like a slap in the face, but in the kindest way, telling me, yes – you need to do this. It was the writing speaking to me, assuring me of what I needed to do.


It’s three months later and I’ve quit my job, moved to LA, and live in my husband’s childhood home with his parents. Days are spent on site of our construction project, and to make extra cash, I work as an education consultant. The writing? It still hasn’t started. I have many excuses, and they’re all valid. But I know I need to push myself harder to make it happen.

I didn’t know it then, but a trip to the airport would be the push that I needed. It happens one early September morning at LAX. I’m leaving for a work trip to Kentucky, tired, and unaware that I’m about to encounter another muse of mine. On my lengthy search for something to eat, I find a small food court not far from my gate, and in that court have a moment of reckoning.

The food is unimportant, a breakfast burrito, but it’s where I sit that matters. I could have walked back to my gate with my suitcase and burrito, I could have sat at a random table across the room, or simply eaten standing. But for whatever reason, I situate myself at an empty countertop in the back corner of the food court. It’s attached to a restaurant not yet open, and I’m not yet aware of what it is, or anything beyond that nice spread of a counter, where for someone at LAX, seems like heaven.

I pick a stool and sit, and then move over a few more. I’m not sure why, there’s no real reason, no one in my way, I just intuitively move. I reach down to pull a water bottle out of my luggage, and that’s when I notice it – my muse, the image of a bird, from La Loteria deck of cards, painted on the wall beneath the countertop bar. I am firmly planted in front of El Pajaro.

La Loteria is a card game of chance that uses images on a deck of cards. Each image has a distinct name, and a number. And in LAX, it’s also the name of a restaurant. Here I am, sitting at the counter of La Loteria, the wall beneath lined in these beautifully iconic images. There’s El Gallo, La Sirena, La Luna, but only one is most important to me.

El Pajaro, the bird.

Years prior, my professor Merrill Feitell gave me the same card (I still have it) and told me to write a story about it. A few months later, that story appeared in The Superstition Review, (you can read it here) and so here we are.

My writing is again speaking to me, reminding me of the work I must complete, regardless of all the hopping around I’ve been doing, from city to city, job to job, from uprooting my life, to starting over – there is one item that needs to be at the forefront. The writing. All of it. Every story, every character, every draft that needs a revision, every note I had written down, those scenes of promise – they demand my attention and I owe them that much to give it. Isis and El Pajaro – they were the necessary reminders I needed to get it together, and finish what I set out to do all those years ago.

Have you ever had your writing come through the ether? Maybe you’re not as slow of a writer as I am, and don’t need that kick in the rear. But I do, I did, and I’m so thankful for it.