SR Pod/Vod Series, Authors Talk: Author Katie Flynn

Katie FlynnToday we are pleased to feature author Katie Flynn as our 36th Authors Talk series contributor. Katie discusses the approach she took in composing her story “Bury the Bird,” published in Issue 17 of SR. The podcast begins with Katie’s daughter reading from an alphabet book that she brought home from the library.

She notes that in writing this story she chose something very private and recent, which is different from her normal approach. She says she learned that, “while writing what you know is a good thing, writing what you are going through is dangerous.” She describes how using elements of genre fiction allowed her to explore a topic that was deeply personal.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes channel, podcast #230.

You can read Katie’s story in Superstition Review Issue 17, and hear her read it aloud in last week’s podcast, #229.


SR Pod/Vod Series, Authors Talk: Author Shawna Ervin

Shawna Ervin headshotToday we are pleased to feature author Shawna Ervin as our 35th Authors Talk series contributor. Shawna discusses her writing process, which she says is defined by what it is not. It is not a formula and it is not easy. Though she doesn’t have the answer on how to have a successful writing process, she knows things to avoid.

She notes that “the problem with aiming for perfection is that failure looms around every corner.” She values freedom when writing, the ability to take time off and write when and how she wants. This can even be something like taking notes on her phone while grocery shopping. She finds it difficult to write “when I believe that only by my merit does an essay have merit,” and the piece “quickly falls apart.” Sometimes she finds it easiest to start with a blank page if she is really struggling on a piece. Though she doesn’t have the answer of how to have a successful writing process, she calls upon James Baldwin urging you to “go and question and make art.”

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes channel, podcast #229.

You can read Shawna’s essay in Superstition Review Issue 17, and hear her read it aloud in last week’s podcast, #228.

SR Pod/Vod Series, Authors Talk: Author Jonathan Louis Duckworth

Jonathan Louis DuckworthToday we are pleased to feature author Jonathan Louis Duckworth as our thirty fourth Authors Talk series contributor. Jonathan gives a brief history of his family which inspired him to write “Chanson de Louis.” Then he talks about his writing process and his choice of form. He notes that his essay is mainly about celebrating turn arounds, as his grandfather was buried in a cellar for three days because of a wartime rocket strike, but survived to live a long, wonderful life.

For a long time, Jonathan wanted to write this family story. First he thought of writing it as a poem, but then he decided it would work better as a lyrical essay. He interviewed his mother to get the facts for his essay. He calls his essay a fable because “fables are a matter of identity” that are so important to people, that it doesn’t matter if it is entirely true of not. At the end of his essay, he writes fiction when his grandfather meets von Braun.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes channel, podcast #227.

You can read Jonathan’s essay in Superstition Review Issue 17, and hear him read it aloud in last week’s podcast, #226.

SR Pod/Vod Series, Authors Talk: Poet Patricia Clark

Patricia Clark pictureToday we are pleased to feature poet Patricia Clark as our thirty third Authors Talk series contributor. Patricia titles her Authors Talk “Lessons in Composition and Freedom.” She has five points which she hopes will serve as pieces of advice to writers. Three points relate directly to her three poems in issue 17.

Her first point is that there is more than one way to write a poem; be open to new ways of preceding. Her second piece of advice is to not think too much, or don’t plan out the poem; she used this method when she composed her poem, “Treatise on the Double Self.” Thirdly, Patricia suggests trying new things, something you haven’t used before, perhaps rhyme. This relates to “Rowing American Lake,” where she used rhyme in the terza rima form. Trying new forms is Patricia’s fourth point. She recommends trying poetic forms as exercises, such as the ghazal form for her poem “Infidelities.” Lastly, she recommends to “write often, read even more.”

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes channel, podcast #225.

You can read Patricia’s poems in Superstition Review Issue 17, and hear her read them aloud in last week’s podcast, #224.

SR Pod/Vod Series, Authors Talk: Poet and novelist Deborah Bogen

Deborah BogenToday we are pleased to feature poet, novelist, and SR contributor Deborah Bogen as our thirty second Authors Talk series contributor. Deborah addresses two points in her Authors Talk. The first point she explores is “some of the problems people are going to have when they enter a field that is, quite frankly, flooded.” The second point is “How do you connect with other writers?”

When MFA programs started, it seemed possible to have a teaching job in academia and also a be a writer. But so many people are graduating from MFA programs every year that it is no longer realistic to assume one can get a good academic job. Trying to help you “stay sane and stable during your writing career,” Deborah has three alternatives to having an academic job: take a day job, teach at a (private) high school, and find a job that needs good writers.

She says though “it’s hard to give up the desire – I can’t be the only one who has this – it’s hard to give up the desire for big time recognition,” it just isn’t going to happen for everyone. (Although she has some tips to help you find that coveted big time recognition.) Since every writer cannot be famous, she suggests investing in your local reading/writing community. Being part of a local writing community gives you the chance to meet other talented writers and get inspiration and new ideas.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes channel, podcast #223.

Deborah has contributed to Superstition Review Issue 12, 10, and 4.

SR Pod/Vod Series, Authors Talk: Poet Hannah Lee Jones

Hannah Lee JonesToday we are pleased to feature poet Hannah Lee Jones as our thirty first Authors Talk series contributor.

Hannah discusses her poems in Issue 16 and the role of intuition in her writing; the goal that all her poems should surprise in some way. She defines the poem as an entity far more powerful than the reasoning mind, and which demands that the writer surrender to whatever larger thing the poem wants to become. The persistent hazard then in writing, she says, is to search for clarity or to pin a poem down into meaning something instead of regarding it as a creature separate from the self, with “a will of its own.” Drawing on Keats’ negative capability and Robert Bly’s “black side of the intelligence,” she embraces the innate hiddenness of a poem’s making, adding that what matters most to her is not how authors write, but why. She shares her own reasons – pain and love – universal emotions she tries to approach from “a space just beyond this world,” to offer the reader a bridge from the physical world to the unconscious.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes channel, podcast #222.

You can read Hannah’s poems in Superstition Review Issue 16, and hear her read them aloud in podcast #213.

SR Pod/Vod Series, Authors Talk: Author Megan Harlan

Megan HarlanToday we are pleased to feature author Megan Harlan as our thirtieth Authors Talk series contributor. Megan discusses the difference between creative nonfiction and fiction, and why she is drawn to writing creative nonfiction – despite it being a “poorly named genre.”

Creative nonfiction is narrative writing based on reality, on facts. Due to the genre’s name, it seems that the creative part might be lying. This isn’t the case, Megan argues, as she says “With creative nonfiction, once you get past your own personal fact checking department, the truth becomes the grounding element for any structure you want to build.” The process of building a structure from the truth is the creative part.

Fiction, on the other hand, is often largely built around a made-up hero’s journey. Creative nonfiction doesn’t have to be causal, based on a hero, or have an arc – unlike classically structured fiction. Calling to mind Oscar Wilde, “the truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Like reality, creative nonfiction is not simple or straightforward, but filled with the challenges and possibilities of expressing the truth as we experience it.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes channel, podcast #221.

You can read Megan’s nonfiction essay in Superstition Review Issue 17, and hear her read it aloud in last week’s podcast, #220.

Staff Post, Cas Murphy: 10 Ways That Being a Writer is Like Being a Birder

Writing: to write; to passionately play with words.
Birding: to bird; to look for and watch birds passionately.

10.  In birding and writing, one devotes a lot of time to watching.
People who stare up at trees and make noises should be avoided. People who peer around houses and apartments with binoculars should be reported. That’s common knowledge, and I wouldn’t have argued with any of it until about three years ago, when I became a “birder.” Inconveniently, birds don’t recognize social conventions. They hop cheerily from neighbors’ trees into window boxes, and it’s up to the birder how to proceed. Imagine it with all the awkwardness of a writer researching neurotic characters at a family baptismal shower, plus. Whether bird-watching or people-watching, both may lead to the discomfiture of others.

9.  People in both hobbies are often regretted as airplane seat mates.
Not because people often characterize writers and birders as freakish iconoclasts who can’t relate to the typical world – that may or may not be true, and is generally a conclusion reached over a longer period of time. Rather, whether fictional or feathered, the respective background knowledge for each makes small talk either inaccessible or all-consuming.

8.  Both activities require the filtration of huge amounts of information.
Field marks, songs, and behavior belong to the birder just as the internal environment of story or scholarship belongs to the writer. Each of these fields require intimate knowledge and dedication to learn.

7.  Writing and birding require participants to describe their physical environment while balancing nuance and relevant detail.
The concise tightness of good writing strikes a balance between necessary information, included detail, and expediency. So too with birding. In a group, different birders see things at different times, and so must direct their fellows “onto” the bird. There’s a kind of art to this swift rendering:
“If you look straight ahead, there’s a saguaro that’s slightly taller than all the others. Count three saguaros to the left, and you’re on the one with the strange bulge. Now go down to its lowest right arm and follow it until you see a dark patch not quite halfway up – that’s actually a hole, and I just saw something move in there.”

6.  As suggested in #7, writing and birding require you to take direction: from editors, from more experienced birders, or from others who have simply seen something you haven’t.

5.  Both pursuits demand high levels of discernment, to pick out what one ought to pay attention to and focus on… either in a written piece or in the surrounding environment.

4. Both birding and writing involve complicated journeys of finding understood only by the participant.
Writers and birders search for things – stories or birds, words and information to complement either. One could argue pedantically that writers generate their own words, whereas birders must go out and find existing birds. However, I’ve been on birding excursions where I’ve spent most of my time looking and not finding any birds – I still call it ‘birding’ (usually, depending on frustration, snark, and presence of sensitive company) because birds are the object of the quest. And writers can’t just plop down any old word. They have to search for the right ones from all possible words, and then assemble them in the right order. Birds are similarly separated: nuisance Starlings take a backseat to almost anything else, and coveted Trogons beat out ‘anything else’ any day.

3.  Both activities are essentially free, yet I’ve heard both described as expensive.
Birding at its most basic requires only eyes and/or ears (binoculars are highly desirable eye-extenders); writing requires pencil, paper, and similar extensions of either. A keen brain is always nice too, though arguably not necessary for the most basic aspect of either hobby.
This oversimplification pertly glosses over the usual lack of monetary compensation from either activity, to say nothing of the expenditures for travel – to find new bird species – and time – to write well. Yet there is some truth here, and it counters the tendency to snap up high tech toys which may improve the experience – but which you don’t need to have a good time.

2.  ‘Using all the senses’ enhances both birding and writing.
As just one example, sometimes I wonder if smell might be superfluous… but then I inhale the damp greyness of a Michigan spring morning and know how much I’d lose in either pursuit if that were so.

1.  Through both writing and birding, participants have the opportunity to know themselves by how they perceive the world around them.

SR Pod/Vod Series, Authors Talk: Poet Luiza Flynn-Goodlett

Luiza Flynn-GoodlettToday we are pleased to feature poet Luiza Flynn-Goodlett as our twenty-ninth Authors Talk series contributor. Luiza mentions how her poems – including the three poems in Issue 17 – are a way for her to interact with existing, dominant narratives. She realizes she changes as a person, and her poems exist in an eternal state of becoming. She goes into detail about each of the three poems in Issue 17.

Luiza sees poetry as a way to talk back to supposed ‘fact’ and complicate assumptions around history, scientific thought, and individual experience. While some of her poems are confessional, others focus on experiences that are not hers, noting that “writers are all thieves.” Poetry is important because it makes the poet “able to speak into a fraught void.” After discussing her poems and who she is at the moment, Luiza provides a reading list of books that have shaped her and her poetry.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes Channel, # 219.

You can read Luiza’s poems in Superstition Review Issue 17, or hear her read them aloud in last week’s podcast, # 218.


SR Pod/Vod Series, Authors Talk: Poet Stevie Edwards

Stevie EdwardsToday we are pleased to feature poet Stevie Edwards as our twenty-eighth Authors Talk series contributor. Stevie mentions how her four poems in Issue 17 all have distinct voices, noting that it has often been remarked that her poems are “very voice driven.”

Stevie discusses what voice is in a poem, and how voice is achieved. Vision is inextricably bound to voice, she observes, as she says “In many ways, our speakers are what they notice.”

Throughout this podcast, Stevie gives invaluable advice to poets. “You don’t have to do much of anything other than be present and mindful for a moment to create a poem that might change someone’s life,” she says. Giving your unique point of view is the best way to create voice in a poem; as she encourages us to say “I am a fucking special snowflake – nobody knows the full shape of my voice.”

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes Channel, #217.

You can read Stevie’s poems in Superstition Review Issue 17, and hear her read them aloud in last week’s podcast, #216.