Contributor Update, Jesse Goolsby

Join us in congratulating Jesse Goolsby on his new collection, Acceleration Hours, which is available from University of Nevada Press and Amazon!

Acceleration Hours is a haunting collection of narratives about families, life, and loss during America’s twenty-first-century forever wars. Set across the mountain west of the United States, these fierce, original, and compelling stories illuminate the personal search for human connection and intimacy. From a stepfather’s grief to an AWOL soldier and her journey of reconciliation to a meditation on children, violence, and hope, Acceleration Hours is an intense and necessary portrayal of the many voices living in a time of perpetual war.

To learn more about Jesse and his work you can visit his website. You can also check out one of the stories in Acceleration Hours which was featured in Superstition Review:

“Benevolence” featured in Issue 10.

Congratulations Jesse!

Guest Post, Fiction Editor Lucas Selby

Being isolated in our homes gives us writers that sweet time we always crave to actually get some writing done. Personally, I’ve been reading through my old work, sprucing it up and sending it in to some of my favorite magazines. I might as well while I have the time, right?

One of the most helpful parts of being the Fiction Editor for Superstition Review this year has been learning what editors look for in writing. And since it’s been helpful for me, I thought it might be helpful for you! Here’s an insider’s look on the selection process here at Superstition Review.

The first thing I did as Fiction Editor was make a mistake. I linked my editor’s account on Submittable to my personal submissions account. That means, every time I opened Submittable to review submissions, the first thing I saw was all of my rejections for stories I’ve submitted over the years. For the first hundred stories, I felt like I owed it to every author to at least read their story all the way through, because that’s what I want for all of my stories. Soon enough, I was weeks behind on deadlines and extremely tired of reading every page of the stories that I didn’t enjoy. Thus, I learned my first lesson.

Lesson 1: It’s the first page or two that makes or breaks a story. If I’m bored early on, I will not read the rest. Make that first page captivating enough to make me read the second page, then make that page captivating enough to make me read the rest of the story. Otherwise, I do not have the time.

I started catching up, but I was still behind. Submissions poured in faster than I could read them. Our Founding Editor called me and gave me some new helpful advice. We are a magazine that does not read blind. That means we read your bio and cover letter before we read your story. Trust me, the bio and cover letter are more important than you may think.

Lesson 2: Don’t waste your editor’s time with your bio and cover letter. By all means, include a bio and cover letter, but this is a brief blurb about who you are, your degree if applicable, any major awards you’ve earned for your writing, and maybe where else you’re published. This is not your resume, your life story, or a list of your Boy Scout merit badges.

Finally, I had all my favorite stories picked out. I met with our Founding Editor and the Senior Fiction Editor, and we compared notes. Unsurprisingly, all three of us have different tastes in fiction, but none of us caved to the others. We fought for the fiction we liked, and, in the end, we all left happy. This lesson is a stretch, but bare with me.

Lesson 3: Your story doesn’t have to be universal. I feel I have to address this because lots of literature is praised for being universal. There are plenty of good niche stories out there, and they are all the better because they aren’t forced to appeal to everyone. We all fought for the stories we felt the strongest about, and we all had our absolute favorites published.

I’m really proud of the upcoming fiction section in Superstition Review. The authors who wrote the stories we’re publishing should be proud as well. The authors of the stories that didn’t make the cut but were counted among our favorites should be proud. Everyone who submitted should be proud that they put their work out there.

Lesson 4: Keep writing, keep submitting, keep aiming for publication in your favorite magazines. Every time I logged on to Submittable to review new fiction submissions, I saw all of my rejections from over the years. Honestly, I was proud of them. That’s how many times I’ve put myself out there with stories I was proud of.

Keep up the good work! And thanks for a fantastic submission season.

Contributor Update, Mathew Michael Hodges

Join us in congratulating Mathew Michael Hodges on his book, The Way Rain Falls, which releases on May 1st from Whiskey Tit Press.

The Way Rain Falls centers around Jim Diffin, a college sophomore struggling to gain the affection of his perfect girl while also dealing with his mother’s hardships and his friend’s dubious advice.

Pre-order The Way Rain Falls from Whiskey Tit Press!

To learn more about Mathew and his work you can visit his website. You can also view his previous work featured in Superstition Review:

A Sound Man featured in Issue 18

Congratulations Mathew!

Intern Update: Rosie Huf

Today’s Intern Update features Rosie Huf, the Interview Editor of Issue 14 of Superstition Review.

With a BA in English Language and Literature, and a MA in Liberal Studies, Nonfiction, Publishing, and Technical Communication, Rosie now works as a UX Writer for State Farm where she aids in customer communication.

She has also previously worked at Cleaver Magazine as an Intern Manager and Senior Editor.

We are so proud of you Rosie!

If you’d like to learn more, you can visit Rosie’s LinkedIn here.

Contributor Update, Catherine Lacey

Join us in congratulating Catherine Lacey on her book, Pew, which is available to pre-order from Granta Books or Farrar Straus & Giroux!

Pew begins with the strange appearance of a perfectly neutral, genderless and racially ambiguous person who refuses to speak. Appearing at the pew of a church in a town in the American South, the townsfolk each spend time taking care of this person as tensions and suspicions rise within the community.

To learn more about Catherine and her work you can visit her website. You can also check out an interview with her featured in Superstition Review:

“A Narrative Impulse” featured in Issue 15.

Congratulations Catherine!

Authors Talk: Catherine Kyle

Authors Talk: Catherine Kyle

Today we are pleased to feature poet Catherine Kyle as our Authors Talk series contributor. Join Catherine as she shares her thoughts on using a fantastical framework to talk about real feelings and experiences and how poetry provides a unique medium to do so.

“When you think of a metaphor, it’s almost like you’re casting a spell on one thing and turning it into something else.”


You can read Catherine’s poems, “Pysanky” and “The Village Remembers” in Issue 11 of Superstition Review.

Check out her works mentioned in her talk:

Flotsam
Coronations
Shelter in Place


Transcription:

Hi, I’m Catherine Kyle, and I’m going to be talking a little bit today about poetry and magic. When I looked back over the two poems that were published in Superstition Review in issue 11, all the way back in 2013, the biggest thing I noticed was that both poems have this kind of sense of myth and mysticism that I think is still really present in the kind of poems I write now.

So, 2013 was a long time ago—it’s seven years ago—and since then, I’ve experimented with poetry and magic in lots of different ways. I’ve had a few chapbooks come out since then, and one of them was about a kind of “guardian angel of art” who wanders around an abandoned city rescuing library books and forgotten paintings and things like that; the two poems that Superstition Review ran ended up in a chapbook called Flotsam, which was all about the ocean as a symbol of the unconscious that has a lot of mermaids and seaside villages and kind of a fairy tale vibe—things like that. So it’s been a definite thread in my writing for a long time, and in all these cases, I want to have stakes in the real world, but it has always been really helpful to me to frame real feelings and real experiences in this kind of mystical or magical light—to kind of approach it through a different angle. Part of what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is why poetry seems like the best way to do that, as opposed to a different type of art. Why I’ve gravitated to poetry specifically to do that. And something I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been trying to untangle that knot is that poetry is really rich in metaphor, and I think there’s something almost inherently magical about metaphor. It’s transformative, right? Like, when you think of a metaphor, it’s almost like you’re casting a spell on one thing and turning it into something else. And to me, metaphor feels different from simile, because when you’re using a simile, you’re saying, “This was like this,” which is something you could do in creative nonfiction, for instance: say, “This experience was like being in a fairy tale.” But in poetry, you can use metaphor more freely, I think—in metaphor, you’re saying, “This was this.” It’s just a little bit different, but it feels powerfully different to me. Again, in a poem, you’re not necessarily saying, “This felt like a fairy tale,” you’re saying, “This was a fairy tale,” and there’s room in the poem for those two things to be true simultaneously. The literal thing is true, but also the figurative thing is true, and they’re existing simultaneously in this almost paradoxical and, to me, kind of magical way. It’s a liminal space where two things can be true at once.  

The other thing I’ve been thinking about a lot as far as why magic is this thread in my poetry is that honestly, I’ve loved science fiction and fantasy as genres for as long as I can remember—my whole life. And it took me quite a while to realize that part of what I really like about sci-fi and fantasy is also part of what I like about poetry. I think they both have the ability to ask, “What if…?” and answer it in some new way. They both rely on imagination to think about things that maybe don’t exist yet or could never exist in real life, that are only possible in the realm of art (at least at this point). For example, about a year ago, I wrote this sequence of poems where, like, an older, cooler version of me drives around in a car and picks up younger versions of me who needed a big sister figure and shakes them out of whatever situation they’re in and gives them a little life advice and dusts them off and kind of holds space for them. Obviously that can’t happen literally, right? Like, I can’t literally time travel. But the fact that it can happen in a poem makes a kind of catharsis possible that’s not possible any other way that feels almost supernatural to me. So those are a few of the things I’ve been thinking about.

I’ll just read you a couple of poems from my two collections that came out last year. I had a chapbook come out from Ghost City Press called Coronations that consists of some fairy tale retellings, and I had a book come out from a press called Spuyten Duyvil called Shelter in Place, which, unfortunately, now is a phrase many more people are familiar with. I’ll read you one from Coronations first and then one from Shelter in Place. In Coronations, again, my goal was just to revisit traditional fairy tales and give some of the princesses a little bit more agency. Other writers have done this, but I wanted to try it out for myself. I’ll read you one called “Collective,” which is inspired by Swan Lake.

Collective

Somewhere adjacent to the world,
we rule, gowns our feathers.

Moonlight soaks our birch grove
blue, our webbed feet tinted green.

When stars blink out like carbonated
water, limbs re-human. We rub

ourselves with bath salts, make a bonfire,
and dance. Lake a slice of armor,

silver breastplate we surround.
When dawn begins to infiltrate

the copse with prying hand beams,
we stamp out what orange coal still smokes,

pack up our camping gear. We do not wait
around for arrows, heartbreak, drowning—

none of that. We pirouette to bird form.
We sail beyond its reach.

Okay. So that was one inspired by Swan Lake. I just always liked the character of Odette and was sad that she meets a tragic end in the original. I think in some versions all her friends, her swan attendants die with her, so it was just putting them in a contemporary setting where maybe they would have a little bit more agency.

The other poem I’ll read you is from Shelter in Place. While fairy tales are my favorite type of magic or allegory that I visit in poems, Shelter in Place has more of a cyberpunk feel. The whole book is set across a backdrop of this dystopian, futuristic city, and I tried to use that not only to talk about some of the grief and heaviness I feel when I think about some of the problems the world is facing right now—environmentally, economically, in terms of human rights, all kinds of things—to articulate the pain of living in a time where we’re facing the things we’re facing, but also to look for metaphors of hope and resistance in the face of all of that. So, I’ll read you one that was inspired by a flower I saw on a walk one day that was just bursting through the cement. It was just bursting through the sidewalk, right in front of me. There were no other flowers around—it was just this sea of concrete and then this very healthy-looking flower somehow, despite it all, against all odds, living there and thriving in the sidewalk. So, this is called “Blossoming 1.”

Blossoming 1

On these evenings our heads tilt
up and become flowers, busting
out of our collars, all iridescent.
Geranium, freesia, gladiolus
erupting straight out of our
used T-shirts. With smartphones in
our pockets—our long winter
coats. Our cheeks shift to
druzy, a spiked hymn of glitter
refracting and clutching
the siren-scraped light. The red
-green-yellow No Vacancy din. We
are all wind, all magenta. Our laughter
a rooftop vertigo, a circle of lips
on a bottle’s swan neck. Geode
heartbeats keeping time. A wallowing,
a daisy in cement.

Okay. Thanks. I’ll stop there, but thank you so much to Superstition Review for inviting me to be part of this series. Thank you for listening in. It was really fun to be part of this, and I hope you’re reading and/or writing something fun today. Thanks again!

Intern Update: Megan Kizer

Today’s Intern Update features Megan Kizer, who ran the Superstition Review’s Twitter and Tumblr accounts for Issue 14.

With a BA in English Literature and Language, Megan began working as a Content Marketing Manager for WebMD Health Services this March.

She is also still working at Milestone Retirement Communities as a Digital Content Manager as well where she has assisted 90+ retirement communities across the U.S. with digital content marketing initiatives.

We are so proud of you Megan!

To learn more about Megan, visit her LinkedIn profile here.