Today we are pleased to feature artist Sarah Morejohn as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Sarah discusses her five drawings: “Blue-Green Anise Mushroom,” “Crystallizing Almond Mushroom,” “Freezing Pine Spike,” “Pink Earth Tonguled,” and “Strawberry Blite,” that were featured in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Sarah describes these pieces as “dreams and diaries; repetitions that catch the flow of thought.” She illustrates how each drawing “is made with small, intricate dotted lines” on a piece of printmaking paper, and that “the drawings have a center, with shapes growing or navigating outwards from that center.” All of the drawings, she states, “were inspired by snow crystals,” based on a recurring dream of catching snow crystals in her hand after a hometown blizzard.
“I have been naming my work after plants and mushrooms that are primarily found in Oregon,” Sarah declares, adding that she often uses guidebooks for inspiration. “I will find a common name or likeness that resonates with the drawing,” Sarah continues, and will name the piece after it’s finished. She concludes by referencing “a phrase that I once wrote in an old sketchbook of mine: ‘Drawing is matter set into motion,’ and responds that “I must have meant that imaginatively.”
You can view Sarah’s five drawings in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author John Milas as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, John discusses his short story “Tide Roll Away,” and emphasizes the theme of the “humanity of people who wear uniforms.”
John states that “We live in a society in which we are taught to dehumanize the uniformed, regardless of our place on the political spectrum.” Whether it’s the uniformed police, members of the military, or even “the teenager behind the cash register at a fast-food franchise,” John emphasizes that we are taught to use uniforms as a way to “dehumanize and exploit” those who wear them, and to only see such individuals “as part of a larger group.”
John muses on the idea if we, as members of society, “ever interrogate the specific, detailed reasons that an individual may have for wearing [their] uniform.” Eventually, he finds that “we spend more time jumping to conclusions than we do exercising our ability…to empathize with individuals, or our imperative as artists to do so.” He concludes by quoting “fellow veteran writer” Ulf Pike, who says that “I can’t tell anybody else what they should be writing about in terms of war or the military…My responsibility is to myself, that I write from a genuine conviction…to find traction and friction and move forward.”
You can read John’s story, “Tide Roll Away,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
We listed the wrong URL for Sunny Nestler in our newsletter. Please view her author’s talk here.
Today we are pleased to feature artist Paula Izydorek as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this short video, Paula discusses five paintings from her series titled (Self) Worth, as well as her overall artistic proclivities.
Paula declares that one thing she truly enjoys about (Self) Worth is that “the image itself repeats, but the composition changes based on the wood grain,” or the materials of production. While each painting is a self-portrait, they are not exclusively portraits of Paula alone; as she states, “I like to have the viewer put themselves in the place of the face that’s in the abstract composition, and to review your own self-worth.” That way, she emphasizes, viewers can identify with the story being expressed, and “connect with the image based on their own personal experience.”
As she concludes, Paula expresses her desire that each viewer will be able to “identify with the energy around the subject, rather than get lost in the subject as a portrait.” That way, she stresses, viewers will be able to use the work as a gauge to “evaluate…where you want to be with regards to your self worth.”
You can view five paintings from Paula’s (Self) Worth series in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature poet John-Michael Bloomquist as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, John-Michael discusses how living in Poland for the past year and a half has “influenced my understanding of poetry in general, as well as given me some perspective on a question…what is the soul of American poetry?”
While John-Michael admits that he “doesn’t think he knows the answer to this question,” or that “the answer is necessarily important,” he affirms that “the question is always worth thinking about.” From his recent experience of reading several works of Polish poetry, he concludes that, “I don’t think I can say what the soul of Polish poetry is, but I can say that it has really affected my soul”, and that “by immersing myself in the poetry and trying to learn some of the language…I have been able to feel more comfortable with the question, ‘What is the soul of American poetry?’ and what it means for me.”
Based on his experiences in Poland, and the high value that Polish society in general places on poetry as the “salt of language,” as William Butler Yeats puts it, John-Michael emphasizes that “Right now, in the age of the Internet…and these politically tumultuous times that we are living in, it is really important to write poetry that speaks to the soul and to the private life that we share and that connects us to our history; poetry that makes us loyal to the truth, not only of ourselves but to the world around us.”He concludes by saying that “I have felt a heightened sense of awareness that [these themes of] morality, loyalty to truth and history… and valuing the private life over the life of the state have brought me a lot of peace and joy.”
You can read two poems by John-Michael: “The Prodigal’s Return,” and “Vajra of the Octopus,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature artist Louise Fisher as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Louise discusses the creation of her video performance “A Letter I Long and Dread to Close,” as well as her own artistic journey.
Louise begins by describing her childhood in rural Iowa, where, as she states, “the tallgrass prairie was my first art teacher.” Eventually, she declares, “my curiosity and ambition drove me… to find a community who could relate to my strange creative impulse.” In search of this creative community, she is currently pursuing her MFA in printmaking from Arizona State University, where she says that “my work is very tied to the experience of ‘place.'” Speaking on the concept of “place,” she states that, “I knew a desert metropolis was the complete opposite of my upbringing, so I wanted to challenge myself and see how my work would change.”
“A Letter I Long and Dread to Close” is, in Louise’s words, “a perfect example of…this concern with the past and the process of deterioration.” Inspired by a poem titled “Toward the Solstice,” by Adrienne Rich, the video was “informed by an interest in domestic history, and how our lived spaces can hold impressions of inhabitants.” It was filmed in a house that Louise’s mother “grew up playing in, standing next to the house that I grew up in,” and was a “site-specific response” to how “aspects of the home are often ignored” in historical narratives. In filming the video, Louise states that her first impulse was to “peel the wallpaper away and investigate what was there; to see how deep the time went, like an archaeological dig.”
You can watch Louise’s video, “A Letter I Long and Dread to Close,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Stan Sanvel Rubin as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Stan discusses two of his poems, “Entre Des Etrangers” (the meaning of which is “Between Strangers”) and “Tickle.”
Stan states that these poems “weren’t written together, although they were written fairly close in time.” While he continues that these poems weren’t “meant to be paired,” he describes how each “holds the page in a similar way— that is, they have a similar visual weight.” Each poem also has 14 lines; which, Stan admits, is unique considering that he is “instinctively drawn to 13-line units.” He emphasizes the fact that “Tickle” is a single-sentence poem, while “Entre Des Etrangers” is broken up into several sentences, and that this structure serves to reflect the overall meaning of each piece. While Stan continues that these two poems “are not sonnets, and they’re not trying to be,” he describes how both poems are “examples of what lyric poetry is especially about— the creation of a sound body…what you might call the music of each poem.”
“Each poem has some connection to narrative,” Stan continues. While “Entre Des Etrangers” , he states, “has a kind of embedded story involving two strangers coming together….’Tickle’ has a narrative instance of a young boy having just caught a trout, and holding that trout in his hand.” While each poem differs in terms of plot, Stan declares that the significance of both pieces goes “beyond the particular actions of the participants of the poem,” and is “owned again by… the way sound and words can be put together and juxtaposed in somewhat complex ways.”
You can read Stan’s two poems, “Entre Des Etrangers” and “Tickle,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Anna Geary-Meyer as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Anna discusses the process of creating her short story, “Natural People,” which she says was “born through a writing exercise.”
Anna describes how one day, in a writing workshop sponsored by The Reader Berlin, she was given an assignment to write on the mythical “Adaro” creature. Based on her having worked in several different startups at the time, she “ended up fashioning this…merman-like spirit into a hyper-exercised, hyper-optimized boss character,” who acts as a negative force in the life of the protagonist. This, she says, relates to the overall theme of animals in her story, and the degree to which they’re found throughout the piece.
Anna states that the “crux of the story is the main character’s realization that, to find a home in the world, she has to make one herself,” and that, while “I didn’t write with this theme in mind, it’s where I was at as a person.” She continues that the main character “could only really begin to find a home in herself and her environment…when she accepts this feeling of being lost”, which occurs both literally and metaphorically. Eventually, Anna concludes, the main character is able to “find a rhythm in her own body.”
Today we are pleased to feature author William Auten as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, William discusses the role of memory and detail in his short story, “Something in the Way.”
William states that he wrote “Something in the Way” as “a way to connect unsettling personal and cultural events.” The story, he says, “combines fact and fiction,” and “blurs imagined scenarios with real-life experiences.” He declares that these memories can be “broad and abstract enough to point to their universal application,” while, in the confines of the story, be susceptible to “amplifying, editing, or renovating.”
William emphasizes that people share “similar traits, feelings, and reactions,” and that “mundane details” in a story can heighten the reader’s empathetic response. However, he says, these “mundane details have to play off of what the piece aims for; its overall effect.” He concludes by stating that “‘Something in the Way’ is an act of fiction, even the parts that I didn’t have to make up.”
Today we are pleased to feature author Melissa Olson-Petrie as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Melissa discusses the inspiration behind her short story, “To Walk Chalk.”
As Melissa reflects on the story, she says that she’s “surprised by how much family lore has been an inspiration.” To her, she says, “the biggest inspiration was the setting: a Victorian house my great-great-grandfather built in 1898, in a Wisconsin town known for its tobacco farming.” She describes an experience that she had as a twelve-year-old, where she was told that “they embalmed people in the basement,” and how it “gave me a Gothic twist on a seemingly typical Victorian home.”
In addition, Melissa explains the meaning behind the phrase “To walk chalk,” and its relationship to field sobriety tests. She says that the phrase “seemed to resonate with the struggles and the whiskey consumption of the main character.” She describes the police scanner that her grandfather would periodically use to “see what was happening across town,” and how this true-to-life detail “took on new significance” in the story. In the end, she says, “every once in a while” as she writes stories, details like these will “come back, like an unearthed gemstone.”
You can read Melissa’s story, “To Walk Chalk,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Kelly Hill as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Kelly discusses two books she has recently read that both inspire and enlighten her: Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick, by Maya Dusenbery, and We Show What We Have Learned & Other Stories, by Clare Beams.
Kelly states that Dusenbery’s book is interesting because it “looks at the systemic sexism that is present in the medical condition.” In the book, Kelly continues, Dusenbery interviews several woman who have been medically misdiagnosed and were told, upon visiting the doctor, that their physical symptoms were simply due to stress. In addition, Kelly discusses Dusenbery’s approach to medical research, showing how, until recently, such research was practically “only done on men,” and the repercussions this can contain for women’s health.
Kelly’s discussion of the second book, We Show What We Have Learned & Other Stories, focuses on Beams’ ability to craft beautiful descriptions of characters. Kelly quotes a passage from one of Beams’ stories, “World’s End,” and admires the high degree of authorial skill that can be seen in various descriptive passages. Kelly concludes by thanking all listeners of her podcast, expressing her hope that “you’re working on a project that inspires you, and one that you’re happy to return to every day.”
You can read Kelly’s story, “The Neighbor,” in Issue 14 of Superstition Review.