EJ Levy author photo

Keeping Alive a Feminist and Transgender Icon


Congratulations are in order for past contributor E.J. Levy, whose newest book, The Cape Doctor, was released this summer. E.J. was kind enough to send us her own description of the book, found below.


I’m delighted to have had my debut novel, The Cape Doctor, out from Little Brown on June 15th, after nearly a decade of work. The book is inspired by the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry–born Margaret Ann Bulkley circa 1795 in Cork, Ireland–a brilliant, irascible, dandified, army surgeon who advocated for the rights of the marginalized and was the first person known to perform a successful caesarian in Africa; Barry was caught in a sodomy scandal with the aristocratic governor of Cape Town (then the Cape Colony) in 1824, and eventually rose to the level of Inspector General, only to be discovered after death to have been “a perfect female” and to have carried a pregnancy late to term.

In the 150 years since Barry died, the doctor has been celebrated as both a feminist icon (as the first female-born person to receive a medical degree in the UK, 50 years before Elizabeth Garrett Anderson would, and 35 years before Elizabeth Blackwell would earn her degree in the US) and more recently as a trans icon. Both are valid interpretations in my view. I agree with biographer Jeremy Dronfield (author of Dr. James Barry: A Woman Ahead of Her Time) who has said that he sees validity in both a feminist and a trans reading of Barry’s life, but he rejects any effort to impose one interpretation to the exclusion of the other or to present one as definitive. Mine is one reading of a richly ambiguous historical record of the fascinating and courageous life of Margaret Bulkley and James Barry. In writing the book, I was aiming for something like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando–in which the protagonist changes sex over centuries–but I think I’ve ended up with something closer to Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield.

I have changed Barry’s name to be clear that mine is a work of fiction. But it has felt at times more like a seance. I first learned of Barry on a trip to Cape Town; as we traveled around the city and into the countryside, I felt a little possessed by that spirit, as if Dr. Barry was whispering in my ear; I’m delighted that others have a chance to hear that same voice now. 

I’m gratified that Booklist has given The Cape Doctor a Starred Review, calling it “Remarkable…Absolutely superb… beautifully written…In sum, an unforgettable work of art that deserves raves.” The book was also named among Barnes & Noble’s “Best 100 Books of Summer” and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

I hope The Cape Doctor helps bring wider attention to and awareness of the remarkable life of both Margaret and James.


The Cape Doctor is published by Little Brown and available for purchase from Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, and Amazon.

E.J. was interviewed by SR about her story collection Love, In Theory in Issue 16. Keep up with what else E.J. is up to on her website and Twitter.

Anna B Sutton author photo (Credit Jasper & Fern)

“Savage Flower” Doesn’t Shy Away From Heavy Themes


Summer 2021 was a fruitful season for our past contributors! We’re back to announce another contributor’s new book: Anna B. Sutton’s poetry collection Savage Flower. Anna’s debut book includes “Postpartum,” which was featured in Issue 13. Savage Flower, winner of the 2019 St. Lawrence Book Award, centers on women in the American South. Reproductive rights, gender, religion, oppression, and family are just some of the timely and weighty topics brought up.

Make no mistake: the poems in Savage Flower will break you open with their beauty, with their unflinching ability to turn and keep the gaze on the moments of life so painful we try not to look at them: death and abandonment, injury and loss. Through Sutton’s work, we see the world as a continual process of loss and gain, of departure and return, in which “like prayer, waves fall back against the earth.” But these poems break you in a way that heals you, that continuously reminds you that despite its deaths and losses, this world still “[a] thing of beauty that / blossoms even as it withers.”

Emma Bolden, Author of House Is an Enigma

Savage Flower is available for purchase from Black Lawrence Press and Anna kindly mentions SR in the acknowledgements. Learn lots more about Anna and her work on her website and Twitter. Congratulations, Anna!

The Thicket cover

Kasey Jueds Leaves No Stones Unturned


We are excited to share that past contributor Kasey Jueds is releasing a poetry collection, The Thicket, this November. Jueds’ poem “The Tool Shed” was featured in Issue 25. She is also the author of the poetry collection Keeper.

As its name suggests, The Thicket evokes themes of the natural world and poems often center on the less-prominent aspects of nature. Unique to this collection, the reader contends with an undefined force: it may be self, God, both, neither. Advance praise describes The Thicket as timely, serene, and observant.

Long after finishing The Thicket, I felt rocked inside its motion, a music made of wind and river current, blood, breath and wingbeat. In poem after poem Jueds leads us across the natural world, turned fabular by lavishly lyric detail, to passages unseen, through which deer spotted one moment vanish the next. The Thicket is a true beauty of a book, fully awake to the many spells of our existence.

Kathy Fagan, author of Sycamore

The Thicket will be available in November, 2021, from University of Pittsburgh Press. You can pre-order the collection from Pitt or Bookshop. Find more from Kasey on her website and Twitter. Congratulations, Kasey!

Contributor Update, Paul Luikart

Contributor Update, Paul Luikart


We’re so excited to share that past contributor Paul Luikart has published a new book! The Museum of Heartache, a short story collection, debuted this week from Pski’s Porch Publishing.

Paul Luikart earns his spot on the shortlist of writers who can sink you right into the skin of a character in only a few lines. This collection of stories, some almost poetry, captures moments in his characters’ lives when they aren’t just down and out but squeezed in the vice of their circumstances, whether peculiar or mundane. In their shoes, you’ll grapple with what it means to be fully human and come out the other side changed.

Audrey Keown, Author of the Ivy Nichols Mysteries

The book includes Paul’s story “Blessed Assurance,” originally published by Superstition Review in Issue 22. That story touches on the reality of things we may never expect to encounter, framed by the binaries of heaven and hell, alive and dead. It’s an honest and intense glimpse into a life the narrator wanted to escape. Yet we leave the story hopeful. To read “Blessed Assurance,” click here.

The Museum of Heartache is available on Amazon and more information can be found on the Pski’s Porch website. Check out Paul on Twitter.

Contributor Update, Marieken Cochius

Contributor Update, Marieken Cochius

Frequency #51, by Marieken Cochius
Frequency #51, by Marieken Cochius, 2021. Inks on paper 22 x 30 in.

We are pleased to share that past contributor Marieken Cochius’s art will be on show this fall at the Lockwood Gallery in Kingston, New York! The exhibit, One Thing Leads to Another, features the contemporary, abstractionist work of Marieken and four others: Karlos Carcamo, Meg Hitchcock, Matthew Langley, and Greg Slick. Pieces from Marieken’s recent “Frequencies” series, such as the one seen above, will be on display, some for the first time. These layered ink on paper drawings capture transient moments in nature and their innate energy. The effect is enchanting.

[Marieken Cochius’s] work is continually evolving formally while consistently and skillfully expressing a passion for the beauty, mystery, and meaningfulness of the natural world. A visit to her website will reveal many variations on the art of abstraction in media that include oil painting, sculpture, and works on paper. There is nevertheless a consistency in her visual language that runs through its many dialects. She’s after a certain kind of energy that can’t be easily captured and held; it can only be experienced and communicated directly. The pieces in this show are records of awakening realized over time and can be seen as a call to the viewer to share a revelatory experience. … A tapestry of these visual moments gradually weaves itself together into a whole. Without specific identifiable imagery to grasp onto Cochius invites us to join in the conscious emergence of the cosmos.

Carl Van Brunt Beacon, The Lockwood Gallery

One Thing Leads to Another runs September 4th until October 3rd. For more information, visit the Lockwood Gallery website. To view Marieken’s art in Issue 25, click here. And don’t forget to check out Marieken’s website and social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Saatchi Art.

Contributor Update, Joy Lanzendorfer

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributor Joy Lanzendorfer on her forthcoming book, Right Back Where We Started From, out May 4th. In this debut novel, Joy tells the story of Sandra Sanborn, an eager young women looking to be discovered in Hollywood during 1930s, whose life is thrown off track when she receives a letter from a man who says he is her father. Through this narrative, Joy creates “a sweeping, multigenerational work of fiction that explores the lust for ambition that entered into the American consciousness during the Gold Rush and how it affected our nation’s ideas of success, failure, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s a meticulously layered saga—at once historically rich, romantic, and suspenseful—about three determined and completely unforgettable women.”

“From the California Gold Rush to the to the San Francisco earthquake, through the Great Depression and World War II, Joy Lanzendorfer artfully weaves a beautifully textured saga. Yearnings, secrets, and shame shape the lives of three generations of American women as they dare to question the rigid societal expectations that confine them to proscribed roles and stifle ambition. Gripping prose and complex and memorable characters make this shining debut novel a pleasure to read.”

Liza Nash Taylor, author of Etiquette for Runaways and the forthcoming In All Good Faith.

To pre-order your copy of Right Back Where We Started From click here. Also, be sure to check out Joy’s website and Twitter as well as her past work in Issue 5.

Contributor Update, John Nieves

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributor John Nieves on his new poetry collection, Curio, out now. Winner of the 13th Annual Elixir Press Poetry Award, Curio, with a lens of curiosity, explores a wide range of topics, including the significance of humans and the traces we leave behind.

“Augury— ‘the bones’/ can only reveal what is asked of them,’ John A. Nieves writes in this stunning first book. Part scientist, part shaman, Nieves is unswervingly intelligent and deftly imaginative at knowing what to ask of the world. Human-scale, empathetic, and far-reaching, these poems engage the full range of the curiosity at the root of curio: the epistemological work of a mind turning/returning. From a father’s machine work to Schrodinger’s cat, archeology, bloodwork, and language, Nieves reminds us of the ‘magic / in the artifact’ and ‘in the making.”

Alexandra Teague, author of The Principles Behind Flotation

To order your copy of Curio click here. Be sure to also check out John’s website as well as his past work in Issue 9 and 15.

Contributor Update, Alissa Nutting and Dean Bakopoulous

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributors Alissa Nutting and Dean Bakopoulos on their forthcoming show, Made for Love, out April 1st on HBO Max. Made for Love is a dark comedy, based on Alissa’s novel of the same name (awarded the best book of 2017 by GQ, The New Yorker and NPR), of which the first two episodes are produced by Dean Bakopoulos. The show will star actress Cristin Milioti as a woman who escapes her marriage only to find that her husband, played by Billy Magnussen, has implanted her with a tracking device. She then goes to seek refuge with her father, actor Ray Romano, and alarmingly, his sex doll. Through this plot, the show explores themes such as divorce, revenge, and the depths of both love and destruction.

Be sure to check out both Alissa’s and Dean’s Twitters as well as their websites (Alissa’s and Dean’s) and our interviews with them in Issue 20.

Contributor Update, Christopher Nelson

Join Superstition Review on congratulating past contributor Christopher Nelson on his new poetry collection, Blood Aria, out now. “In his powerful debut, Christopher Nelson examines the progenitors and forms of violence in the twenty-first century, from Cain and Abel to the damming of rivers. In everyday moments, spare poems depict pain with visceral sharpness, meditating on hate crimes against gay men, a father’s abuse of his son, and children murdered in their schools.” “There is loneliness in this poetry…but there is also redemption. We see glimpses of the speaker’s quest to find and know God, seeking answers everywhere, from Spanish cathedrals filled with holy relics to withered winter fields. The poems of Blood Aria ruminate on the sacrament of passing one day to the next, asking how much it matters what we believe.”

“In meditations ranging from a child’s incomprehension of a father’s violence to the suffering of those cast out for their sexual desires to the horror of mass shootings, the poems of Blood Aria pulse with an urgency that is both anguished and exalted. And transformative. To experience poems as passionate, as charged with wisdom as these is to enter into a kind of spiritual quest.”

Boyer Rickel, author of Remanence

To order your copy of Blood Aria click here. Also be sure to check out Christopher’s Twitter and website as well as his past work in Issue 15.

Contributor Update, Kelli Russell Agodon

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributor, Kelli Russell Agodon, on her forthcoming book, Dialogues with Rising Tides, out April 27th. Kelli, in this poetry collection, “facilitates a humane and honest conversation with the forces that threaten to take us under. The anxieties and heartbreaks of life―including environmental collapse, cruel politics, and the persistent specter of suicide―are met with emotional vulnerability and darkly sparkling humor. Dialogues with Rising Tides passionately exclaims that even in the midst of great difficulty, radiant wonders are illuminated at every turn.”

“Kelli Russell Agodon’s poems in Dialogues with Rising Tides, her strongest book to date, navigate everyday anxieties and dramatic questions of life-or-death with equal doses of pathos and humor, reminding us that our choices in a world of chaos add up to something, reminding us of the responsibility to ‘care for our ghosts.’ Her interior world is lined with fragments of family tragedy while her outer world confounds her, the rising tides of environmental collapse, not a metaphor but a reality. Her oceanic views of the world teeter on the edge of a cocktail or a gunshot. Funny, sad, and a perfect read for unsettling times.”

Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of Field Guide to the End of the World

To pre-order your copy of Dialogues with Rising Tides click here. Also, be sure to check out Kelli’s website and Twitter as well as her past work in Issue 3.