Michelle Brafman’s Swimming With Ghosts

Michelle Brafman’s Swimming With Ghosts


In Michelle Brafman’s forthcoming novel Swimming With Ghosts, published by Keylight Books, she explores the darkness and humor of children’s competitive swimming. Themes of family secrets, obsession and friendships shine through the lenses of childhood and the feuding families of the characters.

I really enjoyed Swimming with Ghosts, for the excellent characters, unusual plot inside the world of local competitive swimming, the fine writing, and the frequent insights and humor. I raced right through it.

ANNE LAMOTT, author of Bird by Bird

Michelle Brafman’s writing has been featured in Lilith Magazine, LitHub, and San Francisco Book Review. She has received numerous awards for her fiction, including a Special Mention in the 2010 Pushcart Prize Anthology, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story prize, and first place in the Lilith Magazine Fiction contest. In 2019 she received the Excellence in Teaching Award for creative writing. Swimming With Ghosts will be her third published novel after Bertrand Court (2016) and Washing the Dead (2015).

Swimmers and readers rejoice! Michelle Brafman’s Swimming with Ghosts is proof that the most important events in life happen at the pool. Fast-paced and frequently hilarious, we unsuspectingly float on the novel’s wry, quirky humor until we’re suddenly over deep water, gazing into the depths of our need for purpose, friendship, and love. Anyone heading to a pool or beach this summer should have a copy of Swimming with Ghosts in their swim bag.

DAVID MCGLYNN, author of A Door in the Ocean

Swimming With Ghosts releases June 13th, 2023 and can be pre-ordered here. Learn more about Michelle Brafman’s writing and teaching by visiting her website. Her short story “Brain Freeze” was featured in Superstition Review issue 13.

Michelle Matthees’ Complicated Warding


Michelle Matthees’ latest book of poetry—Complicated Warding—is ambitious in its form and message, a captivating examination of history through a contemporary lens. As described by Matthees, it’s an “inmate case file stuffed with assorted poems, images, and historical texts about institutionalization at the turn of the last century.” Old photographs and state records are interspersed between Matthees’ poignant poems, which shine as imaginings of what the people in the pictures might have been thinking, altered records, and current musings. These pictures are on semi-transparent vellum, the words visible through the faces.

Matthees’ poetry in this collection is elusive, bizarre, and almost uncertain. It leaves out unnecessary words and lets the reader do the work of connecting, which makes it all the more rewarding when meaning begins to form. During the “State Hospital” section, her lines flow into one another with a unique, stream-of-consciousness style: “…my antlers, / my fin, my jaundiced claw / (I need this for killing) / but not in a way that should scare you / though it might if you’re smart.”

In contrast, her “State Reformatory for Men” section removes itself from the minds of the documented. Instead, Matthees examines the records from a modern place, grounding her readers: “I work through the archived noise / of one hundred years in a box. / I drop my pencil and reach / into your corner. You retreat / with your odd geometry of eyes. / How must I touch you?”

With an excellent eye for detail, Matthees’ poems and use of photography, records, and paintings create a unique texture. Even in its abstractions, however, her words spark delightfully in both the past, the present, and the ties between the two. She contemplates life, violence, and death with the precision of a surgeon: “…you’ve just begun to pick at the scab of / your very own demise.”


To purchase Complicated Warding, go here.

Michelle Matthees is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s MFA program in Creative Writing. She has received grants and awards from The Jerome Foundation, The Minnesota State Arts Board, The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, AWP, and other arts organizations. Her work has appeared in Memorious, PANK, The Prose Poem Project, The Bellingham Review, J Journal, 22 Magazine, and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Flucht, was published in 2016. To learn more, visit her website.

Two of Matthees’ poems—”Distinguishing Marks” and “Skeleton #1018. 1903. Lake Como.”—were published in Issue 20 of Superstition Review.

Jane Satterfield

Jane Satterfield’s The Badass Brontës

Jane Satterfield’s poetry collection The Badass Brontës, published by Diode Editions, explores the lives and legacy of the Brontë sisters, some of the most iconic literary figures of the 19th century Jane’s poetry illuminates the traumas, decisions, and aspirations of Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Brontë.

Jane Satterfield’s beautiful new collection The Badass Brontës reimagines the world of the Brontë sisters. With a range of forms including ekphrasis, letters, a cento, a sestina and even a quiz—“Which Brontë sister are you?”—Satterfield’s poems are both daring and inventive. The poems investigate the Brontës’ vivid world of imagination and envision the sisters’ lives in our present moment, during the pandemic lockdown and the climate crisis. I love The Badass Brontës for its lyric grace but also for its boldness and wit. As Satterfield writes in the poem “Volumes,” “A book’s an invitation, / excoriation, sustenance, pilgrimage…” and this exhilarating book is all of this and more.

—Nicole Cooley, author of Girl after Girl after Girl

In 2022, Jane wrote about her interest in the history of the sisters as their images filtered through pop culture in a PopPoetry article. It’s a wonderful look into her enthusiasm for writing about literary influences throughout history.

“Would you / say the here & now is a horizon / to eternity?” asks the poet of Emily Brontë in the proem that introduces Jane Satterfield’s remarkable new collection. With consummate empathy, the poems of The Badass Brontës seek nothing less than to interfuse historical, personal, and artistic horizons, and do so with such formal and tonal vibrancy they accomplish something close to a co-presence of the Brontës’ haunting and haunted world and our own fraught and frangible one. In Satterfield’s work, the voices of these figures emerge as from a proverbial mind-meld with the poet’s, such that every detail feels conjured alive, awake, so each becomes, like all of us, “one bright strand / in the story of time & / vanishing.” 

Daniel Tobin, author of Blood Labors

You can pre-order The Badass Brontës here. Visit Jane’s website here. Her nonfiction piece “Mother Tongue” appeared in issue 17.

Deborah Bogen’s Speak Now This Charm


In her latest poetry collection Speak Now This Charm, published by Jacar Press, Deborah Bogen explores grief, trauma, and vulnerability with concise and moving poems. Her collection is exquisitely succinct and profoundly gorgeous, with her poems ranging from one to three paragraphs, none longer than a page. Each word she chooses is necessary and stunning, and each poem stacks on top of the other like building blocks, creating a vast tapestry of experiences and states of mind that we rarely go looking for. In her poem “About Anesthesia,” Bogen finishes with the line, “That’s the beauty of the near- / death experience. You snuggle right up to / zero, but you’re not afraid.”

Ultimately, Bogen’s collection is a deep contemplation on how death impacts each and every one of us—whether it’s friends or family members’ deaths or our own. Her poems provide a strange sort of comfort for this inevitability of life: “Tonight, I will surrender this busy pulse and / accept their stagnant blood as mine.”

I loved reading “In Case of Sudden Free Fall,” Deborah Bogen’s beautiful and remarkable oneiric prose poem collection. A delicious gem, it takes the reader on a soulful and transformative journey. Under Bogen’s expert guidance, we travel from enchantment to melancholy, to surprising encounters with literary and artistic figures, to loss and death, and back to wonder. I’ll keep revisiting this collection time and again.

Hélèna Cardona, praise for In case of sudden free fall

To purchase Speak Now This Charm, go here.

Deborah Bogen is a poet and novelist. She has four prize-winning collections of poetry, including In Case of Sudden Free Fall, Let Me Open You a Swan, and Landscape with Silos. Speak Now This Charm is Bogen’s attempt to create her own form—the box poem—while including the box as a central image in the work. When she’s not making poems, she writes songs, plays guitar, sings in the family band and tries (with an ardent band of local activists) to elect ethical candidates locally and nationally. Bogen invites email responses at dbbogen@aol.com. To learn more, visit her website.

Deborah Bogen’s poetry appeared in Issue 12 and Issue 21 of Superstition Review.

Jenny Wu’s Solo Exhibition at Morton Fine Art

Jenny Wu’s Solo Exhibition at Morton Fine Art

We are ecstatic about Jenny Wu’s solo exhibition Ai Yo! at Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C. featuring her sculptural paintings. Wu’s work combines latex paint and resin on wood panels to explore “tactility, in-betweenness, embodiedness, and construction,” an approach she has been refining for nearly a decade.

To view more pieces from Ai Yo! and read about Wu’s process for creating her artwork, visit the exhibition page. The exhibition opened on February 8th and is viewable until March 8th. Gallery hours are appointment only. Information about pricing and appointments for in-person viewing is available by contacting info@mortonfineart.com

Jenny Wu’s art and upcoming exhibitions can be found on her website. Her sculptural paintings were featured in issue 30.

#ArtLitPhx

Unintended Consequences: Artistic Collaboration between Three Past Contributors

Artists Carolyn Lavender, Monica Aissa Martinez, and Mary Shindell, known for their previous exhibit Creature-Man-Nature at Mesa Art Center, have come together for a project titled Unintended Consequences to be showcased at Center Space at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The project tells the story of life in Arizona through a combination of biology, botany, and zoology, all expressed in paintings done by the three artists.

Registration and directions can be found by visiting the Center Space’s website here. Their project’s opening ceremony is on Friday, February 17th from 7:00PM to 8:00PM Arizona time. Tickets are free. Beyond the opening ceremony, the group’s paintings can be viewed at the Center Space from February 17th through May 28th.

Carolyn Lavender and Monica Aissa Martinez’s drawings were featured in issue 9. Mary Shindell’s artwork appeared in issue 11. Learn more about them and their works: Carolyn Lavender’s website, Monica Aissa Martinez’s website, and Mary Shindell’s website.

Lee Upton’s The Day Every Day Is

Lee Upton’s The Day Every Day Is

Congratulations to Lee Upton for her upcoming poetry collection and winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize The Day Every Day Is, published by Saturnalia Books. Described asattentive to suffering,” Upton’s poems explore torture throughout the ages, grief, illness, and “the blasting of innocence.”

Lee Upton’s language is limpid and shimmering. Her voice is transparent and entirely her own. Her mind is clear and focused and profoundly informed. Her tone is casual, intimate, inviting. And all these elements conspire together in her work to create utterly convincing yet unexpected and unanticipated lyrical presentiments and precisions of awareness and insight. Her poems startle by what they show us of the world, and astonish us by the way they take root and live in our minds.

Vijay Seshadri, author of the Pulitzer prizewinning 3 Sections

Lee Upton is the author of fifteen books, including The Day Every Day Is; two short story collections; an award-winning novella, The Guide to the Flying Island; an essay collection; and six additional books of poetry and four books of literary criticism.  Her first collection of stories, The Tao of Humiliation, received starred reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal as well as strongly positive reviews from The New York Times, PublishersWeekly, and BooklistKirkus selected the collection for their listing of “The Best Books of 2014,” one of eleven collections in the short story category that included titles by international authors, among them Alice Munro and Hilary Mantel. Her second collection of short stories, Visitations, was listed in “Best of the Indies 2017” by Kirkus.

Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and in three editions of The Best American Poetry as well as in The New Yorker, The New Republic, American Poetry Review, The Atlantic, and other magazines.  Her awards include the Pushcart Prize; the Open Book Award; the Lyric Poetry Award and The Writer/Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America; the Miami University Novella Prize; and Book of the Year Award in the category of books on writing from Foreword Review for Swallowing the Sea: On Writing and Ambition, Boredom, Purity and Secrecy.

Pre-order The Day Every Day Is here. Learn more about Lee Upton by visiting her website.

Her short story After the Party appeared in issue 17.

Sherrie Flick

Flash Fiction America, Co-edited by Sherrie Flick

Congratulations to Sherrie Flick for co-editing the upcoming flash fiction anthology Flash Fiction America with John Dufresne and James Thomas, published by W. W. Norton & Company. The anthology features 73 stories examining the breadth of the American experience.

Thomas, Flick, and Dufresne’s elegant anthology brims with economical, well-crafted prose…[Flash Fiction America] showcases a multitude of talent.

Publishers Weekly

Literary Cleveland will be showcasing the anthology through its annual, remote Flash Fiction Festival from February 19th to February 25th. Register by February 17th to participate in the festival. The festival will feature workshops offered by authors and editors from Flash Fiction America including Aimee Bender, Venita Blackburn, Desiree Cooper, and John Dufresne.

The anthology will see many in-person readings as well, including a reading panel at the AWP conference hosted in Seattle with Chauan Craig, Rion Amilcar Scott, Terese Svoboda, and Venita Blackburn. Flash Fiction America will be read Friday, March 10th, during the conference’s time at Seattle Convention Center from March 8th to March 10th.

Later, on March 30th, an in-person book and reading will take place at the White Whale bookstore and Bottlerocket Social Hall in Pittsburgh. Those expected to attend include Tyrese Coleman, Bergita Bugarija, Dave Housley, Chauna Craig, Gwen Kirby, Desiree Cooper, and potentially Terese Svoboda.

Finally, back in the west coast, the anthology will be featured at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California on May 6th and 7th.

These deeply original stories create a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of experience.

Booklist

Pre-order Flash Fiction America before its February 14th release here. Learn more about Sherrie Flick by visiting her website, connecting with her on twitter @sherrieflick, following her on instagram, and checking out her facebook page. Her nonfiction piece Not Talking About Sage was featured in issue 10.

Flotsam, a mixed media art piece by Valyntina Grenier

Valyntina Grenier’s Exhibit at ShockBoxx Project Gallery

We are thrilled to share that past contributor Valyntina Grenier’s art is being featured as part of ShockBoxx Project Gallery’s show Intergalactic Open. Intergalactic Open had an in-person opening on Saturday, January 14th in Hermosa Beach. The show can be enjoyed online through Artsy until January 29th.

Grenier’s featured piece Flotsam was designed to be hung in any orientation as the curator or collector pleases. To learn more about Valyntina Grenier, visit her website. You can also connect with her through Instagram at @valyntinagrenier.

Valyntina Grenier’s art appeared in issue 30.

A photo of Luanne Castle

Luanne Castle’s Rooted and Winged


Congratulations to Luanne Castle for her newest poetry collection Rooted and Winged, published by Finishing Line Press. It explores the relationship between flying and falling, the earth and the sky. Even when soaring, the poetry is grounded in small observations.

The poems of Luanne Castle’s Rooted and Winged are embedded in land and weather. “Bluegills snap up larvae in slivers of illusory light,” she writes early in the collection, hinting at the sensibilities of the companionable speaker who will usher us through the book. She sees. She is open to the world out there. She calls herself “unknown but solid,” a teller of “tiny limitless tales.” She is engaged in the retrieval of generational memory: “one hairbrush, a plastic ball / a swaying branch, leaves decaying / the insides of my grandmothers’ fridges / bubble and pop into shards of memory / dangerous to the touch,” she writes, enacting the progression from concrete detail to concrete memory to the kind of numinous memory that can be combustible. How rare it is, to discover a writer who notices that “Grandma used to stand under the bulb over the sink that haloed her and pearlized the onions she chopped,” who can bring language to this: “When the last star falls to the others, / it darkens like the hush in a theatre, / a twinkling or two from silence.” There is no arrogance in this book, but there is power.

Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets, Four-Legged Girl, and Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl

Luanne Castle’s work has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, The American Journal of Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Verse Daily, Saranac Review, Lunch Ticket, River Teeth, and elsewhere. Her first poetry collection, Doll God, won the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award and was published by Aldrich Press. To learn more, visit her website.

Rooted and Winged is a fitting title for this collection of poems that plant themselves in reality but often hint at the surreal. Throughout, Luanne Castle has mastered sound and image: “I’ve done my best with feet and fists, my small / lungs blossoming like paper flowers in water…” The poem that lingers most for me is “A Year in Bed, with Windows” in which stark details create a palpable intimacy.

Karen Paul Holmes, author of No Such Thing as Distance

To purchase Rooted and Winged, go here.

Two of Luanne Castle’s poems—”One of Her Parents was a Float” and “Girl”—appeared in Issue 25 of Superstition Review.