Congratulations to Sam Sax for his recent poem Hangover 1.1.2019 published in ZYZZYVA’s issue 117.
Sam Sax is a queer, Jewish, writer & educator. He is the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series selected by Terrance Hayes & bury it (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Sam has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, Lambda Literary, & the MacDowell Colony.
I am convinced that our best writing comes from
outside ourselves, which is the opposite of what I used to think when I first
started penning poetry and short stories. I used to think that my writing was
sacred in a sense that it was a part of me, my inner being, my ego. And because
of this, it was difficult to revise, to tear down anything that I had built.
But over the years I have completely reversed this notion. My best writing seems
to come when I let myself fall away or dissolve, and I am able to tap into a
universal consciousness, the source, the muse. It is more like channeling than
thinking; In fact, thinking just gets in the way. Sena Naslund claims to have
channeled her entire brilliant novel, Ahab’s
Wife. And when I wrote “Reenactment” all of Sir Parker’s dialogue came from
this ‘other’ place. I didn’t write his voice; I heard his voice. Now, not to
get too woo-woo on you—I don’t really know where this voice comes from, but I
think it’s something we, as writers, need to cultivate in order to work on a
higher, deeper level. Writing is not easy; we can use all the help we can get.
So here is how I go about inviting the muse into my
writing studio: I read somewhere a while
ago that we should visualize our muse, personify him/her. I visualize my muse
as a flamboyant red-headed lady decked out in silk scarves and bangles,
stretched out on a chaise lounge in her flowing brightly-colored skirt and
blouse. I make her a cup of tea and serve it in a fancy china cup with matching
saucer. She has discerning taste and is used to being pampered and surrounded
by the finest things in life. She is not a snob; but she expects the best from
me, and is willing to help if I am open and accepting. There are days, of
course, that she doesn’t show up. Perhaps she is busy helping others, or is not
convinced that I am serious about writing that day. Our material presence is
not enough. We must be fully present; not splitting our attention with social
media, or Amazon, or Pinterest. . . Not an easy thing to do in these times that
cater to the cultivation of short attention span. But if we expect to get help
from the universe, the source, the muse we must give her our full attention. And,
go ahead, give her a name. I call my muse Frida and have, at times, had lively
conversations with her (in my head).
One such conversation:
thank you so much for being here.
Frida: Think nothing of it, darling.
Me: I’ll try my best.
Frida (waving her hand): Dream away. I’ll orchestrate
Me: Then who
will sing the song?
Frida: The song is already sung.
She can be maddening at times, evasive, and elusive, but
patience and commitment are key. And once you have both settled in, the magic
will begin. You will come to love her; and she, despite her seemingly
indifference at times, will come to be fond of you. As Beethoven wrote, “Music from my fourth year began to be
the first of my youthful occupations. Thus early acquainted with the gracious
muse who tuned my soul to pure harmonies, I became fond of her, and, as it
often seemed to me, she of me.”
Superstition Review is holding a panel from 2:15 to 2:45 on Getting Published in Literary Journals, come meet some of the interns behind our magazine and hear from them and author Scott Daughtridge DeMer!
RSVP for our event here. Note: You do not need to RSVP to attend this event and RSVP’s do not guarantee a seat.
Join us in congratulating Sarah Vap on her book, Winter: Effulgences and Devotions. It is available from Noemi Press here. Recently, Cutbank has done an extensive interview with Sarah discussing Winter, talking about where the book sprung from and the process of its creation.
Winter is the product of years of work, documenting Sarah’s struggle to write a single poem while she confronts other thoughts, raises her family, and forces herself to remember to remember the world at large.
Join us in congratulating past SR fiction contributor Teague von Bohlen on the publication of his newest book, Flatland. It’s available on amazon and from Bronze Man Books. Heavy Feather Review recently posted an interview with Teague on Flatland where they discussed Flatland‘s inspiration and Teague’s delve into flash fiction.
Flatland is filled with stories and photos of Midwest small-town life. Documenting this ever changing, yet always familiar landscape in short fiction pieces.
To learn more about Teague and his work you can visit his website. You can also read his three flash fiction pieces featured in Issue 10 of Superstition Review.
Kirsten Voris is a featured essayist in the recently released anthology Expat Sofra (Alfa). Available in Turkish and English editions, this follow up to Tales from the Expat Harem (2006) features 33 essays by foreign women residing in Turkey who write about food: eating it, being healed by it, and learning to appreciate Turkish food culture. Each essay is accompanied by a recipe.
When the cold
water soaks through my hair to ice my scalp I think this is your punishment. I neglected to pay my gas bill last month,
for no reason beyond carelessness. I thought I’d set it to auto-pay like I had
the rest of my bills. Now that I’ve put everything I can on a subscription
service—tampons, razor blades, toothbrush head refills—I feel indignant when
anyone expects me to remember to pay for something by a specific date. The
maintenance guy from my apartment complex looked slightly sheepish, slightly
amused when he explained why my hot water was off. There are books strewn all
over my floor, some piled atop the long cardboard boxes containing Ikea
bookshelves I have yet to assemble. I get it. I’m a mess. And when I tell this
story to my friends I’ll make a joke of it, but as I lower my head into the
cold stream I ask myself, as I so often have, why are you unable to function in the world?
Incompetent. It’s what my ex called me, shouting
through the morning’s peace on a Charleston beach when he didn’t like how I was
walking the dog. Swimming away from him, salt water stinging my tear-raw cheeks,
I knew I had to do it, finally—leave the solid comforts of the life he’d built
around me for the vast unknown which beckoned, beautifully, as the mist cleared
and the sun began to reassert itself. All summer I’d be caught between the sad
task of nursing a doomed long term relationship into periods of stability and
falling in love with a friend who made me feel like I was in college again. I’d
been going out dancing every weekend, taking pickleback shots and writing like
I hadn’t since senior year, when I felt fancy drinking bottles of Barefoot
Moscato, when the dresser I’d put together incorrectly was falling apart and my
clothes were strewn across the floor, when I was sleeping with athletes and fretting
over nerdy boys who didn’t want to commit and starting fights about feminism at
bars with my poet friends with whom I’d roll into class the next morning
sporting neon wristbands and last night’s eye makeup. That year, the poems just
flowed. Something about the messiness of life, the highs and lows, the
devastation giving way to excitement giving way to floods of drunken tears—
I don’t mean to
romanticize it. I’ve been working in the Plath archives at Emory, and the
letters from the months before her death, when she was caring for her children
by day and writing Ariel by night, read
as a warning. As Patric
Dickinson wrote in a letter to Harriet Rosenstein about his friendship with
Plath, “you can’t go without sleep.” You can’t forget to pay your bills,
to take out your trash, to stop at CVS for toilet paper, to fill your gas tank.
But for me, like many creative spirits, those mundane tasks take on a crushing
weight. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, graduating from college
terrified me. While I welcomed the bright horizon of starting an MFA program in
a new city, I struggled to imagine myself living like a real adult. Doing my
taxes, changing my license, paying for car insurance, and making dental
appointments all felt like remote possibilities I would never be mature enough
to master. I entered a relationship I knew I shouldn’t, with a guy who worked
in finance and knew how to fix things. He didn’t read, his friends used racial slurs
as jokes, and he told me he wanted a woman to have dinner waiting for him when
he got home, but I stubbornly ignored these signs in my quest for stability. Over
the next seven years, I floated numbly through adult decisions I couldn’t
muster real excitement for, feeling like a supporting character in my own life.
I sat beside him struggling to focus at the realtor’s office as he deliberated
over mortgage options. I scrolled through my phone in Target as he calculated
the most cost-effective choice of paper towels. I cooked beautiful dinners and
cried when he’d complain about the mess they left. I wrote poems, but they
never came easily. My mind was cluttered with too many rules and lists. I
channeled my frustrated creativity into tasks like gardening and making jam
with muscadines from the farmers market, but these quickly turned compulsive,
feeling more like chores than leisure as I clung to my vision of domestic happiness.
And then one day
I left. Freed from the monotonous routine of my former life, I felt my thoughts
becoming poetic again. Chaotic, unwieldly, but charged with an insatiable
energy. A poem can’t be overdetermined, we know, but neither can a poet. The
unstable period that followed coincided with the feminist poetry section of the
“Poetry and Politics” course I was teaching. Talking through “Daddy” with an
eager roomful of students in my state of sleepless delirium, I was my most
animated teacher-self, feeling so intensely the poem’s urgency. Seven years,if you want to know. I thought about Plath up writing Ariel all night, wild with the sting of
betrayal, intoxicated by the righteousness of her anger. In the archives, what
chills me most is her handwriting, the bubbly script of an ambitious, happy girl.
I’m her age now and she isn’t the ethereal madwoman I once took her for. Like
so many women poets, I find myself constantly orbiting a fearful desire for and
resistance of identification with her. Can you write Ariel and survive?
I locked my keys in my car last Friday. It’s
happened so many times I immediately felt the nauseous pit swell in my gut—the
door’s cheerful beep unaccompanied by the reassuring clank of metal between my fingers.
Chaos is hardly glamorous, most days. Having grown up with two artist parents,
some part of me has always craved the order of a freshly-made bed, a planned
week of dinners, a sorted cabinet. But the unruliness inside me pulling towards
disorder is, I have to accept, what lets me write. I don’t have the answers. Even
as I’ve acquired some basic life skills, I’ll always be absentminded, always
get myself into fixes. I have a partner and friends and family willing to help
me out of every mess, and all I can offer in return is the promise of some dedicated
poems, maybe. I know I can’t survive forever on charm and art alone, but,
equally, I can’t survive without writing, and I can’t write when my inner voice
is drowned out by tedious litanies. And every time I fail in some extravagant
way, it brings me back to the page; if nothing else, I know I’d better produce
something powerful enough to justify my shortcomings.
Today’s Intern Update features David Klose, the student editor-in-chief of Issue 16 of Superstition Review. He was also a blogger for Issue 13, the nonfiction editor for Issue 14, and the content coordinator for Issue 15.
With a BA in English Language and Literature/Letters, David began working as a Freelance Writer for Codeless within the past month.
He has also worked as a Content Manager and Corporate Trainer for Amerisleep, where he produced original content, edited content, managed a team of content writers (in-house and freelance) published content on WordPress and worked to improve on-page SEO through various industry best practices.
We are so proud of you David!
If you’d like to learn more, you can visit David’s LinkedIn here.
Congratulations to Shannon Ward for her new article featured in Truthout, I’ve Seen Firsthand the Hearbreak of ICE Detention. This Must End. Read and share her amazing account of her visit to Stewart Detention Center in Georgia and her efforts to help those in need.