Teague von Bohlen is an Associate Professor of Fiction at the University of Colorado Denver, where he runs the student newspaper The Sentry and serves as Fiction Editor for the literary magazine Copper Nickel. He works the literary, pop-culture, and social/political commentary beats for the alt-weekly Westword, and his short fiction has been seen nationwide. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award, and he’s the co-author of the student-strategy textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success. His first collection of stories, a flash fiction/photography mash-up called Flatland, was named a finalist for the Colorado Book Award in 2020. He’s currently shopping a completed ghost-story novel called The Normal Home, also set in the Midwest heartland, working on an ultra-nerdy LitRPG book with an old friend, and has started his next literary novel as well, this one set in both Tucson and Denver.
He makes a home in Colorado now and grew an abiding love for the desert in his time in Arizona. But his corn-fed heart never left Illinois.
Join the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English at ASU in welcoming poet Jacqueline Balderrama and fiction writer Venita Blackburn at the Stellar Alumni Reading Series event on Thursday, March 3, 2022, at 7 p.m. This event is free of charge, in-person, and open to the public.
It will be held at Tempe Campus in the Pima Auditorium Room 230. The location is Memorial Union (MU) 301 E. Orange St.
This is a great opportunity to hear the works of some of ASU’s star graduates. Learn more about them below to see just how awesome they are!
Jacqueline Balderrama is the author of “Now in Color” (Perugia Press, 2020) and the chapbook “Nectar and Small” (Finishing Line Press, 2019). She serves as a poetry editor for Iron City Magazine, has been involved in the Letras Latinas literary initiative, and the ASU Prison Education Program. Currently, she’s a Virginia G. Piper Fellow-in-Residence and Clinical Assistant Professor at ASU.
Works by Venita Blackburn have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s, the Paris Review and others. She received the Prairie Schooner book prize in fiction for her collected stories, “Black Jesus and Other Superheroes” in 2017. She is the founder of the literary nonprofit Live, Write (livewriteworkshop.com), which provides free creative writing workshops for communities of color. Blackburn’s second collection of stories, “How to Wrestle a Girl,” was published in the fall of 2021. She is an Assistant Professor of creative writing at California State University, Fresno.
While Superstition Review loves to write about contributor updates from past issues, we are also thankful for the chance to get to know new writers with so many different stories to tell. Please welcome Linda LeGarde Grover and her new collection Gichigami Hearts: Stories and Histories from Misaabekong. In twelve loosely connected essays, Linda shares the story of her ancestors’ arrival at the American Fur Post in far western Duluth more than two hundred years ago, capturing the thrilling tales of her family’s fortune and fate, “all with a deep and tenacious bond to the land, one another, and the Ojibwe culture.” The array of genres is highly notable, ranging from memoiristic non-fiction to Ojibwe oral tradition fused into a contemporary story encompassing older oral stories. There is so much to explore in this collection, with stories that connect us all.
In Linda LeGarde Grover’s Gichigami Hearts, we are given the gift of an intensly personal, and at the same time brilliant, walkthrough of Grover’s part of the Anishinaabe universe. Just a tremendously lovely and unique book.
Erika T. Wurth, author of White Horse
Linda LeGarde Grover is professor emeritus of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe. Her books The Road Back to Sweetgrass, Onigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year, and In the Night of Memory, all from Minnesota, have earned numerous awards, including the Native Writers Circle of the Americas First Book Award; Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards for Poetry, Memoir, and Fiction; and a Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. Her book of stories The Dance Boots was the winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize.
Kathleen Winter’s second chapbook, Cat’s Tongue, is coming soon! This poetry collection is available on March 24 published by Texas Review Press. Carefully crafted with Kathleen’s unique style and voice, the entire chapbook guides the reader on a journey of growing up in central Texas, each poem revealing more about the author’s life experiences and identifying feelings and themes that resonate in us all. The topics vary from sadness to hope, from drug dealers to football games, each memory flushed with imagery, charm and wit. In the mere seconds between finishing a poem and starting another, the anticipation builds thanks to Kathleen’s engaging language, making the readers want to dive right into the next story.
In Kathleen Winter’s new collection, Cat’s Tongue, memory is a thing to encounter untamed, to be rediscovered and confronted before it’s lost again. These poems ‘go backwards / in experience, subtracting yes from yes’ as they unearth secrets and regrets and yearnings, as they reckon the past with the present. Through the glint and gloom of memory, these poems portray the self in all its strength and grief, all with Winter’s trademark keenness and lyrical grace.
W. TODD KANEKO, AUTHOR OF THIS IS HOW THE BONE SINGS
Kathleen Winter is the author of three poetry collections: Transformer, a finalist for the 2021 Northern California Book Awards; I will not kick my friends; and Nostalgia for the Criminal Past. Her second chapbook, Cat’s Tongue, is coming March 2022 on Texas Review Press. Winter’s poems and short fiction have appeared in The New Statesman, The New Republic, Poetry London, Cincinnati Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Yale Review, and Five Points. She was granted fellowships at Cill Rialaig Ireland, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Dora Maar House in Provence, James Merrill House, and Vermont Studio Center. Her awards include the Poetry Society of America The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award and the Rochelle Ratner Memorial Prize. Her work was shortlisted for the 2021 Plough Prize in England. A former landuse lawyer, Winter holds an MFA in creative writing from Arizona State. She teaches creative writing at Sonoma State University.
Her poetry is featured in Superstition Review in Issue 13 and Issue 20. Check it out and you’ll find yourself wanting more and more.
High Desert Journalis an online and place-based literary journal and accepts only the finest poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, memoirs, books reviews, essays, interviews, and visual arts from those living in or writing specifically about the North American High Desert West.
This season’s guest editor Leeanna Torres invites writers to submit work on the theme of querencia – the place of your deepest identity and longing. Rooted in deep place, space, or experience, this concept of querencia is ever-expanding.
HDJ’s submission period ends on April 15. Submit up to three poems; a maximum of 5,000 words of fiction or nonfiction; up to 5,000 words of interview, memoir, and essays, and up to 10 slides or digital images of artwork.
Read more about submission guidelines and submit here!
Great poetry, that’s all I ask. Any form. Any length. Make it sing. Make it say something. Grab my heart. Kick me in the gut. Make me laugh or make me cry, I don’t care, but above all make it memorable. MOVE me.
Sheryl Noethe, Poetry Editor
Voice and depth are of primary concern—submissions with a unique and compelling voice that go somewhere deep are the ones I gravitate to.
Laura Pritchett, Fiction Editor
I tend to gravitate, however, toward stories structured around narratives, but I am also stirred by that work which seems to push against the general mold, writing that follows the writer’s genius and not the accepted norm. I am most interested in writing that carries a unique and confident voice, combines style with substance, and reaches beyond the personal to find greater meaning and understanding of the self, the west, the world.
We’re so excited to share an interview with past intern Leah Newsom, the Nonfiction Editor for Issue 15 and the Interview Editor for Issue 16. Find out about the lessons she learned at Superstition Review, what she’s working on now, and her relationship with art. The interview was conducted by our blog editor, Taylor Dilger.
Taylor Dilger: You were the nonfiction editor for Issue 15 and the interview editor for Issue 16. What were the most valuable lessons learned in these positions?
Leah Newsom: Well, they were both really different positions. I might have to transport myself through time. I remember at the same time I was the nonfiction editor, I was taking a nonfiction class, which was a workshop that was offered when I was a student. I don’t know if it still is, but it was cool because I don’t think at the time I really understood creative nonfiction as a genre, separate from journalism or essay writing, you know what I mean? So, for me as the creative nonfiction editor, it was still a continued learning experience about the genre and who the main players in that field are. It was a great learning experience to be immersed in a type of writing that I don’t normally do, but to be able to use transferable skills from being a fiction writer to identifying what I liked about nonfiction and what I liked about creative nonfiction.
I found creative nonfiction to be so much more experimental than I thought it would be and so I saw a lot of similarities between that and poetry. It felt like a really exciting space that people were writing in. I think one of the things about being an editor for a journal is that it’s valuable to be able to see the other side of the process because when you’re submitting to journals it can feel very isolating and you’re like everybody hates my writing and I’ll never get published anywhere and are they even reading it? It’s very anxiety-inducing, but knowing how the other side works helps you understand how your work is being read elsewhere, so that’s part of it.
But in the nonfiction space at Superstition Review for me, it was also learning the kinds of work that was being submitted to SR and sort of getting engaged in different spaces that creative nonfiction lives. Even now it has helped me identify books that I love. Creative nonfiction that I would like to write now is influenced a lot by what I learned as an SR editor when I was an undergrad. Being the nonfiction editor lent itself to the interview editor position because all the people that we interviewed were creative nonfiction writers. We interviewed them all at Nonfiction Now which is an international writing conference that happened to be in Flagstaff that year, so all of it was very serendipitous. If I hadn’t had the experience of taking that class for creative nonfiction, editing in that part of it, and learning about it, I would’ve been very ill-equipped to do those interviews in the first place.
TD: In your Superstition Review bio, it says that you were “an active participant in the Phoenix literary community, and [have] hopes to help develop [your] city’s focus on the arts.” In what way have you done that in the last couple of years?
LN: This might be a sad answer. I think, in fact, I’ve actually turned more inward. I used to be a part of the Four Chambers Downtown Phoenix literary art scene. I lived Downtown, I went to a lot of readings Downtown, I was an intern for the Write On, Downtown journal, you know? I was a reader for Spillers when that was an event happening at Crescent Ballroom. I was really a big participant in that scene and then when I went to grad school there was no time. Everything I did was at ASU and basically, I’ve been in an ASU bog since then.
In a way, I think that my writing community has also expanded outside of Arizona so I’m friends with a lot of writers around the country and especially in the days of Zoom my network isn’t necessarily local or ideas of locality have changed. That being said, I love Phoenix and whenever anyone trash talks it, I get very mad. My husband is a local business owner and owns two tattoo shops in central Phoenix and all of our friends are local artists. We remain in a community of artists, whether that be the exact same community of artists when I was a student, not so much. But I don’t know, I’ve always had dreams of running some kind of reading series. I ran an online literary magazine called Spilled Milk for a long time and I thought what if that could be a print one? But it’s also a question of I work 40 hours a week, I teach, I have a kid. It’s a lot.
TD: You were a published writer with a short story in Four Chambers Press and a flash fiction chapbook. Do you have any updates on what you’ve recently worked on or are currently working on now?
LN: Oh yeah, things have changed quite a lot since then. You can find links to these on my website, leahnewsom.com but I have short stories in Juked, PANK, Passages North, and Ninth Letter. I have a short story in Everything Change: an Anthology of Climate Fiction published by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative that was judged by Kim Stanley Robinson. Those are my more recent publications and then I am working on a novel right now. Novel writing is slow and kind of a slog. I think my last publications were about this time last year so it’s been a little bit of a dip while I’ve been novel writing.
TD: Do you have any information about your novel that you’d like to share?
LN: I don’t know…it’s hard to write a novel. The stuff that I’m thinking about in my novel has a lot to do with well-being, the ways that we talk about self-care, mental health, and ways in which those are used both constructively and in toxic ways to create strange tensions between people. Actually, here I’ll give you an anecdote. When I was in grad school, I wrote a short story that is now the short story in Passages North called “Break Point” in which there were two women and a man in the story, and the two women had a very toxic intimate relationship (if you read it you will find out why) but I realized that the man was a pawn. As a character, he wasn’t really doing anything other than being a thing that the two women were bouncing off of. So, I created a new revision tactic that sits with me to this day called “cut all the men out of the stories.” And when I cut the dude out of the story, the story got a lot better because the two women were now in tension with each other fully, as opposed to partially, and whatever space between them was removed, and then the story just clicked. So, my novel, very intentionally, is following that same “there are no men in the novel.” It takes place in an isolated place in the desert in which women are residents for some kind of vague treatment “for the sake of their own well-being” and then toxic intimate relationships ensue. It s a lot of work. It’s very hard.
TD: What does writing mean to you and how do you hope to share that with your students this semester?
LN: That’s a sweet question. What does writing mean to me? I mean writing is sort of everything, but I would rephrase that and say art is sort of everything to me. Writing for me was the art form that I mostly leaned into because it felt the most accessible to me. I’m very bad at drawing, I’m not a visual artist, I’m incapable of a lot of the skillsets or haven’t learned them.
For a long time, I thought I was going to be a musician. I played music all throughout my childhood and high school, but I think for me writing was a place where I felt really comfortable. I could string words together and I felt good about them in a way that I couldn’t play my guitar. Being in that space, initially, for me was, “This is a way I can make art.” This is a way I can make art. I mean it sounds weird. It sounds like I settled for it in some way, but I think that to me writing has so much possibility. Writing can be anything. Writing is so vast.
I’m sure you’ve heard your professors say this before, but it’s the closest thing we get to being able to see inside someone’s head. And that’s kind of magical, I think. So…writing. I don’t know what that means to me, I just think I’m continually in awe of it. I read a book that I love and I’m like, “Wow.” Whereas the music that I loved in high school I’m just like, “What?”
For my students, the one thing that I remember when I was an undergrad, I felt what was getting squished out of me, in grad school as well, was the actual creative part of writing. I felt like there were all these new rules I had to follow and plot structures. I had to write a 15-page story that had a certain word count and it had to have a character that had to have an epiphany, or something had to change, or whatever. It was partially because A. I hadn’t read enough to see what the alternatives were and B. when you’re in a creative writing classroom a lot of what you’re there to get is the rules and the assumption is that your creativity and your interestingness will persist through those rules. So, I hope that my students this semester do not feel like they need to subscribe to the rules, but they can take what is useful to them, run with it, and not let the rules of fiction writing squish whatever creative genesis they started writing in the first place for.
TD: What is your favorite book at the moment?
LN: Oh wow, that’s a loaded question. I’m reading actually a really incredible creative nonfiction book right now. I’m not sure if it’s my favorite book at the moment, but I’m reading Blueberries by Ellena Savage. I was gifted this, but my friend had to buy the UK version because the U.S. version is out of print. She’s an Australian writer. Very experimental essays. Like one of the essays that I just read was in columns, which is interesting. Another one was in an outline, like bullet points and so there would be a paragraph or her thought and then all of it is like and also this, also this in outline form. She’s doing really interesting, formally innovative creative nonfiction that is thinking about feminist issues, sexual assault, gender identity, and stuff like that, but it’s very, very personal. She’s laying it out there in a way that I probably never would. But she’s a beautiful writer. I’m really liking it.
You can find Leah and read all of her mentioned writings and more on her website.
Congratulations to Dawn Reno Langley for her book You Are Divine: A Search for the Goddess in All of Us. Immerse yourself in a journey of self-discovery guided by Dawn and experiences of the divine feminine from spiritual teachers and students from around the world. This book includes many things to be successful in finding the divine within, including journal prompts, activities, inspiring stories, and researched instruction on how to take back power, find balance, and connect with your truest self.
A must read for any woman who wrestles with finding her voice and her place in the world.
Susan Sanders, poet and co-author of Behind These Hills
Dawn is currently booking dates to discuss the book and talk about goddesses. You can find more information about these upcoming events here.
We’re also excited to share an interview with Dawn where she answers some questions about her writing process, inspirations, and finding the divine. This interview was conducted by our Blog Editor Taylor Dilger via email.
Taylor Dilger: You mentioned, “There’s no better way to assuage my curiosity than to immerse myself in the research necessary to write with confidence about the subject matter.” Could you tell me more about your research and writing process for this book?
Dawn Reno Langley: This book required extensive research, so I used the skills I’d acquired during my dissertation and conducted first-hand research (interviewing dozens of women), as well as secondhand (reading hundreds of books, articles, and other information on the subject). What surprised me most is that I was writing about goddesses, women, and almost all the books I found were written by men.
TD: Do you have any advice for young girls just starting their spiritual journey toward the divine feminine and finding their innermost selves? How can they best navigate your book and practices to get the most out of these tools?
DRL: I would advise young girls to ask questions, to think about whether they are celebrated or ignored in their journey. Don’t be afraid to explore, seek out people they respect and remember to respect themselves. You Are Divine is designed to lead readers through each chapter by inviting journal entries and exploring what feels supportive.
TD: Throughout the book, you list a myriad of goddesses and divine females and share their inspirational stories. You also said that “to be cocooned within a crowd that is 99 percent female made me feel loved, safe, and immensely powerful.” Who are some of your biggest inspirations and exactly how important is it to surround yourself with such people?
DRL: During my life, I’ve found inspiration through the biographies I’ve read of women like the pilot Amelia Earhart who faced all odds and won, Jane Goodall who almost single-handedly taught the world about chimpanzees and the way human beings ruin their own world, and Mother Theresa who battled the odds to protect the poor and sick. The goddesses who inspire me include Parvati, the Hindu goddess of motherhood; Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of creativity and education; and Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war (sometimes I feel that our wars are not necessarily launched with bombs and guns, but with words).
TD: This book covers females balancing masculine and feminine energies, embracing emotion rather than hiding it to appease others, recognizing our value, and finding the strength to fight back against people who make us feel less than, whether that just means “making the decision to live your best life and love yourself.” How can being in touch with the divine feminine make it easier to reject stereotypes and opposition women face in today’s society?
DRL: Being in touch with the divine feminine helps us to respect those strengths and in respecting ourselves and our abilities, we also are able to respect and be compassionate to others. If we are able to see ourselves in others and can respect them, we remove the prejudice and replace it with understanding.
TD: What does writing mean to you and how has it helped you on your divine journey to discover who you are?
DRL: My writing is everything. Without it, I cannot communicate with others, understand myself, or learn more about the human condition.
If you would like to learn more about Dawn and her book, You Are Divine, check out her website and Twitter!
Calling all local writers! The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture is looking for a practicing writer to develop creative writing lesson plans, activities, and other resources for sixth-grade students at Title I schools in Deer Valley Unified School District. The focus is on narrative writing. The stipend is $3,500 to $4,000. The commitment is 8 hours a week from March 1 to May 15, 2022, with at least one day of in-person instruction. While some teaching or educational experience is required, writers of all backgrounds and experience levels are encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply is February 20, 2022. To learn more, you can read the full guidelines, download the call, and submit your application at http://bit.ly/POACLAPS.
Allison Moyers is an oil painter and video artist from Texas who currently lives and works in Phoenix Arizona. She traveled Europe and lived in France for five years where she received her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from ESAD de Valenciennes in 2015. Her work explores the subjects of stardom, vanity, and excess within society with an emphasis on woman and the feminine. She is fascinated by western culture’s obsession with beauty in film, literature, and classic painting that have created idealized versions of reality. The stylized and romanticized art are indispensable elements in her work and correspond to the methodic use of color that expresses human emotions through their psychological representation.
In this post, we feature a short film made by Allison as she tours her art and answers questions from our Issue 28 Art Editor, Khanh Nguyen.
Congratulations to Neema Avashia for releasing her collection of essays Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place. As a queer Asian American teacher and writer, Avashia uses her experiences and identity to write something entirely unique and inspirational with hopes that readers will see Appalachia in a new light. She puts Appalachia at the center of the narrative to draw lessons she has learned about “…race and class, gender and sexuality [and how they] continue to inform the way she moves through the world today…” Using lyric and narrative explorations of beauty standards, religion, social media, and more, Neema Avashia shatters stereotypes and shakes up the way we see the world in the best way.
Neema Avashia, in this book, has named the unnamed, spoken the unspoken so that it does not become—to paraphrase Adrienne Rich—the unspeakable, and she has done so in language that is both lyrical and direct, both entertaining and edifying, both challenging and generous. I love this book and believe it introduces an important voice in America’s ongoing racial reckoning.
Rahul Mehta, author of No Other Worldup
You can find one of the essays featured in this collection, “Finding the Holy in an Unholy Coconut,” in Issue 23 of SR. You can read more about Neema on her website and follow her on Twitter.