Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature this podcast by John-Michael Bloomquist.
John-Michael Bloomquist is a fifth generation Arizonan. Recently, his poetry has been published in The Carolina Quarterly, The Southeast Review, The South Dakota Review, The Portland Review and is forthcoming in Third Coast and The Lindenwood Review. He won second prize in the Glendon Swarthout poetry competition in 2010 and first prize in 2011. He is a first year MFA candidate in Poetry at Arizona State University.
You can read along with his poems in Issue 9 of Superstition Review.
Superstition Review has been nominated for a 2012 Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards. The 31st Annual Governor’s Arts Awards features notable artists, organizations, businesses, and individuals whose contributions have impacted the quality of life in Arizona.
The ceremony will take place Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at the Herberger Theatre Center. A silent auction will precede the ceremony at 5 p.m. and the honorees will be announced at 7 p.m., followed by dessert at 8 p.m.
Tickets and more information are available online.
Each week here at Superstition Review, we like to showcase the talents of our interns. This week’s piece comes from Samantha Allen on her recent discussion with author bell hooks.
Feminist writer and cultural critic bell hooks visited Arizona State University’s Tempe campus to speak about race and gender in a historical context. Earlier in the day some of our staff at Superstition Review were given the opportunity to participate in a small group discussion with bell. This discussion covered everything from the recent ban of ethnic studies in Tucson, to the novel The Help, to evangelist Billy Graham’s changing religious views. A prominent theme of our talks centered on the idea of community. “Communities,” she said, “are what give us the strength to live our convictions even in the face of hostility.”
As bell illustrated through stories from her personal life, these “communities of resistance” aren’t always free of conflict. She shared stories about the people in her life who have acted in ways that are harmful to her and to her views, all the while doing good by supporting her in her work, or by making great strides towards promoting racial equality. She called this contradiction “multiple intentionalities” – when people or groups do both harm and good. How do we cope with these contradictions? Do we ignore the good in someone’s actions because they have also done wrong? Do we overlook the unpleasant qualities so we can continue to idealize them as saints and angels? We live in a binary culture that has no place for contradictions. bell hooks used a story about a conflict in the humanities department at Berea College, where she teaches, to discuss how the inability to deal with multiple intentionalities can become an impediment to building communities of resistance. Even when the goals are the same, it’s easy to be divided by our differences.
This message of importance in building communities of resistance seemed to resonate deeply with everyone in the room. It’s no secret that Arizona has been the battleground for a number of contentious political issues in these past couple of years. The actions of our state legislature have given Arizona a particular reputation for intolerance, one that conflicts with the values of the Humanities Department at Arizona State University. The ASU Humanities department celebrates diversity and the commitment to social justice. The very act of getting together to discuss these issues with bell hooks is a step toward building a similar community here in the heart of Arizona. Although this state is mired in ideological conflict, it’s important to remember to act with loving-kindness, as bell pointed out in our discussion. No one is black and white; no one acts in only one direction. The concept of multiple intentionalities is particularly applicable to the current cultural climate in Arizona.
In the end, the discussion with bell hooks left me with this thought: as artists, writers, and readers, it is our job to tackle these contradictions in life. The human tendency to do good with the right hand and harm with the left is, perhaps, the very thing that drives us to create. How else can we make sense of ourselves and our world with all its contradictions if not through art? I’m thankful to be a part of the community here at Superstition Review, where our interns, contributors, and readers are all committed to the art that makes sense of our crazy, convoluted world.
Phoenix-based photographer Christopher Vialpando’s work is diverse. His website is divided into sections titled “People,” “Places,” and “Things,” which sums up his artistic approach. His work is straightforward, yet his photos seem to reveal the essential truth behind the objects. For example, one photo from “Things” shows a torn cowboy hat obscuring the face of a weathered, two-dimensional wooden figure. The setting is obscure; there is a wire fence in the background and a worn Lone Star flag, as well as various objects that suggest an unconventional yard sale or a junk yard. Though this piece is a barefaced reproduction of the scene, the angle and the indirect lighting prompt the viewer to consider the object with greater care, bringing to mind nostalgia for the old West and hints of the border conflict that often seems to define Southwestern life. In fact, if there is one theme that consistently appears in Vialpando’s work, it is that of the Southwest. His “Places” are mountains, long stretches of road leading into the desert, and Ponderosa pine forests; even the portraits in his “People” segment are lit by the harsh Arizona sun, posing in front of old train cars and vintage automobiles with palm trees in the distance. It’s clear from his work that Vialpando knows where his strengths lie. In his biography on his website, he states “Truth is, I won’t appeal to every client, and not every client will appeal to me. Ergo, this time around is about the truth. I don’t take pictures. I create photographs.” His focus on the truth permeates his work.
This past Monday was Superstition Review’s first reading of the semester and, I have to say, it was pretty amazing, particularly with the small and intimate setting of our favorite local bookstore, Changing Hands, literally setting the stage for the event!
Not only did we get to hear from American Book Award winner Stella Pope Duarte, who was previously featured as an interviewed writer for her award-winning book, If I Die in Juarez, but she also asked two of her writing students to join her. Accomplished writers Rita Ackerman and Annie Lopez accompanied our main guest reader that night as they too shared highlights from their varied portfolios. After a brief introduction to the readers for the evening via our Editor-in-Chief, I grabbed a seat off to the side and settled in for the reading–notebook, camera, and BlackBerry (for live-tweeting!) in hand.
Reading Series Editor, Samantha Novak, took the Changing Hands stage first, quickly introducing Trish Murphy, our Editor-in-Chief, inviting her to speak a little about SR. As Trish gave the rundown of how we work, take submissions, and run the magazine all through semester-long undergraduate internships, she also gave an update on submissions and solicitations that have already drifted into the magazine. Among the poets and authors submitting work, we learned that award-winning author and former ASU professor Ron Carlson will be interviewed for this upcoming issue–how exciting is that? With the logistical side of the reading out of the way, we were ready to hear from our esteemed readers.
First to read was Rita Ackerman, a scholar of the history of the American Wild West. She read an illuminating narrative on the shootout at the O.K. Corral from the perspective of Ike Clanton, an under-celebrated outlaw of Arizona’s history.
The story came from her recently published O.K. Corral Postscript: The Death of Ike Clanton and provided a street view of the shootout. It was particularly interesting because it viewed the famous Earp brothers from a fairly neutral position. Ackerman continued with a short dip into the death scene she has reconstructed from the obituaries and accounts of Ike Clanton’s death. Introducing ‘Pigleg Wilson,’ her writing explained that Ike, though a pivotal member of the Clanton gang, is not buried in a dignified grave in Tombstone like the rest of his family, but he instead resides in a unmarked grave somewhere in Springerville, Arizona.
It was particularly interesting to hear a detailed and engaging account of one of Arizona’s famous outlaws. Ackerman really brought to light the benefits of well-written nonfiction narratives, highlighting one of the under-sung genres of many literary journals, and one that SR is proud to feature.
Next up was Annie Lopez. Not only is Lopez a great storyteller, but she’s also an artist–one featured at the Phoenix Art Museum (and giving a lecture on her work on October 21st at 4 and 7 p.m.).
Lopez’s work collectively focused on the naivety of youth, especially as a young woman growing up in Phoenix. In her partly auto-biographical stories, the fourth-generation Phoenician read about her young adult mishaps. In, The Dress, a middle school-aged Lopez shows us a glimpse into a home-economics class. She and a friend made complete fools of themselves by knowing a little too much about sewing and trying to flaunt their skills, resulting in becoming the laughing stock of the Phoenix Suns basketball team. Her other story not only brought about laughs from the audience as she explained the awkward situation she was put in when her high school guidance counselor exposed herself to Lopez, but also reinforced the need to feel comfortable in your surroundings as a young adult.
Enterprising on the hilarious hi-jinx of youth, Lopez really connected with her audience as she shared her humorous tales and reminded everyone in the audience the importance of staying on the good side of friends-who-happen-to-be-writers–whatever you do, she warned via her shared anecdote, don’t forget that whatever you say and do can, and often will, be written down and used against you in the future if it has high humor value. In all fairness, you should know better!
Finally, it was Stella Pope Duarte’s turn to take the small stage. The audience seemed particularly excited to hear from her as she was introduced.
The ABA award-winner greeted everyone with a quick, unabashed admission: she loves rumors and secrets. As she talked about the upcoming acceptance of her award, she revealed that, though she loves Phoenix more than she could ever like NYC, she enjoyed the City for its eavesdropping goldmine that it is; she claimed she loves nothing more than walking the streets there to gather as many rumors as she could. It wasn’t just a random comment, though–she said none of her stories would really be possible without them, especially from the collection she was reading from.
Duarte is a passionate activist and writer defending human rights issues, particularly bringing child prostitution wrongs to light. On Monday she shared one of her newer stories, “One of These Days I’m Gonna Go Home,” a selection to be published in her upcoming collection of short stories, with the working title of Women Who Live in Coffee Shops, that focus on rumors and the lives of individuals whose worlds are affected by the rumors. The story dealt with the adoption and rehabilitation of a former child prostitute being raised in the Phoenix desert.
Our featured reader was really engaging with her audience and she had complete command of local Phoenician dialogue, slang, and speech. Her reading, as well the other women’s, really featured the outstanding talent of local writers. It was refreshing to hear these home-grown southwestern stories of our state’s history, growing up in Arizona, and dealing with the complexities of such a culturally rich state.
Overall, I’d say that the reading was a complete success and a wholly enjoyable event. I’m extremely excited about the next one, October 26!
Did you attend the event? What did you think? What was your favorite work you heard?
As I walk along the streets of Arizona, I note a few things; the vast blue skies, the reaching prickly cacti, the moody heat, and the ever-present embrace of the mountains. And though I have travelled the world, more than anything, it is these mountains I find that I can never forget. But as a result of their eternal consistency, I tend to forget that other people don’t have the mountains over their shoulder, at their beck and call, the way life in in the Valley makes you think.
As a younger, more innocent student a few years back, I took a study abroad trip to Spain with the University. My favorite city in the world, as a result, is Granada, home of La Alhambra, gypsies, narrow winding streets and copious historical cathedrals. Fantastic as it was to be swept off my feet quite literally by an exuberant gypsy for a round of impromptu flamenco, what expanded my mind most about that outing was the long bus ride home.
Our motley crew of ASU students was joined by a class from New York on the Granada leg of the trip. On the ride home, we’d began to mingle and discuss our new shared experiences. A young blond man next to me sat gazing thoughtfully out the window. I asked if he was okay…if anything was preoccupying him.
“Nothing…I’m just looking at the mountains…”
“Oh,” I said, and glanced out the windows. And then I noticed, a stark expanse of desert and mountains. It suddenly hit me, on the other side of the world, “It looks like home.”
“We don’t have ’em in New York. I’ve never seen so many before.”
And I can’t help but be surrounded by the mountains here, in the desert of Spain, on Tempe Campus, in the banner for this Superstition Review (of the Superstition Mountain range), and I realize how lucky and rare my life has been to be able to call the Valley home.
We invite you to join us for a while; keep reading, keep submitting, and tell us about your home.
If you’ve visited our Homepage recently, you’ll notice some sizable changes. While we’re still in the process of changing some things around, we’re doing our best to make our site as interactive as possible. We want to be an online literary magazine that not only hosts great writing, but does so in a way that compliments the meaning of the writing we’re publishing.
But don’t forget to keep a lookout for our Inaugural Issue, which debuts at the end of April. And as always, don’t forget to check the News Blog for the most recent updates about Authors, Events, and changes to the Superstition ReviewHomepage.
With the debut of our Reading Series yesterday, February 25th, the Superstition Review time line is moving along with amazing speed.
As the publication of our first issue grows nearer everyday, we here at the magazine decided that having an Inaugural Issue interview of the staff and founders of Superstition Review is a must. As we plan on being around for quite some time, we want to capture the moment of Superstition Review’s inception. More simply put, we want something that future interns, readers, and writers of the magazine can look back on and see just how much the magazine has grown since its beginning.
Also, because Superstition Review is a completely online magazine, it is a good example of where many literary magazines will be in 20 years: on the Web. While tangible magazines aren’t disappearing anytime soon, there will be an increase of traditional magazines gracing the World Wide Web, and whole new movement of literary magazines that will start on the Web, just like us.
The benefit of an online magazine is that people anywhere in the world can read or submit their work to Superstition Review. Knowledge and creativity are present in every culture, and we want to foster and encourage those traits wherever they may be.
We hope that by offering an in-depth look at how Superstition Review was created, others will see that it is possible to create a successful magazine for the community of artists and writers in a way that is accessible to all.
As always, check out our homepage for more information, or e-mail us with any questions.