Superstition Review is sad to share that Four Chambers Press is closing. Please join us in thanking this group for their strong support of the local literary community by attending the Four Chambers’ Final Farewell, “Our Hearts Go Out to You.”
A note from Four Chambers Press:
After five years of pumping literary blood through our local community, Four Chambers officially flatlined in January, 2019. But even though we’re gone, our stories and poems live on in you. Please. We don’t want your money. We just want your love. Let us give you a piece of our heart.
Join us on Sunday, May 19th from 4 to 6 pm at Changing Hands Phoenix and help us finally put this thing to rest. We have 1,000 books and artwork that we would like to give away for free. Maybe they’ll find a home on your coffee table, or in your bathroom, or your classroom, or your child’s Christmas stockings. Who knows. Wherever it may be, we hope Four Chambers can occupy a space in your life and the life of Phoenix as we all continue to work, collaborate, and create in the ever-growing Phoenix literary community. (There will also be a short reading at 5:30.) We’re so grateful to have been a part of it. We hope to see you there.
**If you are a local creative writing or literature professor or instructor and would like a specific Four Chambers title in bulk, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for availability and reservation.
Day: Sunday, May 19
Time: 4 to 6 p.m.
Location: Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 W. Camelback Rd., Suite 1, Phoenix
Looking for enrichment, creativity, and fun? Join the Heard Museum on May 11 for the continuing 2nd Saturday Series.
This month the Heard Museum will host, Books | Beats | Bites: food, music, and interesting titles. Come and browse the many selections of cookbooks, children’s books, American Indian genre, Southwestern-themed novels, and many other tables throughout the marketplace. We will be joined by artist, Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw.) He will host a maker space to create stickers for your own sticker book. Also, try out a new delicious Native foods dish from our tasting table. Authors, Laura Tohe, and Evangeline Parsons Yazzie will be on-site with their wonderful books. Join Wasted Ink Zine Distro, and make and take your very own zine and express yourself during the open-mic session with authors and poets at 1 p.m.
Catch our continual Scene and Heard Film Series, for a showing of Taqwacore, Recommended for mature audiences, at 11:30 a.m.
Zines Wasted Ink Zine Distro rinky dink press
Bookstores and Publishers Palabras Bookstore Holum Press Hoot N Waddle
Authors Evangeline Parsons Yazzie Laura Tohe
Poetry Imogen Arate, Poets and Muses
Saturday, May 11 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Heard Museum Campus, 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
For more information, visit the Heard Museum website.
The Great Books Foundation promotes reading, thinking and sharing of ideas. Kathy and Don Dietz will lead discussions on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. in the Connections Café. Participants provide their own copies of the books.
Past contributing artist Nicholas Hughes’ new book is now available for preorder. The book collects high quality first monographs of Nicholas’ fine art photography. Check out the book on the crowdfunding page here, including a three minute trailer.
Nicholas’ photographs were featured in Issue 17 of Superstition Review and can be accessed here.
Today we have some exciting news from past contributor Deborah Bogen. Deborah’s manuscript, In Case of Sudden Free Fall, has won the 2017 Jacar Press Full-length Competition. The book will be out next year. Six poems from the manuscript were chosen by Jericho Brown for the 2017 New Letters Poetry Prize and one of those, “The Year God Developed Cataracts,” was featured on Poetry Daily on May 15, 2017. You can read that poem here.
Read four poems by Deborah in issue 12 of Superstition Review here.
Local Phoenix’s premiere reading event Spillers has announced their new podcast series. The new series will have a short story read by the featured author, followed by an interview with the author. You can find out more and listen here. Their full press release is below:
Spillers, Phoenix’s premier short fiction ensemble reading event since 2015, is now also a podcast, produced and hosted by local award-winning writer and podcaster Robert Hoekman Jr.
While Spillers After Show has earned a stellar reputation as winner of Best Podcast 2016 by the Phoenix New Times, the now-live Spillers podcast brings new and exciting depth and intimacy, and will juxtapose national writers with locals, and award-winners with up-andcomers, to build an audience that extends well beyond Arizona’s borders.
Episodes each feature one short fiction story and an exclusive interview on the story of the story as told by the writer who wrote it. Every episode is 30 minutes or less so that it fits comfortably into a listener’s life, and has a Song Exploder-esque format and style.
With several interviews in the bag, Hoekman says, “These interviews are intimate and revealing. The writers so far have all been ready and willing to get personal and to talk about the circumstances and struggles that compel them to create the art they give us.”
Episodes are even recorded on-location—in places relevant either to the writer or to the story. One interview took place during a drive to a uranium mine south of the Grand Canyon. Another was held inside of a planetarium while staring up at a black hole. A third found the host and guest discussing bipolar disorder while sitting in a Circle K parking lot. These settings add dimension to the interviews that no reading event could otherwise achieve.
The debut episode features ASU alum Venita Blackburn. On the show, she discusses the lifelong challenges for writers of color following her workshop on the subject, and reads her story, “Chew,” which appears in her upcoming collection Black Jesus and Other Superhero Stories (University of Nebraska Press).
Spillers has previously presented seven live events, held quarterly at the Crescent Ballroom. While autobiographical storytelling events abound, Spillers was the first and is still the only event to offer a night of Arizona’s best fiction in a setting designed to turn writers into rock stars and make literature worthy of date night. Spillers events have featured major novelists, Hudson Prize and GQ Book of the Year winners, Pushcart Prize winners, and contributors to Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, Ploughshares, and McSweeney’s Quarterly, among other prestigious publications.
More live Spillers events will follow as the podcast develops its audience. For podcast subscription options and to apply to become a “spiller,” visit www.Spillers.net.
Today we have some exciting news from previous contributor Kelle Groom. Kelle’s new collection of poetry, Spill, is now available through her website here. The collection has already received some high praise on her website. Sophie Cabot Black says of the collection, “Kelle Groom’s newest book of poems tells it slant, as we are tipped into her world with a hand that seems both inconsolable and utterly aware.”
The book will be available October 10th through Anhinga Press. You can check out her powerful nonfiction piece “Dear Baby” in issue 13 of Superstition Review here.
I am that reader who devours every word between the covers of a book—the dedication, preface, prologue, epilogue, notes, and everything in between. I even pay attention to the copyright page, like the one in Justin Cronin’s The Passage that catalogues the novel under the subjects Vampire-Fiction, Human experimentation in medicine-Fiction, and Virus diseases-Fiction, story clues that not even the book jacket copy gives away.
I especially enjoy reading the acknowledgements. While every other part of the book ultimately belongs to the reader, an author’s acknowledgments offer a glimpse into her own life. Who or what we acknowledge reveals what we value in writing and life. Who does the author recognize, care about, appreciate? Does she thank family, friends, mentors? (Most everyone does.) A place of employment? (Only if they provided time or money for the writing project.) Sorority sisters with spare couches? (Angela Flournoy). La Virgen de Guadalupe Tonantzin? (Sandra Cisneros). What about the person who bought the writer his first dictionary? (Junot Diaz scores big points with me here.)
I’ve been named in book acknowledgements, and it’s usually an unexpected honor from a former student or a writer whose manuscript I read, someone who wants to remind me I’m a small part of their work, a member of their tribe. Now that my short story collection approaches its publication date and it’s my turn to appreciate the village it takes to bring a book to a reader’s hands, I’m terrified I’ll forget someone I’m expected to thank, like when Oscar winners ramble the names of everyone from their director to their barista but forget to mention a long-suffering spouse. Alanis Morissette, in her song “Thank You,” takes an even wider view, recognizing everything from India, a country of over a billion people, to more abstract concepts like disillusionment.
But an acknowledgments page has a specific purpose: to give recognition to whomever or whatever supports the writing and production of a book. That narrows it down some. India has no role in my story collection and needs no thanks, and I don’t always appreciate my moments of disillusionment. Still, give credit where it’s due. Writers don’t create books alone. Sure, the actual act of writing is solitary. You alone plant your butt in a chair, turn on a computer, open your document, and conjure words. You pace the floor and cry on your own, and you alone decide to push past the urge to play Candy Crush or Pokemon Go. When you fail, which every writer does, over and over, you do that all on your own too.
But you never succeed on your own, as the very custom of acknowledgment reminds us. Every writer who keeps sitting in that chair depends on the invisible community of people carried into the writing space. Maybe it’s the teacher who taught you how to “nibble the pig” so your project seems less daunting (thanks, Ron Carlson, for all those years I kept a picture of a roast pig on a platter above my computer to remind me it was only possible to eat that thing one bite at a time). Or the relative who bought you books every birthday. Or the small town you thought you hated and wanted to leave, while the people there hang on in your mind, populating your pages.
The acknowledgments page is where writers honor the people and places that nurtured and mentored them. Writers frequently mention professors, workshop members, even the program administrators who made their MFA years easier. Junot Diaz, in four pages of acknowledgments in The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, goes well beyond that, thanking his many clans and the people who “bought me my first dictionary and signed me up for the Science Fiction Book Club” and also “Every teacher who gave me kindness, every librarian who gave me books.”
Acknowledgments also credit those people who provide whatever the writer needs to shape a book and usher it into the world, everyone from trusted friends who read and comment on drafts to agents, editors, designers and publicists. And I discovered in a quick survey of books in my personal library that those people deserve not only gratitude, but small horses. Justin Cronin offers “thanks and ponies” to his supporters, and Jenny Offill promises her “crackerjack editorial, publicity, and production staff at Knopf”: “I owe each and every one of you a pony.”
Some writers share gratitude specific to a book’s content. Margaret Atwood, in Oryx and Crake, thanks the people from whose balcony she saw “that rare bird, the Red-necked Crake,” and Alice Munro’s acknowledgements for the collection Too Much Happiness focuses solely on the people and books that led to her discovery of Sophia Kovalevsky, subject of the title story.
Nearly every author saves their final thanks for those intimates who, as Margaret Atwood describes her husband, Graeme Gibson, “understand[s] the obsessiveness of the writer.” No surprise there, as those are the people who respect your closed door, nurse you through every “art attack,” and celebrate those small victories peculiar to writers, like a “good” rejection note. They deserve public recognition and your private appreciation—every day.
My acknowledgments page is already with my publisher. I still have a small window of time to add names. But really I think of those acknowledgments as formalizing what the people who support me—or any writer—should already know and feel, whether it’s between the covers of a book or not: their value exceeds what mere words can say.
Thanks. Just thanks. (But no ponies—they really don’t make good gifts.)
The Fiddleback is a free, independent, online arts & literature magazine that features poetry, fiction, nonfiction, interviews with artists and musicians as well as book and music reviews. Our guiding principle is cross-pollination: We believe in mixing and colliding artistic disciplines to attract a diverse readership and promote work that asserts itself. We believe in giving our contributors the spotlight, in limiting ourselves to small, quality-driven issues. Above all, we believe in never underestimating our readers.
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Is there a better book than the book read elsewhere? Why are so many of the books I remember best strangely wrapped up in my sense of having read them elsewhere, away, far from home, outside the classroom, or miles from my bedside nightstand, where all those books I’ve been meaning to read—books I will likely read there, before sleep and not nearly elsewhere—lie unread?
For me, Stephen King’s Pet Sematary will always be the Book I Read on a Paddleboat, when I was 13 years old and staying at my aunt’s house in the Pocono Mountains. My aunt owned a house on a lake, and permitted my friend, cousin and I the use of a red paddleboat we had to unmoor from a dock slick with the splashes of kids in lifejackets, the boat always on the verge of sinking, or so we joked. The three of us would paddle to the center of the lake and read the books we’d purchased on the drive in, at a bookstore shaped like a log cabin, all mass market paperbacks, Dean Koontz, Louis L’Amour, and of course Stephen King. I chose Pet Sematary because it had the scariest cover, and because Stephen King had blurbed it himself as a book so scary it terrified him while he was writing it, and who wouldn’t want to read a book like that? My memory of that book is of a child getting hit by a truck while speedboats and water skiers sent our paddleboat rocking in their wake.
Rabbit, Run is the book I read while studying abroad in London, the book purchased the moment before I’d run out of money and was feeling homesick for Delaware, my unremarkable and not terribly literary home state, which, in the opening pages of Updike’s novel, is only a few minutes away from Brewer, Pennsylvania, where Rabbit Angstrom works a bad job, argues with his wife, and recalls his days of basketball glory. I remember reading the book in our student flat at the top of a stairway that led to a rooftop we were forbidden to explore—hidden away—as Rabbit, in the opening chapter, goes on a solo drive through Pennsylvania, taking a series of turns that nearly takes him to Delaware. I turned the pages, thinking Rabbit was surely about to pull up in my driveway.
I read The Old Man and the Sea while staying at a friend of a friend’s house in Connecticut, part of some road trip I took the summer before I left for college. I’d been put in the guest bedroom, which had a twin bed and a desk with a bookshelf on top: I’d always meant to read The Old Man and the Sea, but had never gotten around to it, and was always sort of afraid that someone would ask me if I had read it—you mean you haven’t read The Old Man and the Sea?—and part of the pleasure of reading it now was my realization that no one would see me taking it down from the shelf each night and hence would never know that I’d just read it in the span of a weekend, and could now answer yes if anyone asked me about The Old Man and the Sea, a power I now felt I held in reserve, at the ready.
I’m traveling again in March: I will have to pack some of those bedside books, the ones I’ve been putting off forever, so that they might be read elsewhere.