Haley Larson, Poetry Editor for Issue 3, received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology and with a minor in Music from the University of Nebraska. I took some time to catch up with her about her experience and how SuperstitionReview has helped shaped her future.
Superstition Review: Which issue did you work on with Superstition Review and what was your position?
Haley Larson: I worked on Issue 3 of Superstition Review. I was one of two poetry editors that year, and it was quite an opportunity. I had the chance to correspond with some esteemed poets, many of whom I’d admired for some time.
SR: What skills did you take away from the experience?
HL: I owe a lot of my confidence and tenacity to the Superstition Review internship. A huge part of the internship is learning to not only embody but also balance professionalism and confidence. I think such professionalism encompasses a whole mess of other skills: organization, prioritizing, meeting deadlines, even–can I say–eloquence in emails. The confidence translates into so many other outlets, whether this includes applying for graduate programs or submitting one’s own work to a literary journal. Trish was kind enough to grant me a wonderful opportunity to flex these skills at AWP’s most recent conference. I had the chance to be a part of a presenting panel with her and representatives from two other undergraduate literary magazines. She was (is!) a fantastic, generous mentor. The experience continues.
SR: Creatively, what are you currently working on?
HL: I am working on a few different projects, most obsessively, a couple of different series of poetry. I’m trying to explore/exploit some of my background in music and psychology through this, allowing music, sound/silence, communication, and disorder to talk and tangle in my work.
SR: What are some of your career highlights after leaving SR?
HL: I am currently pursuing my MFA degree in poetry at Colorado State University. I’ve had opportunities to teach at CSU, intern with the Colorado Review, and co-curate a student reading series. A few journals have been kind enough to publish a poem or two, even a couple of my reviews. A few colleagues and I are working to start a non-profit organization, The Strophe Project, aimed at forming and facilitating writing communities in underserved populations of Fort Collins. You can learn more at www.thestropheproject.wordpress.com.
Sarah Dillard, Fiction Editor for the dazzling new issue of Superstition Review, shared a few moments of her busy schedule with me to discuss her experiences as a student intern. An Illinois native, Sarah joined the Literature, Writing, and Film major at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus in 2007 after a few years in Indiana. This is her first semester with Superstition Review. She will pass her knowledge along to next semester’s interns as she wraps up her undergraduate career in preparation for next month’s graduation.
Haley Larson: What is your preferred genre as a writer? As a reader?
Sarah Dillard: As I writer, I prefer to write Nonfiction because it allows me to tap into my inner emotions to create a piece of work that emulates my life and beliefs in some form. When I first began taking nonfiction writing courses last semester, I was a bit intimidated by the process of writing about myself and allowing others to read my work. Since then, I have been able to reflect on my writing and release any inhibitions that I previously had. As a reader however, I prefer fiction pieces because they allow me to escape my own reality and focus on something new and interesting.
HL: Who influences your own work and your aesthetic?
SD: It’s hard for to pin point just one author who influences my own work and aesthetic; there are many authors who that I find inspirational and influential! For me, it’s best to surround myself with different writing styles and try to take the inspirations I have drawn from their writing to incorporate it into my own unique style.
HL: How did you first hear about Superstition Review? Who or what aspect of the internship encouraged you to apply?
SD: I first heard about Superstition Review before I even applied to ASU. I emailed Duane Roen to ask him about the Literature, Writing, and Film program and internship opportunities and he mentioned that Trish Murphy started an online literary magazine. I knew I wanted to save the internship until my last semester of school, so as soon as I received the application, I filled it out right away. I wanted this internship because I knew I would gain a great deal of knowledge and insight into the publishing business.
HL: What do you think of the online/paperless format of this internship and publication?
SD: One of the reasons I was attracted to this internship was because it was offered entirely online. I have such a busy schedule, so I liked that it offered a flexible working/learning environment. I feel like I am more creative and productive late at night, so this internship has allowed me the opportunity to work whatever hours I choose, as long as I get my work done. By having Superstition Review published in an online format allows for easy accessibility to our readers. How often to you come across a good article in a magazine just to find out the magazine was accidentally thrown out or misplaced? Superstition Review keeps archives of issues which allow readers to see accomplishments of the past, as well as the present. Even though this magazine is relatively new in the literary field, Superstition Review has published high profile authors in past issues and this online format lets readers view works from these prominent authors.
HL: What has been one of your most exciting assignments/responsibilities at Superstition Review this year?
SD: This whole process has been exciting! One of my favorite moments of Superstition Review was having the opportunity to interview highly successful authors whom I admired and respected. Mary Sojourner and Erin McGraw are big names in the literary field; I was star-struck! I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to connect to the literary world.
HL: What is currently keeping you busy at Superstition Review?
SD: I just finished reading a record number of submissions and sending out acceptance/rejection letters. It was a very time consuming process but I learned so much from it! Now I am just anxiously awaiting the launch of Issue 3 while tying up some loose ends.
HL: With a record number of submissions this year, how have you balanced being a student and a member of busy literary and art journal?
SD: At first, it was hard to find balance between this internship, taking 22 credit hours, and working on top of that. After the first few weeks though, I began to find myself in a routine that I was comfortable with. I think the key to maintaining balance is to stay focused and organized, not to mention laugh at the crazy moments I can’t control! These elements have helped me immensely throughout this internship and semester.
HL: How has your understanding of a literary journal changed by being a part of Superstition Review? What surprises you most about the start-to-finish process of publishing an issue?
SD: I have always had an interest in the publishing world but never knew what it entailed or the work that goes behind publishing a magazine. There were times where I would think to myself there’s no way I’m going to get this done, but in the long run, I learned that everything falls together with hard work. I have even more respect for editors and publishers of literary magazine because of this experience. I can’t say there’s anything that surprised me, because I honestly didn’t know what to expect when signing up for this, which allowed me to keep an open mind and go with the flow.
HL: How has this experience enhanced your education or preparedness? What do you think you’ll take away from this internship after its completion?
SD: This internship has provided me with hands-on work experience that I don’t think I could have gained anywhere else. The online learning environment required me to communicate effectively with peers and stay on top of tasks. I have also increased my organization skills immensely. This internship also taught me what it’s like to work as a team on a project that I can be proud of. Everyone at Superstition Review has been extremely helpful whenever I’ve had a question or was confused about something. I share the role as a fiction editor with Rebekah Richgels who has helped me guide me throughout the process of publishing this magazine. Even though this was an online environment, I feel I was able to connect with my managing editor, advisors, and peers.
HL: Will you consider working on another publication after completing your internship with SR? What are your plans post-graduation?
SD: Once I graduate in May, I plan to return to school to obtain my teaching certification. I want to teach high school composition and literature. This internship has inspired me to create a classroom publication once I am a teacher that will allow students to manage and organize a literary magazine. I want to pass the skills I have gained through Superstition Review to my students.
Haley Larson, a Superstition Review poetry editor, comments on her experience with Ray Gonzalez’s poetry.
When new work from Ray Gonzalez landed in the hands of the poetry editors, we were beyond eager to feature four of his new poems in Issue 3. Gonzalez, a professor in the MFA Creative Writing programs at the University of Minnesota and Pine Manor College, is the author of numerous collections of poems, essays, and short stories. For more of his bio and impressive achievements, join us for the launch of Issue 3 on April 20th!
Among his new work, we’ll have the opportunity to experience the subtle and tumbling momentum of Gonzalez’s gift with prose poetry. We will lose ourselves among snow storms, beards, chest hair, starry plains–all in the crisp language that shapes Gonzalez’s imagery and often sorrowing metaphors. From “Three Snow Storms” we get a taste of this collective craft:
because ground is
marked only once
for men with
The white storm
pushes me into
the canyon where
the poetry of shadows
Age, art, their entangled rapport–we are fortunate captives riding out the three storms of this poem.
One more teaser before your return on April 20th, we present to you a small excerpt from “Photo of Pablo Picasso with His Shirt Off.” Poets and artists take note, “The hairy look of genius gets in the way.” We invite you to join us for more from Ray Gonzalez!
Intern Sarah Dillard, interviews Haley Larson about her experience as a poetry editor for Superstition Review.
Haley Larson is one of the two poetry editors that is interning with Superstition Review this semester. Her background is unique, as she received her Bachelor Degree in Psychology and with a minor in Music from the University of Nebraska. She is currently working on her second bachelor degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis. Next fall, Haley will be headed to Graduate School to work on her Master’s in Poetry.
With the launch of Issue 3 right around the corner, interns have been busy finishing up tasks and projects. Haley was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to share what her experience has been like with Superstition Review thus far.
Sarah Dillard: What led you to pursue a position with Superstition Review?
Haley Larson: I had ENG 411 with Trish, and she encouraged me to consider it. Having never done anything like this before, I wasn’t originally planning to apply–I didn’t think I’d have the time or experience necessary. It has turned out to be a highlight of my undergrad work. The hands-on experience is invaluable.
SD: What are some of your favorite poets and how do they impact you?
HL: A few poets who I obsessed over at the beginning of my poetry interests include Neruda, e.e. cummings, and Sylvia Plath. Since then, I have had some phenomenal instructors who introduced me to an endless world of great poets: Larry Levis, Mary Oliver, Paul Guest, Kay Ryan, Arthur Sze, Bob Hicok. I think most of these poets impact me by challenging me. Their work urges me to reevaluate what I think poetry is and consider the infinite possibilities of what it can be. Whether they create a form, transform an intangible idea into an image, or turn written language to a musical serenade, they all make me jealous enough to try a little harder.
SD: How would you describe your experience so far with Superstition Review?
HL: This has been an absolute whirlwind! However, I can’t think of a better learning experience for a young writer. Not only do I get to see the up-close and inner workings of the publishing world and its processes, I get to be a part of them. There is an unmatchable sense of accomplishment in having my input considered and progressing toward the launch of what is sure to be a stellar third issue. I have improvised through a few moments, but that’s the unique feature of this applied learning environment–it’s encouraged that we “do” rather than “be told.” I’ve learned to take initiative and scramble when necessary. And I will admit, I’m still the poetry equivalent of star-struck when I get to email back and forth with poets I admire.
SD: What are your responsibilities as one of the Poetry Editors of Superstition Review?
HL: My responsibilities include communicating with our solicited poets, reading and considering submissions that come in, sending acceptance and rejection emails, and a variety of other tasks that present themselves. More generally, I must meet deadlines, keep some sense of organization, and be flexible. I’m looking forward to interviewing Barbara Hamby and David Baker in the coming week. Researching their work and letting my curiosity run a bit is a great opportunity disguised as responsibility.
SD: What do you look for when deciding which poetry submissions to publish? Do you try to stay open minded throughout the process or do your own personal preferences play a role?
HL: Some key things I look for are attention to rhythm and musicality, sentient imagery, and fresh interpretations of language. The capacity to elicit emotion is an obvious element, I think. I look for the ability to experience the poem without having it forced upon me. I definitely try to stay open-minded, but I’m sure that I carry a bit of my own aesthetic into the role. In fact, I hope that my aesthetic continues to evolve throughout this internship. One of the most important things I’ve learned in this position–being part of a publication–is that it’s important to keep our readers in mind.
SD: What are your plans after this semester?
HL: I plan to attend an MFA program in poetry.
SD: What is the most useful piece of advice you would give to future Superstition Review interns?
HL: Jump in and get your hands dirty! Ask questions (I have asked a few hundred since January) but also trust yourself a little. It can be nerve-wracking jumping into a world that you’ve only read about, but everyone is so helpful and supportive.
SD: What do you hope to take away from your experience with Superstition Review?
HL: I hope to take away valuable skills suited to publishing, a more evolved aesthetic, and a sense of confidence and accomplishment. I can’t think of a better way to prepare myself for my professional pursuits in the poetry world.