Today’s Intern Update features Natalie Volin, a Content Coordinator from Issue 17 of Superstition Review.
With a BS in Technical Communication as well as a minor in Spanish and a certificate in publishing, Natalie was recently promoted to be an Operations Manager at the Baby Bathwater Institute, a network of entrepreneurs.
Natalie was also a co-founder of the Iron City magazine, an online and print journal that publishes work from incarcerated writers and artists to highlight and find value in their stories to pave the way for understanding and transformation.
We are so proud of you Natalie!
If you’d like to learn more, you can visit Natalie’s LinkedIn profile here.
We are proud to announce that past Superstition Review intern Jessica Marie Fletcher and current intern Jacqueline Aguilar were interviewed for ASU’s New Innovation Happens Podcast Series. The podcast is centered on their work with Iron City Magazine, the innovation the magazine brings, and the positive impact of prison education. Congratulations to the two! Podcast: https://universitydesign.asu.edu/podcast/iron-city-magazine
Please join Iron City Magazine this Friday on Roosevelt Row! Editors from Iron City Magazine and volunteers will be reading from Issue 1 & Issue 2. Kylie Killian a contributor of their upcoming Issue will also be reading a couple of her submitted pieces. Come join them in sharing the creative expressions of incarcerated writers and artists!
[Issue 1 ($8) and Issue 2 ($10) will be sold at the event. Credit/Debit and Cash only.]
If you haven’t heard already, Superstition Review will be attending the 2018 AWP Conference in Tampa, Florida next week. You can visit us at booth T1213 where we will also be representing Iron City Magazine.
We are excited as day one is approaching quickly, the conference is less then a week away.
Want to keep up with Superstition Review during AWP? Visit our Pinterest! AWP 2018 Florida will keep you current while AWP 2017 DC and earlier AWP boards will share experiences from our past attendances.
Speaking of the past, Samantha Allen shared, “10 Survival Tips for AWP Newbies” on the blog. While these tips come from 2012, tip number one, wearing comfortable shoes, is timeless.
We are happy to share news that Iron City Magazine is currently accepting submissions for their third issue.
Iron City Magazine is, as put by Jessica Fletcher — former Superstition Review Intern and Iron City Magazine’s fiction editor — a “journal devoted entirely to writing and art from the prison world.”The journal publishes these works to help show that prisoners are not solely defined by their crimes, but are human also. Submissions are limited to current and former inmates, prison volunteers, and staff.
The submission deadline is April 15th, 2018.
Iron City Magazine can also be supported through donation here.
For greater detail about Iron City Magazine’s mission and submission guidelines visit the Iron City Magazine’s website.
We are so proud of our past and present staff here at Superstition Review, and we’ve decided to celebrate the accomplishments of our past interns throughout the month of April. Each day, we will feature an intern on social media and share what they’re up to now. Then, at the end of each week, we will share a wrap-up post of all our featured interns from that week. So, without further ado…
More details: Eli shares, “After editing poetry for SR issues 16 & 17 and graduating from ASU I went on to my current job as an on-line content coordinator for BPG Technologies/Designs. Sister companies that specializes in Fiber Optics, telecommunication, GIS mapping, construction and design. Being able to write in some facet as a career path is wonderful and SR gave me some really essential skill sets for that. More importantly, Trish and SR showed me how to run a literary magazine well and now with my girlfriend, we too run a literary magazine: ELKE “a little journal”.”
More details: Erin is currently a Digital Production Specialist at Make-A-Wish America, a nonprofit that serves children with critical illnesses. She shares, “Since serving as the student editor-in-chief of Superstition Review in 2014 and graduating from ASU, I’ve been managing the email marketing program and supporting other digital campaigns at Make-A-Wish. Every day I’m doing something a little different – whether it’s planning content for an upcoming campaign, writing copy, or designing an email – which gives me so many opportunities to use the skills I gained in school and at Superstition Review. Plus, I’m learning a lot about the nonprofit world and direct response marketing! It’s exciting being able to apply my experience in school and from internships to serve a unique mission.”
3. Cara Pencak: Advertising Coordinator, Issue 15 (Spring 2015)
More details: Cara is currently the editorial assistant at Phoenix New Times. She shares, “I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed writing until I started at ASU. My academic advisor had mentioned the internship with Superstition Review and I’m so glad I took the opportunity! The work I did with the magazine gave me a chance to explore what it takes to put together a publication—the ins and outs, so to speak. In my current role as the editorial assistant at Phoenix New Times, I find myself applying that knowledge daily and I’m really enjoying it! I’m also interested in medicine, which led me to pursue a career in speech-language pathology. I’m excited to start as a grad student this fall at U of A!”
More details: Jessica is currently a Counseling Graduate Student and Director of Events in ASU’s Graduate Professional Student Association. She shares, “I am currently studying in the Master of Counseling program at ASU. In addition, I serve as Director of Events in the Graduate Professional Student Association. Using the nifty skills I learned in s[r] roles (SEC, fiction editor, and blogger), I plan social events for graduate students as well as lead advocacy projects for state prisons. Even though I am working in mental health, I continue to use literature and art to reach others. I am volunteering in Florence State Prison as a creative writing teacher and I am also a fiction editor for Iron City Magazine, which is a print and online journal devoted entirely to writing and art from the prison world. The best part — I get to use all my experience to make a difference in the community and touch the lives of others.”
5. Michael Wise: Content Coordinator, Issue 14 (Fall 2014) and Social Networker, Issue 15 (Spring 2015)
More details: Michael Wise is a testing technician in the enrollment services at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. He shares, “I used to be one of the content coordinators for Superstition Review, and it was such a fun and invaluable experience! The work I did there helped me get through my BA of English at ASU and to land a job at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. My job is pretty straight-forward, I am the person who students dread seeing because I’m the one who hands out their midterms and finals. I decided to try and soften my image a bit and not be solely associated with stressful exams by becoming more engaged on campus. I am a club advisor for the Male Empowerment Network (M.E.N.) where I work with male minority students to help them complete their degrees and/or transfer onto a university. As the adviser I have utilized my work experience and writing background to hold scholarship writing and resume building workshops. I am also a member of CGCC’s Creative Writing & Arts Council where we are working to build a larger and stronger community of artists and writers on campus. As for my writing, I have been working on a few short stories to get accepted into a creative writing MFA program and for eventual publication.”
6. Megan Kizer: Social Networker, Issue 14 (Fall 2014)
More details: Megan currently works at a global integrated marketing agency called PMX Agency as their very first in-house SEO Content Writer. She shares, “This essentially means that I have the fun opportunity to write page optimization copy, net-new copy, blog posts, and eBooks for leading clients across several industries. Along with actively contributing to my own company’s blog, I’m also beginning to take on more of an editorial role as our team expands. Overall, my job is to tell the client’s story in a way their customers will understand and appreciate, whether that means cranking out retail-specific verbiage, explaining the careful behind-the-scenes details of a national cleaning company, or even helping adults find a college program that they’re passionate about. I love that I get to wear a different hat every day and practice my writing skills in vastly diverse fields. My absolute favorite part of my job is to go onto a major client’s website or blog and think, ‘Hey! I wrote that!’ I also love that I’m able to communicate with coworkers across the nation to implement new ideas and processes that will help move our company forward. We’re all about improving ourselves, our teams, and our company, and it’s truly an incredible experience to feel that support in my career. I’m so grateful to sit across such intelligent people and learn about everything it takes to build a brand and keep it growing, from content to social media to email marketing, and everything in between!”
7. Amanda Strusienski: Social Networker, Issue 11 (Spring 2013)
More details: Amanda is currently a Curriculum Coordinator for University of Phoenix. She shares, “Since graduating from ASU in 2013 with my BA in English I have found my passion in education. My first career job was a school librarian where I instructed grades K-6th. That was an amazing experience where I had the opportunity to impact student lives, and hopefully give them a deeper understanding of literature. Presently, I am entering my third year with the University of Phoenix as a Curriculum Coordinator for the College of Education. I like to say my job is 2% administration and 98% all other duties as assigned. I get the opportunity to research, support, design, and revise college courses and programs for adult learners. It is a challenging and rewarding position. I love knowing that I’m part of a process that helps adult learners find new careers or seek advancement in their field. I am also two classes away from completing my masters in Adult Education and Training. My hope is to move into a career as an instructional designer for higher education programs or work as a facilitator for adult education (maybe even both).”
Thank you so much to these interns for their service with us; you are all doing such amazing things, and we’re so proud!
The Process: Catharsis, Counseling, and Creative Writing
When talking about writing in literary crowds, I skirted away from using the word, “catharsis.” In an attempt to mask my youthful unknowingness—and to hopefully step into the realm of literariness (as if it were The Thing to attain)—I distinguished my stories as maturely lacking any cathartic-make-you-feel-better qualities. What an insecure snob I was!
With help, I have reworked this naïve snobbery into quality-mongering [meaning: verb: an attempt to look for quality; to go above and beyond; to go deeper; to refine; to grow; noun: quality mongers: those who practice quality mongering]. Can quality-mongering be petty? Sometimes. Is it honest? Always.
Writing short stories, for me, has included a constant flow of quality mongering. A constant reshaping and refining of something too raw. For some emotionally bloody and raw story starts, I would overcook and sterilize any cathartic, tender aspects of me that may still be on the page. I struggled with the thought of me entering the story. A writing no-no. I hadn’t considered my own self-protection also taking place.
Writing short stories involves creating mini realities—mini snapshots into a moment or a series of moments. In my own writing process, crafting a reality often derived from a source within me; a few friends can trace the crumbs of Jess scattered on the page and across my reoccurring themes. While trying to excise “me” out of the story, I would tell myself that I was inhabiting the world of another, writing outside of “what I knew,” and seeking quality by using structured writing. I insisted that any catharsis I experienced while writing never remained in the pieces I considered my art.
I wasn’t exactly wrong; I wasn’t exactly right.
After some growing up a bit and reworking my constructs about writing, I encountered this concept of catharsis and artistic healing increasingly. Now pursuing a career in mental health counseling, I can’t help but use my reader/writer brain to connect the dots between client stories and counseling processes—including catharsis.
Catharsis followed me everywhere. As a volunteer creative writing teacher at a prison, I encountered the question of writing from hurt on my first day teaching a writing class.
I recall asking each of the orange-clad men sitting around me, “What do you want to learn in this class?”
In the small classroom, which looked like one of those WWII Quonset huts, I received an assortment of answers:
“To write good.”
“To write better.”
“To write home.”
“To write past the writer’s block.”
One student then said, “I want to know how to write, but like, write without it hurting too much. I think sometimes, if I write, it will just all come out and be too much. Hurt too much.”
There had been a collective nod—and sigh—as if we were all waiting for the air conditioning to turn on, to greet us, to remind us that we weren’t in a prison.
Hurt too much. What about writing for catharsis? I questioned my subjectivity, which I lumbered around while trying to hide it—could my own insistence to not use catharsis also stem from a fear of hurting? Was it about pain or about image? About art? About refining?
My writing and counseling worlds collided, and consideration of my student’s question was necessary.
Within my first few weeks of learning counseling theories and techniques, I easily adhered to the word, “phenomenological,” and the concept of the subjective reality in which each of us operates in the world. Our internal framework. Each person perceives their Truth from a separate, conscious mind. Writers and readers momentarily occupy the minds of others. But even stories are clipped snapshots of a phenomenological reality. Salience-focused movie-reel slides. Refined and revised to show a subjective experience.
After doing a mock therapy session, I noticed more parallels between writing and therapy: themes and patterns, language-fixation, subjective realities; meaning and feeling; images and metaphors.
As a counselor, though, I am no longer writer but rather reader of these salience-focused, sometimes refined/rehearsed, sometimes unfiltered/uncensored, mini-snapshots into clients’ phenomenological worlds. Their experiences. Their internal frameworks. While I can never fully inhabit each client’s consciousness and understand every nuance of their being, I can piecemeal their themed stories to better understand—to better connect with our shared humanity.
Woo woo? I sure hope so.
In counseling, there are various change processes applied to differing theoretical approaches including consciousness raising, choosing, catharsis, contingency control, and conditioned stimuli.
Often, therapy involves raising the awareness of those seeking help. Often, therapy involves choice—sometimes outside of decision. Often, therapy involves pairing stimuli. Often, therapy involves behavior/thought management.
Often—therapy involves catharsis.
Even within some counseling circles, the use of catharsis can elicit that same negative connotation I had applied with writing. Is it bad to write from a source of emotion? Of pain? Is it inferior to use a healing process based in releasing repressed emotions? Is it inferior to find relief? Is it unrefined and unsophisticated to write with catharsis? Is there valence at all?
Am I asking the right questions?
Then there’s my student’s question. How do you write without it hurting too much?
Should it not hurt? Hurt. Hurt. Hurt.
The healing process—whether attributed to counseling change processes, writing processes, reading processes, revision processes, whatever process—appears to be just that: a process.
Could we quality mongers be searching for The Thing when we should be along for the active, growing journey? Is my subjectivity showing?
This realization—that maybe there is more than a black and white answer—showed me how truly youthfully unknowing I had been. And that was okay. In class, I have learned, that “you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know.”
With writing—and with healing—sometimes the consciousness raising and choosing occur alongside the cathartic journey, which includes sometimes pain and sometimes relief and sometimes emotion and sometimes ugly, messy beginnings. Shitty first drafts.
For me, writing derives from a self-actualizing delight in understanding another human’s phenomenological world, in rewriting my own, and in recognizing the holistic nuances of being human.
The Process no longer appears linear. Rather, aspects of catharsis may occur in all stages of writing, revising, and editing. Consciousness raising continually occurs—and thank goodness it does—and my thoughts, behaviors, and values continue to interplay within my counseling, my writing, and my way of being.
Slightly more aware, slightly less insecure, slightly less snobbish, slightly more honest, I see less fog in actively writing with sometimes cathartic beginnings and processes. I see the ways in which no three-pronged thesis could possibly support the dynamic writing and revision process and its human component.
There may be no perfect and mature answer to my student’s question. My awareness may only be raised slightly. This could be messy. But damn, it feels good.
The term, “Quality-Mongering,” can be credited to Christopher Greene.