Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Saramanda Swigart.
Saramanda Swigart is thrilled to be writing fiction almost full time after years of writing ad copy and corporate literature. She has lived and worked in Italy, New York, San Francisco and Dubai. She recently completed an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and a supplementary degree in literary translation. Her short work has appeared in Fogged Clarity, The Literati Quarterly, and Thin Air; and her work has received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train. She is working on her first novel, Meaning Machine, about a family’s incompatible coping strategies in the face of loss.
Ljubo Popovich, Poetry Editor from Issue 8, shares some thoughts about his time at ASU and his discovery of non-Western literature.
I always thought that my parents and elders were pulling my leg when they told me to enjoy my college years – that they are the best years of my life and so forth. When I was in college I came close to feeling overwhelmed with schoolwork, and I never got heavily into the social life of the students that lived on campus, of going to the football games or participating in clubs or fraternities. I had a few friends, but my main concern was getting out into the world, and getting through this period of uncertainty and dread of the future. Eventually, I switched my major (twice), and landed in English. Finally things were getting interesting. I could stop plodding through Architecture and Engineering and simply learn what I genuinely cared about. My appreciation for literature grew and blossomed at ASU in my last two years. I felt much more comfortable in this realm.
I spent hours in the library, wandering through the stacks, always using what I learned in my classes as a jumping off point for further exploration. This curiosity has become a central part of my life. I became interested in literature and culture outside of the United States. When I stayed in Montenegro, I had the chance to visit Italy, Greece, Germany, England, Switzerland, Serbia, and Croatia. Now I can’t wait to go back and eat the exotic food, walk on the beaches, drive through the mountains, and experience entirely different cultures. The great European and Asian writers that I discovered gave me further encouragement to see as much of the world as possible.
What the future holds is still an unknown, but I know that I found a limitless source of joy in the works of Chekhov, Goethe, and Gogol. Dostoevsky and Akutagawa, Maugham, Victor Hugo, Cervantes, Italo Svevo…wherever I turned, there was a fresh perspective. I have learned that one book is always the doorway to another, and that life makes sense when you are lost in a good book. My experience with Superstition Review gave me a taste of the publishing world, and I think that my thirst for literature will now lead me toward a career with a publishing company, or perhaps as an editor of a magazine. For the time being, I work at ASU Online, in student services. Though it gives me much needed work experience and enough of an income to plan for the future, I am always on the lookout for opportunities in the fields I am most interested in.
Although I have only been out of college for half a year, I am beginning to understand what my parents meant. My years at the university were formative and they were some of the happiest years I have had, despite the struggle and uncertainty of that period of my life. Most importantly, I met the girl to whom I am now engaged, and I received the basic tools I will use for the rest of my life: education, determination, love, patience, and intellectual curiosity.
On November 8 the Superstition Review reading series was pleased to feature Melissa Pritchard. The intimate atmosphere of the reading allowed for a personal view of her story Echorché, Flayed Man. Music from an Italian composer, the pungent scent of incense and a few words from Patricia Murphy and Reading Series Coordinator Mary Richardson provided the perfect introduction. While a large group of friends, colleagues and admirers filled the Pima Auditorium in the Memorial Union at ASU, her voice was quiet and seemed to engage us individually as she read. As Melissa stood against a backdrop lit with magenta bulbs, the audience silently absorbed each emotion-filled sentence.
After the applause from eager listeners Melissa answered several questions. She touched on working with A Public Space and the technicalities of writing a story that is both fiction, and also the true story of certain individuals from La Specula, the museum in Italy upon which the story takes place. Echorché, Flayed Man has been published in Issue 11 of A Public Space and will also appear in her latest book The Odditorium, to be released in January 2011.