Guest Post, David Klose: The Art of Falling Behind

The truth of the matter is that I am at least a week behind in three of my classes and just finally caught with up the other three. In more detail, I’d say that I still need to read Beowulf and haven’t even begun to read the essays and poems by the masters of the Harlem Renaissance and that upcoming exam, the one that takes places either on a Thursday or Saturday, is worth 100 points, like all the others, and I’ve already missed one. 100 points is just how it sounds: significant. Don’t even get me started on the History of Medieval Inquisition. The textbook for that class has an uncreased spine and, as I write this, is holding up my half empty can of soda. I will be, by the Arizona Fall, a collector of the most expensive coasters, paper weights and bug killers you can find, the kind you can only buy after waiting for an hour in a gold and maroon line at the Textbook store. That’s to say I am not making improvement. That’s to say there hasn’t been progress. But there has – I just have a hard time of seeing it. And the grades, so easy to derail, are slow on the incline.

Let me back up. I have taken more classes than I can handle. Let me back up again. I have not adequately prepared for the classes which I am taking. I am sure I can handle them, with a little bit of care, with a little less time spent at work. They are random classes, being used to fill up the elective space on my DARS report. They range from Mythology to Geography to Beginner’s German and only one class, really, can be said to be about English literature, which is my major. Still, they involve reading and note taking and, because of my job, which requires more of my life than I’d like to admit, all of these classes are online. Over the summer, I bought a new writing desk and stocked it with paperclips and a desk calendar, nearly a yard long, with fist sized spaces for each day of the month, that is now blank. I tried it for August and the beginning of September and I tried sitting at the desk and keeping my mind on the discussion board in front of me. But, it didn’t work. I’d suddenly remember that I hadn’t vacuumed in a while or that I need to Google the “paleo diet” to find out what it is and see why everyone is going so crazy over it. Then I’d get tired and cross the day off the calendar, moving the tasks onto tomorrow and go to bed.

This is my first year at ASU. I came from Mesa Community College, where I was a full time student taking one class a semester online, the rest on campus. I passed everything easily, except for math, which, I used to joke, is how one decides to become an English major. I did the homework, of course, and studied for the tests — though never for very long — and always with a TV show on in the background or with music playing. I can’t read in silence. I will fall asleep. Nine times out of ten, I will fall asleep, no matter what I am reading, no matter if I love it and can’t wait to see how the story plays out–I am dead asleep two to three pages deep.

Now, at ASU, I am behind. The kind of behind that has me a little worried. I am behind when you don’t want to be behind. You can be behind at community college. They won’t tell you that, and I probably shouldn’t say it, and I mean no offense, but it’s true. You can be behind there for a pretty long time before you have to worry about failing. But now I am at ASU and now I am behind and the semester seems almost over–is it almost over?–and I can’t tell you what I’ve learned except a few blurbs about this topic and that topic and I know all of the history, I just don’t know the dates or names. I am so behind I’ve pulled all nighters and fallen asleep at work, scrunched down in my office chair while on a conference call. I’ve been woken up by co-workers and they joke that I must’ve been real drunk the night before. God, I wish it had been a case of being real drunk the night before.

How do I fix this? I can’t work less. I cannot change the ever shifting hours which come with retail, from working 7 am to 4pm, followed by a 1pm to 10pm, followed by another 7 am to 4 pm, then an 11am-8pm. And I can’t seem to find the time to be so completely alone with my homework. I can’t seem to do what I wanted to do with my first semester at ASU. That is, to pull a Jonathan Franzen. You know Jonathan Franzen. The guy who insulted Oprah, and also happened to write a few books. His books are long books and they are good, though I haven’t finished them because I keep falling asleep at the part where the flashbacks begin. He writes them on an old laptop using an old word processor. The genius even breaks the ports so he can’t hook his laptop up to the internet. He probably burns the wi-fi out of the air with a lighter and writes in log cabins with no electricity.

But I’m sorry, I’m no good at writing in cabins or reading in silence, or turning off the rest of the world and living solely and completely in one particular task. Most of it, I admit, is weakness. I am weak when it comes to movies and going out and listening to music and reading other books, other stories, stuff not on the syllabus. What am I to do? The only answer seems to be to try and study chaotically.

Let me explain. I like to stay up late and I read a little bit of each assigned text at a time, so as not to get bored and fall asleep. I am writing this in my bed, blankets over my body, pillow holding up my head, typing slowly and awkwardly, the kind of typing you do when it’s hard to move one hand but you don’t want to get up because you’re so damn comfortable. Did I mention that YouTube is open on the browser? Did I mention that, no joke, I really can’t get enough of Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus (not just for the video) and that last week, when I should have been writing about feminism in early African American literature, I was listening to thirty minutes of Eminem rap battling raps with other rap battling rappers? I now keep copies of stories and poems that I need to read at home, at work, and in my car. On really lucky days I get stuck waiting for the train to cross the tracks at Center and Broadway and can read three to five paragraphs on the the history of Vikings before traffic starts to move again. And, I am not kidding here, I keep most of my school books in the bathroom, stacked on top of the no-touch wastebasket. The more time I spend in the bathroom, the more reading I can do (I’ve only fallen asleep on the toilet once before) and if I get bored, as happens from time to time, I just put down the book and take out my phone and read BBC news or play Ruzzle or look at Instagram to see what foods my friends are eating.

After work, when it’s time write an essay or take a quiz, I click on the TV and put on my favorite show. Then I turn the volume down to barely noticeable and I keep it down until the funny parts comes up and then I turn it up and laugh. Then I turn it back down and continue on with my work.

Now, I am looking forward to the next semester where I can plan better. Now, I’m a big believer in partial credit, because it always seems to add up to just enough. I think that’s how I have resorted to getting things done: a partial bit at a time. I like to write the beginnings of my essays on the yellow legal pad we use to write up action plans at work. I read the prompts to my discussion board assignments before going to work, so during work, when I don’t need all of my mental capacity for the subject at hand, I form sentences in my mind, how I will answer the prompt later. I try to get at least 80% done with the question before I get home and type it up.

I don’t study. At least, I don’t sit at home and study. As you can probably guess, I usually fall asleep. I don’t need to count sheep, just notecards. Instead, I like to read a little and talk a lot about the little that I read. At work, instead of telling people about my weekend, I will tell them something I learned. A little bit of history or how to say something in German. This doesn’t make me the most popular person, but sometimes you find things out about other people, like which of your co-workers speak a foreign language and which of them never will.

It’s not about multitasking which, everyone loves to tell me, is technically impossible. No, it’s about not wasting the minutes of the day. It’s about stacking a little bit of work on top of a little bit of work until the entire task is done. It’s about connecting the five minutes I had of reading in the morning while drinking coffee to the ten minutes late at night I have for answering questions while waiting for the water to boil soft the hard pasta.

I am behind in my studies. At this very moment, I am behind. I am behind, I think, in this blog post. I am behind at work, which is hard to believe since it is only October and we are already almost done with setting up our Christmas displays. I have set up alerts on my phone for all the due dates of all my assignments for the rest of the semester but so far I’ve just been ignoring the alarm, like a text from an old friend I don’t talk to anymore. The desk calendar is still blank and most of my homework is done standing up. I just have to sit down to write it out. It isn’t a good thing to be behind, but I guess it’s better than being stagnant. That isn’t probably the best lesson to learn (and spread) but at least I’ll get partial credit and that will stack onto other credit until the task is done. And if you want to catch me sitting still, your best luck is to find me on the toilet, flipping through pages of Chaucer, looking for the parts I plan on quoting on the next discussion board, looking for the parts that sound right.

Contributor Update: New Book by Karen Skolfield

Frost in the Low AreasKaren Skolfield’s collection of poems, Frost in the Low Areas, won the First Book Award for Poetry from Zone 3 Press and is now available to order on Amazon.com and through Zone 3 Press.

Karen’s poem, Lost Mountain, was first published in Superstition Review’s Issue 8. It is included in her new book.

Congratulations Karen, from all of us here at S[R]!

s[r] Goodreads #FridayReads

This week on Goodreads.com, Superstition Review‘s Poetry Editor, Abner Porzio, reviewed two of his latest reads.

Or ConsequenceOr Consequence, by Cynthia Hogue.

Of utmost brilliance, Hogue’s collection of poems compels readers to journey forth and contemplate histories, causation, and unanswerable questions. Life’s grounding complexities and the boundaries of conscience are sewn together by the delicate and strong mindful poet. The mastery over focal points, techniques of blurring and redefining panoramas of place and time, string both universal and modern truths to the humanity that has been reconnected or what has been left naturally incomplete. Tragedies are shown as temporal, and yet, they are devastating events to be acknowledged collectively as part of the human experience. Pain is the human denominator. Suffering gets transmuted through hearable voices. Governing dynamics test the limits of the spirit when unanswerable histories and body experiences are questioned for their causation. Struggle for understanding exists in being stuck contemplating in-between past and present, causes and effects.

The poetry asks readers to be reminded of the constraint of the ‘element being’ grounded in a body. Hogue’s poems have exquisite profound gifts of sounds, which add elegant depths of resonance. Hogue’s sensitivity to how semantics and pragmatics choose the idiosyncratic communications simply honors natural languages as persistent and being capable of uncovering the inexistent. The acute articulation of linguistic expressions ranges beyond the comprised syntax with powerful erasures and silencing strikethroughs. Genius at metaphor, actions are of most significance.

Some lines that I enjoyed:

“I go in circles circles circles/ the first says, though I wish/ to cut the water like wings slice air.”

“Who can say no to such mayhem?”

“Looking could not make meaning.”

 

Some Nights No Cars at AllSome Nights No Cars at All, by Josh Rathkamp.

An immediate must read. Rathkamp’s collection of poems travel the mind inward to the perplex phenomenon of the familiar place, while travelling alongside each of the speakers’ trusty precise observances. These locations are where mere destinations only get furthered for the better; for they allow readers to arrive at their own active insightfulness and rediscoveries. Over and over again, his invaluable poetics carry each read to real heights of ambivalence. Truths, majestic assumptions, and understandings of what it means to be human are of interest. Physical and emotional manifestations of human imperfections have literal transparencies. The absence, loss, and the theme of emptiness countered the implications of the refilling notions of transient place.

Rathkamp’s verses are saturated with specific visual details. These inquiries of the present, past, and future moments, which are grounded in place, show ambivalence in all its nuances. All the ambiguities of separation, the humanistic postured reinterpretation of ambivalence explore the thought processes of being caught between making it work and giving up on the union. Struggle coincides with the flutter of melding conclusions, which hold the blueprints of these possibilities for an anxiety-free existence intact. Holistically, the poetic viewpoint renders points of transpiration life before these moments further change.

Some lines that I enjoyed:

“And again I am finding ways/ to clean the mess I made,/ rationalizing their nest to fallen twigs/ wound with mud and fishing line,/ the simple possibility of making another.”

“We were what we wanted.”

“We grew into speaking without words.”

“Sometimes what we think is soaring is actually/ a hell of a lot of work.”

Penumbra Magazine

Penumbra MagazinePenumbra, the bilingual literary magazine based out of Madrid, Spain, is preparing to release its second issue in late May, 2013. The magazine was founded in the summer of 2012 at Saint Louis University-Madrid with the goal of  creating a space for contemporary writers in English and Spanish between the same covers, to bridge the gap between the English and Spanish-speaking communities both in Madrid and in the Americas.

The magazine operates on a shoestring budget, and is run by a band of hardworking, underpaid word lovers, including a handful of graduate students in English Literature. Recent fundraising reading events have taken place at a private apartment on the west-edge Paseo del Pintor Rosales, and at The Toast Cafe in Madrid. At these events, a combination of local and U.S.-based musicians performed in English and Spanish following readings of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

The first issue of Penumbra featured work from 44 writers and artists from around the globe; check the magazine’s blog for updates on the forthcoming issue. As of now, all content is available for free online or for sale in print. Penumbra also maintains a daily-updated Facebook feed, where fellow word gluttons are welcome to read, comment on posts, and interact with editors.

Despite the magazine’s international pedigree, the editors look only for quality when evaluating submissions—rather than actively seeking work with a multinational tinge, they hope to publish the best of what comes in, regardless of all other considerations.

To keep up with the magazine’s news, read submission guidelines, and enjoy the first online issue of Penumbra, click here. Visit the Facebook page here.

Hayden’s Ferry Review Auction

Haydens FerryArizona State University’s international literary magazine will be holding their first fundraising auction on February 7 at 8 p.m. at Boulders on Broadway. Everyone in the community is encouraged to stop by and place a bid on what is promised to be a wide range of items from MFA faculty signed books, to handcrafted blankets to belly dancing lessons. All of the proceeds will go directly toward the production and mailing costs for Hayden’s Ferry Review, allowing the magazine to uphold their dedication to “providing a forum to showcase the voices of emerging and established talents in creative writing and visual art.” Support artists and writers by supporting Hayden’s Ferry Review.

 

Boulders on Broadway is located on Broadway and Roosevelt.
530 W Broadway Rd, Tempe, Arizona 85282-1311

Hayden’s Ferry Review
Facebook Event Page
Boulders on Broadway

Splash of Red Literary Arts Magazine

Splash of Red is an international online literary arts magazine that publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art, interviews, and graphic narratives. They have published interviews with many Pulitzer Prize winners, US Poet Laureates, and acclaimed writers as well as some of the top editors and publishers in the country for their Industry Interview Series. What sets these interviews apart from others is that they focus on the readers of the literary magazine, many of whom are writers themselves. The interviews delve into writing processes of the interviewees, editing techniques, and strategies for getting around writer’s block. And the Industry Series investigates the other side of the table that writers rarely get a glimpse into in order to better their odds at getting their work published. But the meat of the publication is the fantastic submissions that come from all over the world.

The name of the publication comes from three inspirations: 1) the infamous red ink in draft after draft to get the best quality writing, 2) the blood and passion that goes into only the most skillfully crafted art, and 3) great work stands out just like a splash of red.
In 2010, Splash of Red organized numerous live events where authors came to speak with audiences for live Q and As. Some of the authors included Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Diaz, famed writer Eleanor Herman, and Daniel Wallace – author of Big Fish, who spoke with eager audience members following a showing of the film based on his novel at a local independent theater. Additionally, the online magazine involved local communities by spearheading a special public mural on the New Jersey boardwalk in Asbury Park. Three artists chose three poems published on the website and created pieces of art inspired by and including those poems which were then painted in multiple large murals across the backdrop of the mid-Atlantic.

Interested fans can follow Splash of Red on Twitter, Facebook, or become a member and get email updates about newly published work and events. One of the things they pride themselves on is creating an online literary arts community where readers can post comments on anything published on the website, submit art inspired by splashes of red for their Red Gallery, and involving members in creative decisions and directions for the publication including suggestions for interviewees.

If you take any one thing away from this blog post, take this: check it out. The website is www.SplashOfRed.net and feel free to peruse, read, comment, and investigate at your own leisure. Make it your own and enjoy!

Meet the Review Crew I

Content Coordinator for Poetry and Nonfiction: Ashley Maul

Once, she was asked to list five books she’d bring with her on a deserted island and without fail her answer remains: Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireThe Scarlet Letter, a collection of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Billy Collin’s The Trouble with Poetry. Her favorite reading reflects her own writing style – a combination of youthful fancy and shenanigans mixed with sarcasm and adult confession.

Like many students so close to graduation, she is unsure of where the future will take her, but she is very interested in the publishing industry and imagines a career that allows her to telecommute as an editor for a posh literary magazine or book publishing company. With a history in bookstore management and an avid thirst for reading and writing, there is little she can imagine that can combine her interests so perfectly.

Art Editor Arjun Chopra

Arjun started working with Superstition Review over the past summer as a guest contributor with his blog series, “Dispatches From Delhi.” Despite being relatively new to the world of editing/publishing, Arjun finds his position intellectually stimulating and instrumental in giving him his first glimpse into the actual working side of writing. He finds his work to be a comprehensive learning experience in meshing creativity with professionalism, an invaluable skill of those who strive to make a living through their writing, a skill he is glad to have the chance to practice.

When not in class, doing homework, or compiling graduate application materials, Arjun enjoys spending his free time reading novels and poetry collections, writing, watching movies, skateboarding, and listening to a wide variety of different music.

Advertising Editor Brooke Passey

Along with her reading load for class, Brooke tries to read one recreational book a week. To stay motivated she posts weekly book reviews on her blog brookepassey.wordpress.com. She also loves horseback riding and spends her spare time training and teaching riding lessons. In the 15 years that she has been riding she has only fallen off a horse once—when she was reading a book while sitting on her horse bareback. Although she loves both hobbies she has since decided to keep them separate. After graduation she plans on pursuing a career where she can use her writing skills during the day and her riding skills in the evening.

Fiction Editor Abbey Maddix

Superstition Review is Abbey’s first experience working with a literary magazine and hopefully the first stepping stone to a career in the editing and publishing world. She finds the position demanding but educational, particularly informative when it comes to thinking about her own future career as a writer. Her work centers on fiction of all forms, exploring genres and forms and her own limitations. She enjoys pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone and enjoys exploring the question “What does it mean to be human?” from both a literary angle and a scientific one.

On Abbey’s “favorites” bookshelf there are the works of Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Gaiman, Italo Calvino, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, although she’d like to expand her experience with contemporary literature. Although she has a difficult time understanding poetry, the works of Pablo Neruda and Tomas Tranströmer have managed to win her over.

Guest Blog Post, Brooke Passey: Top Ten Literary Newsletters

Before I started as an intern for Superstition Review, I wasn’t aware that most literary magazines and organizations send out biweekly newsletters. As I’ve become more acquainted with the literary scene, I’ve realized just how much information I have been missing. Let’s talk about why newsletters in general are so great.

First of all, newsletters are one of the best resources for compact and relevant literary information. They cover literary news, updates and advice from published authors, upcoming literary events, and articles on a wide range of beneficial writing topics.

Better yet, the information comes to you—delivered right to your inbox. Other sources of information such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader are useful, but newsletters allow you to get the information as soon as it is published. Most newsletters are monthly or biweekly, so they won’t ever crowd your inbox.

Most importantly, they’re free! And who doesn’t like free things? Especially free things that help you to become a better writer, be involved in a network with successful authors, and stay up to date in the field.

Over the last few months I have subscribed to over 20 newsletters not only to improve my own writing skills, but also to take advantage of all the beneficial, interesting, and free information. Here are my top 10 newsletters. They are my favorites because they have consistently provided fresh and useful information along with dependable resources.

  1. Poets & Writers http://www.pw.org
  2. Poets.org https://www.poets.org
  3. The Paris Review http://www.theparisreview.org
  4. The Review Review http://www.thereviewreview.net
  5. The Nervous Breakdown http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com
  6. Tin House http://www.tinhouse.com
  7. Creative Nonfiction https://www.creativenonfiction.org
  8. Willow Springs http://willowsprings.ewu.edu
  9. Five Points http://www.fivepoints.gsu.edu
  10. Kenyon Review http://www.kenyonreview.org

And of course I recommend our own newsletter here at Superstition Review. Even my own mother subscribed recently. So join our mailing list by clicking here.

Call for Submissions: New Madrid

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

New Madrid, journal of contemporary literature, will dedicate its Winter 2013 issue to the theme of winning and losing. Though not limited to basketball or to sports in general in its expression of the theme, this issue will serve as a tribute to the MSU Racer basketball team, which basked in unprecedented national attention in the 2011-12 season due to its status as the last undefeated Division I men’s team, at one point climbing as high as No. 7 in national rankings. The Racers also clinched the Ohio Valley Conference championship and secured their 15th invitation to the NCAA tournament—as a 6th seed, their highest ever. The editors are looking for work in all literary genres that gives evidence of what ABC’s Wide World of Sports used to call “the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.” Through the theme, the issue will explore the implications of winning and losing, not just in sports but in many other arenas as well (for example, war, business, marriage, board games, real estate, the stock market). Submissions addressing success, failure, luck, chance, etc., in any aspect of the human condition are welcome. All submissions should be of interest to the general reader. Please do not submit scholarly articles. Submissions will be accepted between August 15 and October 15, 2012. Guidelines: www.newmadridjournal.org.