Rosemarie Dombrowski will be hosting a two-part writing workshop on flash memoir, titled “The Art of Memory in 750 Words or Less.” The workshop will take place at Changing Hands in Tempe from 6pm to 8pm on September 11 and September 25. Admission is $35 for both sessions.
During the first class, attendees will read and discuss examples of flash fiction and participate in a writing exercise. They will then receive a take-home writing prompt. In the second class, attendees will workshop their new, original piece of flash memoir and receive individualized feedback.
Rosemarie Dombrowski is a writer with a long list of accomplishments. She is the co-founder of the Phoenix Poetry Series, a poetry editor for Four ChambersPress, the founder of Rinky Dink Press, a three-time Pushcart nominee, and the inaugural Phoenix Poet Laureate. She is also a Senior Lecturer at Arizona State University’s Downtown campus. You can read more about her accomplishments on her website.
For more information about the workshop and to register, click here.
On Wednesday June 14th at 7PM, Changing Hands Phoenix will be hosting Paul Brinkley-Rogers as he discusses his new memoir, Please Enjoy Your Happiness. The memoir focuses on his time in 1959 when he had a love affair with an older Japanese woman while serving aboard a US Navy vessel outside of Yokusaka. Paul is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and veteran war correspondent that worked for many years in Asia, covering the war in Vietnam and Camboadia for Newsweek.
Find out more about the event at Changing Hands’ Phoenix location (300 W Camelback Phoenix, AZ 85013) here.
Today we are pleased to feature author Ruben Rodriguez as our Authors Talk series contributor. Ruben discusses the three poems which were published in Issue 18 of Superstition Review.
Ruben developed the poems from his memoir in verse. His poems are prose based and explore family memories from his childhood. He says of the poems, “The poems are meant to examine my coming of age, amidst my mother’s decline.” He talks of the way that family stories can become legends. The explanations that Ruben speaks about add another level to the beautiful imagery found in his poetry. Ruben plans to continue writing in this vein saying, “Moving forwward, I hope to write a couple hundred of these prose poems and whittle them down into a manuscript length.”
Today we are pleased to feature Roy Guzmán as our Authors Talk series contributor. In his podcast, Roy discusses community, culture, and struggle with Christina Collins from Lockjaw. Specifically, the pair discusses these ideas in the context of Roy’s piece, “Payday Loan Phenomenology,” which was published in Issue 18. They share how they first met on Twitter and then how they both ended up living in Minneapolis, which brings them to a discussion on displacement.
When discussing his piece in Issue 18, Roy notes, “it’s me trying to work with memory…if I’m looking at my past and I do not want it to depress me and I want it to sort of propel me, I need to create some kind of beauty.” Later, Christina tells Roy, “your work is so rooted in culture and it’s so rooted in your experience of being…an outsider to this monolithic American culture,” which leads to a discussion on the importance of culture and sharing the experiences of those who are disadvantaged.
It’s impossible to list all of Roy and Christina’s comments and insights here, so you’ll just have to listen for yourself! You can access Roy’s poem in Issue 18 of Superstition Review, and you can stay updated with his website as well.
Although I repeatedly forget names and faces, I remember in crazed detail the interiors of houses I entered before losing my baby teeth. The slant of light, natural or artificial. The furniture. The furniture arrangements. Whether or not one couch cushion (more compressed than the others) showed evidence of a favored seat. Lamp globes and ashtrays, chipped or whole. Framed or unframed wall prints. Scatter rugs perfectly or imperfectly aligned with doorsills. Floorboard patinas. Even now, I’m a more reliable reporter of, say, the direction a chair faced in a room than the conversation that took place in and around that chair.
Given all that, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that what I remember most about my novels after they’re done are my characters’ homes or temporary lodgings—what’s in them as well as what’s not. Kitty Duncan’s breadcrumb-y bedroom in The Invented Life of Kitty Duncan, for instance. Thomas Senestre’s light-starved apartment in Senestre on Vacation, for another.
But there’s been a bit of an expansion in my “dwellings fixation” with regard to my most recent novel, In This Season of Rage and Melancholy Such Irrevocable Acts as These. This go-around I seem to have fixated on three:
1) The dilapidated “Cracker” house of Mickey Waterman’s childhood that he visits daily for incentive.
2) The Scaff farmhouse that George Scaff loves and his wife, Leeta, loathes.
3) The trailer in the middle of a cornfield that Beth Anderson initially associates with the joys of motherhood but that becomes, after her miscarriage, a reminder of failure and the setting for visits from an accusatory, tuxedo-wearing god.
In proofing the novel for publication, I returned to the manuscript some months after my last revision. Theoretically (at least), the break might have changed my perspective, diminished the importance of those two houses and house trailer. Didn’t happen. Instead those dwellings took on even more importance, so dominating the text they almost, almost assumed the status of characters.
Or so it seemed to me.
My interpretation only?
Would any other reader feel the same?
I do know that I was never unaware of those three residences and the interlock of their compass points during the writing. Even when Mickey and George and Leeta and Beth were physically elsewhere—playing softball in another county, drag racing, earning a living at their various job sites—the contents and spatial set-ups of their lairs felt omnipresent to me, narratively insistent. I also dreamed incessantly about those spaces—my nighttime working out, I suppose, of what should/shouldn’t happen in or around those homes to satisfy plot. The book is finished, out in the world, published in August by Oklahoma’s Mongrel Empire Press. And yet I still dream about Mickey’s “Cracker” house, the Scaff farmhouse and Beth’s cornfield trailer.
Today we’re proud to feature SR poetry contributor Laurie Filipelli and poet Laurie Saurborn in the twentieth installment of our Authors Talk series.
Fittingly, their podcast “’Potalk’ with Lauries: Memory and Nostalgia in Poetry” returns again and again to the idea of using memories as building blocks to create something new. This includes what, why, and how we remember, and also how these can be used to create art. In one instance, the Lauries laugh about the potential of getting confused by the embellished bedtime stories parents tell their children. In another, Laurie Filipelli talks about her poem “Warrior” and the emotional connection to her father, a former POW – simultaneously recalling an earlier conversational thread about how “whether the memory is factual or imagined, it’s the emotional resonance of whatever our earlier experiences were” that influence us today.
Laurie Filipelli is the author of a collection of poems, Elseplace, released by BrooklynArts Press in 2013. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming at apt, BOAAT, Coldfront, The Pinch, Redheaded Stepchild, The Rumpus, Salamander, So and So, and Xavier Review. She is the recipient of a Yaddo fellowship, and lives in Austin where she works as a writer, editor, and writing coach.
Laurie Saurborn is the author of two poetry collections, Industry of Brief Distraction (Saturnalia Books, 2015) and Carnavoria (H_NGM_N BKS, 2012), and a limited-edition chapbook, Patriot (Forklift, Ink.). A 2015 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship recipient, she is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Her poetry, fiction, essays, photographs, and reviews have appeared in publications such as American Microreviews & Interviews, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, Mississippi Review, Narrative Magazine, The American Reader, The Rumpus, and Tupelo Quarterly. She has been awarded residencies at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and Madroño Ranch: A Center for Writing, Art, and the Environment. Laurie teaches creative writing at the University of Texas, Austin, where she also directs the undergraduate creative writing program. (Pictured right. Photo credit Patti James.)
For several years, we have featured audio or video of Superstition Review contributors reading their work. We’ve now established a new series of podcasts called Authors Talk. The podcasts in this series take a broader scope and feature SR contributors discussing their own thoughts on writing, the creative process, and anything else they may want to share with listeners.
Some writers love to talk about their “writing process.” I am not one of those people. I could say it’s because “process” reminds me of something you do to meat, or because “processing” is what people say they’re doing after something horrible happens. The truth is that I’m a private person— a genteel way of saying that I frequently feel simultaneously embarrassed and protective of myself, especially the way my mind works (or doesn’t) in my off-hours from academia. And yet, whenever I sat down to think of some account I could give to this fine website, this set of very personal metaphors occurred, and no matter how much I tried nothing more clever or articulate arrived.
The truth is that often I am surprised to find that I have apoem, the same way one sometimes has an erect nipple—maybe the room is cold, maybe that picture is crooked, maybe someone died—years ago—and you just remembered. Sometimes I have a poem, and sometimes I can’t remember that Allison Horschel* is dead.
She ran cross-country with me in high school. I always liked her in the way, when you’re thirteen, you like everyone who seems braver than you are. She’d hock and spit to show people the way to pronounce her Germanic last name. HOR-schel. We weren’t friends. She was older and loud and funny and crass, and the last time anybody I knew saw her alive she was being stuffed into the back of a cop car in the mill hill—a tiny neighborhood of almost identical houses built by the textile mill that had once dominated the town. At the time of this supposed arrest (“supposed” because, as is the rule in small towns, the truth can get quite bent in successive tellings), she had already graduated; I was still cutting through the mill hill to train for meets.
A few years later, after I moved away to college, my best friend C. had to tell me three times that Allison Horschel was dead—on separate occasions, months apart, because I kept asking after her. C. looked at me in disbelief each time—don’t you remember she’s dead. She died. A horrible car accident.
But I never remembered right away. To say that I felt like a heel each time would be putting it mildly. It was as if my mind just rejected the information—it felt wrong, so it couldn’t be true. At that age I still thought of home as a stage set I had momentarily walked away from, where I could return whenever I wanted, pick up the props and the people as if nothing had changed. She had died on C.’s birthday. Neither of us had spoken to her in years.
Another way of saying it: sometimes a poem is a small expectation breaking—like a knot of hair you can’t untangle. You pull it hard and you let it snap, rip out of your head. It always surprises me—how tough hair is, and how odd it is to see it disconnected from the body. An acquaintance, out of context. Uncanny.
Several friends have told me—as a gesture of what I would like to believe was affection— that after not seeing me for months, years even, they’ll find a long red hair in the pages of a book, or sealed up in a bag of sweaters, or they’re sweeping up getting ready to move house, and they think they could make a wig, really, out of what’s there. I want to believe that love is just such a contaminant— that when separated what we leave behind can be something so personal, so irritating, with the same gestures towards permanence and intimacy.
In the Song of Songs 6:6, the beloved’s teeth are compared to a flock of wet sheep emerging from the water. This analogy is disgusting and therefore permanent to my memory. When I was younger, I never understood describing the parts of a lover in terms of dirty farm animals. Now it makes some sense to me. Real closeness to anybody is never antiseptic or invulnerable. Teeth are wet because they live in the mouth. We are never as clean in our interactions, or in our metaphors, as we mean to be. Every comparison is a stretch.
One of the things I miss about the cows that used to live next to my parents’ property is their smell, the heaviness of it, the steam rising off their urine in the winter. I loved the way their eyes followed you as you walked. According to animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, if you lie down in a pasture and are still for long enough, the cows will circle around to look at you. Maybe lick you. I never thought to try that. I think at the time I would have been too afraid, too squeamish. They lived in their country; I lived in mine, for the most part. Good fences, etc. But that didn’t mean I never put my hand out for their snouts. They sometimes gave them, and let me pet their blazes— the weird imperfect stars of hair that grow between the eyes.
All of this to say, I guess, that I’m still here, holding up a hand. I have not yet lain down in green pastures, so to speak. But I do the work, and wait. Sometimes another hand happens to my hand, sometimes not. Sometimes there are poems. I am told, but do not remember, that many winters of my early childhood, my father would choose a cow, go with the neighbor to the abattoir, and then there’d be a freezer full of bloody meat for us to eat. What I do remember is that I liked drawing on butcher paper on occasion—even though it isn’t the best at taking pigment—because one side had a pearly feel, like skin. Impermanence, intimacy, death. There you are.
I visit home now and eat the soups and cornbreads that have contained many lives. I remind myself of Allison. I fill my cup back up with ice. It is summer in South Carolina— hot and damp. I remember the ratty ties we all wore in our hair in high school, tangled tight to our heads, and how we had to rip them out after running miles on throbbing shins and bloody blisters. When I am finished with my drink I dump my remnants in the sink, ice melted down to half-moons. I make another metaphor.
We had the opportunity of featuring six of Jonathan Faber’s paintings in our newly-released Issue 9. Jonathan’s award-winning work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout New York and Texas including the Austin Museum of Art, the David Shelton Gallery, and the Galveston Arts Center.
His work fuses the beauty of both abstract and realistic environments. Jonathan describes his new collection as “being involved within the paradox of memory and observation – seeking out subjects that co-exist between the expansive and the intimate, the recognizable and the ambiguous.” He explains that “they manifest from memories of places or things observed, lived with, or passed through.”
Jonathan draws inspiration from the houses and backyards from where he grew up: “Many things inspire me but my most recent subjects are connected to domestic objects and landscape settings. Other sources of mine examine conversations, things I’ve read, and things I’ve listened to. These associations tend to lean more into the abstract spectrum.”
He has received awards from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in 2011, the Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2003, and has been nominated three times for the Arthouse Texas Prize. Faber finds creating art is about the journey and the discovery: “To me the transformative process of making paintings doesn’t necessarily lend itself to an ultimate goal. I find it’s much more exciting, productive and ambitious to try to solve problems and take risks. So goals for me tend to suggest an ending where I am more interested and concerned with discovery and where that may lead.”
This new collection takes on a slightly different tone than some of his previous work: “I think about past work as being in two camps — graduate school and post graduate school. Graduate school was about trying on a lot of different hats and mimicking for better/for worse some of my past heroes, such as Gerhardt Richter for example. Post graduate I found myself introducing a broader range of invented vocabularies and moving more or less in a linear direction from one painting to another, responding to the discoveries made in each painting. Now I look at what I make as a hybrid of many interests with a better handle on orchestrating and decoding the rules of representation.”
For those looking to hone their talents, Jonathan suggests new artists “work hard at their practice. Stay engaged with your art community so people know who you are and what you’re up to. Very few artists can live off their own work. Most artists need a second job to support themselves. It’s very important to be honest and admit to yourself what kind of artist you are.”
Being an active part of the art community is essential: “Go to every art event you can and get to know the right people in that art community. If you are the type of artist who doesn’t enjoy the social aspects of asserting oneself in this way then you will need another job like teaching a painting class or working in a design field. Just relying on the quality of your work and the purity of your spirit/conscience rarely puts enough food on the table to maintain a robust artistic practice.”
Jonathan Faber currently works part-time as an Assistant Professor at Southwestern University Georgetown in Texas and is a Lecturer at the University of Texas in his hometown of Austin. You can see Jonathan Faber’s work in Issue 9 and on his website.