“Reading to relate is like looking in a mirror; I want to walk through a door.”
In this insightful Authors Talk, Patricia Ann McNair delves into the idea — and issue — of readers and writers only finding value in work they can relate to.
Many times she has heard the phrase, “I can’t relate,” from students and peers in regards to stories. As readers, it can be easy for us to become uncomfortable when confronted with stories that we cannot relate to and we cannot understand, but Patricia argues that it is exactly these stories we need to be reading.
When we read only stories we can understand, we are simply looking in a mirror; but, when we read stories that do not resemble our own, we are shown through an open door into a world we never would have encountered before.
“Write what you don’t know….”
Listen to her full Authors Talk below.
Check out Patricia’s newest work, Responsible Adults, coming out in December of 2020 (Cornerstone Press).
In this week’s Contributor Update, we are highlighting past contributor Kristina Moriconi and her recently published lyric narrative, In The Cloakroom of Proper Musings. It tells the story “of one woman’s joy juxtaposed alongside her need to survive.”
We previously featured Kristina’s essay “To Make It Make Sense” in Issue 17 of Superstition Review and are very excited for this book debut. In addition to In The Cloakroom of Proper Musings, Kristina has also published a poetry collection, No Such Place, and has been featured in the nonfiction anthology Flash Nonfiction Food.
Join us in congratulating past SR nonfiction contributor Julie Marie Wade on the upcoming publication of her newest book, Just An Ordinary Woman Breathing. It will be available from The Ohio State University Press in February of 2020.
The collection of essays deals with her own coming of age as she delves into the idea of history and the body in the contemporary world. This will be her eleventh book.
To learn more about Julie and her work you can visit her website. You can also read her creative essay featured in Issue 18 of Superstition Review.
Join us in congratulating past SR contributor, Laurie Stone, on the publication of her new book Everything is Personal, Notes on Now.
The memoir is an amalgamation of essays and diary entries about her life experience as she contemplates the world. The introduction writer of the book Chris Kraus called it “engaging, sharp, [and] funny.”
Her book will be released on January 15, 2020 and is now available for pre-order here. To learn more about Laurie and her work, visit her website. You can also read her essays featured in Issue 1 and Issue 10 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature Catharina Coenen as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, she invites her nephew, Christopher Van der Meyden, to discuss her nonfiction essay, “Stain,” published in SR’s Issue 23.
“Stain” explores Catharina’s need to clean up the shattered eggs someone had thrown at the garage and driveway of her neighbor who was recently arrested by the FBI. As she reflects on this event through her writing, she notices the strong connections between her actions and the history of her family and country.
Catharina explains that she had a difficult time understanding her physical and emotional reactions to seeing the arrest: shaky knees and hands, circular thoughts, and a feeling of anger and fear despite not having any immediate threats. She says, “I started writing as a way to help myself understand why I was experiencing these physical reactions and mental confusion.”
Christopher and Catharina also take a closer look at the way the essay uses family stories organically throughout the piece as “a way to ground [Catharina] in the present—to come back from a traumatic past that explained the inner turmoil to the present tense where there was no physical danger to [Catharina] or anyone else in that moment.”
As a biologist, Catharina also makes connections between the structure of her essay and recent developments in our understanding of the biology of trauma. Although “physical responses to trauma can be encoded across generations,” Catharina explains, “storytelling and an anchoring of the person in the present” can undo this transgenerational trauma. Catharina notices her essay mimics this necessary healing process, allowing her to understand and process her reactions.
Join us in congratulating SR interview contributor Elissa Washuta. She recently worked with fellow editor Theresa Warburton to publish Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays By Contemporary Writers this summer.
The collection features both established and emerging Native writers including Stephen Graham Jones, Deborah Miranda, Terese Marie Mailhot, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Eden Robinson, and Kim TallBear. Taken together, the essays examine materiality, orality, spatiality, and temporality in Native literary traditions.
This upcoming Monday, July 22, both Elissa and Theresa will discuss their work on this project from 7 to 8:15 p.m. at the Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Avenue. The discussion will be recorded for a podcast.
To read more about Elissa’s workshop, click here. You can find her interview from Issue 17 here.
Today we are pleased to feature Heidi Czerwiec as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, she takes the time to discuss her nonfiction piece, “The Perfumer’s Organ,” published in SR’s Issue 23. The essay is part of a larger work-in-progress that examines “perfume as a physical and cultural object.”
“The Perfumer’s Organ,” which contains five short sections that each explore a different association with the piece’s title, was “born during a self-organized retreat at [her] in-law’s lake cabin” where she was armed with research and notes about perfumery.
Research is an important part of Heidi’s creative process, which you can see reflected in the essay’s footnotes. For this particular nonfiction piece, she looked to her research for recurring language. She explains, “For instance, ‘perfumer’s organ’ is a musical metaphor which let me tie in how perfume is composed of notes that create an accord.”
Heidi first learned the term “Perfumer’s Organ,” which describes a perfumer’s shelving system, from Perfumer Mandy Aftel, but she originally misinterpreted the phrase to mean “the nose.” As Heidi continued her research and writing, the term began to take on new meaning and she fell in love with the “rich suggestiveness of the term” that gave her a way to “organiz[e] so much of what [she] had been researching about perfume.”
Heidi calls her aesthetic a “weird mix of strict structures and loose associativeness,” which this nonfiction piece encapsulates beautifully. Because the essay captures her aesthetic so well and the title phrase helped her see the various connections she wanted to make, the work has become “one of [her] darlings” that she “love[s] irrationally” and is happy to share with all of our SR readers.
Today we are pleased to feature Megan J. Arlett as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, she takes the time to discuss her nonfiction piece, “Narrative,” published in SR’s Issue 21. The lyric essay explores the 2008 disappearance of Amy Fitzpatrick as well as language and storytelling.
Megan looks back at her 2017 notebook to discover what she was reading while she drafted “Narrative” and to find out which texts influenced her work. While she struggles to remember an initial spark of inspiration, aside from constantly thinking about the disappearance of her classmate and neighbor, she does notice how certain writers have tapped into her “brain space” to influence what she originally “thought was going to be a poem,” but later became the lyric essay that sits nicely between the nonfiction and poetry genres.
Looking to the musings in her old notebook, Megan discovers that she was obsessing over the poetry of Li-Young Lee at the time. She had written a note to herself about his work that reads, “Long poems need externalities.” In her old notes, she also finds a scribbled question— “Bowman-style meditation for the cyclical obsession with missing people?”—referring to Catherine Bowman’s poem “A Thousand Lines.” Lastly, Megan realizes that the newsprint style of “Narrative” was influenced by Jehanne Debrow’s The Arranged Marriage, which helped give her lyric essay form and made the nonfiction piece feel complete.
It seems that Megan’s creative work was driven by her obsessions at the time: her fascination with poets Li-Young Lee and Catherine Bowman, her admiration for Jehanne Debrow’s literary style, her love for true crime, and her curiosity about Amy Fitzpatrick’s disappearance.
Reflecting on her writing, Megan wants her readers to acknowledge that beauty and horror can exist simultaneously, concluding “There can be voicelessness even amid countless voices.”
Today we are happy to announce the news of past contributor
BJ Hollars! BJ’s collection of nonfiction stories titled Harbingers was just published early this month by Bull City Press. The
tryptic of essays explores the possible harbingers present in the lives of atomic
bomb scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, civil rights activist Medgar Evers and
the author himself. Hollars notices that while a harbinger is defined as a sign
of something to come, it is often best interpreted in the aftermath.
More information about the collection can be found here, his fiction piece for S[r]’s Issue 6 can be found here, along with his nonfiction piece for Issue 10.