Today we are happy to share the news of past contributor Maggie Kast! Her personal essay titled “Wide Awake and in Good Voice” was just published to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Links Hall, an art and performance space in Chicago. Maggie is a board member and her essay focuses on her experience working with the space and the people who run the institution. Maggie also has her newest book, Side by Side and Never Face to Face: a Novella and Stories to be published in May 2020 by Orison Books.
Maggie’s essay for Links Hall’s 40th anniversary series can be found here, more information about her forthcoming collection can be found here, and her nonfiction piece for S[r]’s Issue 19 can be found here.
We are happy to announce the news of past contributor Sherrie Flick! Her latest collection, Thank Your Lucky Stars,was published last September in 2018. Sherrie will be attending the AWP conference from March 27-30 to appear on panels and offer readings and signings. Thank your Lucky Stars is a collection of fifty stories ranging across all subjects and emotions. Each story attacks the human experience and details love and loss in poetic images and quick wit.
More information about the collection and Sherrie’s upcoming events can be found here, and her nonfiction piece for Issue 10 can be found here.
Today we are pleased to feature DJ Lee as our Authors Talk series contributor. She takes the opportunity to talk with her daughter, Steph Lee, about her creative essay “A Syntax of Splits and Ruptures”. The essay covers the period in which DJ and her daughter were estranged, their reconciliation and, in a broader sense, the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters.
The two discuss the difficulty of writing a personal piece about family, but they acknowledge writing can be a way to process family traumas. DJ considers Steph’s reaction to the essay, as she felt the person in the essay is “another form of me.” After reconciling, DJ felt she needed to publicly share their story through her writing, speaking to “people dealing with this kind of loss, especially of a child.”
DJ also considers the inspiration she found in the earthwork sculpture, Spiral Jetty, built by Robert Smithson in the Great Salt Lake. The art piece, significant to the pair, became an important element in the piece as she constructed the essay “to have a spiral form, to sort of fold back on itself like the relationship between mothers and daughters.” She also considers the idea of “something very beautiful and precious and special being under the surface.” Not only does she find meaning in this inspiring art piece but uses numbers to connect the fragments of her essay in order demonstrate the “ruptures in peoples lives” and how “a fractured relationship” can be made whole.
Today we are happy to share news about past contributor Paul Lisicky. Paul will be presenting his forthcoming novel LATER at the Tin House Writer Workshop in Oregon this March, the novel will be published a year from then (March 2020) by Greywolf Press. His sixth book, LATER recounts Paul’s life in the early 90s during the AIDS epidemic as he explored the artistic and real world.
Information about the workshop can be found here, refer to Paul’s website for updates on his book here.
There are two qualities that every good nonfiction story – every story that stands out to me, every story that I can’t stop thinking about, that I enjoy rereading again and again – shares, and those qualities are intentionality and subjectivity.
Intentionality is about construction. I want to read stories that are expressed with clarity and ease, stories in which each scene serves a purpose in the narrative and each word perfectly captures the scene the author wants to convey. Intentional writing is simple and unforced. An intentional story has everything it needs to feel complete, nothing excessive, unresolved or unnecessary.
I come from a background in journalism, and the newsroom is where I’ve gotten some of the best writing advice for news articles and for creative nonfiction alike. An editor recently told me: I don’t want obvious details, I want poignant details. Tell me what moved you, what caught your attention: those are the details I want to read. Another editor’s advice: don’t be afraid to declutter a story. Cut scenes or details that don’t serve a purpose or that don’t ‘spark joy’, in the parlance of Marie Kondo.
The second quality, subjectivity, is about content. I don’t just want to know what happened, but how it affected the author. No two people see the same event or person or place the same way, and I want to feel a writer’s unique perspective. I want to know: how was she affected by the events in the story? What relationship does she have with the people and places in the story? Where do they fit in her personal narrative?
Our relationships make us human. We change and define ourselves in relation to them, and we seek connection with and acceptance from them. Our subjectivity makes us human, too. We can never experience what it’s like to be anyone other than ourselves, but stories allow us to imagine and to empathize. That’s what I want out of a good story: not just to know that something happened, but to feel how it affected the person who experienced it.
Ellen O’Brien is the nonfiction editor for Issue 23. She’s a senior at Arizona State University pursuing a double major in journalism and philosophy with a minor in Arabic. She’s passionate about photography, literature, foreign policy and epistemology. After graduation, she plans to pursue a job in photojournalism or news editing and to attend law school.
Today we are happy to share news of past contributor Sloane Crosley. Sloane’s collection of essays, Look Alive Out There, has been recently named one of “50 notable works of nonfiction in 2018” by The Washington Post. About the collection, Steve Martin says: “Sloane Crosley does the impossible. She stays consistently funny and delivers a book that is alive and jumping.” Look Alive Out There is available for purchase through Amazon here.
Our interview with Sloane can be read in Issue 7 of Superstition Review.
Today we are thrilled to share news of past contributor Katie Cortese. Katie’s essay, “Four Pink Plus Signs,” has been included in the November 2018 issue of Gravel. You can read Katie’s essay in their website here. Congratulations, Katie!
Katie’s story, “Sugar Coat,” can be read in Issue 2 of Superstition Review.
Let me be honest here, growing up I greatly disliked nonfiction. My reasoning? Well, I never once thought you could be creative with the real. Reality to me was boring, so utterly mundane. I couldn’t seem to fathom the appeal to it. Fiction, on the other hand, held all the mysteries in the world. But gradually, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that the real is so beautiful and heartbreaking. Becoming the Nonfiction Editor for Superstition Review has truly given me the space to appreciate the craft behind what is real. What is that I want out of nonfiction? Feeling. Make me feel something. The strongest of essays not only open your eyes to new perspectives, but they suspend you in time and bring you right back down to reflect upon your own life. I’m looking for raw connection between the reader and the writer. Like my Advanced Fiction professor states: Tell me your truth. Remind me of something I’ve forgotten, or something I’ve never known. When you write, allow me to enter your space and experience a snippet of your life with you. Tear at my heart with something so deeply personal that I am left breathless and disrupted. I want to see lyricism, musicality, and strong attention to detail. I want all of my senses to be activated. Construct sentences that sing off the page and paint me right into your life. I want stories to linger in my mind for days to come.
Nonfiction Editor Anahí Herrera is a junior majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Film & Media Studies. She is also the current Fiction Editor at Lux Undergraduate Creative Review, a student run literary magazine funded by Barrett, The Honors College. It’s Anahí’s dream to one day write with the same fervor as Ray Bradbury and to pursue a passionate life of writing, book editing, and prose experimentation with film.
Today we are pleased to feature author Bryn Gribben as our Authors Talk series contributor. The topic of Bryn’s podcast is “finding your voice.” She begins by saying that “Everything you do before you find your voice matters,” and, to demonstrate this truth, describes her own journey of discovery as a creative writer and poet.
In the beginning of her college experience, Bryn states that she “was more interested in learning than in creating.” However, after discovering that she “just wasn’t having enough fun,” she began to pursue the creation of poetry. She says that “the feedback I was getting at the time made it seem like I had to choose between two paths: the academic and the creative,” but as she continued to find her literary voice, she realized that she didn’t have to make a choice. She just, as she says, “had to find a different audience.” She emphasizes that nowadays, she is still “pulled constantly between those two modes of being,” the analytical and the creative; for, as she says, “both modes of being engage my best self.”
Today we are proud to announce news about past contributor James M. Chesbro. James’ collection of essays titled A Lion in the Snow has been released and is available for purchase through Amazon here. The synopsis reads as follows: When his wife was pregnant, James M. Chesbro started having daydreams of seeing a lion in his street, padding toward his house through the snowflakes of a New England storm. He felt more like a son, still grieving over the early loss of his own father, rather than a prepared expectant-dad. In these essays, Chesbro finds himself disoriented and bewildered by fatherhood again and again as he explores the maddening moments that provide occasions for new understandings about our children and us.
James’ essay, “From the Rust and Sawdust,” which first appeared in Issue 12 of Superstition Review, is included in the collection.