Celebrating Indigenous Literary Arts & Culture Across The Valley
Join the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing in their NEA Big Read: Phoenix. Here is their message about the event:
“Working with over 40 authors, speakers, and community organizations, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University is proud to announce the NEA Big Read: Phoenix, a celebration of Indigenous literary arts and culture across the Valley in February and March 2021.”
“Inspired by The Round House, an award-winning novel from Anishinaabe author Louise Erdrich, the NEA Big Read: Phoenix features over 25 talks, workshops, performances, art exhibitions, book clubs, and other virtual events centered around creative writing, community archiving, storytelling, and family history…”
“The majority of events are open to the public and free. For events with limited capacity or paid registration, members of Indigenous communities receive discounts and priority seating.”
To learn more or to view the full schedule, visit their website here.
Today’s intern update features Kevin Hanlon, former fiction editor for Issues 12 and 13 of Superstition Review.
With a BA in English, Creative Writing and a Doctor of Law JD, Kevin began working as a proofreader for RR Donnelley last year. He has worked as a writer for Java Magazine, a Phoenix-based journal on local arts and culture and YabYum, a music and culture magazine also based in the valley.
We are so proud of you Kevin!
You can view his work on Java Magazine here and his work on YabYum here. If you’d like to learn more, you can check out Kevin’s LinkedIn here.
Join the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and Burton Barr Central Library for a talk with poet Danez Smith on Thursday, September 12, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Pulliam Auditorium at Burton Barr Central Library (1221 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004). RSVPs are encouraged, but not required. The event is open and free to the public.
Danez Smith is a Black, Queer writer & performer from St. Paul, MN who is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award as well as the poetry book [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Smith has been the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The poet’s work has been featured widely, appearing on platforms such as Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Smith is also a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Smith’s third collection, Homie, will be published by Graywolf in Spring 2020.
For more information about Smith, visit their website. For further information on the event, see the Facebook page.
In the streets of Phoenix, up to 16 poets will compete against one another in an open mic poetry slam for the title of champion and a $500 grand prize based on the audience’s applause. Hosted by International Poetry Interpretation Champion and Lawn Gnome Publishing founder Aaron Hopkins-Johnson, these poets will go head-to-head on September 6th, in the middle of the First Friday Artwalk in front of the Roosevelt Row CDC Headquarters (417 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, Arizona 85004), from 9pm to midnight. The event is free and open to the public.
In addition to his eight years as the Phoenix Poetry Slammaster, Aaron Hopkins-Johnson has spent ten years in advertising and promotions for Arts and Culture non-profits, small businesses, and social media heavyweights, while also contributing to the power of words and both spoken and written language. Some of his poetry collections include the titles “Roach Killer For Her”, “Chainsawsmoking”, “Rights4Lefty”, “Watering The Poetry”, and “Irony Stinks: My Life Is Irony”.
One of the most important realizations of my life was that people are not one way, that they often do and say conflicting things not out of malice or to deceit, but because it a necessary part of the ever-changing human condition. There is a sort of dialectic behavioral therapy that must take place within all of our minds when we consider that good people can do very bad things and bad people can do very good things. This is the dynamic nature of humanity. It is unavoidable. It might be the only unchanging and shared characteristic of humanity.
And it is for this reason that I am drawn to literary fiction. There often isn’t a clear line between good and bad. The characters in literary fiction make terrible choices and deal with the repercussions. As a reader and editor, I want to read stories that sink deep into these chasms between right and wrong, stories that teach us something about what it means to be fallible and imperfect. I want to read stories that challenge me, that make me so angry I hold my breath until the final sentence, so sad that I think of the characters long after I finish the stories. I want to see myself and my flaws laid out before me. I want to read narratives that do not pass judgement but present a situation and ask me to consider a point of view I may never have arrived at myself.
Literary fiction is a conversation between all of the writers in the world, constantly arriving at theses only to have them blown up and reordered by the next. Show me a side of humanity only you can construct, the things that make your perception unique.
But above everything, I want to feel something. I want to finish a story, let take root in my brain and change my long-held beliefs. Whether it is characters, setting, plot, language, form, it doesn’t matter. The stories that stick with me are the ones that make me think about life in a way I couldn’t or wouldn’t. This is the goal of fiction, and this is the fiction I want to see adding to the literary conversation.
Spencer Litman is the fiction editor for Issue 23. He is a fiction writer and essayist living in Phoenix with his wife, Kristine, and his two children, Jayden and Aubrey. He is finishing his undergraduate degree in English with a creative writing concentration and hopes to attend an MFA program somewhere cold, with pine needles and snow.
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 thrilled to share news of past contributor Jenn Givhan. Jenn’s debut novel, Trinity Sight, is available for preorder from Blackstone Publishing, and will be published October 1, 2019. The novel, inspired by indigenous oral-history traditions, takes a new spin on dystopian fiction. Jenn’s characters are confronted with dueling concepts of science, faith, modern identity and ancestral tradition as they attempt to understand how the world fell apart.
Today we are happy to share the news of past contributor Pam Houston. Pam’s memoir “Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country” was just published by W. W. Norton & Company in January of 2019. Reminiscing about her life living in the Colorado Rockies, Pam discusses the beauty and pain of human life and her ties to the earth, specifically her 120-acre ranch. The memoir not only includes her essays but also 12 of the author’s own black and white photographs.
The book can be purchased here, and information about her signing event at Bookshop Santa Cruz can be found here.
Through the process of curating art, I would say that I have gained new eyes for looking at different pieces of work. I can admit that I was never one to look at art in the manner of color, context, and composition before. I mainly base what I like on no other context other than just liking the way things look.
I think art as a medium can be something over saturated with the sheer number of artists, but I believe that I have learned so much. Through this journey I was also able to differentiate an artist from a hobbyist.
Looking at art now, I am finding myself drawn to artists that have a lot of work and specifically work that contains the three C’s. The first aspect I like to look for is composition. I really like to take composition into consideration and make sure that it matches the Superstition Review and what the audience would engage with. Secondly, I like to look into the context of the piece. Not simply understanding what the piece looks like, but taking the time to understand what the underlying theme is or what the piece is trying to say. And of course, taking color into consideration with each piece. All of these elements have helped me understand on a different level of viewing and appreciating art.
With that being said, I don’t particularly have a specific type of art I enjoy, I can look at any piece of work from any medium and still be able to apply what I have learned.
Overall, I am very grateful and pleased that I am able to see art differently. And I will continue to utilize what I have learned as I flourish throughout the art community.
Shalanndra Benally is the art editor for issue 23. She is currently in her first semester of her Senior year at Arizona State University studying Digital Culture with a concentration in Design. Currently she is working on the design team for TEDx at ASU, as well as being the sole designer for the 40th annual Ms. and Mr. Indian ASU. She is always looking for new opportunities to show off her artistic abilities and demonstrate her extensive design experience. After graduation she hopes to work in digital media or another creative field.
Join us every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month for the longest running poetry slam in Phoenix, AZ!
15 poets compete in three rounds of performance poetry judged by 5 randomly selected members of the audience.
Poets interested in competing must send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “POETRY SLAM’ in the subject line. We send you a confirmation email with the rules and expectations to help you compete.
Today’s Phoenix Poetry Slam from Lawn Gnome Publishing is the result of years of seeking talented new voices and promoting strong literary events.
Lawn Gnome Publishing brought the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam to Phoenix, AZ. It was the first time a Poetry Slam Inc event has been held in Arizona since the performance art was established in the 90’s. Our mission is to provide a space for local writers/artists/performers/etc. to explore and perfect their own craft. Our commitment is community. We welcome persons of any and all genders, sexualities, ethnicities, abilities, ages, etc. As writers and literary critics, we value freedom of speech and thus do not limit, moderate or otherwise censor any content, and so there is a blanket trigger warning for all events. However, we strive to create a constructive atmosphere of equality, sensitivity, and progress, one that encourages discussion and actively opposes marginalization of any persons or group. Our goal isn’t tolerance of diversity, but its empowerment and alliance.
Our venue is The Lost Leaf, a beer and wine bar located at 914 N 5th St in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The folks behind The Lost Leaf are pretty sincere about their beer. The bohemian-style drinkery/gallery, housed in a vintage 1930s-era domicile, offers a selection of more than 100 different kinds of ales, lagers, stouts, and other intoxicating brews available by the bottle. If that isn’t enough to wet your whistle, the Lost Leaf also serves a host of wines, meads, and even sake, to boot. If you can tear yourself away from the bar, check out the pulchritudinous paintings and other outstanding works of art hanging on the walls, or enjoy nightly performances by a variety of musicians and bands.
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