Editorial Preferences in Fiction: Spencer Litman

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.

Editorial Preferences in Nonfiction: Ellen O’Brien

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.

Contributor Update, Jenn Givhan: Trinity Sight

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.

The book is available for preorder here.

Congratulations Jenn!

Contributor Update, Pam Houston: Deep Creek, Finding Hope in the High Country

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.

Congratulations Pam!

Editorial Preferences in Art: Shalanndra Benally

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.

#ArtLitPhx: Phoenix Poetry Slam | The Lost Leaf

#artlitphx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: December 27, 2018

Time: 7:00pm-9:00pm

Event Description:

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 gnome.chomsky@lawngnomepublishing.com 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.

#ArtLitPhx: Joseph Cassara Workshop and Reading at Changing Hands Bookstore

 

#ArtLitPhxJoseph Cassara Workshop and Reading at Changing Hands Bookstore

Date: June 28

Location: Changing Hands Bookstore,

300 W Camelback Rd Ste 1, Phoenix, AZ

Event Description:

PC Rising and Changing Hands Bookstore have teamed up to bring you a free workshop from Joseph Cassara. The workshop runs from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

The topic of Cassara’s workshop is “world building”. Joseph shares his process for researching and building rich, authentic worlds through his prose. This exclusive workshop is available to all PC students, faculty and staff.
After the workshop, stick around to hear Cassara read from his new novel! In addition to Cassara, you will hear readings from two other exciting emerging authors—Tommy Orange and Fatima Farheen Mirza. This reading starts at 7:00 PM.

Joseph’s new book, “The House of Impossible Beauties,” is a gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene of the 1980s and ’90s. Find out more about the book here. https://www.josephcassara.com/book/

Joseph Cassara was born and raised in New Jersey. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He was a 2016-17 writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His debut novel, titled The House of Impossible Beauties, was chosen by Barnes & Noble as a Discover Great New Writers selection. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at California State, Fresno.

#ArtLitPhx: The Great Storytelling Mashup of 2018

#ArtLitPhxThe Great Storytelling Mashup of 2018

Location: The Newton 300 W Camel Rd, Phoenix Arizona 85013

June 22nd

7pm-9pm

 

Local storytelling hosts come together for a night to share a story, a song, and a stage. The Storyline SLAM host, Dan Hoen Hull has collected an all star lineup composed of hosts from THE MOTH: Phoenix StorySLAM at Crescent Ballroom, The Storytellers Project, Bar Flies, Chatterbox, Vinyl Voices, Untidy Secrets Storytelling, and The Whole Story! Each storyteller will share a story and play a music video that inspired the story.

Purchase tickets through the link below for $6 or at the door for $8.
https://www.changinghands.com/event/june2018/great-summer-storytelling-mashup-2018

Featured Storytellers:
Jessie Balli (Chatterbox)
Rachel Eseoghene Egboro (The Whole Story)
Megan Finnerty (The Storytellers Project)
Elle Murtagh (Vinyl Voices)
Sarah Maria Rainier (Untidy Secrets Storytelling)
Amy Silverman (Bar Flies)
Sarah Ventre (The Moth SLAM)
Joy Young (The Storyline SLAM)

#ArtLitPhx: National Typewriter Day Type-In

#ArtLitPhxChanging Hands and First Draft Book Bar (our wine and beer bar inside Changing Hands Phoenix) celebrate National Typewriter Day.

June 24 11am-6pm

Phoenix Changing Hands Bookstore

 

Event Description:

No plans for National Typewriter Day? On June 24, join us at First Draft Book Bar (the wine and beer bar inside our Phoenix store) to celebrate all things typewriter! We’ll host a public type-in, typewritten poetry on demand, a free screening of the documentary “California Typewriter,” and more. Bring your own typewriter and join the fun!

TYPEWRITER DAY SCHEDULE

– 11am-6 pm: Open Type-In
– 12p -12:30 pm: Speed typing contest
– 1pm-3pm: Poetry on demand
– 4pm-6pm: “California Typewriter” documentary screening
– All day: Typewriter-themed coffee drinks. Happy Hour extended until 4pm!

PARKING / LIGHT RAIL

  • Don’t want to drive? Take the Light Rail! It lets off at the Central Avenue/Camelback Park-and-Ride, which has hundreds of free parking spaces across the street from Changing Hands.

#ArtLitPhx: Native Voices: Heard at Changing Hands

Artlitphx changing handsNative Voices: Heard at Changing Hands

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE HEARD MUSEUM

Demian DinéYazhi´- Ancestral Memory: Poems 2009-2016
7PM SATURDAY, JUNE 9

Location: Phoenix

The Heard Museum and Changing Hands Bookstore present an evening of poems and stories with artist and poet Demian DinéYazhi´.

Ancestral Memory: Poems 2009-2016 is the poetry debut of transdisciplinary artist Demian DinéYazhi´. Dedicated to their ancestors, this collection of poetry highlights a selection of Demian’s poems from 2009-2016; Tribal Memory: Post-Apocalyptic Landscape Representation & Indigenous Survivance, and 12 additional poems excavate ancestral trauma(s) as a means to acknowledge and heal familial ties to Indigenous culture, tradition, and settler colonial violence. DinéYazhi’ tackles issues of alienation, desire, and memory; matrilineal reverence and Indigenous uprising; and navigating Western Queer subcultures while being confronted by the continual threat of death as faced by Indigenous, Queer, non-masculine, and marginalized communities in a post-colonial heteropatriarchal society.

Following in the footsteps of Queer poets like Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf, Ancestral Memory is a self-published poetry book. Indigenous peoples have been cast as radical and wild counterparts to their disharmonious European colonizers, while our perspectives and voices have been tossed into the romanticized depths of poetry. Because of this, as well as a long history of creation and adaptation, DinéYazhi´’s stance to self-publish is a political statement of maintaining autonomy without the jurisdiction or approval from Western-trained editors, publishers, or critics.

Ancestral Memory was printed by Pur Dubois Press in the ancestral lands of the Multnomah/Chinook with supplementary support from Potlatch Funds.

PARKING / LIGHT RAIL

  • Don’t want to drive? Take the Light Rail! It lets off at the Central Avenue/Camelback Park-and-Ride, which has hundreds of free parking spaces across the street from Changing Hands.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Demian DinéYazhi’ is an artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. Born and raised in the “Indian Capital of the World,” Gallup, New Mexico, Diné Yazhi’ is a transdisciplinary warrior whose work is an archivalization and exploration of memory formation, landscape representation, HIV/AIDS-related art and activism, gender / sexuality, and indigenous survivance. Demian has exhibited work nationally and internationally, in addition to having his artwork and writing published over the last few years. In 2010 he founded the Indigenous artist/activist/warrior collective, R.I.S.E.: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment. heterogeneoushomosexual.tumblr.com