Today, we are happy to share an intern update for former SR Blogger Stella Hall. Since her work on Issue 18, Stella has graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has accepted a full-time job as a digital producer for the TV show, RightThisMinute.
She has also been working on screenwriting projects and recently finished a short film titled “Yes!”
“Yes!” was screened at the ASU Film Festival last week and won the Best Screenplay Award. It was also nominated for Best Director and Best Ensemble Acting.
View “Yes!” using this link. In her short film, a commitment-phobic man finds a diamond ring on the ground while on a date with his girlfriend and she mistakenly assumes he’s proposing—until the real owner of the ring shows up, putting their entire relationship in jeopardy.
You can find Stella Hall’s portfolio and contact information here.
Sherman Alexie is one funny guy. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry and short stories, adult and young adult novels, and four screenplays, including the 1999 award-winning film Smoke Signals. He was the recipient of the National Book Award prize for Young People’s Literature in 2007, and the PEN/Faulnker award winner for his novel War Dances in 2010. Yet despite his many successes, Sherman Alexie maintains an easy going attitude and a witty, self-deprecating sense of humor. From my own experience seeing him speak at the kick-off of ASU’s Project Humanities last February, I can attest to the fact that Alexie really knows how to work an audience. When he read his poetry, you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium. But most of his speech was riotously funny, and whether he was recalling an anecdote about his daily life or poking fun at ASU’s president Michael Crow, he had the audience crippled with laughter.
What makes Sherman Alexie’s humor so outstanding is his fearless confrontation of difficult subjects. During his speech for Project Humanities he discussed racial stereotypes, sexism, and homophobia, always with his trademark wit. If you visit his website or follow him on Twitter (which I highly recommend), you will see the same thing: his unflinching willingness to speak his mind about social issues. Yet his convictions never overtake his artistic integrity. Instead they connect his work to the day-to-day world and prompt the reader to reconsider their assumptions about privilege, race, and class. Sherman Alexie is truly one of America’s most valuable writers, and we are very pleased to publish his work in Issue 8 of Superstition Review.
Superstition Review:What is your position with Superstition Review and what are your responsibilities?
Mike Tomzik: I am a Web Designer for Superstition Review. Being that the Review is an online literary publication, I design and form an orderly layout of the professional work featured within the magazine.
SR: How did you hear about Superstition Review and what made you decide to get involved?
MT: I tend to sporadically search for online publications and journals that could possibly feature my work, and as I was going through the Arizona State website I came across Superstition Review. The name was familiar to me and the internship appealed to my interests. I’ve been looking to get involved with a literary publication for some time and the dynamics of the Review seemed like something that would be conducive to my progression as not only a writer and editor, but as a person interested in working in the writing world.
SR: What are you hoping to take away from your Superstition Review experience?
MT: I want to get an inside look at how a magazine operates, and I would like to learn the techniques that will allow me to successfully publish and edit professional work in the future.
SR: Describe one of your favorite literary or artistic works.
MT: In terms of literary fiction, my favorite writer is John Steinbeck. My favorite book by him is East of Eden, which–logically–is my favorite book. I tend to like novels that have a sense of the epic, and East of Eden is an epic look at multiple generations of a family. The themes involving good and evil are themes that I recognize as being an integral part of Steinbeck’s writing and are important factors in my own writing. I think that life is composed of literary characters and Steinbeck really captured wholesome, human people in this novel.
One of my favorite American poems is Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself. I love the unconventional vision created from his mind and spirit, and I believe that much of what he wrote in his lifetime masterpiece is considered unconventional because it is the naked truth. People are afraid of bare absolutes and Whitman does a good job at exposing these spiritual necessities.
SR: What are you currently reading?
MT: I am currently reading A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.
SR: What other position(s) for Superstition Review would you like to try out?
MT: I would definitely like to try out editing. In regards to my own personal writing, editing is the hardest part for me. I enjoy the initial composition of a piece but it is very difficult for me to rearrange what I have so carefully composed. I need work on it, and I think that both poetry and fiction editing would strengthen not only my editing abilities but sharpen my writing and reading skills as well.
SR: Do you prefer reading literary magazines online or in print?
MT: I prefer to read everything in print. Reading on the computer is a very different experience. After a while my eyes become out of focus and my world dizzies to the point of paranoia. Books were written for the tangible page. The physical book is an essential part of the art of writing. The cover, the pages, the font, the pictures, the smell, the texture; all these factors give the actual book character and meaning. To open a book is to enter a world, and that book in your hand is the vehicle that transports you there. To see the author’s words on the page is to feel his or her mind thinking. Reading words on the computer is not only a modern practice that exempts the art of book-binding and selling, but is very capable of driving me mad. For me, minimal technology in art is the best. The mind is all we need.
SR: Do you write or create art? What are you currently working on?
MT: I like to think that I write like a feverish young Hemingway with a dedication to the art similar to that of Norman Mailer. I tell people that I have lived before as the great Leo Tolstoy due to our similar vision of human nature and writing style, but in reality I write minimally and sporadically. I am pleased with what I write and have written a few good works catalogued in my own personal repertoire. I am satisfied with one of my short stories, an epic poem I wrote for class, and a short screenplay that I have written. My desk is filled with pages of philosophical ramble, short beginnings to works I once deemed masterpieces, song lyrics, movie ideas, dialogues, and clips of my mind that I was lucky enough to find a pen to record. I figure that I should record as much of my mind as I can while I still have it. I love writing love poetry.
Besides writing, I am a musician. I’ve been blessed with the soul of music and it is up to me what I will do with it and how far I will evolve it. Right now, in the twenty second year of my existence, I figure that it would be foolish not to use the strings that I have been given, and I see music as the medium that most effectively expresses my love and happiness. I’ve noticed that life functions off the former to produce the latter, so this avenue seems to be my true path to enlightenment.
But that is a bold claim that I as a human shouldn’t have the authority to utter, though I still do. This is not to say my writing is not important or that it will not be involved in my professional life. Music is writing and writing is music. Hell, outside is inside and the sky is part of the grass. Everything is everything and it all connects and truthfully, in my moments of true artistic desire and longing to express that which I carry within, I want to completely represent myself by any and all means possible, whether it is with a pen, a guitar, a brush, or a smile.
SR: Besides interning for Superstition Review, how do you spend your time?
MT: I honestly spend my time quite prodigally and extravagantly. I’m sporadic and random. I start many things and finish about half of them. I’m interested in nearly everything. I want to grow exponentially but my tendency to dawdle is detrimental. I read and write and sing and dance and drink and eat and talk and listen and laugh and smoke mostly.
SR: What is your favorite mode of relaxation?
MT: I like to meditate. I climb atop my roof and look out over the dusk. I enjoy swimming and golfing and riding my bicycle. I like to play Frisbee with my friends. I enjoy lighting candles and I enjoy planting vegetables and flowers. I love playing the guitar and listening to music. I hate to say it but I do sit on the couch a lot and that is pretty relaxing. Sleeping is amazing. Eating good food is essential.
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