Join Superstition Review in attending the Association of Writers and Writer Programs’ 2021 Conference, March 3rd-7th. “The AWP Conference & Bookfair is the annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers of contemporary creative writing. It includes thousands of attendees, hundreds of events & bookfair exhibitors, and five days of essential literary conversation and celebration.”
This March the conference will be held virtually with some events being prerecorded and premiered at specified dates and times and others being held live (with text-based Q&As). Additionally, AWP has now made it possible for registered attendees to create their own plan for the conference, as they will “receive access to a separate virtual conference platform” where they can “browse all events, read presenter bios, and create [their] own personal event schedule.”
We look forward to seeing you there!
To learn more as well as to register to attend the 2021 AWP Conference click here.
Social media is a source of entertainment for millions of people, but is there any benefit to it besides that entertainment value? Is it just a mindless way to pass time or is there something else that makes it so popular? I say there is much more to social media than what meets the eye.
Over half of my writer friends refuse to use at least one or more social media platforms and I have never understood why they are so strongly against it. Is it the presumed unprofessionalism or bland commentary? Or is it simply that they never knew what social media could do for them?
One of my favorite platforms is Twitter, and I am a firm believer that having a Twitter account can be beneficial to any writer. Here are 3 reasons why Twitter is such a great resource for writers.
1. Twitter gives you immediate access to what lit mags, journals, and publishers are promoting
If you want to get your work published, Twitter is one of the best places to find the opportunities, contests, and open submissions that get promoted by thousands of journals and publishers. Almost every publication has a Twitter account where they post about their submissions windows and contests immediately and continuously. With Twitter, you no longer have to wait on a newsletter or word of mouth to reach you and force you to frantically pull your submission together before the window closes. You will know as soon as your dream publication opens its submissions, and you’ll have the time to make sure that you send them your best.
2. Twitter is a great platform to promote yourself and your work
After getting published, one of the main problems writers face is finding people to read their work. Bad book sales can be one of the most disappointing parts of a writing career, but social media platforms like Twitter can help you avoid that. When you get something published, Twitter becomes another way for you to tell people about it, and because Twitter is so massive, you will reach far more people with one Tweet than you would by sending emails or asking people to read what you got published.
3. You get to be part of a fun and supportive international writing community
It is so easy to feel alone when you’re writing. It is often an independent craft, and no matter how many workshops or peer reviews you experience, there will be times when you feel like you are staring down this enormous project all on your own. Whether it’s been a long day and coming back to the page feels like a chore, my revisions aren’t turning out the way I want or anything else, feeling less alone as a writer always makes me feel better, and Twitter is a great reminder that you are not alone. Every time I scroll through my feed, I see hilarious and heartfelt tweets about writing and other writers’ struggles and triumphs. There is a strong writing community on Twitter where we constantly encourage and inspire each other, and I don’t think any writer should miss out on that.
Twitter is more than just fun and games; it’s a unique and effective tool, especially for writers. It has such potential to benefit us, and all we have to do is give it the chance. Happy Tweeting, and most importantly, happy writing!
Stop by The Newton for a storytelling competition.
10 STORYTELLERS. 6 MINUTES. 1 WINNER.
The Storytellers: Each month, 10 storytellers take the stage to share a six-minute story. To put your name in the Electronic Hat, sign up to be a teller on the front page of this website starting the day after the last SLAM. The SLAM lineup is posted the weekend before the show on this website and on the SLAM’s Facebook event page.
The Judges: Audience members are picked at random the night of the show before the SLAM starts to be the judges.
The SLAM: Five judges score the stories on a scale of ten, with the total maximum points available set at 30. The highest and lowest scores from the judges will be dropped. The remaining scores are tallied to compile the storyteller’s final score.
The Winner: The storyteller with the most points at the end of the night wins $30!
Founded in 2011 by Dan Hoen Hull, The Storyline is a series of live storytelling nights that create a space for diverse stories without checking boxes. Several storytelling shows have sprung from their origins within The Storyline Collective including …And Then It Got Weird, Yarnball and The Whole Story. The Storyline Slam continues in that tradition as a monthly slam competition, aimed to further storytelling in The Valley and foster a spirit of fun in the community.
Location: The Newton, 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
Date: Saturday, June 22, 2019, 1 to 4 p.m. Location: Piper Writers House, 450 E. Tyler Mall, Tempe Cost: Free
About this Event
Join the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing for the inaugural meeting of #PhxLitServ, a network for creative writing community organizers in Phoenix, AZ on Saturday, June 22, 2019 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Piper Writers House, 450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe.
At the meeting, community organizers, teachers, and other individuals providing creative writing programs and services to the local community will come together to meet each other, share goals, and collaboratively determine what #PhxLitServ should be.
#PhxLitServ is open to any individual organizing a recurring event, teaching a class, or providing some other kind of creative writing program, product, service or space with a six month history of actively serving the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. All genres and forms are welcome. Organizations may send up to two individuals to participate. Registration is required. Membership is free.
For more information about #PhxLitServ or membership eligibility, click here or contact Marketing and Outreach Specialist Jake Friedman at 480.727.0818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every second Sunday from 4:30 to 7 pm
at Songbird Coffee and Teahouse
812 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Because what’s a writing community without structured opportunities for feedback?
We are open to individuals of all backgrounds and experiences working in any genre, style, or form of creative writing—poems, short stories, flash fiction, experimental work, personal essays, op-eds, articles, blogs, memoir, etc—at any stage of the writing process. If you are bringing work, please bring 5 – 6 hard copies to share with the group. If you are bringing prose, we respectfully ask you to bring under 3000 words. Please note that you do not have to bring work. Parking is available for free in a small parking lot behind the coffeeshop and metered down 3rd St and throughout surrounding neighborhoods. Songbird is also a five-minute walk from the light rail via the Central Ave and Roosevelt stop. We also recommend a bicycle. Feel free to coordinate car-pooling on our Facebook page as well. Writing group is a safe, structured, and supportive space for people to come together, get to know each other, and exchange compassionate, constructive, and thoughtful feedback on each others work–helping each other to grow and progress as creative writers, connecting as human beings, and building community. For more information please e-mail email@example.com. Hope to see you there!
We might think of Ouilpo as the ultimate writing workshop program. Of course, Ouilpo is more than that. The organization has a longevity few literary groups can claim. In the essay “Raymond Queneau and the Early Oulipo,” scholar Warren Motte writes, “Oulipo has certainly shattered the record of longevity for literary groups, leaving Dada, Surrealism, Futurism, Lettrism, Situationism, and so forth behind like so many sleek but abashed hares bested by the tortoise.” The constant quasi-religious in-fighting of groups like Lettrism and Surrealism made it almost impossible for the members to remain a unit. For example, André Breton’s excommunications of those like Robert Desnos and Raymond Queneau (Oulipo’s cofounder) seems almost tyrannical in hindsight. Ouilpo somehow avoids this. As Motte describes, “No excommunications here, no ritual immolations, no spectacular au·to-da-fé, no gore-drenched seppukus.” Oulipo achieves this relative peace perhaps out of its very ambitions and aims, its structuring.
Raymond Queneau described Oulipo as “Rats who build the labyrinth from which they try to escape.” In an essay called, “Into the Maze: OUILPO,” scholar Mónica de la Torre argues, “The concerns of the original members of the Oulipo were, at least, two-fold: on the one hand, they wanted to write literature that could not be easily consumed and disposed of, literature that was always in the making… Oulipians also wanted to devise a system to guarantee that writers would not run out of innovative formal possibilities.” There’s a playful paradox at work here. The Oulipian literary model attempts to impose arbitrary constraints on the writing process, and, at the same time, hopes to produce lasting, transformative (non-disposable) works of art, which suggests there’s a useful/latent degree of freedom lurking within such constraint. The idea of not running “out of innovative formal possibilities” might seem sort of old hat in our age of algorithms, but it wasn’t in the 1960s.
Oulipians wanted to maintain a system of procedural innovations for writers, but they also wanted their literature to be transformative. They differed from the Surrealists in the sense that they considered “automatic writing” to be a form of cheating. According to Queneau, in his 1963 essay, “Potential Literature,” he says the Oulipian goal is “To propose new ‘structures’ to writers, mathematical in nature, or to invent new artificial or mechanical procedures that will contribute to literary activity: props for inspiration as it were, or rather, in a way, aids for creativity.” Again, it’s kind of like the ultimate writing workshop formula(s)/exercise(s). Torre explains the exciting, if not obvious, possibilities of such a program, “Thanks to the Oulipo, poets with writers’ block can explore lipograms, perverbs, antonymic translations, homophonic translations, spoonerisms, centos, heterograms, pangrams, and a myriad of other forms instead of agonizing over the blank page.” Oulipo didn’t invent these forms or procedures, but rather, according to Torre, they rescued them from “literary oblivion.”
A writer I love and admire comes out of the Oulipian world, the Italian short story writer Italo Calvino. Calvino has a wonderful collection of short stories called Marcovaldo, which are obviously still worth reading today. In an essay called “Cybernetics and Ghosts,” Calvino describes some foundational Oulipian assumptions. He writes, “primitive oral narratives, like the folk tale that has been handed down almost to the present day, is molded on fixed structures, on, we might almost say, prefabricated elements – elements, however, that allow of an enormous number of combinations.” Here, we see again the Oulipian fascination with a predetermined “labyrinth” as a set of literary possibilities. Calvino goes on. He argues, “Even if the folk imagination is therefore not boundless like the ocean, there is no reason to think of it as being like a water tank of small capacity. On an equal level of civilization, the operation of narrative, like those of mathematics, cannot differ all that much from one people to another, but what can be constructed on the basis of these elementary process can present unlimited combinations, permutations, and transformations.” Combinations. Permutations. Transformations. Calvino, rather brilliantly, outlines the Oulipian strategy. I have to say, this program/project may partially explain Oulipo’s longevity. The possibilities within this mazelike framework are unexpectedly open and endless.
The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference is three days of craft talks, panels, workshops and presentations at Arizona State University. With more than 50 sessions from over 25 faculty members in multiple genres and fields, the goal is to provide writers with opportunities to make personal and professional connections, advance their craft, and deepen their engagement with the literary field. View the full conference schedule here.
About the conference from the host, The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing:
“We are committed to creating an accessible and inclusive space for writers of all backgrounds, genres, and skill levels. Conference faculty and programming encompass many genres which can often go under served in the literary field, including Young Adult, Science-Fiction/Fantasy, Crime Fiction, Translation, Graphic Novels, Hybrid, and more.
Special topics like climate change, social justice, and other contemporary issues also feature prominently.
Publishing, editing, agents, and other aspects of the business of publishing are included as well.
Beyond sessions, attendees can also participate in receptions, discussion groups, after-hour socials, and other opportunities to connect with fellow conference-goers, develop relationships, and build community.”
The 2018 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference will take place from Thursday, February 22 through Saturday, February 24. Writers of all backgrounds and experience levels are encouraged to attend. Register here.
One particularly boring day in 9th grade Chemistry, I wrote a story about my group of friends defeating our evil teacher. I folded it in a note, and passed it along the back row, where the story’s heroes read it one by one, stifling laughter and sneaking glances at the blissfully unaware teacher. We had recently decided we were all superheroes–vigilantes, to be specific. Everyone got a nickname and a power, debated among the group. I still didn’t have a name or power, and I was too self-conscious to make up my own, so I asked a friend.
He screwed up his face, thinking. “What are your skills?”
“Well, you’re good at writing. You could be the journalist that follows the superheroes around!”
“So like, a secret superhero disguised as a journalist?”
“No,” the boy said, already shaking his head. “No, that wouldn’t make any sense. If you had powers, you’d be fighting the bad guys with us. You can’t have powers.”
“So I’m not part of the team?”
“Not technically,” he said. “But without you, who would know about all the stuff we’re doing? You would give the townspeople hope! Someone has to do it.”
I’ve always wanted to be a hero. I’ve always wanted to be one of the people out there in the world doing the courageous work that ordinary people don’t have the guts for. When I was an evangelical christian kid, I wanted to go into international missions. I wanted to adventure, take risks, go to unusual places. I was excited for the Second Coming–I wanted to live in a time of upheaval, to defend my faith against monstrous beasts. If not that, then I wanted to be a nun, to live an extraordinary life of prayer. When I moved away from religion and into LGBTQ rights activism, I wanted to be a different kind of hero. I wanted to go on a hunger strike in prison. I wanted to chain myself to a building, to put myself in physical danger for a noble cause.
I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer, too. The most common advice given to fiction writers is also the best: “Ass in chair.” Stay where you are; keep writing. Of course you need to live a life in order to write, and in order to be a healthy human being–an often underrated pursuit among artists, but a necessary one nevertheless. A good writer, though, should be perpetually conscious of the work, always ready to use their few solitary moments to sit down and dig into the deepest marrow of their soul. It doesn’t look romantic, sitting in a chair all day; it’s not a hunger strike or a sit-in or an exotic adventure.
But it certainly requires fortitude. In one of W.B. Yeats’s last poems, “The Circus Animals’ Desertion”, a writer near the end of his life ruminates on the stories that he used to write about, great tales of adventure and triumph, vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose. But in his age, the writer realizes that what he has left are not the mythical creatures and characters, the circus animals, all on show. Rather, it is the unglamorous murk of human emotion that he must write from. He concludes the poem, saying
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
I asked a professor in college once: how do you dig into the darkest parts of yourself for writing, and also live a healthy life? He peered at me over his fingertips, with his uncanny pale blue eyes, and said, “I am always vigilant.”
To be a writer is to be vigilant. To be vigilant is to be watchful, awake. To keep a vigil is to stay awake in prayer. To be a vigilante is to be ‘a self-appointed doer of justice’.
These days, I want badly to be a self-appointed doer of justice. Villains are everywhere and multiplying, and a clamoring part of me wishes that I could abandon my work and my ordinary life and even my writing to go on some death-defying, valorous adventure–ideally somehow involving magic? –that would mold me into a true hero, capable of quickly and concretely changing the world. I want to single-handedly save lives. I want to do something noble and powerful, worthy of an incredible story. Of course, if my impulse for action is contingent on story, my underlying desire is probably more about the tale than the act.
I’m not talking about small acts of goodness: calling senators, writing letters, doing volunteer work in a community, being kind and attentive to the people in your life. All of those and more are humbler works that come from less glory-hungry urges, and that, if done consistently, don’t make up merely one adventurous plot arc to tell and retell. Rather, they make up a whole life of daily, mundane choices, like waking up every day, getting your ass in that chair, and putting pen to paper.
The only thing I’ve wholeheartedly kept from my former Christianity is an immense respect for and love of prayer. A favorite author once called prayer an ‘act of love’ and I’ve felt that definition ring true more than any other. For me, writing and prayer are inextricably linked–both a deeply embedded part of my childhood, both a salvation, reconciliation, meditation. Both annoying, sometimes. Both easy to procrastinate on, both unglamorous, both private, both practices that everyone else seems to do with more ease, more beauty, more reward. Both practices that thrive in questions and not answers. Both vigils. Both staying awake.
To be a self-appointed doer of justice, vigilante-style, you need answers. You need clarity and security in the knowledge that what you’re doing is right, or at least mostly right, or at least pointed in the general direction of the greater good. We will always have heroes and villains in this world, self-appointed doers who believe that they are on the side of justice. Who have been told what the side of justice is, and have decided to fight for it. Some fight for the weak and downtrodden and underserved. Some fight for their god. Some fight for their money.
And following them are the journalists, the storytellers, the poets. The people with more questions than answers, the people whose job it is to give the townspeople hope, or fear. The people sifting through what their leaders are doing to find the truth under it. The people who lie down where all the ladders start.
Today we are pleased to feature author Michelle Ross as our Authors Talk series contributor. Michelle reads from and discusses her short story, “Stories People Tell.” She talks about how the story originated with a kind of confession of almost hitting a pedestrian with her car.
This weekend Superstition Review has a table at the AWP Writers’ conference in Washington DC. We have some really cool swag, including mugs, t-shirts, and notebooks we are raffling to convention-goers. If you’re at AWP this weekend and want to win, follow us on twitter @Superstitionrev and send us a tweet saying “Hello @superstitionrev from AWP.” Winners will be announced on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 4PM. Swing by the Superstition Review booth (501-T) to claim your prizes.