SR Pod/Vod Series: Poet Jennifer Givhan

Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Jennifer Givhan.

unnamedJennifer Givhan was a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow, the DASH 2013 Poetry Prize winner, a St. Lawrence Book Award finalist and a Vernice Quebodeaux Pathways finalist for her poetry collection Red Sun Mother, an Andres Montoya Poetry Prize finalist and a 2014 Prairie Schooner Book Prize finalist for her collection Karaoke Night at the Asylum. She attends the MFA program at Warren Wilson College with a fellowship, and her work has appeared in over seventy literary journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets 2013, Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, and Rattle. She teaches at Western New Mexico University.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes Channel.

You can read along with the work in Superstition Review

Intern Post, Corinne Randall: I’m No Doctor, But I Took a Chance on Living in Their World

Medical Device SalesI’ve now done it countless times: I’m sitting in a physician’s office. His or her white coat is hanging in the corner, complementing a wall of endless diplomas. A shelf packed with thick books on neurosurgery, degenerative spinal disorders or orthopedic trauma is staring me in the face. A man or woman with years upon years of medical training and experience is about to walk through the door–and I’m about to convince them that I am the one who has just the product to help heal their patients. This never ceases to ignite a burning anticipation that I can feel radiating from my toes to my forehead.

Now, if someone had told me three years ago that I would finish college and enter the world of medical sales, I would have taken a step back, cocked my head and probably giggled a little bit (nervously, that is.) I didn’t think my brain was wired for the medical field. Throughout my college career I knew that when it came to my “real world” career, I’d be staying far, far away from anything that had to do with science, and didn’t have to do with the arts. However, as I have come to find out within the past year and a half–we can surprise ourselves.

In July of 2013, I was offered a serious position with a medical distributorship in Las Vegas. Previously, I had worked as poetry and nonfiction intern with Superstition Review, and then for six months as an admissions counselor for an online community college. I was petrified. So, of course, I packed up everything and went for it.

In my current position, I sell a post-operative healing device to Orthopedic, Spine and Neurosurgeons across the Las Vegas territory. My role is to provide a healing service to the patients of these physicians as they recover from surgery. I schedule a lot of meetings, read numerous scientific studies, work to make myself a “part” of the community within a doctor’s office, visit patient homes and provide A LOT of Starbucks for my customers. I meet new people every day and work to memorize all their names. I’ll rehearse sales pitches in the mirror. I have many early mornings that turn into late nights. My car is constantly running out of gas. You can find me in any part of this city at any given time of the day. However, despite what seems to be chaos, two things are always motivating me: the well-being of patients along with the drive to further my knowledge. I can’t imagine a work day where I’m looking to achieve only one of those two things.

Here’s the thing: we win some, we lose some. We triumph and we fail. Even Winston Churchill once said: “success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have days where I have failed with a potential customer and where I have doubted whether I made the right decision in choosing this path. I’d also be lying if I said those days didn’t inspire me to work harder the next. One of the most important lessons I have learned from my experience thus far is to never let the highs get too high or the lows too low. During the course of my undergraduate Creative Writing studies at Arizona State University, I learned during my many workshop classes that criticism can be as beautiful as praise in terms of growth. When applied to the world of sales that I have so deeply immersed myself in, not much of that lesson is lost in translation. I love that my work is always pushing me to learn more and be better. Initiating and maintaining business with someone is half my battle. The other, (arguably more important) half is to ask myself how tomorrow can surpass today.

As kids, I think we all heard people say “don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t.” Correct: don’t. However, instead of rambling on about the device that I sell, I wanted the point of this blog post to be “don’t let you tell you that you can’t.” I did, temporarily, and let me tell you: it’s fun to prove yourself wrong.

Guest Post, Caroline Knox: Samples

I’ve always thought that the most powerful poems were those that included in style and content the very highest and most important matter, right along with the most ordinary and insignificant. Such a combination can bring about surprise and evenhandedness, as if everything might be susceptible of comedy and respect. I think this because of reading Dickinson, Stevens, Moore, Auden, Plath, and Ashbery, among many others.

“Objects,” a long poem, tries to situate high and low style and content together. It collects anecdotes, reading notes, and overheard conversation; five stanzas appear below, and then a few thoughts about making each of these five. (Other stanzas include a translation, a speculation about music composition, and a comment on landscape design.)

From “Objects”

“I only owe the University three hundred

dollars, and if I can’t get it I

can’t graduate with the class.”

Karen said this to Sarah, and

went out to read bulletin boards.



FIRST PRIZE. Karen registered

and got up on the stage and read

“Sunday Morning,” won, and graduated.

“You never forget a beautiful

thing you have made,” said Chef

Bugnard of the Cordon Bleu

to Julia Child, “even after you

eat it – it stays with you always.”


These are the words

of Robert Darvin,

a Haitian refugee

evicted from a

tent camp, of his

new and flimsy

home: “It is made

of cheap concrete.

If you think too

much about it,

you lose your mind.”

Samuel Sewall wrote:

“Sabbath: This day

so cold that the

Sacramental Bread

is frozen pretty hard

and rattles sadly

as broken into plates.”


“The research highlighted

that one critical component

to building the capacity

of strategic execution is

the establishment of a

value attitude.” This

sentence has so much

wrong with it that you

hardly know where to

start. At least it doesn’t

have topic drift, or does it.


A salad: chopped

cucumbers, chopped

romaine, blueberries,

mint, feta cheese, FRESH

MINT, scallions;

for dressing: oil

and vinegar, and a

little honey. In a

bowl, stainless steel

rimmed with beading,

making clunks of noise

with serving tools, on

a cloth, a blue cotton,

on a table, maybe,

maple, maybe,

refinished by Alan

Marbury, an




Flora Thompson wrote, “The

hamlet looked down at

the village as ‘stuck up’;

while the village looked

down on ‘that gipsy lot’

at the hamlet.” And Angela

Thirkell wrote of

a child’s thoughts:

“No one quite under-

stood what [the boy]

meant and by the time

he had spoken, what he

said appeared to

him to be meaningless.

We have all had that

experience.” And

finally – clear-eyed

and incisive – Laurie

Capps wrote, “We are

all/ issued white

coats; we are

forever/ taking

samples of the world.”

“I only owe the University” – Karen the serendipitous has managed not only to read the right bulletin board, earn the prize, pay her bill, and graduate, but also to accomplish all this by high-quality performance art. Her story stands in an interesting complementary relation to Chef Bugnard’s words about the transcendent quality of great cuisine and the permanence of its memory.

“These are the words” – Darvin expresses the privation and bleakness of the Haitian hurricane in extreme brevity and ellipsis, rather than lengthy mourning. But his brevity also shows his courage to survive. His view is mirrored in Sewall’s, as the austerity of the season in 17thc New England is made real in the harsh sounds of altar bread crumbled, it’s that cold. These speakers belong in the same stanza, they don’t need to explain further.

“The research highlighted” – It’s always a joy to find truly fresh language that works with precision, and it’s also a joy to find language that’s appallingly bad, like this.

“A Salad” – A recipe invented by my gifted neighbor, Kay Lisle, full of surprise ingredients, great taste and texture. But the stanza is also full of unsought and useless information: why do we need to know a) that Alan Marbury refinished the table? And b) that he is a fine craftsman? Because the poem’s voice insists on it, insists that minor and local information be brought into some relation with the very original salad from Kay.

“Flora Thompson …” – The speakers in the first quote here use very vernacular language — “stuck up” and “that gipsy lot” — to dish out their two-way social (and economic) snobbery! Casual style, ugly content of principles, in small-town England. Then, in Thirkell’s quote, the child who speaks is immediately consumed with self-doubt, and Thirkell sympathetically writes, “We have all had that experience.” (It’s both ridiculous and poignant.) Finally, the prophetic view that seals both the project and the poem comes from the eloquent Laurie Capps; her vision comprehends everyone: “We are all … taking samples of the world.”

Note: Julia Child, Life in France, Anchor, 2007, 65; Robert Darvin, Quotation of the Day, New York Times, April 24, 2011, A3; Samuel Sewall, Diary, I, 94; Flora Thompson, Lark Rise to Candleford, Godine, 2010, 37; Angela Thirkell, Love at All Ages, Knopf, 1959, 203; Laurie Capps, Denver Quarterly 45/3, 2010, 10.

SR Pod/Vod Series: Poet Matthew Lippman

Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Matthew Lippman.

unnamedMatthew Lippman is the author of three poetry collections, American Chew, winner of The Burnside Review Book Prize (Burnside Review Book Press, 2013), Monkey Bars (Typecast Publishing, 2010), and The New Year of Yellow, winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize (Sarabande Books, 2007). He is the recipient of the 2014 Georgetown Review Magazine Prize, the 2014 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and The Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from The American Poetry Review.

You can listen to the podcast on our iTunes Channel.

You can read along with the work in Superstition Review

Intern Post, Bradley Brandt: Writer’s Conference Series

ww_gatesThis past summer I managed to stumble into the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, an eight day gathering in a beautiful and quaint Ohio town about an hour east of Columbus. I wished I could have found more information about the experiences of past attendees. So I hope this might be helpful for someone. But let me begin.

If you would like to meet an agent or if you want to pitch your next great American novel, then the Kenyon Review Writers workshop is not for you. However, if you want to be submersed in the craft, attend exhilarating workshops, and sweat from writer’s exhaustion (yes, this is a thing) then Kenyon is your calling.

Every day you attend a workshop with the same workshop leader. You are then given a challenge that you will write that same night and then workshop the following day. Crazy. Forget the privilege of a poem a week or a poem a month because Kenyon is purely about the blood and sweat of writing (and trust me, you will bleed).

The poetry faculty included David Baker, Carl Phillips, Linda Gregerson, and Stanley Plumly. I also heard nothing but wonderful comments regarding the rest of the faculty. There is also guaranteed one-on-one time with your workshop leader in which you can talk about whatever you would like. I recall confessing my fear of marriage and commitments. You can have fun with it.

Every night there would either be faculty readings, fellow readings, and student readings. While some people love reading their own work, I do not entirely enjoy it. However, it is enforced that everyone reads and I didn’t meet anyone that managed to get out of it. Despite my personal feelings, you do read in a room of people that truly support you.

If you are going to suffer over writing, Kenyon is the perfect place to do it. A place reminiscent of Hogwarts, Kenyon will embrace your creative craft. It is also in lovely Gambier, a small town in rural Ohio that really only consists of the college.

In terms of accommodations, I stayed in the Kenyon dorm rooms (some opted and paid extra for apartments). Breakfast and dinner was included in the tuition. Gambier deli sold sandwiches and lunch is usually attended on your own time.

In my past workshops, I often wondered if I had learned something that is applicable to the craft as opposed to just marking up a bunch of poems. At Kenyon I did not feel this way at all.

With this, I am reminded of a moment in The Art of Recklessness, by Dean Young. “It is also worth entertaining the notion that the least important time in any workshop is when your own work is being talked about.”

I loved it. I walked away from Kenyon feeling as though I learned something about the craft that I could actually hold onto and would then carry to my own aesthetic for years to come. With this being said, I highly recommend Kenyon if you consider writing a top priority. Kenyon has an amazing way of embracing you in a setting that is truly only temporary.

Pushcart Nominees 2014


Congratulations to our 2014 Pushcart nominees:



Allison Wilkins, Nonfiction, “How to Kill an Octopus”

Brandon Brook Michalik, Nonfiction, “Re-Wilding”

Mark Jacobs, Fiction, “Meursault’s Father”

Gregory J. Wolos, Fiction, “Still Life”

Muriel Nelson, Poetry, “My Life as a Tree”

Erin Adair Hodges, Poetry, “Regeneration




Issue 14 Is Now Live

Issue 14 Cover


a note from the editor

We have now completed seven full years of publishing Superstition Review. In those seven years we have featured over 550 artists and authors, and I have mentored over 200 students through all the steps of creating a literary magazine.

We broke all of our submissions records for this issue, which means we examined more wonderful art and writing than ever before. It’s such a privilege to look at all of the work that comes to us. Here are a few highlights from our final selections.

Our Art Editor this semester did a wonderful job curating a collection from ASU Alumni. We’re featuring work by 13 artists, all of whom earned a BFA or MFA at ASU. I find this collection to be incredibly diverse and exciting. And I’m so thankful to Melanie Yazzie for allowing us to use her painting for the cover of Issue 14.

This semester our students attended many literary events across the Phoenix area, including readings by Matt Bell, Matthew Gavin Frank, Cynthia Hogue, Peggy Shumaker, Kate Gale, Margaret Atwood, and Nikki Giovanni. We also volunteered at two events with UMOM New Day Centers.

This is still by far our largest submissions area. For Issue 14 we chose stories from 10 authors with wide-ranging backgrounds, including a former U.S. Foreign Service officer, an MFA candidate in the fiction program at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and a member of the Committee on Asia and the Middle East at Columbia University.

We interviewed 10 authors ranging from Aimee Nezhukumatathil to Molly Antopol. Our interview process is perhaps the most intense of all the sections. Our two Interview Editors carefully read and research each author, composing a list of mostly craft-based questions. Then we spend several weeks doing more research and revisions to the questions. I’m so grateful for all the work that these students do, and to the authors and poets who respond so thoughtfully.

Here we have selected essays from seven talented authors. Settings for these essays range from Arles, to Russia, to Topeka.

We read thousands of poems during a 10 week period. For this issue we published work by 20 poets, and as you’ll see there’s a wide variety of topic, theme, and form. During our editorial meetings, the poetry editors and I had several moments when we delighted over lines and read poems out loud to each other.

So here are the well-deserved thanks:

I can’t thank my Student Editors enough for their dedication. They spend many hours reading submissions, corresponding with authors, organizing content, and designing pages and advertisements. Oh, and Tweeting, Blogging, and Facebooking too!

Thanks also to my wonderful Faculty Advisors Betsy Schneider, Claire Lauer, Kristin Lacroix, Mark Haunschild, Rebecca Byrkit, and Valerie Bandura, who contribute lots of time and energy to mentoring students.

And as always, deep thanks go to my Department Head Ian Moulton and Dean Duane Roen for their support.

Thanks also to our 60 contributors for this issue.

Patricia Colleen Murphy
Founding Editor
Superstition Review