Art Editor, Devon Mendrzycki
This semester it has been an honor to work with such a talented group of artists who recognize the value of artistic merit alongside social justice. The great artist Diego Rivera once called art the “weapon against lying to the people” and it’s safe to say Rivera would have likened the Art Section of Issue 30 to an armory.
Our cover artist RAEchel Running, whose work was included in the SR’s first Issue, has spent years photographing life on the Mexico-US Border. Working alongside the Rancho Feliz Foundation, Running dismantles boundaries by showing the compassion between the communities divided by our border. Valytina Grenier’s work advocates for our planet and the ecological concerns it faces in a scarce environment. Shirin Mellat Gohar explores her national identity through the artistry inherited during her childhood in the Iran-Iraq War. Corey Pressman’s encaustic art uses the color and form of everyday life to understand the states of being that are otherwise difficult to comprehend. Finally, Jenny Wu’s sculptural paintings make light of the sensationalist perspective of materialism and all its ironies.
I would like to thank Trish for this wonderful opportunity and for being an amazing mentor throughout the internship. Through your guidance I have come to better appreciate art and those brave enough to make it. I would also like to thank Rebecca Fish Ewan for introducing me to many artists whose work I’ve come to admire, and helping me learn to properly critique. Lastly, I’d like to thank my fellow interns and trainees for helping put Issue 30 together.
Fiction Editor, Abygail Leon Zavala
Each of the authors for issue 30 has excelled at doing more than spilling pretty words on a page. I found that all of 7 of these stories were written with such careful details and visual elements that allowed me to enter the liminal spaces that they formed; spaces that depict the good and bad, the serious and lighthearted. Through these I’ve seen and felt pain, eagerness, love, and even comedic relief.
With his lyrical prose, Patrick Thomas Henry shows us images of a moment in time; and he presents a relationship between siblings that lasts beyond a picture and is truly burned within a memory. Michael Colbert provides an underwater look at sexuality and the importance of trust when on a self-discovery journey. Gabriel Granillo creates a literary folk tale that gives meaning to value and ambition, showing us just how far individuals may go for the things they deem worthy. Mohamed Shalabi portrays the power of women and their strength in wit, despite forces that try to deplete them of that energy. Amy Reardon depicts the internal battle some women face when acknowledging sexual assault, shining a light on traumatic experiences in order to provide some clarity towards the correct steps. Through the character’s dialogue, Morris Collins uses a satirical lens to critique and analyze the often mundanancy and repetition of work life. J. T. Townley uses stereotypical gender-based roles to create a new narrative; one that doesn’t rely on normalcy.
It has been a pleasure to work alongside such a dedicated group of individuals. Trish, Kristen, and Margaret all made the curation of the fiction section for Issue 30 special. I appreciate Trish’s support throughout the process, which created a positive environment that allowed for productive and meaningful discussions. I’m thankful for Kristen’s thoughtful comments that stemmed from her own cultural academic lens during our section meetings. I also appreciate Margaret’s contribution and help in and outside of these discussions. Thank you all for making this experience a memorable one.
Fiction Editor, Margaret Lacorte
It has been a profound honor to read the fiction submissions for issue 30. One of the most beautiful conditions of good fiction is its assurance that the reader feels seen. I am proud to say that each of the seven stories being published in issue 30 achieve this, each in a more unique way than the last.
Patrick Thomas Henry portrays the loveliness inherent in nostalgia, remembering growing up with a sibling in a series of snapshots that underscore its sentimental significance. Morris Collins depicts the oft-redundant nature of worklife in a hilarious satirical piece. J.T. Townley traverses multiple typically male-centric environments with a female lead in this empowering gender-bending work. Gabriel Granillo’s bildungsroman follows the path of Eddie V, a child film star as he outgrows his relevancy, a true depiction of this struggle. Michael Colbert explores themes related to sexuality in this magical realist tale about merfolk. Amy Reardon embodies the realities of moral duality in this compelling depiction of women’s struggles with sexual assault. In his piece on possession, Mohamed Shalabi empowers each female character in his depiction of life in rural Arab communities.
I am deeply grateful to have worked as fiction editor alongside my fellow editor, Abygail, as well as Kristin and Trish. This has been the most rewarding of opportunities, and I am thrilled to have been a part of publishing such incredible stories. Here’s to issue 30, and Superstition Review’s fifteenth anniversary.
Interview Editor, Rich Duhamell
It is the dream of any avid reader to be able to pick the brain of a beloved author, to ask what was the inspiration, to learn context, to make that connection and go, “hey, I got this, and it resonates.” So my experience as the Interview Editor for Issue 30 was the ultimate fanboy fulfillment in finding both new, phenomenal authors and returning to those that I’ve read, studied, and adored, and getting to ask these burning questions.
Being abroad during this time also made me all the more grateful for the varied and loving depictions of Latine communities, of la frontera and the worlds and lives that exist on either and both sides of it. Thank you to the contributors for these love letters to latinidad in its multitudes.
Rudy Ruiz’s Valley of Shadows brings Mexico into technicolor and a fight against the curse of machismo directly on the rift of a disputed border, loved ones never truly leaving us even in death. Manuel Munoz returns us to 70s California and its Chicano communities in The Consequences to explore what we owe to one another in crises and whether obligations are enough to make us stay. The essays of Brown Neon land us in the now of the Southwest borderlands, Raquel Gutierrez so deliberate and conscientious in their approach to the intersections of brownness and queerness in a political climate that is increasingly hostile to both. Leopoldo Gout draws on the unfathomable hurt of the colonized in Pinata, playing with the typical archetypes and crafting an iconic horror story in which readers recognize and ache for the abject in the monster. We get a taste of incredible resilience in Angie Cruz’s How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water, a monologue of a woman having to start again after a long life of escape and determination to make it in America, her persistence and community catching her after this fall.
Another thanks to Trish Murphy and Sarah Viren for the support in and out of this role, as well as for the invitation back. I am absolutely delighted to be returning to this position for our next issue.
Nonfiction Editor, Bailey Wood
My experience as one of the nonfiction editors for Issue 30 of Superstition Review has reminded me about our common humanity. Although we may differ from one another, we have the opportunity to connect through writing where we have vastly different complex lives and stories to tell. These essays are a compilation of human experiences where writers and readers can meet in a place of common humanity.
This section includes a variety of stories and subjects that examine moments of human experience. In a recollection of youth, Brooke White takes us on a journey to a small island in Greece where she searches for herself in a summer between graduation and the rest of her life. Carlo Rey Lacasamana examines a woman’s life in three acts whose behaviors conjure hope. Cassandra Whitakaer writes an essay about gender, prompting the question: what do we teach with our bodies? Kaia Preus offers a narrative which expresses a desire to believe in life after death through conversations with the dead. Audacia Ray challenges John Burroughs in a conversation of nature and civilization.
I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Trish, Rebecca, and Taylor as we curated the nonfiction section of Issue 30. Thank you Trish for your guidance and support as well as your enthusiasm for your students’ growth. Thank you Rebecca for your helpful contributions in the selection process for the nonfiction pieces. Thank you Taylor for the teamwork and dedication to building Issue 30’s nonfiction section.
Nonfiction Editor, Taylor Montano
Mirrors, windows, and writing. Incredible fragments of our lives that create a mosaic of truth, should the writer deign to arrange words in their certain order. Author Grace Lin spoke of children’s literature needing to be mirrors and windows, so that the children not only see themselves within the story, but also see the world for as diverse and breathtaking as it truly is. Why should we not apply this to literature for adults as well? It shapes the way we as consumers view the world, molds the way we as producers of content put art back into it.
I felt the cultural differences, the language barriers explored within Carlo Rey Lacsamana’s “The Balcony in Three Acts”. For him to utilize a song in a language he did not understand, yet have such a powerful reaction to it—exhilarating. Cassandra Whitaker’s natural voice is striking. They are aware of how the human body cannot be objectified when it is as fluid as water. Kaia Preus manipulates language to develop her internal conflict of contradictions. Brooke White washes her reader over with a wave of prose that transports us to a memory within her mind. Distortion that bleeds into reclamation is the foundation that which Audacia Ray’s “Deeds and Intentions” thrives.
These essays are connections found through unfamiliarity—a path that the readers of S[r] will journey once they experience Issue 30. These moments challenge us to see the world beyond our lens, while reflecting inward and discussing our morality. They are mirrors, they are windows, and they were fabricated, for us.
Poetry Editor, Aujae Mitchell
As my favorite poet Rita Dove once said, “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful” and this sentiment is certainly true of the works that have been selected for our 30th issue. Each contributor addresses an eclectic array of topics, emotions, and experiences; in fact, the work here stands as exemplars of Rita Dove’s statement. Each poet shaped my own definition of what poetry is and what it can evoke
Charlie Peck paints a visceral and personal depiction of addiction and sobriety. Constance Hansen and Rebecca Griswold, in their respective poems, share personal insight into their experience of pregnancy and loss. Danny Rivera’s poem “Dispatch from the Last Century” provides a penetrating meditation on “terror.” Joanne Diaz’s poem “Facts in Review” paired with Jason Reblando’s palpable image, is a reflection on Nazi book burnings and the parallels with the current social climate. Natalie Giarratano’s two poems are a study of her own white privilege and societal proclivities to reward “whiteness.” Remi Recchia’s poem, “Amuse-Bouche” metaphorically provides criticism of transphobic perceptions and personal insight into gender dysphoria. Yong-Yu Huang’s beautifully constructed poem “Wasteland” is a nostalgic reflection on her previous self. Susan L. Leary’s poignant collection precisely encapsulates the pain of the loss of a loved one. Cynthia Marie Hoffman’s poems reflect the essence of the themes of compulsive order and anxiety. Rachel Nelson’s cohesive collection highlights the racist caricatures that remain as the legacy of the period of enslavement, as well as showcasing African American and African folktales to speak to a larger metaphor of racial injustice. And Kathryn Bratt-Pfotenhaur’s work is a visceral two-poem voyeuristic narrative about violence.
I would like to thank all of these poets for sharing their amazing and personal works with us for our 30th issue, as well as my co-editor Madison and Trish for working so diligently alongside me to select these astounding contributors.
Poetry Editor, Madison Latham
There is nothing more powerful than a person who can share what they have experienced through words. But, when we dig a little deeper, we find out that it is more than words, it’s form, punctuation, style, and risk; it’s poetry. It’s not being afraid to say what needs to be said, and one of my favorite things about our poetry selections for Issue 30 is that they all achieve that.
We have published 12 poets in this issue. Every poem is a target painted on the poet’s back, and they wear it with honor. Charlie Peck writes about avoidance of the truth and growing not only from child to adult in age but in maturity and decision making. Constance Hansen and Rebecca Griswold focus on pregnancy and loss from a scientific perspective at first, and then from the perspective of struggling mothers. Danny Rivera discovers a new word for terror. Joanne Diaz, in collaboration with photographer Jason Reblando, lists facts that seem all too harrowing for the current state of the world. Natalie Giarratano checks her own privilege as well as the privilege of her readers, pointing out the hardships of not being white that she sees in the world. Although it first reads as a piece about celery, Remi Reccia’s poem “Amuse-Bouche” is a pantoum about being denied an identity. Yong-Yu Huang writes, “Why is everything slouching closer / to my heart?” Susan L. Leary approaches the process of losing a loved one in her four poems, and Cynthia Hoffman features a puzzled speaker, talking themself out of anxiety. Rachel Nelson writes about racism, finishing with, “Black traces / that can not be rinsed away / from the bark,” in her last poem “Tar Baby Dreams of Home.” The poetry section ends with Kathryn Bratt-Pfotenhauer, who writes beautifully about consent and not only violating but also mutilating an animal. If I could summarize a theme for this issue’s selections, I would call it grief. Every author strung a bit of their own grief into their poems, grief about something lost. Every author took the time to say what needed to be said at some point in their life, or the life of another. There was no hesitation. I admire their honesty, their risk, their speaker, their content. If you sit and read each of these poems, I think you may find a bit of yourself in them, the same way I did, and if you don’t, you are lucky, you have never had to wear the target on your back.
I am so grateful and feel so privileged to have been one of the poetry editors for this issue. I want to thank Aujae, Mark, and Trish for working with me diligently to discuss and decide which of the submissions best fit our magazine. We interacted with some amazing poets who have beautiful futures ahead of them.