September’s Lit Mag Spotlight is shining on Superstition Review! This fantastic journal run out of Arizona State University has a lot to say, and we’re happy to share it all with you! Find out how they got started, what they’re looking for in an ideal submission, and enter to win a FREE ASU stainless steel thermos! Sweet!
CONTEST: Leave a comment on this blog post by October 4 to enter to win a FREE, nifty Arizona State University stainless steel thermos (pictured here). This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Nancy, our winner. Thank you to all who participated!
Give us the lowdown on your journal’s mission.
I started the magazine in 2008 as a way to teach undergraduate students about literary publishing. I was teaching a lot of creative writing classes, and I would ask my students to list their favorite living American authors. That’s how I realized that my students were often not familiar with contemporary literary trends. So I started the magazine and trained students to learn about who is writing right now, what they are writing, and where those authors are publishing.
We filled our first few issues mostly through solicitations. But now the magazine is nationally known and we receive so many submissions I have to limit our reading period to four months a year: September & October and January & February.
The magazine works this way. Each fall and spring I have about twenty student interns. They choose work for publication, correspond with authors, advertise the magazine, run all of our social networks, and design the website itself. Each issue features art, fiction, interviews, nonfiction and poetry by about fifty to sixty emerging and established artists and authors. In four-and-a-half years we have published work by 500 contributors, including T.C. Boyle, Sandra Cisneros, Billy Collins, Barbara Kingsolver, and many more.
We also run a blog with posts on literary topics every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Between that and our other social networks, we stay active year-round.
I’m very proud of my interns, many of whom have gone on to graduate school and to jobs in literary publishing. I’m also very proud of the magazine we produce.
Describe your ideal submission in 15 words or less.
Fully realized; command of language; strong imagery, figurative language, and musicality; mastery of craft.
Tell us about a piece you recently published that got the staff really excited. Why did you love it? Why did it strike a chord? Can readers find it online?
Just one? But I could list so many. I’m going to cheat and give you two.
We received an essay last spring by John Gist that really got us going. While we’re not typically drawn to desert stories because we tend to get too many of them, this particular essay was such a lovely mix of narration, description, and reflection that we were enthralled. All the editors agreed that this essay was insightful, unique, and expertly written. Read the essay here.
A second piece that really got us going was a short story by Connor Syrewicz. I remember I was reading it on the treadmill. I hope that’s not too weird, but I have a treadmill desk and I like to read submissions while walking at about two miles an hour. When I got to Connor’s submission, I had to stop the treadmill and sit down. We don’t publish a lot of undergraduate work, partially because a goal of the magazine is to give our own undergrads experience interacting with established authors. But as soon as I read this piece, I knew I wanted to publish it, and I was even more impressed that it had come from an undergrad at Binghamton in New York. Read the story here.
Regarding submissions: What’s the most common turn-off that you encounter (in terms of craft)?
The most common craft turn-off is the overuse of summary. We get a lot of pieces—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—that try to cover way too much time. This results in whole sentences or paragraphs that are weak because they are expected to do too much work.
What’s the most common oversight (in terms of submission guidelines)?
In our guidelines I ask for a 100-word bio. One reason for this is that I don’t publish ASU undergrads, and this helps me to weed out those rare submissions. Another reason I ask for that bio is that I’m teaching my ASU undergrads about literary publishing. So we always look at the bio before we read a piece because we talk about the implications of education, experience, and prior publications. I train my editors to be good ambassadors. I want them to respect the work that authors and editors do.
Why is your journal awesome?
Our journal is awesome because we offer so many opportunities: to our undergraduate students to learn more about contemporary literature and publishing, and to national artists and authors who want to place their work in an easy-to-access, high-quality, fully-vetted, gonna-stick-around publication. So many literary magazines these days fail, but ASU has made a strong commitment to Superstition Review, and it will continue to produce quality issues for a long time to come. I have had several contributors say to me that their publication in SR has been one of the most meaningful in their writing lives because they can share their work quickly (and for free), and the site is professional and easy to navigate. We’re really proud of that.
Where can readers find your submission guidelines?
What else would you like to say?
Yay, I get to talk about some news! This fall we are doing a total redesign of the magazine and of the blog. These will be revealed on November 30 when we launch Issue 10. We also added 2 items this past summer, thanks to the hard work of some industrious interns. We have a new iTunes U Channel where we post poetry podcasts each Tuesday. And we have a Tumblr account where we share items that strike our fancy.
Leave a comment by October 4 and enter to win a free ASU stainless steel thermos from Superstition Review. This contest is now closed.