We’re On Hiatus…

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Our editorial staff is made up of generous volunteers who donate their time to keep us going. Between day jobs, side gigs, and our own writing, we’ve all grown pretty busy this winter so we’re going to take a little break from Sun Star. But don’t worry! We’ll be back soon! Check this space in Summer/Fall 2018 to see what new adventures await us.

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A Toast to our Editors

Our editors are the often invisible elves that keep Sun Star going. And, at the risk of sounding like braggarts, we’ve got one kick-ass editorial team. These are the diligent souls who read submissions, send out emails, edit and proofread, layout the journal, design covers, write blog posts, post to social media, and do all the small and large tasks of keeping Sun Star up and running. Our journal is a complete labor of love; these lovely lit lovers don’t get paid in anything but gratitude.

So this, our last post of 2017, is a toast to our editors, a multi talented bunch of writers, artists, musicians, teachers, and more! Here’s a small sample of what they’ve been up to in 2017:

Adriana Campoy’s poems appeared in Riot Time’s book, Distances and she’s been inspiring young minds with her creative writing classes at Orange County School of the Arts.

Justine Chan’s poetry was featured in Seattle’s Poetry on Buses program and her fiction appeared in Booth’s Women Writers Issue. Justine’s also an amazing performer. Give a listen to her readings and music from this year.

Rachel Linn’s writing appeared in PacificaStorm Cellar, Cease, Cows, and more. Her illustrations have also been regularly featured in the Future Fire.  Keep an eye out for Rachel’s cover art for Lambda Literary’s Emerge Anthology to be released at AWP this spring!

Ann Shivers-McNair has been rocking her first year as Director of Professional and Technical Writing at the University of Arizona and publishing her research in Technical Communication, Kairosand Crossing Divides: Exploring Translingual Writing Pedagogies and Programs.

Audie Shushan published the beautiful “Sex After Fascism” in Luna Station Quarterly and has been hard at work teaching at StoryStudio Chicago. Watch for her in MAKE Magazine!

Nora Broker published her breathtaking essay, “Ariel,” at Gertrude Press. She also wrote  eloquently about her own experience in support of the passage of HB2673A, an important bill to help transgender Oregonians change the gender markers on their IDs – and Oregon’s first standalone transgender equality bill.

Miranda Schmidt’s essay about myth and sexual harassment, “The Girl’s Who Turned Into Trees” appeared in Electric Literature and her selkie fairy tale, “Skin,” appeared in Triquarterly. This winter/spring she’s editing for Lambda Literary’s Emerge Anthology and for Phantom Drift (submit your fabulist wonders!)

Thanks for following Sun Star. We’ve absolutely loved reading all your stories and poems and essays and multigenre whosits this year! See you in 2018!

Presenting the Diana Issue

Cover Mock 3Read the Diana Issue here.

Diana. Goddess of the moon. Of the forest. Of the hunt. Keeper of mysteries. Solitary woodland wanderer. Guardian of women. Artemis.

In this figure, we find a union of nature and the multifaceted feminine. Diana is a huntress, but she is also beloved of the forest. She lives in balance with the world around her. She is able to take what she needs without destroying the whole. In this aspect, Diana’s forest is a harmony that does not mute the individual, but makes space for all our voices. In a time marked by environmental devastation, human domination, masculine violence, xenophobia, white supremacy, homophobia, and a fear of anything deemed “other,” we need this vision of Diana’s forest more than ever.

As a journal run by women, we have been horrified, but, in many ways, unsurprised, by the events of this past year. At times, we have been rendered speechless by what we see our country and our world becoming. But, often, we have found renewed urgency, renewed power, in words. Our literary moment is responding to our historical one with a vital multiplicity of voices and visions. Reading the work featured in journals and presses and readings around the country this year, hearing so many voices rise up with their words, gives us hope, even in this perilous moment, for our future.

Pushcart Nominees

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We’re so excited to announce our nominees for this year’s Pushcarts! We’ve been fortunate to read so much beautiful work in 2017 and these pieces particularly stood out to us:

  • “Redictionary” by Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell
  • “Wolves in the Treeline, if you squint” by Emily Hunderwadel
  • “The Man in the Red Sweater” by Barry Kaplan
  • “What I Know About Artemis” by N.O. Moore
  • “Ocean View” by William Torphy
  • “Untitled” by Elaine Wang

We wish you all the best of luck and thank you for contributing your wonderful words to Sun Star.

And The Nominees Are…

It’s Best of the Net nominations time! We sorted through all the beautiful poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction we’ve been fortunate to be able to publish over the past year and are happy to share this list of nominees from Sun Star:

Fiction
  • Cameron L. Mitchell “Big Cat Head”
  • Elizabeth Reinhard “Bread, Eggs, Milk”
Creative Nonfiction
  • Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell “Redictionary”
Poetry
  • Anna Sandy “Storm Shelters” 
  • Gayane Mariam Haroutyunyan “Please” 
  • Lana Bella “January 10, 2001” 
  • Emily Hunderwadel “Wolves in the Treeline, If You Squint”
Congratulations to all the Sun Star nominees and we wish you all the best of luck!

Extended Deadline: Now Accepting Submissions for our First Special Issue

Seeking Work for the Diana Issue

We’re excited to announce the next installment of Sun Star — and our first ever Special Issue — will be published in November! Submissions are now open and we would love the chance to read your work.

The Diana Issue is dedicated to exploring and celebrating the feminine. We want work about femininity in tradition and history. We want work about queerness, about labels embraced and rejected, about feminine identity outside defined boxes. Diana has many names and many faces and we want this issue to reflect that sense of openness and multiplicity.

Why the Diana issue? While it may be a timeless sentiment, we do feel that these are particularly challenging times for femininity. World events of the last couple years dragged so much into the open, and it has many of us feeling particularly pessimistic about our future in specifically gendered ways. As a journal run by women, we feel a special urgency to meet these events with a celebration of the many iterations of femininity in the literature of our own moment.

Who can submit? This issue is open to everyone, regardless of their personal identity. However, we do hope to discover and include work that demonstrates a deep and earnest insight into what it truly means to exist inside, or in relation to, feminine space. Our experiences are complex and varied, and we want to specially encourage queer and trans writers, writers of color, and other writers with important diverse perspectives to submit.

We’ll be accepting work through the September 30, 2017, so send us your stories, poems, essays, and multimedia creations! As always, thanks for reading and submitting to Sunstar!

We can’t wait to read your work!

There is no submission fee. Please read further guidelines in our submissions section and submit through our Submittable page.

 

Book Review: Poena Damni Z213 Exit

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Z213: Exit is the first book in Dimitri Lyacos’ acclaimed Poena Damni trilogy. Originally published in Greek, this is the second edition of Shoestring Press’s English translation of the work.

Z213: Exit follows a fugitive’s journey through an abstract allegorical landscape rendered in concrete images. The book is made up of a series of entries that frequently break into fragmented verse. There is a sense of solidity in these pieces, a sensuality in their approach to rendering the relationship between person and place:

“First light that opens your lungs all around and above and from here onwards the strong smell of the landscape goes with you all along.”

This is Shorsha Sullivan’s translation from the original Greek and she does wonderful work capturing the sound and complex imagery in Lyacos’ poems. There’s a sense of circularity in these pieces, both in word and image:

“And the snail hurries to go back on its tracks, a tale you remember unfinished, wrinkles that still hold a colour on memory’s transient seed, birds that awake the dew on their wings and you leave with them into the all-white frozen sky, but you wake and are baked again.”

This is a fascinating and disturbing book, and a very beautiful translation. Because of this work’s reliance on language and form, it would be wonderful to someday see an edition that includes both the original Greek alongside the English on facing pages for easy comparison. This edition brings Lyacos’ work to English-speaking readers in a slim and accessible volume.

Series: Poena Damni

Paperback: 152 pages

Publisher: Shoestring Press; 2nd Revised edition (October 18, 2016)

ISBN-10: 1910323624

ISBN-13: 978-1910323625

 

Meet the Author: Anna Sandy

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Anna Sandy’s poem “Storm Shelters” appears in our Winter Issue. Anna is the current Poetry Editor of New South, a literary journal based in Atlanta, GA that, no, does not only take southern-inspired writing. As an MFA candidate at Georgia State University, where she also teaches English Composition, she drinks a lot of coffee, pets her cats, and writes poems and essays. Some of those poems and essays can be found or are forthcoming in the Santa Ana River Review, Muse/A, Nightjar Review, and others.

What inspired you to write this work?

Last summer, I took a generative writing workshop in which we were given a prompt word every day for six weeks and had to write a poem from it. For this poem, the prompt word was cellar– and as soon as I started to envision that kind of cool, damp, dark place, this poem fell out of it.

Are there any authors, artists, books, etc. that you feel influence this work or your work in general?

Oh my, there are so many. I love amazing women like Kim Addonizio, Sharon Olds, and Rita Dove, and my past and current professors Sonja Livingston and Beth Gylys… and, of course, Frank O’Hara was one of my first poetry inspirations. I have to stop myself or I’ll go on for pages.

Is there anything in particular that you hope readers will understand, gain, or experience from this work?

For me, this poem is about the idea of being able to create security for yourself, and being able to look back at those in-between moments that don’t feel like real life and appreciate them– especially when you’re older and you know what was really going on. The poem is about an outside sense of doom, but it’s also about an inner sense of doom. What I really hope the reader, especially a reader who may have had a rough childhood, takes from it is the way it chooses to take hold on the fleeting, good parts of how things were instead of focusing on the bad that surrounded it.

We loved the way this poem captured the creation of safety and a sense, even, of coziness in the midst of danger. Is this a contrast that you are often drawn to?

Yes and no. I don’t often write about my early years in a way that suggests security because my childhood was pretty rocky and, unfortunately, it’s the bad memories that usually stick out. Like I said in a previous question, I do like that this poem took me to a place of happiness within my childhood. To answer this question, though, I do tend to write about the contrast between things that are going on outside of my body or my home and the things going on within, and how they can sometimes mirror each other and sometimes repel each other.

Describe your typical writing process.

I always cheat and quote Frank O’Hara on this one: “You just go on your nerve.” My poems tend to come out in pretty whole chunks, when they decide they want to.

Do you have a favorite place to write or a peculiar writing habit that you’d like to share?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite place to write, but I do have to be completely alone. Ideally. I would have some sort of hovel or turret that I could lock myself, a comfortable chair, a vat of coffee or tea, and my laptop in.

If you could choose to be any nonhuman creature, what would you be and why?

I want to say an elephant because elephants are my favorite animals, but I would probably be better at being a cat. Maybe even a wild cat that lives somewhere tropical and basks in the sun all day.

Meet the Author: Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell

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The daughter of farmers and a native Texan with a PhD in English from the University of Texas, Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell is a writer, teacher, and caregiver living in Tucson with her partner and their two children. Her poems have been published in Chagrin River Review, and she was a finalist in the 2016 Tucson Festival of Book Literary Awards for nonfiction. Her writing focuses on memory and loss, mental illness and war. Read her piece “The Redictionary” in our Winter Issue.

You mentioned that this piece was very personal to you and that you felt it was particularly important in our current political climate. Would you like to speak to the personal nature of the piece and to the ways in which the personal and political combined to create it?

When I visited my parents over the summer, I wrote this piece in response to a month’s worth of doctor’s appointments, surgeries, emergency room visits, and hospital stays. All combat-related illnesses suffered 45 years after my dad’s service in Vietnam. My dad had to tell his story repeatedly because his disease is so rare. My dad’s desire to tell his story and his frustration with the fact that no one listens mirrors, in many ways, this past election cycle. I think very few veterans trust elected officials. Any of them. But veterans are desperate for others to hear their stories. This whole political moment boils down to a crisis of narrative and who gets to tell their stories. Getting these stories out there is an act of resistance. Now more than ever.

Tell us about the form of this piece. It feels partway between poetry and prose and we loved the way it experiments with dictionary conventions. How did you decide upon a form? Did the form surprise you?

It did surprise me. I started with my distrust of the military’s use of the word “resiliency.” Resiliency, for the military, is just a catch phrase for being ready to go back into a training cycle, and that includes family, too. It’s peer-pressured conformity, a false return to the “who” you were before you faced death. I started thinking about other “re” words because I saw how often they were used by the military to accommodate its cyclical nature. When my dad got sick, the dictionary form helped me to contain the chaos of the illness narrative as it related to a remembered narrative of war. I write essays when I understand what I am writing about. Poetry is reserved for all those things that defy my understanding. This hybrid form contains my own outrage over my dad’s treatment and my despair for the future regarding how my husband’s own potential combat-related illnesses will be treated by whatever bureaucracy is in place at the time.

Are there any authors, artists, books, etc. that you feel influence this work or your work in general?

I’ve been inspired a great deal by the anthology, Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Forms, edited by Marcela Sulak and Jacqueline Kolosov. It opens up so many possibilities for those of us exploring hybrid forms. I like anything that takes a risk.

Is there anything in particular that you hope readers will understand, gain, or experience from this work?

I want others to learn about veterans’ issues, about rare diseases, about the struggles people go through during a chronic illness. It’s about empathy. Not everyone will serve in the military or suffer a rare disease, but most all of us will get sick and rely on the care of others. Not long before this piece was published, my dad finally received 100% disability from the VA.

Describe your typical writing process.

I have two small children, so I have to sneak my writing in, often working in stolen moments. Sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night, sometimes when they’re watching “Shaun the Sheep” or playing outside in the desert.

Do you have a favorite place to write or a peculiar writing habit that you’d like to share?

Sometimes I get a phrase or two running around in my brain, and I just run with it. I do a lot of thinking and scribbling, mapping and collaging before I sit down to the computer. If I can’t get my pen to work my ideas, I’ll use scissors, glue, markers, and craft paper. It works. I promise.

If you could choose to be any nonhuman creature, what would you be and why?

A saguaro cactus. They’re majestic. They grow slowly and can have up to 25 arms. I like the idea of that kind of growth.